Skip to main content

Misfit Faith







Misfit Faith: Confessions of a Drunk Ex-Pastor by Jason J. Stellman

I usually go for a book with a good title and this one has quite an edgy and provocative title.  To go along with it, the author at one time was a PCA pastor, a denomination I belong to and wanted to see what he had to say about life in ministry.  This new book, Misfit Faith, is a story of someone who still wrestles with the faith and was pulled toward the Roman Catholic Church from being a church planting pastor in Seattle prior to his change.  The book is a critique of those who have their theology all lined, ducks in a row, and more a conversation about how to have doubts and still believe.  In the book, Jason explains the first segment of the Apostle’s Creed concerning believing in God the Father and how this changes the way we should think about faith.

In the opening chapters, Jason seeks to draw the implications of God as Father in relationship to the Calvinist system that he says minimized this idea and promoted a God as Lawgiver and Judge.  He writes, “Since lawgiver-God pretty much abhors the real you, your only hope is to accept the Calvinist gospel, according to which we sinners can be “considered” righteous by trusting in Jesus and accepting his obedience as though it were our own and thereby escaping hell on judgment day.” (32)  I understand Jason’s frustration with this system that speaks highly of sin and judgment but maybe not enough about the tender fatherly love God has for his children.  Yet, I think this point of view is a gross misunderstanding of Reformed and Calvinist thought which emphasizes grace, the image of God in man, and how God constantly accommodates himself to humanity through various covenants and appearances.  This quote is a rather truncated and misleading version of a fully robust Reformed understanding of salvation.

However, I thought Jason’s Divine Yes to Humanity is a very good antidote to the dualism many Christians fall prey to.  He writes, “The first assumption is that matter and flesh are bad, which is why such things are contrasted to spiritual, heavenly things…The other implicit assumption in this suspicious posture toward “worldly” pursuits is that heaven’s aim is to necessarily thwart such things, as though divinity’s role is to crush or frustrate humanity.” (53-54) The burning of secular music, keeping away from any movie above PG, and the removal of any art depicting the human body are examples of where Christians have demeaned many good things that God has given us.  Jesus’ incarnation is the yes to humanity and the very good to what God has made.  Not to mention we have Jesus enjoying himself at the wedding at Cana and enjoying his time with sinners and tax collectors. 

I enjoyed this book at times and at times wanted to fling it across the room.  I hope that many readers will find Jason’s searching and doubting as a way to look differently at the world. 


Thanks to Convergent and Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…