Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint
The book is about cynicism toward the church and disillusionment with God. The first half is a critique of “pop-Christianity”—the kind of stuff that disillusions us within Christian subcultures (rosy idealism, rigid legalism, cultural irrelevance, and undue emphases on emotions and spiritual experiences… you get the picture). The tone of the critique is intended to be more constructive than deconstructive.
The second half of the book looks at how Scripture teaches us to engage God’s people (and God himself) when we are infuriated, hurt, and disenchanted. Much of the Bible is what I call “the literature of the disillusioned.” Prophets, Sages, and Tragic Poets haunt the pages of Scripture with their protests, cutting observations and laments. But these “cynic-saints” offered their critiques in the direction of love… love for a God who may have seemed distant and for a people lost and deluded.
The ultimate model we look to is Jesus. If anyone had a right to be disillusioned with God’s people and to shake a skeptical fist heavenward, it is the Crucified One with cries for his death ringing in his ears under the crushing weight of divine silence.
The book calls for “hopeful realism,” the namesake of the blog. This is a refusal to embrace idealism in our ex-Eden realm, and a refusal to adopt cynicism since this realm is passing away. The cross nullifies idealism… and the open tomb of the Resurrected Christ renders cynicism obsolete.