I recently stumbled upon this book at a library used book sale: Finding God in the Questions by Dr. Timothy Johnson. If you google it, you’ll find not only reviews but interviews and video clips where Dr. Johnson discusses the book. This is because he was a public figure. You may recognize him as the former medical editor of ABC-TV and host of Good Morning America’s “On Call with Dr. Tim Johnson.”
While Dr. Johnson is a medical doctor, he actually began his studies years ago not at med school, but at seminary. After graduating from seminary and doing hospital chaplain work, he felt pulled to the medical field. Dr. Johnson has had questions and doubts about Christian faith over the years, yet has remained a believer. He says he’s become comfortable with intellectual and spiritual doubt because it stimulates him to think more deeply about his beliefs.
The book could be considered partly an introduction to Christian faith because he reviews basic Christian beliefs. It is also apologetic as he gives reasons for belief, such as the design he sees in the universe and why we can trust that the Gospels give us an accurate look at the life of Christ. As a doctor, he does not shy away from matters of science and faith and openly addresses them.
Johnson writes in a very down-to-earth and conversational way. He is very diplomatic and clearly wants to avoid coming across as dogmatic or narrow. My impression from reading the book is that he’s not a conservative evangelical yet he’s not a liberal Christian either – but falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
Apparently as he was working on the book, he let friends read it to share their thoughts. As a public figure, his friends come from a variety of religious and irreligious backgrounds. At times in the book he would share a concern brought up by one of these people and then thoughtfully interact with their question or area of disagreement.
In my opinion, his diplomacy becomes the book’s strength and weakness. This book might be really helpful to someone who previously had interest in Christianity but abandoned it because they became frustrated with extremism – whether on the left or right. In some ways his approach was refreshing, yet in other ways I felt concerned.
I feel like he could have (and should have) taken a stronger stance on some issues such as the deity of Christ. It’s not that he took no stand, but his approach to the deity of Christ was mild and I felt like he skirted the issue for fear of causing offense. The book does have a pronounced focus on the teachings of Christ, which is certainly a good thing. But I think it is possible that someone could reach the end of the book and come to the conclusion that trying to follow the teachings of Jesus simply because he was a nice teacher (and not God) is sufficient. However, the deity of Christ is a critical and core Christian belief!
This may just be my personal impression, and perhaps other readers might find him adequately clear but just wanting to maintain an admirable spirit of diplomacy. Essentially…I recommend this book but with some reservations. I’m glad I stumbled upon it and it was worth my time to read it.