In this episode John and Gregg discuss Chapter 9 of Darin Hufford’s Misunderstood God. Gregg comments that he has never had a book that he has liked more and likes less at the same time. He identifies certain ‘nuggets’ of gold yet finds certain formulations or presentations of the material that seem so incorrect that this shakes Gregg’s trust in the author.
John feels like he’s moved into “skim mode” with this book, looking for what seems positive or thought-provoking. So he appreciates Darin’s view about Christianity being sin-focused and some things about God being angry and the need for control by fear in churches.
Gregg is interested that John has stopped reading and started skimming, and makes the meta-comment that a book about the ills of Christianity should be able to keep those readers engaged who are interested in this subject, and uses this as a lesson for himself about the podcast. Is the message too deep or intellectual? Or is the author globalizing her/his views or misformulating matters? Either approach risks alienating readers.
John wonders if our listeners could respond similarly when John and Gregg talk about the role of experience relative to Christian belief. Gregg replies that this is possible but notes a key difference: neither he nor John are arguing for their views being definitive or applying to everyone, and they are open to critique in a way that Darin’s presentation does not seem to be.
So as truth-seekers, we should care that not whose view it is but whether that view is truthful. Further, rather than imposing our views on listeners we are offering them, which is a far more interactive method of engaging.
Gregg finds particular difficulty with several of Darin Hufford’s formulations in this chapter. So Gregg cuts back against his view of Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan and notes that it is valuable that Idleman stated his position at the outset of the book (on page 21 vs. on page 201). Gregg compares this with Darin’s focus on loving people seems formative of his views, yet Gregg finds pages 93 – 103 to some of the worst pages he has read in some time.
So on page 93 Gregg disagrees radically with several of Darin’s notions, such as “the only way to love is to be the lover.” What about being loved? Do we learn nothing about love by being loved? What does this mean for the Christian’s understanding of God, who always loves us first?! Further, we are both servants (to one who is truly Sovereign) and sons and daughters (to one who loves us as our true parent / father), versus Darin’s view that we are not servants but sons & daughters.
In short, Gregg sees that Darin is only offering one half of the equation, which is not giving us 50% of the message but is dropping out the other side of the necessary and productive tension in to these concepts are related. And more generally, Gregg re-emphasizes that truth and love, love and truth stand in flexible yet productive tension both in the Bible’s presentation of human existence and humanity and in our experience of real life!
Also, in terms of formulation Gregg notes that we need to formulate well because, as truth seekers, we should be more concerned with what is true than what is convenient / what one wants to believe. So formulation is laying the matter out as it appears, on the basis of the best evidence that one has. This involves both presenting one’s evidence and explaining why one has put the various sources and evidence together in a particular way. So formulating well corroborates your viewpoint by helping other trust that you are a truth seeker on the basis of what you evidence is and where it comes from.