MONCTON (CUP) — Farewell to God – My reasons for rejecting the Christian faith is controversial both in title and overall message. Written by Charles Templeton, it describes his personal journey in discovering his beliefs and the challenges he endured along the way.
By the time he was thirty, he was advocating his Christian beliefs to crowds of up to 30,000 people. Especially talented at reaching youth, Templeton became one of the best-known mass evangelists in North America. As he continued to strongly influence millions, he began to question the “facts” he was teaching. In 1957, he retired from the ministry to try and confirm his faith and silence his doubts.
Templeton decided that he needed to receive formal training, so, at the age of forty-two, he enrolled into the Princeton Theological Seminary and received and honourary Doctor of Divinity degree. He continued to preach, train ministers, lecture and even hosted a weekly Christian television show, “Look Up and Live.” He continued to teach others how to have faith, while he struggled with his own.
As it would for anyone, living a lie became too much for him and he felt forced to leave the ministry entirely. He spent the remainder of his life questioning the Christian faith and attempting to discover why so many wholeheartedly believe in it, without stopping to consider why. Templeton made a huge effort to believe, but the more he forced himself, the more impossible he felt it was.
Farewell to God discusses the flaws in the story of creation, racial and sexist prejudice in the Bible, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the difference between what is good and what and evil, and the loss of faith in God. Templeton doesn’t try to answer these questions, he simply asks how people rationalize and find logic in the answers provided by the bible and the church itself.
Written in a very clear and straightforward way, Templeton argues and emphasizes many of his points, perhaps even excessively. Many of his “arguments” are as weak as the questions he poses. Farewell to God basically recounts both sides of the debate regarding the Christian faith without adding any original personal, intellectual or philosophical thoughts.
One of the few self-reflexive points he did make was calling himself an agnostic. This position is halfway between theism and atheism and it states that one cannot know if there is a God. This would seem like an easy cop-out for anyone who is avoiding trying to answer the “ultimate question,” but Templeton says this shouldn’t be said unless one has sought to know. He argues that this is the only rational position, as the alternatives can’t be proven one way or the other.
Naturally, Templeton’s work has been widely criticized by the Catholic Church. If the person who preached your beliefs publicly expressed his disagreement with them, wouldn’t you begin to question them also? It is obvious why the church would attempt to discredit Templeton, but at the same time, what are they scared of?
Templeton was not trying to end Christianity by writing this book. He states over and over again that he is not critiquing Christian values or ideals, because he believes they are some of the most ethical and profound concepts in history. He simply thinks it is possible and beneficial to live without “believing the unbelievable.” After spending a lifetime researching the subject, many would agree that he has earned the right to state his opinion.
Farewell to God ends with a summary of what the author does and doesn’t believe. One would need an open mind to get anything of depth from this autobiographical perspective of beliefs and their importance in the world today. The message is certainly more influential to readers already questioning their faith than to mature and defensive Christians. Farewell to God will only challenge one’s beliefs if one allows it to and is seeking a new perspective.
Autobiography; Softcover; 223 Pages