"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
For too long, American Christianity has been poisoned by a narrowness of mind and spirit, demanding we believe the implausible, affirm the absurd, and despise the different. For many, the concepts of original sin, a God who sends people to hell, and Jesus as the only path to God can no longer be stomached. Thus thoughtful people leave the church in droves, no longer willing to diminish their lives or the lives of others for the sake of faith.
But what if there were another way? What if God wanted us to grow and change, both in our theology and our beliefs? In The Evolution of Faith, Philip Gulley invites us to put aside slavish obedience to antiquated faith claims and worldviews that no longer ring true, and discover what we really believe, rather than what we've always been taught. Instead of looking for answers outside ourselves, Gulley encourages us to develop our own apologetics, a belief system open to change. In this paradigm, faith should always be seen as a work in progress.
Only when we break free from the tenets of Christianity that no longer further the faith can we create a vital and believable Christianity—a Christianity that brings out the best in us, not the worst; a Christianity at home with people of other faiths; a Christianity grateful for scientific knowledge. This is a Christianity many of us have longed for, but haven't yet found.
This book is Gulley's effort to discover a Christianity we, and all the world, can live with.