Not Sure: A Pastor’s Journey from Faith to Doubt. By John Suk. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. 211 pp. Paperback, $18.00.
I found reading this book to be a sad experience. Here a Calvinist pastor of the Christian Reformed Church feels it beneficial to Christianity and the world to write a book promoting doubt and uncertainty as preferable to faith and certainty. The man urges our churches to give doctrine a greatly reduced role (p. 179) than it has had until now. (After speaking of the historic Reformed confessions he says, “Doctrinal emptiness and worshipful awe suit us better” [p. 195]. He then cites Brian McLaren and our need for generous orthodoxy.)
The author grew up with a modern mindset (p. 59). He believed things because he found the evidence compelling. But then by means of higher education (see pp. 78-82) he adopted a postmodern mindset and in the process came to doubt just about everything he held true, including Christianity.
This would make a great text for apologetics. The students, with the help of the professor, could counter the arguments Suk uses to undermine the authority of Scripture. To give but one example, Suk came to doubt the reality of the Genesis account of Noah’s flood because he became aware of “earlier” flood accounts that were fanciful. Interesting Josh McDowell in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict does just the opposite. McDowell shows that there are over one hundred accounts of the flood in various people groups and though there are variations, the fact that so many people groups report one event actually proves, not disproves, that a universal flood actually happened.
Suffering in the world leads the author to doubt that God really has the world in His hands (p. 71). Clearly Suk has lost faith in the fact that the Lord promised to come again and establish His righteous kingdom (and that before then we live in a fallen world that isn’t the kingdom). Indeed, in the last two sentences of the book he writes, “So, even as I wrestle with the historic confessions, with the way the church deals with issues like homosexuality and evolution, even with the mystery of evil in the world, with the likelihood that Jesus will come back now, after two thousand years, when he said he was coming back soon, I try to set my heart at rest. For God is ‘greater than our hearts’ even when we doubt” (p. 207).
After reading this book, or while reading it, one should read Richison’s book Certainty—A Place to Stand (see review in this issue) in which he shows the flaws in postmodernity and defends the concept of certainty based on what God has said.
I recommend this book, but only for well grounded believers.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society