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Book details
  • Genre:RELIGION
  • SubGenre:Christian Theology / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:572
  • Paperback ISBN:9781483587660

Faith On a Stone Foundation

Free Will, Morality and the God of Abraham

by Stephan Grozinger

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Science and philosophy have all but concluded that free will does not exist. What does this mean for faith? For millennia, religious thinkers have placed free will at the center of their understanding of God. Free will was what allowed humanity to make meaningful choices to either follow the will of God or disobey Him. Free will was the explanation for why suffering could exist in a universe controlled by an all-powerful, all-loving God. With free will, we were more than organic machines reacting to stimuli, and more than our nature and nurture; we could choose our own direction and that gave us inherent dignity. The idea that free will is an illusion appears to threaten the foundations of faith and belief in the God of Scripture. In this groundbreaking book, author Stephan Grozinger re-examines the assumption that free will is central to faith. He concludes that, far from being a source of anxiety or even a death sentence for faith, the idea that we do not have free will may be the instrument of its renewal. Grozinger reviews familiar Biblical stories such as The Garden of Eden, Noah, Job and Jonah and concludes that Scripture is entirely consistent with the idea that we do not have free will and, in fact, Scripture seems to urge us to reject the illusion of free will. Only when we embrace this uncomfortable truth do the richness, breadth, and immense challenge of faith reveal themselves.
Christianity appears to be in sharp decline. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of adults in the United States who consider themselves Christian dropped from 78% to 70%. For two millennia, despite many profound challenges, Christianity experienced nothing but exponential growth. Now, in the last decade, Christians are simply walking away from religious affiliation. What is going on? Will faith inevitably decline? Will our understanding of God become secularized until He is nothing but a metaphor for what is good and noble in humanity? Author Stephan Grozinger argues that faith’s best years are still ahead of it. He explores recent advances in science and philosophy regarding the question of whether human beings have free will and concludes that we do not. But far from being a source of anxiety or even a death sentence for faith, this idea may be the instrument of its renewal. Grozinger describes how, in its earliest years, Christianity came under the thrall of Platonism, which offered some proofs of God’s existence, but at a heavy price. The influence of Plato created a hybrid vision of God: the unconditionally loving God of Scripture and an immovable god, the very Form of Good, who commands, tests, rewards and punishes. The same powerful evolutionary forces that shaped our bodies and minds seduced us into thinking these two contradictory visions could be reconciled. Christianity became a religion that encouraged good, socially useful behavior and turned itself into a scold. Unable to embrace the conclusions of science and philosophy regarding free will, popular-culture faith was left behind and often insults our intelligence and offends our moral sensibilities. But faith’s original message is still compelling. By setting aside Plato’s influence, a more ancient vision of God and our relationship to Him emerges. Unlike a Platonic god, the Scriptural God is not dependent on free will. Grozinger reviews familiar Bible stories such as The Garden, The Flood, Exodus, Jonah, and Job, and invites the reader to see them through new eyes to reveal a God who transcends good and useful behavior. He re-examines the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus in light of this new way of seeing the divine. As the story progresses, Grozinger challenges the assumptions of the New Atheists and offers a competing moral vision. Finally, the book closes with an examination of organized religion and how this new vision of faith is expressed in community.
About the author

Stephan Grozinger graduated from the University of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto (9T2) with a concentration in moral philosophy. He obtained his law degree from The University of Connecticut School of Law (1995) and practices commercial real estate law. A native of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec and Ridgefield, Connecticut, Stephan lives with his wife, Claire, and daughter, Zoë, in Weston, Connecticut and Wellfleet, Massachusetts.