4 out of 4 stars
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Before diving into Bad Faith: A Spiritual Humanist Alternative for Christianity and the West by Tom Drake-Brockman, it is important to understand the concepts of humanism and hesed. Humanism is a system of thought that stresses the importance of a human as opposed to the divine or supernatural. Those with a humanist view believe that human beings are not only good, but are also capable of doing good, and will seek to solve human problems rationally. Hesed or chesed is used to describe the relationship between humans with each other and with God. While God should be loving and merciful towards humans and humans should be reverent towards God, hesed also focuses on the importance of humans exhibiting love and kindness towards each other.
Drake-Brockman begins his book by delving into Christian history and explaining more of what the term hesed means. As the book progresses, the reader is provided with more of this history, as well as how Christians seem to have been pulled away from hesed in favor of more prayer-centric faith practices. The author than argues that this way of worshipping God has caused problems that do not follow the version of hesed faith that the Old Testament preaches. In the last portion of the book, the author provides his view on Christian humanism, how it still has a place in today’s version of Christianity, and how it can help solve some of the ‘mysteries’ of faith that don’t seem to fit into the teachings of the Bible.
I give this book a 4 out of 4 rating. There may be a few typos throughout the text, but the author very clearly spent a lot of time researching the topic and very clearly constructed the point that he wanted to get across. Such thorough research helped the author create a narrative that is full of supporting evidence and information, which lends some credibility and believability to the book, even if you go into it not fully buying the theory the author is trying to sell.
At times, I had a hard time connecting certain parts of the book with the overall message, but I feel that it may have been more of a reflection of my lack of knowledge on religious matters. Therefore, I believe this book may not be a good fit for those who aren’t too familiar with Christian teachings and history. This book may also not be a good fit for overly religious Christians, as the author occasionally takes a critical look into religion that may border on contemptuous. Other than this, the amount of research poured into this book makes and the clear direction makes it worthy of a high rating.
But for those who are interested in a little religious history, whether it be their own or a different religion, this book would make an interesting read. And as the author does such a good job getting his point across, it would also be a worthwhile read for those who like to think critically about religions and who like to seek out different interpretations of religious texts and teachings. Starting with the early teachings of Christianity and hesed, followed by where Christianity seems to have veered from this way of thinking, and finishing up with some examples of where hesed is sorely needed in today’s world, the progression of this book will help to peek curiosity in the history of one of the largest religions in the world.
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