Jeffers writes with sincerity from a perspective relatively few have. While the trope of the religious losing religion is not uncommon, tales of entrenched fundamentalist Christians making the switch are a bit more rare. From Jeffers’ narrative, it becomes clear to the reader that the transition was, and to some extent still is, a painful one. He is effective in conveying the idea that changing one’s beliefs in this manner requires more than merely adopting a new dogma. To the true evangelical Christian, identity is tied to faith in a virtual Gordian knot. It becomes impossible to extract one without damage to the other. In Jeffers’ case, he describes the agonizing loss of family, community, and identity. The bible implores the faithful to distance themselves from the fallen. And so, as Jeffers embarks on his slow journey of awakening, he becomes a pariah among the only support system he has ever known.
The core of Jeffers’ book is a sampling of questions uncovered, ironically, through his faithful study of the bible. As a true fundamentalist, he was taught of the bible’s infallibility from an early age. It troubled him, then, when he began to recognize that certain recounted events from different gospels contained incompatible accounts. Interspersed within the narrative of his life experiences, Jeffers plants chapters which provide background and examples of these incompatible accounts. Each of these particular chapters ends in a series of “fundamental questions,” as alluded to in the book’s title. Jeffers does well in outlining not only the issues in the text, but also the larger significance of each inconsistency.
What I found to be the most endearing characteristic of Jeffers’ book is the concern he expresses to current Christians who may one day follow his path. His own pain and loss are palpable, and throughout the book he sincerely warns these others of the feelings of isolation that will inevitably come. There is physical isolation due to the loss of community and family, but also spiritual isolation in the form of detachment from the God which Christians love and trust above all else. The reader gets the sense that although Jeffers knows himself to be in a more rational place, such knowledge does not begin to fill the void left by the erosion of his faith.
The book was quite interesting and a relatively quick read. The structure, although effective at delivering his message, is a bit rough – the result, I imagine, of self-publication. All in all, I would recommend this book. I believe there is value here for those just peeking out from behind the cloudy veil of fundamentalism as well as anyone seeking to understand why fundamentalist go to such great lengths to protect their beliefs.