Discover more from The Path Before Us, with Matthew Lee Anderson
The *Called into Questions* Promotion
Become a member and get my new book for free.
TLDR: I’m giving books to the first 500 people who become full members. Read on for details.
Ten years ago, I published The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. At the time, I was moved to respond to the efforts to make “doubt” an appropriate posture for Christians. Many earnest young Christians were seeking to make room in their lives for the complexities of the faith in response to the thin formation they had received growing up—but they were also sanctioning forms of distrust that I thought were ultimately incompatible with the faith.
These days, it is not so much “doubt” that drives things, but “deconstruction.” The phenomenon is largely the same—only we stand now at the end of ten years of upheaval and scandal inside of “evangelicalism,” which have formed a different kind of reason for people to challenge their upbringing. The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill has become its own justification for casting suspicion on many evangelical religious institutions and churches.
[Mike Cosper interviewed me for this episode of his astonishingly popular podcast. Give it a listen to hear some of my thoughts on ‘deconstruction.’]
But responding to “doubt” or “deconstruction” is not especially interesting on its own. We need a positive vision for the faith. We need some way of approaching difficulties and perplexities and scandals that takes them seriously without being overwhelmed by them. We need the freedom to think and to allow questions to be— questions, that is, moments of uncertainty and interest and investigation.
So I decided to (re)write The End of Our Exploring. Called into Questions: Cultivating the Love of Learning within the Life of Faith is my latest attempt to articulate how questioning is form the Christian life takes in its intellectual mode.
Christians ask questions because we can and because we should—but questions are not what the New Testament means by doubt, and they are not suspicion, and they are not an exit-ramp from the faith. They are the lifeblood of an engaged, invigorated, living Christian faith. Questioning is how we love God and His world on our pilgrimage to see Him.
“Can I help?” When I sit down to write, that is a question I try to put to myself. If I can give it an honest and unhesitating “yes,” then I make an effort. I think there is considerable confusion these days over what questioning and doubt and faith are and should be—and I am bold enough to think that this book can help.
I did not come up with that question myself, though, at least as a test or rubric for writing. Fred Sanders once told me that he asks himself the same question. I mention that in this context because he has written a foreward to the book which I think is better than the book itself. That will not surprise anyone—but hopefully it gives you one reason to think seriously about getting a copy of Called into Questions for yourself and a friend.
Get Called into Questions for “free”
I have never known how to market books. I have long been wary about being co-opted into a commercialism that cheapens the intellectual life. (In retrospect, that was never a real danger: nothing I have written had broad enough appeal to make such a possibility a threat!) At the same time, I have ordinary author-anxieties that my words find an audience. We write to be read, after all, either by the living or those who come after us—and I am under no illusions at this point that my writing will last so long.
In this case, I have been (gratefully) free from fretting that My Life somehow hangs on how many people read this book. I am confident that it can help those who stumble over it and eager to hear from those whose lives it helps. Plus, people I admire seem to like it alright so far. The real value of endorsements is that they free the author from the tyranny of the crowds by allowing others who the author respects to weigh in on the work’s merits.
In this case, a few of the endorsers are non-famous, ordinary folks—a Ph.D student, a college minister, a pastor. Several of them read the first version of this book and benefited from it, so I asked them to read the second and commend it if they could. The fact that they were willing to do so means the world to me.
I am excited for you to read this book as well, because I think it can help clarify what questions are and how they fit within the Christian life. I am confident it can help point toward an invigorated Christian intellectual life (and a better intellectual culture within our churches). And I think it is probably the best writing I have done yet. Some of it will be familiar to those few of you who read End of our Exploring—but much in it is new.
In this case, though, I want the book to only be a part of helping people navigate life. Over the past few years, I have been writing this newsletter as a way of ‘thinking out loud’ with and for a (very small) group of readers who have similar types of questions about the church and the world. I call the newsletter ‘The Path Before Us’ because we need to find a path—and while God’s Word is the lamp that illumines our steps, we sometimes need others to help us along the way. As a writer recently observed, we are all ‘wayfarers’ together on this pilgrimage, hunting for the path of righteousness and life. A book can only take us so far—we need more time, more dialogue, more opportunities for reflection and discernment.
Which is why I am inviting you to become a full member of this newsletter at the annual rate of at least $20 and receive a free copy of Called into Questions. If you want to sign up at the full rate of $40 a year or $32 year (or become a Founding Member at $100 a year), I would naturally welcome that as well!
We are currently offering this to the first 500 people who sign up by September 1st. Members at that rate and above (who pay annually) will receive a free copy as well. Just input your information here.
This is a terrific opportunity to get a book and become a member of a community of inquiry. On many websites, the book alone will cost you $15.99–which means that you can get the book and my ongoing reflections on faith and ethics for only an additional single cup of coffee.
I am currently working my way through theology of the body and I will be teaching on the ethics of reputation this fall. But I also expect to make responding to readers’ inquiries about the book a regular feature for the first few months of its release. As you might imagine, I did not say everything to be said about questioning and the Christian life—so where better to say more than here?
Oh, and did I mention you will get the book earlier than everyone else? We plan on shipping the book as soon as it lands in warehouses—sometime around September 9th. Naturally, if you would be willing to write a review on Amazon as soon as it releases, we would really appreciate that.
I am really excited about this opportunity to expand the little community of readers who have galvanized here, and I am grateful that Moody did not hesitate in saying “yes” to the idea. For those of you who have skimmed this announcement, here are the details again in pretty bullet point form:
Subscribe to this newsletter for $20/$32/$40 or the Founding Member level of $100 a year and get a copy of Called into Questions before anyone else. (Sorry—monthly subscriptions are not included in this offer, for reasons that I hope are obvious!)
Receive Called into Questions in September, read, and profit (I hope).
Write an honest Amazon review (optional—but recommended!).
If you are already a subscriber at the $20/year level or above, you get a book as well! Just fill in the form here.
One last word: I hope that you will subscribe, but I also hope you’ll invite a friend or pastor (or your intellectual enemy, if you prefer!) to subscribe and read with you. We question better when we question with others.
I am grateful for your support already for this project and I look forward to traveling together down the path before us.
All the best,
PS Let me know if you have, erm, questions about this. I may or may not have answers!