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Religion General

Can I Believe?

An Invitation to the Hesitant

by (author) John G. Stackhouse

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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Maybe Christianity is actually true. Maybe it is what believers say it is. But at least two problems make the thoughtful person hesitate.

First, there are so many other options. How could one possibly make one's way through them to anything like a rational and confident conclusion? Second, why do so many people choose to be Christian in the face of so many reasons not to be Christian? Yes, many people grow up in Christian homes and in societies, but many more do not. Yet Christianity has become the most popular religion in the world. Why?

This book begins by taking on the initial challenge as it outlines a process: how to think about religion in a responsible way, rather than settling for such soft vagaries as "faith" and "feeling". It then clears away a number of misunderstandings from the basic story of the Christian religion, misunderstandings that combine to domesticate this startling narrative and thus to repel reasonable people who might otherwise be intrigued.

The second half of the book then looks at Christian commitment positively and negatively. Why do two billion find this religion to be persuasive, thus making it the most popular "explanation of everything" in human history? At the same time, how does Christianity respond to the fact that so many people find it utterly implausible, especially because so many Christians insist that theirs is the only way to God and because of the problem of evil that seems to undercut everything Christianity asserts?

Grounded in scholarship but never ponderous, Can I Believe? refuses to dodge the hard questions as it welcomes the intelligent inquirer to give Christianity at least one good look.

About the author

JOHN G. STACKHOUSE, JR. is an associate professor in the Department of Religion, University of Manitoba.

John G. Stackhouse's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"John Stackhouse offers a refreshing combination of intellectual rigor and personal courtesy, conceptual clarity where possible and commendable humility at the limits of our understanding. We all live at the nexus of knowledge, faith, doubt, and decision. John Stackhouse provides for us an invaluable guidebook to that vexed territory."

--Hans P. Halvorson, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University

"Intelligent, erudite, and witty, this book is a guide to answering with integrity the most important question of our lives: 'What kind of life is worthy of our humanity?' That's the kind of 'believing' Stackhouse explores: the knowledge and trust needed for embarking upon a comprehensive way of life."

--Miroslav Volf, Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale University

"John Stackhouse strikes a brilliant balance. As a devoted Christian, he has the confidence to proselytize, yet he also has the humility to respect my intelligence, dignity, and humanity as a non-Christian. Be not afraid of his invitation. In our age of raging dogmas, who asks for simple consideration without expectation of outcome? Stackhouse, that's who. In more ways than one, this book is a counter-cultural delight."

--Irshad Manji, , Founder, Moral Courage Project

"Here is a book for everyone who wants their life to be in harmony with reality. If you are ready for your beliefs -- and your reasons for choosing them -- to be challenged to the core, then you should read this."

--Andrew Briggs, , Professor of Nanomaterials, University of Oxford

Other titles by John G. Stackhouse