Returning to part of our discussion in Episode #3, we delve deeper into John’s question about why people’s experiences differ. Specifically, while John and Gregg have been mostly negative about Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, the vast majority of Amazon reviewers have given it 5 stars (the highest review possible). How can so many people consider the book to be so good, yet we don’t?
In response we explore how our interpretation of our experiences of the world and God affect the conclusions we come to. John wonders if religious communities allow us to have our own experience of God or if instead they try tell us how we to should feel or react to God.
Gregg explains how some painful past experiences contributed to his conclusions about God (and particularly, God’s justice). He also notes how new experiences can expand these conclusions, but only when our goal is an honest attachment to truth (and not a need to preserve a certain self-identity).
Likewise, we discuss how to assess the difference between positive and negative responses to Not a Fan. First, by vetting Kyle Idleman’s use of the Bible (his exegesis). Second, by questioning readers about how their relationship with God is better after having read the book, and doing so in part by asking what truth value they have attributed to the Bible’s truth claims, and why. We’ll be discussing what truth values and truth claims are in a future episode.
We conclude with a discussion of the value of testimony and the distinction between knowing about God (factual knowledge) versus knowing God through relationships (relational knowledge), and how these last two are reciprocal.