Thinking Out Loud

February 17, 2013

Jay Bakker Bares Past and Present Faith Doubts

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:15 am

PTL Club - Bakker FamilyIt’s hard to believe it’s been a dozen years since Jay Bakker —  once the little boy running around the set of Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker’s PTL Club — emerged as Jay Bakker the author of Son of a Preacher Man, and co-founder of Revolution Church, in New York City where he still preaches.

His second book, Fall to Grace, was issued by FaithWords, but has been rolled over into the edgier Jericho Books imprint, where it was joined last week by the new Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed: Walking with the Unknown God.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote:

The pastor of a church that meets in a bar, Bakker has a special place in his heart for the GLBTQ community and offers a spirited biblical defense for the acceptance of sexual difference. He expresses a faith that encourages questions and emphasizes relationships rather than rules. Bakker writes in a simple, down-to-earth style as he counters the focus on exceptionalism, exclusion, sin, and guilt that dominate some forms of evangelical Christianity. Like fellow evangelical Rob Bell, Bakker doesn’t believe in a God who would consign people to hell for all eternity. Love trumps justice; participating in community trumps official church membership; compassion trumps dogma.

Faith and Doubt - Jay BakkerThe publisher’s own blurb states:

Innovative pastor Jay Bakker thought he knew God: the God who rigorously patrolled every aspect of his life, the God who chose sides, the God who was always disappointed in him. But through the transformative power of grace, he discovered the God who loved and accepted unconditionally, freeing him to ask the hard questions and delve into one of Christianity’s greatest taboos: doubt.

In Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed, Jay voices the questions that Christians are thinking but won’t ask as he chronicles his doubt about God, the Bible, heaven and hell, church, society, relationships, grace, and love. In the process he encourages all of us to welcome “the other,” to read the Bible differently but better, to draw together in community, and to seek an unknown God of limitless grace.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jay Bakker says,

I’m trying to get people to really grasp the idea of allowing themselves to doubt in faith. I’m trying to get to deconstruct faith and say faith isn’t about having it figured out. Faith isn’t belief. Doubt is built-in with faith. Faith is not a fact. Faith has more in common with hope than it would [with] fact. There’s always an unknowing when it comes to faith.

In the same interview, he adds,

 Yes, I am definitely questioning the atonement and trying to discover how we can see it in a different way. We’ve got this image of God who needs some sort of flesh, some sort of blood, that needs some sort of vengeance to pay for sin. My experience of a loving God who’s asked me to love my enemies – this isn’t a God that demands something before you are accepted. I think Jesus died because Jesus was inclusive. God is inclusive. I think that the idea of God somehow being separated from us was more man’s idea.

I talk about in the book how when Jesus died and the curtain ripped and there was nothing behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies. I think that our ideas of separation are our own. I think we’re always coming up with other ideas of how we are separate from God, or for some reason why we have to be separate from God. I think that imagery of the temple curtain ripping and nothing being behind there is kind of the [same thing] as [God] saying “I’ve always been with you.”

For a few readers here, that may be enough to spark interest in reading Faith and Doubt, while for others it probably raises doubts about Bakker’s faith.


  1. Paul warns the Galatians about allowing someone to mix leaven in with the gospel…things that make it more palatable to the unredeemed. This “pastor” Bakker is guilty of this. If the gospel was not meant to have hell in it, Jesus would have left it out…if sexual perversions were acceptable, Jesus would have omitted them from the list of “works of the flesh”. But on both counts Jesus warned us. I choose to believe Him!

    Comment by Cynthia Clarke — February 17, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

  2. I am real curious. Please help if you can. Was there life on Earth before God made Adam and Eve? When God sent Cain on his way after killing Abel, Cain was worried that someone would kill him. There had to be people out there as God assured Cain that their punishment would be worse.

    Comment by Donald Roth — February 18, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    • I was all set to trash this comment and then I realized the connection between the book review and faith doubts.

      The verse you’re referring to is Genesis 4:13.

      The Life Application Study Bible says that Cain realized that if he could kill someone, someone could kill him. There is obviously a gap in time between the phrases of Genesis 4:2. During this time Adam and Eve had other children, who were able to inter-marry because human race was still genetically pure. So the population at this time technically could have been “4” but it’s more likely that Adam and Eve’s other children were older now and the story takes place when the first two brothers were old enough to practice their trades (occupations).

      One commentary I read suggested that Cain felt he needed to live a protected city because of a fear of retribution that might come from nature, not necessarily human agency. (If true, then Cain believed in a sort of karma! I can see why other commentators don’t suggest this, but it’s easy for Christians today to fall into the same mindset; hence the many contemporary references to being ‘struck by lightning.’)

      Although I didn’t see this in the five commentaries I checked, you have to remember that people lived for several hundreds of years back then, so a larger population would exist later on. Cain would be concerned that, as the first murderer, there would be a certain stigma about him, and later generations — long after the time frame in the story — might want to hunt him down, so God issues of mark of protection.

      I should also add as an aside, to more directly answer your question, there was a Bible commentator, Finis Jennings Dake, who proposed that there was another race, the pre-Adamites on earth; but he is the only person who has ever suggested this, and the only people who repeat it are people who were influenced by the study Bible that bears his name.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 18, 2013 @ 10:29 am

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