A debut book seeks to examine faith through reason.
Former pastor and educator Sago notes that a student once requested, “Tell me how to be a godly person—and please leave out all the religious hodgepodge.” This entreaty acts as an inspiration throughout the author’s work, as he attempts to describe what is worth believing while discarding what he sees as the accumulated errors of organized Christianity. Raised in an evangelical, perhaps fundamentalist, church, Sago went on to lead congregations and Christian universities using what he had learned as the backbone of his belief system. But his views have dramatically changed. “I have a great respect for Christ,” he notes. “However, logic and reason, based on cause and consequence, does not support the redemption theory.” Indeed, he sees Jesus as a historical figure, but in no way divine. Similarly, he disputes nearly every other aspect of what might be considered orthodox Christian doctrine, from biblical Creation to original sin. Eventually, Sago labels himself a deist: “I am a Deist because I believe solely in God. That belief requires no doctrinal governance or precise definitions.” Sago does not, in this work, attempt to convert others to the same type of deism, nor even to disprove the Christianity he has abandoned. Instead, he urges his reader to think critically about organized religion. The problem that seems immediately evident in the book is an absence of doctrine. Sago has gone from one extreme to another in shedding a strict, rule-bound spirituality for a faith in only the most nebulous concept of a supreme being. The reader is forced to ask, did he consult theology before forsaking Christianity? For instance, he sees the concept of original sin as a childish and vengeful human construct. But many theologians across the spectrum have offered more nuanced views of sin, salvation, redemption, etc., than Sago was raised with, but which he simply discounts. In leaving his belief system behind, the vast body of Christian thought cries out for his engagement. Instead, he ignores it wholesale.
A heartfelt but unconvincing look at organized religion.