Faith without Fear
Scripture straight up, with spiritual nudges, common sense, and other good stuff (not for fundamentalists)
Ever felt bitten by a fundamentalist? Or had your biblical understanding discounted by a conservative? Or the validity of your beliefs questioned by a zealous evangelical? If you have, then you will find Faith without Fear absolutely therapeutic, with its fresh, honest, and unique approach to both Scripture and the faith.
After the publication of his award-winning You Don’t Understand the Bible Because You are Christian (2014), Richard Gist has reemerged to subtly combat religious theologies that are constructed on a fear of God, those “you must be born again or you will be left out of heaven” approaches to life and Divinity. The antidote: trusting the loving purposes of God and reading Scripture “straight up,” that is, rationally, historically, and through sound scholarship. And having fun doing it.
Mr. Gist is a United Methodist clergy person who has spent a twenty-three year retirement researching and writing on biblical subjects. He shares his findings honestly, sometimes fervently, and often humorously to vividly open up biblical stories in readable and engaging terms. Again and again the reader will respond, “I never thought of it that way before.” He does, however, proceed with the expectation that his audience has both an interest in Scripture and a modest acquaintance with its content.
The book asks probing questions, but following Old Testament writing techniques, does not provide answers. Everyone has to think for themselves.
Mr. Gist explores some stories through the question, cui bono? Who profits from telling the story this way? Have you ever done that before in your Bible studies? It leads to new places.
The author sometimes strays beyond Scripture to share personal stories, offer spiritual insights, and to present a smattering of philosophy.
The Table of Contents provides a few hints of what you will find in the book.
Undergirding everything is the author’s absolute trust in the unconditional love of God. As the title of the book suggests, fear should not be a part of our relationship with the Divine. “God never forgives because God never condemns.”
Richard Gist is a product of a small, prairie town in southwest Minnesota, and still lives in that State. In 1952, following graduation from high school, he entered military service, serving in Air Force Special Intelligence as a Russian language specialist. In preparation for that he spent a year of intensive study at the University of Syracuse.
His credentials also include a B.A. from Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa, and a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While there he won the 1969 National Award for Historical Research. He also holds a Master's Degree in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, and is a certified Gestalt therapist.
While in school Mr. Gist served congregations in both Iowa and Ohio, joining the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church full-time in 1969. He retired in 1997. In retirement he has used a more relaxed schedule to study and research (active clergy persons do not have the time), focusing largely on the Bible. He teaches adult Sunday school in his home church, and speaks and teaches on a variety of subjects, but mostly on biblical themes. Among his books are two award-winning pieces, Ayshus on the Inside (a children's book) and You Don't Understand the Bible Because You are Christian.
After a six year hiatus from serious writing, Richard was rudely reminded of the gulf existing between conservative and fundamentalist approaches to Scripture and his own. Reacting to what he considered ill-founded affronts to his own beliefs, he sat down to express his reaction to same, and in his words, just kept writing (for another two-hundred pages and his new book, Faith Without Fear).
Richard and his wife Norma are in their seventh decade of marriage, and peacefully live in Princeton, Minnesota. They have five children.
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