Letters From A Skeptic
Length: 1042 words (3 double-spaced pages)
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Dr. Gregory Boyd is a professor of theology at Bethel College. He attended such universities as the University of Minnesota, Yale Divinity School, and Princeton Theological Seminary. As well as being a professor he is a preaching pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has authored three books and several articles. This particular book is a dialogue between he and his father, Edward Boyd. Edward lives in Florida and worked for 35 years in sales management. He has six kids, 15 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Gregory attempted for years to try and convert his father to Christianity without any success. About the time he felt like giving up on his father, he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to go one more mile. That last mile ended up in his father accepting Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, and thus resulted in the publishing of their correspondence.
It all started with the first letter from Gregory when his father was 70 years old. Gregory simply asked his father if he would take part in talking through some of the issues he had with Christianity. Edward agreed and so the journey began. Much to the surprise of Gregory, his father, very agnostic, had many very deep hard to answer questions. These questions ranged from questions about so-called "Christians," to questions about God, questions about Jesus, questions about the Christian life, and the why he should believe in all of this nonsense. As soon as Gregory would reply and answer his father's questions, he would receive another letter full of good questions.
This went on for three years and the progression of the book showed very clearly God working on Edward, until the end of the book when he invited Christ into his heart and accepting Him as Lord and Savior at the young age of 73.
I found the questions from Edward to very tough, and I was extremely satisfied with Gregory's answers to them. He seemed to be very humble in the fact that he admittedly did not have all the answers, but very confident in his beliefs and understanding of the evidence favoring Christianity.
For the most part I really appreciated Gregory's answers and found them to be very insightful, as well as theologically correct. I liked his defense of God when Edward blamed Him for all the evil in the world.
I also like how he explained the freedom that God has chosen to give each of us, and that that very freedom, which was given so that true love could exist, must also bear with it the possibility of evil. Gregory said in one of his responses "If we have the potential to oppress or slay millions, it's because we also have the potential to liberate and love millions." I thought Gregory did an exceptional job of explaining salvation to his father as well. He gave great evidence that the Bible was, in fact, true and reliable. I, personally, was very pleased with the apologetic effort of Dr. Boyd.
There were just a couple of things that, I did not necessarily disagree with, but that definitely challenged my way of thinking. The first is about God's omniscience. In Terry Bowland's Romans class, while discussing Calvinism, we went over this a little bit. My understanding of what Dr. Bowland believes (I am sure he would explain it better) is that God does know the future. He knows everything. Before I was born He knew the choices I would be making today. He did not predestine me to make these decisions, but because he is Almighty God, He simply knows the choices that I will make. That all made sense to me until I read this book and heard Dr. Boyd's stance on the subject. He believes that God does not know the choices that I will make tomorrow. He is omniscient, but until I make the decision there is simply no decision to know. This theology is called Open Theism and I have never heard it before. It did not make sense to me until my wife asked if I believed that God creates people knowing they will go to hell. If you take Dr. Bowland's theory, then yes He does. If you take Dr. Boyd's theory, then no He does not. I do not like the idea of God creating people knowing that they will choose hell, but I also do not like the idea of limiting His power. What is your stance?
One other thing that I found that I am not quite sure about is Dr. Boyd's stance on baptism. As I mentioned earlier, I thought he did an exceptional job of explaining salvation to his father, but he never mentioned baptism as a necessary step in that process. He might have been waiting until his father believed, repented, and accepted Christ to lead him to that point, but I am just a little unsure as to why that was never mentioned. There was a correspondence between the two about the Christian life and all that it entails, but never the mention of baptism. I am just a little curious as to why?
I thought that the book, in general, was very clear and relevant. I think that Edward kept that progression going because of his straight forwardness at the very beginning and because of the types of questions he asked. I also found Gregory's credentials, backed up by his responses and the heart that he portrayed throughout, to be very competent.
I personally benefited from this book a great deal. Once I started reading I just could not put the book down. I not only wanted to find out the outcome (I forced myself not to look ahead) for Edward, but I wanted to know Gregory's answers to these very tough, but common questions. I actually think I am going to try this method on one of my friends back in Indiana. I only pray that the outcome will be the same.