Reviewer

Jonathan Griffiths is an ordained Foursquare minister and FMI missionary to Great Britain.

  Who it's for

Christians struggling with doubt, pastors studying Easter weekend

  Details

  • Price: $14.99
  • Format: 240 pages, softcover and e-book
  • Publisher: Baker Books

A.J. Swoboda, senior pastor of Theophilus Church (Hawthorne Foursquare Church) in Portland, Ore., has taken a look at Easter weekend and found we have been skipping a day. Everyone celebrates Easter Sunday, and more people are intentionally incorporating Good Friday into their times of gathering. But Holy Saturday has been, for the most part, sidestepped.

By Foursquare Pastor A.J. Swoboda, this book embraces the totality of Christ as explored in Good Friday, Easter Sunday and the Saturday between.

Saturday was the day the disciples despaired, not understanding how what they believed matched up with the reality of what had happened. And if we skip the significance of this Saturday, the crucial space for doubts, fears and questions can be squelched.

Subtitled “Finding Hope in the Tension Between Belief and Experience,” the recently released A Glorious Dark features 15 chapters spread over the three days of the Easter story. A.J. (who has a doctorate in ecotheology, yet somehow writes at a level normal humans can grasp) shares insights and reflections from the life of faith, grounded in the Scriptures, that run the gamut of these three days, covering thoughts on suffering, loss, doubt, rest, rescue, community and much more.

“Today’s Christians, lamentably, almost never embrace the totality of the weekend in their personalized versions of Christianity,” writes A.J. And that lack of embracing causes all kinds of problems in our walk with Christ, because, let’s face it, life happens.

If you are a Sunday Christian, then the presence of doubt can easily be seen as an affront to the life of faith. And if you’re a Good Friday Christian, then nobody wants to go to your party. Saturday Christians are probably harder to find in your church because they revel in doubt and cynicism and revolt against anything that seems to suggest there are actual answers. Yes, the selective prejudices of our hearts are troublesome.

Frequently, I found myself caught off-guard by the humor in this book (humor which made me snort in public at my favorite coffee shop—thanks, A.J.), only to have my soul pierced with the truth, grace, love and beauty of Jesus.

There are some incredibly vulnerable moments in these pages, ones that will likely be used to bring some believers out of hiding and on the road to healing. There also are moments that will likely poke you and cause disagreement or dissonance in your soul. I would suggest this is a good thing. Sometimes, the ice on the surface of our lives needs to be cracked, to get to the flowing waters beneath.

For someone willing to ask hard questions, A.J. is compellingly committed to Jesus and the Scriptures. And if my recommendation isn’t enough to convince you to buy this book right now, consider that renowned Foursquare Pastor Wayne Cordeiro endorsed it, saying, “A Glorious Dark is a must read!” I agree with him. Read it with a highlighter in your hand—you’re going to want one.