Ruth Tucker is associate professor of missiology at Calvin Theological Seminary and author of Walking Away from Faith: Unraveling the Mystery of Belief and Unbelief (InterVarsity Press).
What made you decide to write a book about walking away from faith?
Those of us in the Reformed tradition, especially, try to sweep [it] under the carpet because we have our kids, just like those in other traditions, who grow up in the faith, go on into seminary, start pastoral ministry, and then at some point walk away. We are just bewildered by it. We don't want to talk about it. We don't have any response.
How have people reacted to the book?
I was speaking to a group of atheists not so long ago and somebody raised their hand and said, "It's the first time I realized you can have it both ways. You can believe and be a Christian, but you can also have doubts and unbelief."
This book has confused some people. I was talking to my own church in an adult education course. And a man came up to me afterwards and he said, "Now, when did you finally move beyond this unbelief?" I looked at him like, "Have you been listening to me?" I told him I have never to this moment moved beyond it."
Some must react to your thoughts with relief because they realize they are not the only ones who doubt.
I get that far more than the other reaction, especially with my students. I have had so many students come into my office and say, "Oh, that book has just freed me up from struggles that I had. Because here I'm at seminary and wondering, 'Am I the only one?' How can I go on into ministry when I'm struggling? At times do I even really believe the whole ball of wax?"
And there is a sense of relief that [the book is] not just me telling my story, but countless of others ...1