I really have mixed feelings about this book. There are aspects of it I really like but others that make me hesitant to recommend it.
On the positive side, I really appreciate Bays' honesty. He had a horrible childhood of incest and dysfunctional sexuality. He is very open about his experiences and his feelings about those experiences then and now. He is honest about his questions, asking why God allowed such suffering then and why He allows so much suffering in the world now. He says our faith can be strengthened when we ask questions of God. We ultimately realize God has been with us in our brokenness.
I appreciate his comments about God and suffering. Are we willing to allow God to deepen us, to use our suffering? He suggests we cannot experience the fullness of God otherwise. I appreciate his comments about how the God we experience seems nothing like the God we are taught about in church. He doesn't seem to keep His promises. Bays writes that God has not “worked all things out for the good,” at least not the way he would have done it. We lose faith when God doesn't behave the way we've been taught. If we allow ourselves to doubt, we will ultimately find that God is there in the ruins.
I appreciate the honest and raw way Bays explores his story and his doubt. But there are parts of his story that bother me. He was in pastoral work, leading worship, during many of the years of his doubt. He says he would lead songs for the congregation yet not believe what he was singing. He performed a wedding for his cancer ridden sister and her live-in boyfriend when the divorce from her previous husband had not been finalized. Bays says he felt they were already married in God's eyes so performed the ceremony.
Bays quotes from Psalm 44, saying David calls God a liar and a cheat. There was no reference in my galley so I did some research and found the reference of Psalm 44:11-12. I cannot find any translation that is even close to what Bays says it says. Not The Message, not the NLT.
So I must recommend caution when reading this book. I really like Bays' raw honesty. We need more of that as we tell our stories. I like his confronting God head on about allowing such suffering. But I don't like the idea of being in ministry while not believing the words spoken nor do I like performing a wedding that would not be legal under the law.
I suggest reading this book in community, within a small group of trusted friends, as there is a good discussion guide at the end of the book. Reading this book begs for sharing experiences and discussing God's part in them. Bays says doubt is part of the journey to bring our faith from adolescence to adulthood. It is good to have others along on that journey with you.
Read a excerpt from Finding God in the Ruins on New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp's website: http://bit.ly/1Pa4R7C
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
Matt Bays is an author and speaker from Indianapolis. Last year he stepped away from his position at Northview Church to launch his own ministry of bringing people out of their hiding places. He and his wife have two daughters. You can find out more at http://mattbayswriter.com/.
David C Cook, 256 pages. You can purchase a copy here.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.