Jay Bakker, with Andy Meisenheimer, Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I've Crossed Walking With the Unknown God (New York: Jericho Books, 2013), 192pp.
"I will probably be eighty years old," writes Jay Bakker, "and still introduced as Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye." He's covered that personal ground in three previous books. Today he's co-pastor of Revolution NYC, a church that started in Phoenix in 1994 and has had subsequent iterations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Minneapolis. Forget the stained glass; these faith communities meet in bars, coffee shops, and candy stores. In his newest book, Bakker moves from the personal to the theological.
He calls his book a "chronicle of doubt" about a number of hot button issues like the nature of God, Scripture, heaven and hell, and especially the very scary grace of God announced by Jesus. In Rilke's famous phrase, he's doing what all wise believers must do; he's "living the questions." What Bakker captures so well is how the love of God subverts our many tribalisms and idols that demand sacrifices from us. Is such inclusive grace not dangerous? Yes, of course it is. But that's the call of the kingdom that Jesus announced.
"We ought to be becoming outcasts by befriending outcasts. We should be ridiculed for hanging out with the ridiculous. We should be known for irrational grace. Irrational forgiveness." And what are we saying and doing with such radical inclusion? We're simply saying, "This person's a real human being. A person, just like you and me." Of course, this is not what the church is known for. We're known for arguing who's in and who's out. But, writes Bakker, "Jesus says to everyone the church says is out: 'Come on in.'"