Tag Archives: hopeful realism

Overcoming Cynicism (Sermon)

Overcoming CynicismI’ve written on cynicism a few times here at the blog. If you follow regularly, you know this is something I’ve admitted to struggling with myself. I consider myself a recovering cynic. I must repent of my cynicism daily to follow Jesus faithfully.

I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m not alone in my cynicism. In fact, I’ve gotten more response through personal correspondence on this one issue than any others. It no doubt strikes a chord with folks today. And I’m not surprised.

I’ve found that cynicism is the elephant in the room that nobody really wants to talk about.

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon that is a compilation of stuff I’ve written, as well as new thoughts, on the subject of struggling with and overcoming cynicism. This one sermon was probably the most relevant message I gave all year. It connected with our congregation like no other.

In Overcoming Cynicism, I specifically take on the growing cynicism toward the church, the Body of Christ. It’s something we desperately need to address as we seek to emerge from the “evangelicalism” of the last 30 years.

Here are a few excerpts from the sermon:

“Cynicism manifests itself out of frustration with persons, institutions, organizations, and authorities that have left her victims disillusioned and angry. Cynics feel cheated, robbed, lied to, and taken advantage of. Maybe you know the feeling. Disillusionment has been described as the “dispersal of illusions,” and many Christians are finding themselves passing through disillusionment only to drown in a sea of cynicism.”

“Cynicism is a sickness… it leads to despair. We must repent of it… repent by believing that God is greater than the evil at work in the world, for he calls us to be people of hope. We repent of it because it’s not consistent with the people we’re called to be.”

“Let’s be clear. It’s not cynicism simply to acknowledge reality. It’s just that we can’t fully know what’s real without considering the God fully revealed in Jesus. Reality must conform to the good news of Christ. If we’re not doing that, then why bother with being a Christian. Hopeful realism is about resurrection and the promise of new creation. And this is what I believe we’re being called to embrace in the gospel message. It allows us to see the Spirit of God at work, and it empowers us to join him in shaping God’s good future.”

You can download the sermon and view slides (PDF) here at our archives. Listen to Overcoming Cynicism and learn about practical steps you can take on your way to becoming a hopeful realist this Advent season.

Grace & Peace,

D.D. Flowers, 2014.



God is Not Cynical (So Why Are You?)

Years ago I read a book entitled: God is Not: Religious, Nice, “One of Us,” An American, A Capitalist by D. Brent Laytham. The book is a short collection of essays that intends to subvert pop culture’s view of God, especially that of most conservative evangelicals.  I recommend it to those already suscpicious of the American Jesus.

I would like to add one more to the “God is Not…” list. This addition is meant to be a corrective to what has quickly become vogue among those who would think of themselves as “enlightened” in the church. I’m talking about cynicism. And my deep concern is for those who revel in it.

Last year I wrote a blog post called On Christian Cynicism. I talked about how I left fundamentalism and then reveled in cynicism for a time. I strongly suggest that you read, or re-read, that post before reading this one.

Do you feel like your drowning in cynicism? Maybe you’re happy in it, I don’t know. If you’re having a difficult time trading in your cynicism for hopeful realism, and you truly desire to be renewed, I want to share some brief thoughts and leave you with some practical steps to healing.

If you’re a cynic saint, please seriously consider my challenge and encouragement to you. May you be surprised by the hope God gives.

Repenting of Cynicism

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with cynicism. I think of myself as a recovering cynic who must daily trade in his cynicism for hopeful realism. I haven’t repented of cynicism. I’m repenting of it, daily.

I have good days. I also have good weeks. But like many of you, I know that it’s all too easy to do a hard dive into a cynical depression after watching the news, listening to some really bad “Christian” music on the radio, or surveying my Facebook newsfeed. And that’s just the beginning.

Somedays it’s enough to make you want to quit.

I don’t trust politicians. I think the American Empire marches on with or without your vote. Most days I think insurance companies are a ministry of Satan. I think the news media (every network) is about entertainment, not investigative reporting and the truth. Nobody is fair and balanced.

It appears to me that the US medical industry has been hijacked by greedy doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I’m told repeatedly that my unvaccinated child is a threat to all the vaccinated children in the country. I can’t help but feel like we’re living in The Twilight Zone.

I’m leery of realtors, lawyers, and car salesmen. I’m tempted to think that every religious institution and business corporation is after your money. We’re not people anymore, just targeted consumers.

Oh, and I believe in conspiracies.

All of this (and much more) has made me suspicious of those who disagree with my perspective. Like I said, I know it’s easy to be cynical these days. So I think it’s important for us to be repenting of our cynicism regularly.

But let me be clear. It’s not cynicism simply to acknowledge reality. It’s just that we can’t fully know what’s real without considering the God revealed in Jesus. Reality must conform to the good news of Christ.

Cynicism leads to despair. Repent of it when it’s at work in you.

Repent by believing that God is greater than the evil at work in the world. He calls us to be people of hope. Hopeful realism is about resurrection and the promise of new creation. It allows us to see the Spirit of God at work, and it empowers us to join him in shaping God’s good future.

The God of Hope

According to Jesus, God is not cynical. So why are you? Why are we so cynical? Think about it. If we truly believe in the God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, then how can we choose to be cynical?

Jesus defeated sin and death! The Messiah took on lies, greed, violence, and the corruption of the world, and he loved his enemies to death. His resurrection guarantees a final renewal to come (1 Cor 15; 2 Cor 5:5).

That renewal is coming about though the church. Yes, I know. This may be the most difficult truth for any cynic saint to believe, but it’s true. If you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you must believe in this.

Jesus didn’t make fun of those that didn’t get it. Yes, he was angry with the religious hypocrites, but he didn’t retreat from their places of worship. He never gave up on them. He mourned for those in bondage.

Jesus was in anguish over Jerusalem. All of the disfunction prompted Jesus to action, not bitter isolation. Our Lord believed that the Kingdom would triumph. He was hopeful for the world. His trust was in the Father.

The Kingdom of God is alive and well! Do you believe this? Do you really believe it? If so, you can’t remain in your cynicism. You must be intentional about brokenness, repentance, and action. You must move.

The God revealed in Jesus has made a way to rise above our cynicism. We can’t speak and live as people with no hope. We’re called to “boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”                                                                                  Paul, Eph. 3:10-11

It seems to me that this truth that God is going to transform the world through the church was difficult even for Paul and the early church. Have you read 1 Corinthians? Lots of room for cynicism. But it’s true!

It didn’t work out so well for Israel. So, what confidence can we have that it’s gonna work with the church? The difference is that Christ, the risen Lord, is head of the church (Eph 5:34; Col 1:18). And his Spirit has been given to all the saints to be agents of new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

We must choose to be difference makers. If we are real followers of Jesus, we can’t abandon the church. We must work to transform our communities, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey the commands of Christ (Matt 28:18-20).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Embracing Hopeful Realism

You must be intentional about moving out of cynicism if you want to embrace hopeful realism. Please consider the following.

  1. Don’t give up meeting with the church (Heb 10:23-25). It doesn’t matter if it’s a house church or a larger organized fellowship. You were created for community. When you’re outside a worshipping community of believers, you’re vulnerable. Isolation is a breeding ground for cynicism. Join a church. Stop making excuses for why you’re not in fellowship. You’re just as messed up as the rest of us.
  2. Cynicism, like misery, loves company. Don’t network with others who are cynical. It may make you feel better to congregate with other cynics for a time, but in the end it will kill your spiritual life if you don’t move out of it. If you’re surrounded by other Christians who are constantly negative, sarcastic, and cynical, it’s time to make a change. In your state, they will keep you from moving on.
  3. Be careful not to form your theology (setting it in concrete) when you’re in a season of cynicism, especially when you’re not in face-to-face community with others. Cynicism clouds your thinking. I’ve noticed that it pushes people to extremes. It’s also easy to be persuaded by other cynical, secular-thinking people, who need healing themselves. You don’t want to follow after those folks.
  4. Make a concerted effort to be constructive. It’s important to deconstruct theology and church systems, but do it with intentions of offering solutions. Stop being critical of everything. If you feel that something deserves critique, offer a healthy alternative that builds up the Body of Christ. Be helpful, not negative. Beware of toxic speech, and be careful of spreading it around to others.
  5. Listen to others who have been where you are. If you’re tired of living as a cynic saint and want to embrace hopeful realism, you need to let the light of others shine into your life. You’re not the first believer to feel frustrated and angry with the church and the world. Take notice of others who have gone before you and rebounded with a renewed sense of purpose. You’re not alone.
  6. Serve others and give to those in need around you. It’s usually those folks who are not involved in Kingdom work that don’t discover the power of healing the Spirit can bring. Serve out of your deficit. Give even though you don’t feel like it. I don’t mean fake it until you feel it. I mean that you should do what Christ has commanded you and be surprised by the hope that will flood into your life.
  7. Ask the God of hope to break your hardshell and renew your heart. Tell the Lord that you want new eyes to see the church and the world the way he does. Pray that God will give you the strength to let go of that which you falsely believed empowered you: a cynical heart and mind. Our Father is faithful to give you the enduring Spirit of hope that he gave Jesus in the face of sin and death.

My friends, God is not cynical. His Son has proved it by the power of his resurrection. Therefore, we are children of hope. May you find healing for your souls as you persevere in the power of his Spirit.

Faith. Hope. Love.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

On Christian Cynicism

If you were to look up cynicism in the dictionary (or Wikipedia), you will read that the contemporary form is characterized as a general distrust of people—a lack of faith in others because of their naiveté—resulting in a continual flow of ridicule and scorn.

This cynicism manifests itself out of frustration with persons, institutions, organizations, and authorities that have left her victims disillusioned and angry. Cynics feel cheated, robbed, lied to, and taken advantage of.

I have personally experienced this “jaded negativity” and the pitiful pit of cynical despair after having spent 7 years in ministry, and coming to terms with many ugly realities of organized Christianity.

When I finally realized that I had been raised in fundamentalism, served in fundamentalist churches, and that pop-culture Christianity in America was a thousand miles wide but about an inch deep… I was angry.

No, that’s an understatement.

I was bitterly frustrated to the point of giving up.

Reveling in Cynicism

Truth be told… I left fundamentalism, but reveled in cynicism for a time.

I must admit that there was something strangely comforting being able to criticize and scrutinize from the outside looking in on what was clearly wrong with the church. I was safe and guarded against more pain.

It protected me from being hurt again, but it also kept me from people—all those for whom Jesus died—including religious hypocrites.

I knew deep down that my cynicism was a sickness. And I wanted healing.

I saw the harmful effects of social networks forming online just for Christian cynics. I found folks declaring themselves “free” from religion, but they were mostly a bitter believer’s club throwing salt on open wounds.

Christian cynicism can completely immobilize followers of Jesus.

Cynicism can even keep the Christian from ever recovering again.

It’s true. If cynic-saints are not intentional about moving forward in Christ to a renewed place of life in the Kingdom, they will forfeit their inheritance.

Let’s be done with the reveling and embrace resurrection.

Trading Cynicism for Hopeful Realism

Do you know any Christian cynics? Are you a Christian cynic?

You need to know that healing can come if you keep your heart open to Christ and your feet moving in the direction of his love for you and others.

This doesn’t mean that you forget what you’ve learned, what’s been revealed to you by Christ, or the reality of the current state of affairs. It doesn’t mean that you set aside your doubts and uncertainty. It doesn’t mean you must compromise your convictions.

But it does mean that you allow the Lord to shine a light on the darkness that is overcoming the living hope of Christ within you, and that is keeping that hope from being fully expressed as resurrection life to others.

You cannot faithfully follow Christ and harbor bitterness toward any segment of the church. Imagining that certain groups or that organized Christianity is not the true church doesn’t justify this behavior.

Be loving, patient, kind, forgiving, and compassionate as Christ. There’s no room for cynicism in Christ. Give it up. It’s killing you. And it’s hurting the Body of Christ. You can’t effect change this way.

Let the Lord have your cynicism. Trade it in for hopeful realism.

What is hopeful realism? It’s Christ getting the last word on the matter. It’s reality being confronted by the Kingdom of God. It’s new life in the face of death. It allows us to see a world poised for resurrection.

Healing for the Cynic-Saint

In his book, Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint (IVP 2011), Andrew Byers writes:

“We are in dire need for redeemed cynics to dress their wounds that they may rise up and flourish in the truths revealed to them for the health of the church and for the glory of God.” (p. 12)

I have reviewed Andy’s book and interviewed him here at the blog. His book offers a great help to those looking for a way out of their cynicism.

It’s not going to be easy, but if healing is going to come to the cynic-saint, he must take his hands out of the festering wound and let Jesus dress it with his loving kindness. He’s the great healer.

We need the keen insight and revitalized faith that redeemed cynics can bring to a struggling church. And we need it now more than ever.

Please don’t abandon the Lord’s work for self-absorbed cynicism or an idealistic pipedream for the church. Be intentional in rising above it.

Let the Lord reveal new possibilities to you. Allow him to show you his power and ability to resurrect the dead and dying parts of you, the church, and the world. Ask him. He will do it.

Remember that you are loved, you are missed, and you are needed.

Do you want to trade your cynicism in for a renewed hope and vision for Christ and his Kingdom? What intentional steps can you make today to embrace hopeful realism? Commit today to moving forward.

D.D. Flowers, 2012.

Q&A with Andrew Byers

Andrew Byers is the author of the recently released book, Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint (InterVarsity Press, 2011).

Andy is currently working on a PhD in New Testament at Durham University (England) while serving as a college pastor at Mountain Brook Community Church and leading University Christian Fellowship in Birmingham, Alabama. He is married with four children.

David: Andy, I am grateful for you taking the time out of your schedule to answer some questions about yourself, and to talk about your very timely book, Faith Without Illusions. First things first… you seem like a busy guy. Where did you find the time to write a book? And why this book?

Andy: Time for writing the book… I still cannot figure out how I squeezed it in. There were early mornings and late nights, of course. And since I work with a church I get a day off in the week. My wife deserves enormous praise for allowing me to use those days off to write.

I did not really feel free to work on the book during work hours, but there is a lot of ebb and flow in the intensity of a college pastor’s work. So over the summer and Christmas breaks I was able to make a lot of progress without feeling too guilty about working while on the clock as a pastor. I wore out the seat and table at the window of Primavera Coffee here in Birmingham!

Why this particular book? I actually wanted to write a on “The Myths of College Spirituality,” of which cynicism would have been one of about seven others. I preached a sermon on that topic years ago in my second year of college ministry when I began noticing students acting out of a number of misguided ideas about spirituality with which I myself had struggled. But the Myths idea did not grab the attention of publishers.

After a few years of peddling my book proposal at the bookstalls of SBL meetings, I gave up.

Then one day I was invited to lecture in a class on college ministry at Beeson Divinity School, taught by Matt Kerlin, the University Minister at Samford University. I mentioned cynicism that day, and he soon asked if I would preach on that topic for Samford’s chapel.

After preaching that message, I realized that so much of the material I wanted to write about could be presented in a book that took cynicism as its major theme. Likewise Books with IVP expressed interest and suggested I contact them later in the year.

A contract, to my delightful shock, eventually followed.

So there are these two sermons in my college ministry experience that eventually gave rise to Faith Without Illusions. I am pleased that preaching had such a significant role in the process.

David: Why do you think so many Christians are cynical today? In your book you say that: “Cynicism is a sickness.” You promote a “hopeful realism” instead. Can you explain? I mean… what is going on in the church that we need a book like this?

Andy: Cynicism is in the air of our culture. The dust is beginning to settle from the modern era, and the landscape comes into view we are becoming painfully aware that human ingenuity, scientific progress, and engineering skill have not lived up to touted expectations.

Postmodern critiques are to be welcomed to the extent that they agree with Scripture on humankind’s incapacity to engineer its own salvation. Those critiques, of course, can certainly be cynical.

And since modernity’s approaches and ways of thinking have been so enthusiastically adopted in the church’s recent history, then that cynicism is creeping into our ranks as well.

On a more practical level, cynicism flourishes where there is bad thinking and bad behavior. And we have plenty of that, sadly, in the church!

Misguided thinking (like exact predictions for the world’s end, for instance) and improper behavior (like gossiping about those people who make such weird predictions, for instance) tend to disillusion us. That disillusionment is the first step toward cynicism.

As you mentioned, rather than cynicism (or idealism), I am calling for “hopeful realism.” I am trying to capture with this phrase the disposition and outlook to which Scripture calls us. We cannot be idealists who seem to deny the grim miseries of an ex-Eden world.

But cynics seem unwilling or unable to acknowledge that a new Eden is around the bend… and even in our midst.

The climbing of Jesus out of His grave is the initiation of the re-created heavens and earth—the new edenic paradise—for which we are all longing. Hopeful realists acknowledge the harsh cruelties of a fallen world but not without singing a tune under their breath about the emergence of new creation in our midst that is to be finalized in the future.

David: In your book you discuss several things that have often produced cynical saints: idealism, religiosity, experientialism, cultural irrelevance, and anti-intellectualism. I wish we could discuss a bit of all of these, but if you don’t mind I would like to talk briefly about one of these causes for cynicism. I know that I personally resonated with this statement on anti-intellectualism within the church.

You say, “the ongoing cycle generated by anti-intellectualism in the church and intellectual elitism in the academy may be among the most serious issues Christians must address in our day.” What do you think is going on there? What can folks on both sides of the aisle do about this problem?

Andy: The tension between anti-intellectualism and intellectual elitism in the church was recently put on vivid display by a blog post written by Donald Miller (which was eventually re-posted at RELEVANTMagazine.com). The comment streams are very long, and in that online interaction one can detect such suspicion on both sides of the “aisle,” as you put it.

(Let me say that I really like Miller as a writer, I just struggled with the comments in that post. At my blog I write about how I disagree and how I agree with him. And RELEVANT Magazine was gracious to allow me to write on Anti-intellectualism a few weeks after they published Miller’s blog post).

So what do we do about this tension? How do we deflate the stereotypes of the Christian anti-intellectual and the intellectually elitist Christian? I think we should realistically prepare to measure the time it will take to make those changes in terms of decades, not years.

We need a generation of young Christians who will begin to seriously integrate the worshipful laboring of their minds with other dimensions of their faith. 

There are good signs that this might happen alongside some frightening signs that it may not. In the first instance, we have a large number of young ministers (like you and me!) interested in pursuing doctoral work.

The reality is that there will not be enough academic posts for these qualified individuals to fill, a situation that will hopefully direct more and more well-trained ministers into the front line of church work.

If these scholar-pastors will be pastoral scholars (rather than uppity intellectual jerks!), then hopefully there will be a gradual embrace within the church of “the life of the mind” (note: if we take church jobs embittered that we did not get the university job, we are going to harm more than help this problem!).

The bad signs that bridging the divide will not happen are documented in some serious studies on what is happening with the younger generations in our churches.

Sociologist Christian Smith and his collaborating team of researchers describe widespread failures on behalf of parents and pastors to train and socialize children and youth into the rich theological traditions of the church (see his Soul Searching: The Spiritual and Religious Lives of American Teenagers and Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults; see also Kenda Creasy Dead’s Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church).

For the time being, something we can do now to help bridge the divide between the academy and church is to begin nurturing our contemporary scholars and to begin encouraging them to use their gifts in local congregations. For those Christian scholars, a heightened, loving sensitivity to the suspicions surrounding their profession needs to be adopted, and we cannot react defensively to those suspicions. Hard work. But necessary.

And since Christian scholars generally live only in university towns, another major objective should be getting their works into the hands of church-folk who live in “Smalltown, USA” and other places without face to face interaction with our authors and teachers. Lot’s of challenges….

David: That’s interesting that you would mention Christian Smith. My next question was going to involve your call for “biblical communities” in this pursuit of healthy churches.

Smith wrote an excellent book, Going to the Root: Nine Proposals for Radical Church Renewal (1992) that describes a view of biblical community. In this book he proposed Acts 2 home fellowships where folks live in the same neighborhood in order to enjoy the sort of community that allows for every member functioning without reliance upon a rigid hierarchy.

What do you think of those in the “organic” and simple churches today who are seeking to embody what you describe, only in a more familial setting where “priesthood of the believer” is truly becoming a reality instead of just a church doctrine?

Do you think it’s possible that the clergy-laity dichotomy has only fueled the fire that blazes between the intellectuals and “lay” folks? And is there any cynicism directed toward those who have chosen to meet this way, on what might be called the “fringes” of Christianity?

Andy: I have never been an active member of an organic-style church, so I cannot speak with much personal clout about them! I do like much of the vision guiding such churches.

In Faith Without Illusions, my concern is not with promoting a “how” as much of a “what”—no matter the style or polity of church (simple, organic, hierarchical, congregational, etc.), I just want to see local expressions of Christ’s body functioning not as “cliques” or “crowds” but as “communities.”

Cliques function well internally, but not externally, crowds are the opposite, but biblical communities have a healthy balance of the inward and outward orientations we see presented to us in places like the book of Acts.

Because I suspect most of my readers to be younger Christians who are… well, a bit cynical toward older models of church polity and style, I come down fairly hard on what I perceive to be “cultural arrogance.” Churches are so culturally irrelevant for so many young adults. But we run the risk of arrogantly assuming we have cornered the market on “community.”

What I present in my chapter on cultural irrelevance is that there are actually older, traditional churches that know community way more than we do, in spite of our laid back style and our noble decision to free people from those stuffy coats and ties!

Community is a recent buzzword, but I know folks in my grandparents generation who were living it out for years before all these wonderful new books with suggestions for new models of doing church came along.

I do think there are a number of cynical folks in these newer churches.  Sure. And maybe some of those churches have purposely departed for the ecclesial fringes. But then again, I think most of them are probably more like missional outposts, striving to reach those who have migrated to those fringes. In that regard, simple/organic churches are a refreshing necessity!

On the clergy-laity divide… what a sticky issue. I have a high regard for positions of authority, but I tend to view those in the positions simply as brothers or sisters. I think respecting the office while demystifying those who hold them would be a helpful practice to initiate and maintain in our churches.

David: How do you propose then that we “demystify” the role of leadership without losing leaders?

Andy, I come down to this concern because I think a lot of folks have recognized a real problem, which has in fact been perpetuated by the power-over forms of leadership, and has contributed to the cynicism folks have in and outside of mainstream Christianity.

How can we have real “biblical communities” with the presumption that the best time for that to happen is in church sanctuaries on Sunday morning (p.116)—shoulder-to-shoulder instead of face-to-face?

Some authors and teachers are saying, “No, this stuff isn’t new… it’s as old as the New Testament.” They would contend that the clergy-laity dichotomy is a major obstacle for every-member-functioning in biblical community.

And so my final question is this: “How can we confront the cynicism that exists between both those in the mainstream and those outside on the fringes of Christianity?”

Andy: Probably the most effective way of lessening the tension in the clergy-laity dichotomy is for clergy to embody the humble servanthood prescribed and modeled by Jesus in the Gospels.

Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus is the best book outside the Gospels on urging this.  Matthew 23:8-12 needs to be read much more voraciously than the latest bestsellers in Christian “Leadership.”

If those of us in ministry leadership positions used our office as a means of giving up ourselves rather than wielding power, then surely this would help deflate some of the cynicism that arises from the personality cults and from the demeaning and harsh words of pastors or elders.

As for your final question on confronting cynicism within and on the fringes of church-life, I think what we do not do is judge the cynics or distance ourselves from them. We tend to treat them as our enemies. We do not like interacting with them because of how they ruffle our feathers.

But judging them and distancing them will only justify their cynicism and shove them further out from the harbor of the church.

So I think we make it a priority to find our cynics, talk openly about what makes them cynical, and then respond with a teachable spirit, willing to listen and learn from their frustrations.

Redeemed cynics have so much to offer the church. They may well be the most insightful people in our midst. So we should welcome them for the sake of their healing and ours!

David: Thank you, Andy. I appreciate your time. I know it is valuable. This is an excellent book… very timely. It’s my desire that folks in the mainstream and the fringes of Christianity will read Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint.

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