Book Review: “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” by Frank Schaeffer

Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” by Frank Schaeffer

Published digitally through Amazon’s CreateSpace, 2014

schaeffer.atheist.GodFrank Schaeffer is the bull in your spiritual china shop.

Reading Frank’s latest offering, “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” reminded me of watching a lull-and-surge action movie after the kids have gone to bed. One moment you’ve allowed the volume to creep up, certain that you’re safely within the storyline and dialogue when BLAM! comes a rocket through the window or the cacophony of gunfire or shouted expletives that have you leaping for the remote.

Like any good action movie, Frank’s book weaves its story around an engaging central thread – once again he faces off with the beliefs of his childhood, drawn into his lifelong inner argument this time by the loss of his mother. Her death at once re-sensitizes him to the mystery of God and electrifies his disbelief, which he is happy to hold in tension. Both are true for Frank, as the title indicates.

Also like the good action movie, when Frank leaves the warmth of the central thread of mom, family, and a chance meeting-turned-friendship, the reader is often caught broadside by the text and left to wonder, “Where did that come from?” Frank isn’t trying to ease anybody into anything, but rather abruptly pours himself unfiltered onto the page and encourages the reader to deal with it. Or not. Totally up to you.

What’s brilliant here, though, is that unfiltered honesty and Shaeffer’s unabashed disinterest in trying to bring it all together. He’s not trying to make what he thinks, feels, or believes around any existing theology or ideology. It won’t work for everyone, but in their own way Frank’s atheistic claims also serve as his strongest apologetic statements. On top of that, Frank isn’t really trying to prove anything. He simply stacks his rational mind’s awareness of the shifting reality of all things, including God, against the realization of the presence of God in intangibles and rituals in his daily existence and proceeds to hold both as true. Look there; no God in a self-serving religious or political process, or even in a process of nature or human development. But look there, God present in the eyes of my grandchild or in the way my wife loves me. How beautifully complex is this God that isn’t there.

Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” is challenging, upsetting, heartwarming, offensive, and fascinating. You may not find your spiritual center here, but I think that’s to the point; Frank demonstrates the spiritual center as more of a spiritual smudge. You might hear echoes of your own doubts or find new words for a faith you’re struggling to express. You will certainly find yourself revisiting your own spiritual foundations.

 

Kevin Alton

Kevin Alton is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter, Senior Writer & Editor for the Youthworker Movement, and co-founder of the Wesleyan youth resource Youthworker Circuit. He lives in the Georgia woods just outside of Chattanooga, TN, with his wife Britta and their two boys, Grey & Penner.

Facebook Twitter 

About Kevin Alton

Kevin Alton is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter, Senior Writer & Editor for the Youthworker Movement, and co-founder of the Wesleyan youth resource Youthworker Circuit. He lives in the Georgia woods just outside of Chattanooga, TN, with his wife Britta and their two boys, Grey & Penner.

Leave a Reply

9 Comments on "Book Review: “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” by Frank Schaeffer"

applications-education-miscellaneous.png
The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Paul W.
Guest
Ok. I have Kindle Unlimited right now so I downloaded and read this book from cover to cover yesterday (for free); it is a very short book. I have absolutely no clue why the Editor endorsed it. For me it was the opposite of the editor’s description as a “lull-and-surge action movie”. I found no great, or even note-worthy, insights in the book. The author seems to relish the fact that he is confused and inconsistent in his spiritual views, yet for all his spiritual confusion, he comes across as quite prideful and self-assured. In reading the book, I feel… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Whenever anyone says “don’t read this book” the utterer is engaging in Phariseeism.

Kevin
Guest

Thanks Paul W. Your book review may have saved many people some time better spent doing something else.

james
Guest

in the meantime, similar names will most probably sell a few books. in the meantime, the middle east is on fire and the umr chooses to ignore that. but that is what the libs/progs want to happen. In The MEANTIME!!!! KEEP LOOKING UP!!!!! SIGNS AND WONDERS ARE HAPPENING EVERY DAY……………………………

II Chronicles 7:14

Paul W.
Guest

Different Frank Schaeffer. The confusion is understandable. The one being referred to here is the atheist/agnostic son of Francis Schaeffer, not the UMC’s Frank Schaeffer who has been in the news for disobedience to the BoD.

Paul W.
Guest
Frank Schaeffer is the son of Francis Schaeffer (a noted and respected Christian apologist and the founder of the L’Abri ministries) . Frank is currently popular primarily for his public abandonment of his Christian faith. Frank Schaeffer’s books are useful for understanding the times and especially for understanding how a segment of intellectual non-Christians think. Beyond that, I personally find it disturbing that a UMR editor would recommend his books as being helpful spiritually. What message are we to take from the UMR editor’s endorsement? I assume that the editor surely doesn’t believe that agnosticism and skepticism is preferred over… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

“Wesleyianism” and “conservative theology” are two concepts which do not share an intersection.

Mark
Guest

Good points, Paul. I would simply offer the clarification that Schaeffer provides insight into how a segment of PSEUDO-intellectual non-Christians “think.” Clearly he is capitalizing on the status of his late father, who demonstrated an intellectual capacity and spiritual insight that Franky is unable to match.

As for the UM Reporter, its value as an information source is beginning to pale in comparison to its value as an entertainment source.

Kevin
Guest

Why is UMReporter pushing Mr. Schaeffer’s books? It appears as if the Reporter has assumed an advocacy role instead of a reporting function. I do not blame Frank Schaeffer for capitalizing and cashing in on his 15 minutes. This is America after all.

wpDiscuz
Google+
%d bloggers like this: