*REVIEW* The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christianity

gulley1

Phillip Gulley,
The Evolution of Faith:
How God is Creating a Better Christianity

HarperOne, 2011
224 pages

Perhaps you’ve come to know author Philip Gulley through his fictional writings—Front Porch Tales and the Harmony series.  Or perhaps your theological presumptions were torn asunder after reading his co-authored work, with James Mulholland, If Grace is True.  Or just maybe you’ve had to the privilege to hear this gifted speaker at any one of his numerous speaking engagements.  No matter how you’ve come to know Philip Gulley, it is hard to deny the naturally pastoral nature of this individual.

In his most recent work, The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christianity, Gulley utilizes his pastoral nature to tackle, head-on, struggles and issues he’s encountered in his move from a more fundamentalist faith to what many would describe now as “progressive.”  Yet, as I read this book, I’ve come to think these latter labels really don’t encompass what Gulley is trying to do.  Rather, I think this new book could be thought of as a pastoral counseling session, intent on speaking to those who have faced crises of faith and struggled to figure out a way forward.  And yet, Gulley also doesn’t shy away from addressing some tough topics, seeking to point out the holes, as he sees them, in the theology he left behind.  In so doing, Gulley’s purpose, as he names it, is “to suggest a possible way forward that not only honors the ethos of Jesus but is conversant with our time and culture.”

Now, for those hoping for an in-depth theological treatment of how Christianity has evolved and toward what it is moving, you’ll be sorely disappointed in this work.  But, for those who may be seeking a way forward, out of the chaos that results when what was once held dear is and must be left behind, The Evolution of Faith is Philip Gulley’s attempt to pastor from afar, sharing stories of both hardship and victory, as he seeks to encourage his beloved faith to change.  In doing so, his chapters speak to the various theological categories any orthodox theologian may utilize, and yet his exposition of the topics obviously moves in a more progressive, revisionist, and some might say, evolutionary path.  While this book is not the end of the discussion on this subject matter, nor does it purport to be, it is a positive step in rethinking Christianity that both honors our lived experiences and seeks to hold on to that which is valuable and formative, and discard that which is not.  To that end, Philip Gulley has added much to the conversation.

Dustin Hite
Master of Divinity ’10 / Master of Theological Studies ’14
North Campus Minister @ Geist Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN

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