Andrew Hutchison values the dialogue

By on March 1, 2004

“It’s … doubting faith — or faithful doubt — that I want to dialogue with here. I think I understand it. It’s where I live too, most of the time.” So says Douglas John Hall, professor emeritus of McGill University.

Clergy and laity alike may have good reason for tuning into this dialogue during Lent. So many who occupy the pews of our churches seem to fit the description of being “on the edge of faith,” not to mention the many who do not associate with a congregation, but are on private journeys of discovery. It is precisely this dialogue between doubt and faith into which we are invited during the days of Lent, if our reaffirmation of faith at Easter is to mean anything.

Dr. Hall draws upon the rich experience of more than 40 years as a theologian, teacher, and ordained minister to develop a composite inquirer, with whom he dialogues in his book. The inquirer has a superficial acquaintance with Christianity. The author believes that many young people have no particular fight with Christianity, but that they are sufficiently distanced from it to be curious about it again. They wonder if in fact those who profess it really present it for what it is. Dr. Hall says, ” ? today’s apologists have to deal with simplistic, one-sided, and misleading representations of Christian belief and practice stemming from avowedly Christian sources.”

Each chapter begins with a summary of a discus sion with the inquirer, and is followed by a thoughtful essay by way of response to the issues raised in the discussion. The process is not one of question and answer, but of a dialogue between two individuals who ultimately become companions on a journey, although at different points along the way. The language and thought categories are accessible, as the reader is led by these two travelers deeper and deeper into the challenge of doubt and the response of faith to issues that arise for any thoughtful Christian.

Archbishop Hutchison is Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada.

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