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Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity Paperback – June 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews Review

Edward Boyd's agnosticism rested "not ... too much on any positive position ... but rather on a host of negative ones" about Christianity. In an attempt to address these negative issues, his son Greg, a professor of theology, asked his father, a strong-willed, highly intelligent, and stubborn 70-year-old, to enter into a correspondence in which "all of their cards would be laid on the table." Greg would give his father the opportunity to raise all his objections to the veracity of Christianity, and Greg would "answer these objections as well as give positive grounds for holding to the Christian faith."

Three years and more than 30 letters later, Letters from a Skeptic was published and Edward Boyd came to accept Christ. During his journey, he and his son hash through such topics as why the world is so full of suffering; why an all-powerful God needs prayer; how you can believe in someone who rose from the dead; and how another man's death can pardon others. Despite their brutal honesty, both men exhibit respect and love toward one another as they address these volatile subjects. In Edward's second response to Greg, he boldly says, "Well, your distinction between the 'Christian Church' and 'Christians' is interesting and novel, but frankly, I don't buy it." Greg responds, saying, "I've got to admit that you are raising some extremely good points in your letters. You are raising the most difficult questions a theist can face." --Jill Heatherly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434799808
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434799807
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory A. Boyd is the founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., and founder and president of ReKnew. He was a professor of theology at Bethel College (St. Paul, Minn.) for sixteen years where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor. Greg is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (BA), Yale Divinity School (M.Div), and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). Greg is a national and international speaker at churches, colleges, conferences, and retreats, and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He has also authored and coauthored eighteen books prior to Present Perfect, including The Myth of a Christian Religion, The Myth of a Christian Nation, The Jesus Legend (with Paul Eddy), Seeing Is Believing, Repenting of Religion, and his international bestseller Letters from a Skeptic.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. Dubuc on August 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg and Edward Boyd have have given us a great blessing in publishing their correspondence on the nature of Christianity. This book is unique among the many apologetic sorts of books I have read for a few reasons:

1)It's honest. Ed Boyd doesn't go easy on his son about Christianity. The questions are thoughtful, penetrating and genuine, not straw men set up to be easily knocked down. Greg Boyd's answers are equally thoughtful and well stated. He doesn't overwhelm with theological language but does a very good job of explaining difficult ideas in simple language. He honestly admits to uncertainty in places, but does a fine job of showing that uncertainty need not be a serious impediment to genuine faith and rational belief. I have never seen so many difficult questions about Christianity answered so well in so little space.

2)It's intimate. This is a discussion between a father and son who genuinely love and respect one another. It's a model for how important, ultimate issues can be debated in a very constructive manner.

3)It's powerful. Ed Boyd's conversion is more than a mere acceptance of certain religious beliefs. It is a powerful testimony to the power of God to change a human life wonderfully "from the inside out."

Many have objected to parts of Greg Boyd's theology. For example K. Restoule's review here goes so far as to say this isn't really a Christian book because of Boyd's "Open Theism." (See his other books for a more detailed treatment of his theology.) Though I have some questions about this position myself, I think Boyd is a genuine evangelical Christian theologian who is wrestling honestly with how to make the best sense out of the whole Bible's portrayal of God. Restoule's objections are one-sided.
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82 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Spiff on July 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book and read the 190 pages in few days. I am struggling with my own doubts about religion. My belief in God is strong, but any details are blurry (that includes the choice of religion). Edward Boyd asked several questions which have been leaving me confused about Christianity, I found myself suprised many times at how he was just asking what I often wondered about. Several times I was thinking "ok, that explains it, but what about XYZ, I want you see explain that one, ah!" and later Edward did ask something like it and his father managed to come up with a pretty solid answer. The topics include: Why has Christianity done so much harm? Why is the world full of suffering? Why does God create famine,earthquakes? Couldn't it all be by chance? Why does an all-powerful God need prayers? Why trust the Gospel as true? What about the contradictions? How could a man rise from the dead? Why are there so many different interpretations of the Bible? What about other holy books of other religions? Do all non-Christians go to hell? Why would God torture people in an eternal hell?
Plus many other. Sometimes you'll get answers that are based on faith, sometimes you get clear facts, but I have to admit I have never read any explanations that left me thinking it was making sense.
If you already believe, this book might help you to see things a bit more clearly. If you are a skeptic (like me), it will leave you less confused.
Ultimately, I do not believe I will find any final answer from books. It will have to be a deep personal experience, but I am gathering as much info as I can. I dare quoting the Bible: "Test everything, hold on to the good" (1 Thess 5:21).
This book was great clearing up a few problematic issues like the concept of Hell.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Pastor Roger on April 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
A few years ago, I belonged to a Friday Night Bible study not far from where I used to live. We had a Christmas gift exchange and wrote ona piece of paper our name & what we wanted. I wrote "A Christian book." Oddly enough, this is what I got in return.
These days apologetic literature is all over the place. With the Muslim world vastly growing, books on apologetics are vastly popular. I enjoyed this book because it was an easy read & was very down to Earth. Sometimes apologetic books can be a bit too theological and will be too deep for the average reader. Even though Gregory Boyd works at a Christian college, he made this book understandable.
This book started out of letters from Greg's dad, who had lots of faith related questions. His dad, Edward Boyd, was a skeptic/agnostic. His questions were thorough & gut wrentchingly honest. His Son Greg answers his questions honestly and evry straightforward. In about 3 years time & over 30 letters between father & son, Edward Boyd finally got saved & became a Christian. It's neat to read all of the letters back & forth & watch the drama unfold.
Now, some of the other reviewers had some trouble with this book. Even though it's not specifically stated, I think it's because of their own theological and/or denominatonal background. It's as though they were saying, "I wouldn't go there defending Jesus." "My church wouldn't say that." "What aboyt this issue or that?" As a pastor myself, I can tell you that this is the reason more people in America don't get saved. We're centered too much on our own theological camps & on our differences. What so many negative reviewers didn't say was that Gregory Boyd did explain the tenants of salvation correctly.
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