28 December 2013

Book Review: The End of Our Exploring

As a neuropsychologist, a large part of my job is determining people's level of cognitive functioning. A side effect of this training is that I often have a good sense of someone's intellect without any testing. My sense is that Matthew Lee Anderson would score very high. I have previously described him as one of the brightest young Christian thinkers around today. His most recent book, The End of Our Exploring: A Book About Questioning and the Confidence of Faith  (2013), provides further evidence in support of my hypothesis.

As I began diving into this book, I wondered how I would describe it.  At its base, it is a book about wisdom. To clarify, Anderson does not specifically set out to examine what wisdom is, though I would be at the front of the line for that book. Rather, he examines what it means to question well, which it seems to me is a hallmark of a wise person.

Christians, particularly those of the evangelical or fundamentalist variety, seem fearful of questions. We want answers only and move quickly to shut down any serious inquiry. It seems safer that way. Just give us the answer key so that we don't need to engage in critical thought. This tendency to short circuit the process of sincere questioning is a deterrent to true Christian growth. 

Books that I read often have a rhythm to them. Some begin on a high note and fade through the pages. Some begin high and keep their intensity throughout. Others, unfortunately, begin weakly and never improve.  Anderson's book crescendos. I found it enjoyable at the outset, but it continued to build until the final pages, getting better and better as it proceeded. So, if you read this book, keep at it. It will not disappoint.

I suspect that this book will unsettle many of its readers. As I said, we prefer pat answers and questioning makes us feel insecure. My hope is that if you tackle this book you will see that questioning is not so much a threat as a path to wisdom. 

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