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Not Sure: A Pastor's Journey from Faith to Doubt Paperback – Bargain Price, September 2, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
author of Beyond Doubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask
"John Suk is as honest as the Bible. With an angular, unforgettable voice he joins the psalmists who dare to lament their losses before the face of God because even lament is at bottom an expression of faith. A memorable book!"

Michael L. Lindvall
The Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City
"Doubt, John Suk discovers, is not so much the opposite of faith as it is faith's awkward companion. This noted pastor weaves a bluntly honest spiritual autobiography with sweeping doctrinal history to conclude that doubt is the 'ants in the pants of faith,' discomforting the too comfortably faithful into a more mature trust in God."

Nicholas Wolterstorff
(from foreword)
<"A rich, eloquent, beautifully written book. . . . Seldom has personal story been so imaginatively interwoven with cultural history, analysis, and critique."

About the Author

John Suk is pastor of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Cobourg, Ontario, and former editor in chief of The Banner, the Christian Reformed Church’s denominational magazine. He is also the author of Dad’s Dying: A Family’s Journey through Death.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (September 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802866506
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,411,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By busymom on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was raised in the Reformed Church, then tried several other mainline denominations. The author's discussions of what Reformed Church members believe, and the church's core beliefs, were welcome reminders of the faith that formed me. In my explorations of Presbyterianism (10 years) and United Methodism (15 years) I have been left with the feeling that they are struggling unsuccessfully with what Suk describes as the transition from the age of literate belief to the second period of oral belief engendered by television and the internet. It was amazing to read his critique of modern worship practices, mainline and nondenominational, as they are exactly my own. Until I read this book I had a difficult time understanding why the usage of power point sermons, praise bands in worship, and the skin -crawling exhortation to 'let's have a hand-clap for Jesus', which was a part of every service at a church I attended until recently, left me so cold. The book is a valuable exploration of critical issues in today's church.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By NomDePlume on December 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Losing your faith is a crisis for anyone, but this is doubly true for pastors and religious leaders. John Suk lost his faith, and in the long, difficult journey that followed, discovered on a primal level what deeply faithful people have been saying for centuries: the opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is certainty.

I was tempted to skip the "journey" and jump to the last chapter. I'm glad I didn't. Much of the book is about his discovery of what faith is NOT: not a "personal relationship" with Christ; not adherence to a given set of doctrinal statements; not a ticket to health and wealth. Faith, rather, is primal trust in a God who does not abandon God's children; faith is a willingness to take the next step on the journey, even when we can't see where we're going, or the One who is guiding us.

The author's loss of faith closely resembles my own; the record of his journey "from faith to doubt" has been a profound gift to me. He gives a clear, lucid voice to many issues I've been wrestling with, and I am deeply grateful. I too have been "not sure" for years now; this book has taught me that I don't have to be.

Bottom line: if the title of the book grabs you and won't let go, it's probably a good sign that you need to read it. You'll be glad you did.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James C. Dekker on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thank you, John Suk, for giving us this book. Although it was planted in "our" mutual tribal soil, I think it has potential to reap an honest harvest in many Christian traditions. There is much to like and absorb in this book. It is a candid, bold, articulation of what many pastors whom I know feel deeply, but have never had the patience, time, courage (or perhaps ability) to write/say. John's always provocative, yet respectful ability is put to mighty good use in this book. His reading and analysis are both deep and broad--products not only of graduate work that he describes, but also of a curious, always growing mind AND spirit.

Not Sure is clearly the best book I've read in this new year and it may well stay near the top as the reading list grows. Suk's thorough, profound analysis and dissection of "enchanted" to "literate" faith running on both personal and societal tracks are clarifying, convincing and compelling. I found myself frequently nodding in surprising, albeit often reluctant, agreement with page after page, story after story in the book.

There may be trouble ahead: As I must take seriously the challenges that Suk delineates, I may be in for some painful things for personal and congregational pilgrimages. What if my congregation doesn't like or understand questions I put to them about confessionality and its advantages, but also its possible idolatry? Might the temporary (though very real) pain be worth it? In my own position, it would certainly be a lot easier to coast into retirement and not rock the boat, but merely to try dodging waves rather than courageously surf them. That would be the safer, but not better, path to follow.

So, John Suk, be there for me! I may need it. Why?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Randy A. Stadt on October 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
This was a hard book for me to read, being at the same time heartbreaking and mystifying. It was heartbreaking because the pain, stress, and loneliness that the author, John Suk, has experienced over the last fifteen or twenty years is laid bare on many of the pages. I believe him when he writes that doubt is not something he chose, but is more like a virus that he caught. Nevertheless I was also puzzled by his description of the faith he can no longer embrace, which was replaced by a large measure of doubt. And most of all, I am completely mystified by his choice of worldview. If doubt really is something you do not choose, but catch, like a virus, why would you willingly make such an infection virtually inevitable by fostering conditions where you can not only catch it, but where it can thrive?

One of the causes of his doubt is his presumption that the kind of faith of his heritage, the Christian Reformed Church, was largely a sociological construction. He asserts that it consisted of little more than an adherence to a set of doctrines established for the purpose of maintaining community coherence. Often lacking in love and rich in dogmatic inflexibility and a fervent desire to be right, people used doctrine as a weapon, producing endless divisions and damage in the church. He concludes that we ought to downgrade the importance of doctrine because historically it has done more harm than good.

But the erroneous and even at times downright sinful conduct of some of our Reformed forebears does not support this conclusion. Rather, what does follow is that we ought to learn from the past (and repent when it has been true of us) by exercising more wisdom and grace in handling doctrine and dealing with fellow Christians with whom we disagree.
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