Faith in the Shadows
"People don't abandon faith because they have doubts. People abandon faith because they think they're not allowed to have doubts."
Too often, our honest questions about faith are met with cold confidence and easy answers. But false certitude doesn't result in strong faith—it results in disillusionment, or worse, in a dogmatic, overweening faith unable to see itself or its object clearly.
Even as a pastor, Austin Fischer has experienced the shadows of doubt and disillusionment. In Faith in the Shadows, he leans into perennial questions about Christianity with raw and fearless integrity. He addresses contemporary science, the problem of evil, hell, God's silence, and other issues, offering not only fresh treatments of these questions but also a fresh paradigm for thinking about doubt itself. Doubt, Fischer contends, is no reason to leave the faith. Instead, it's an invitation to a more honest faith—a faith that's not in control, but that trusts more fully in its Lord.
"With Faith in the Shadows, Austin Fischer steps out of the shadows and into the limelight of leading contemporary American Christian pastor-theologians. This book is a must-read for every pastor who struggles with issues of Christian faith in an increasingly doubt-filled and confused world. The line between hardcore fundamentalism and insipid theological liberalism is a fine one these days; most people fall to one side or the other. Fischer helpfully points out the path between and beyond them."
"Fischer writes with a wonderful combination of keen intellect and unflinching honesty. He hits all the necessary topics, from fundamentalism to theodicy, while drawing on our best Christian thinkers, from Fyodor Dostoevsky to David Bentley Hart. But what Fischer does best is invite the reader into his own struggles with doubt. . . . Ultimately, the hero of Fischer's book is not the brilliant Christian apologists (though we appreciate their fruitful labors) but the beauty of Christ's love that is the only credible answer to interrogations of doubt."
"'But some doubted' is one of the most jarring expressions in the entire Bible. After hearing Jesus, after watching Jesus, after knowing Jesus up close and personal, after his crucifixion and the apocalyptic moment of his resurrection, some of the disciples still doubted. How could that be? How could those who were so close to Jesus doubt anything about him? That's why Austin Fischer wrote this book, and it's a book for that kind of doubter: the one who knows about Jesus and has experienced Jesus, but still wonders—who still finds gaps instead of connections, who still limps after having run with the saints. In his deceptively perceptive exploration, Fischer focuses on the 'hypocrisy of certainty'—that confidence where none should be had. Honesty demands we admit our doubts; honesty is what this book is about."
"For those of you acquainted with pain and doubt, Austin is definitely the pastor you need in your life! And for those of you who pretend so hard that you have no pain and doubt, Austin is definitely the pastor you need in your life! I live in both categories regularly, so I'm glad I got to feast on his wisdom for a few hundred pages while I read Faith in the Shadows. Austin gave me permission to think, to cry, and to be. And for that I am extremely grateful. Now is your turn to enjoy this beautiful collection of stories and invitations, reminders and experiences, Jesus and us. Enjoy."
"As I was completing my PhD studies, I found myself living in liminal spiritual space and walking on the shoals of skepticism. What is more, my recognition that any number of Christian pilgrims had walked a similar rough-hewn path before me did little to buoy my sagging spirits and to buttress my nagging doubts. Would that Austin Fischer's Faith in the Shadows had appeared some twenty years earlier! Be that as it may, Fischer's book is both a barb and a balm—it calls us to be honest before God and assures us that skeptical saints do not scare God. My hope is that this timely, lively book will be widely disseminated and thoroughly ingested, as it will help us hear and join a swelling chorus declaring, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.'"
"Plainly put, this is a superb book. Austin Fischer offers thoughtful, well-informed, and deeply personal help for any Christian who, like Jacob, finds themselves wrestling with God. Thank heaven, doubt does not discredit faith. Doubt does not discredit faith! Faith in the Shadows invites all of us into a community of worshipful doubters who have found the freedom offered by Jesus to sit at his feet and ask questions."
Foreword by Brian Zahnd
1. Graffiti: An Invitation to a Rebellion
2. Ants on a Rollercoaster: Losing a Certainty-Seeking Faith
3. How to Survive a Hurricane: Doubting with Job
4. Beautiful, Terrible World: The Burden of Reality
5. Four-Letter Word: (Kind of) Making Sense of Evil
6. Silence: Believing When God Isn’t Speaking
7. Death by Fundamentalism: Talking to Fish About Water
8. Science: God Doesn’t Exist
9. Stuff: Our New Religion
10. Hell: Hitler Gets Five Minutes in Heaven
11. Faith, Doubt, and Love: The Real Remedy
12. Christ or the Truth? A Case for Faith in the Worst Case
13. Walking on Water: The Proof Is in the Living