My name is Paul … and I am a Skeptical Believer.
I’ve been savoring this book. Its short chapters and conversational style make that a good way to read it. This isn’t a book about apologetics, except maybe where one’s own faith is concerned. It’s more about epistemology–how we know what we know–where it comes to the really important matters upon which our most important commitments rest. The author’s musings are interrupted occasionally by the snarky, sarcastic comments of his “Inner Atheist.” I’ve heard them all before and found them more annoying than anything else. My inner atheist is a bit more subtle.
I had been an intentional Christian for about 13 years when, in 1987, I read Daniel Taylor’s book, The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and Risk of Commitment. I felt like the author had somehow gotten inside my head and knew very well the questions and doubts about my faith with which I had been wrestling for some time. I was rather awestruck by this. What I read in that book greatly helped make my faith intellectually and reflectively sustainable and growing through many years of wrestling and inquiry.
With this book, Daniel Taylor has done it to me again, discussing in much greater detail how faith and the doubts of a skeptical nature can reinforce and balance each other in crucial ways. Taylor understands the importance of doctrinal belief and propositional truth but sets them in the context of relational truths that are what support anyone’s most important beliefs; whether he or she be a “religious” person or not. We are all characters living out a life story. Reflection on the nature of that story and the meaning it gives to one’s life is a frequent concern for many people; even some Christians who may fit the Taylor’s description of himself as a “skeptical believer.” For most of my life, I’ve had a part in the most compelling story I know. Daniel Taylor has articulated the thinking behind the living of such a life for someone like me better than any one that I know of. It’s been quite a journey. I look forward to where it all leads.