Unlearning God by Philip Gulley, book cover

Philip Gulley joins the podcast to discuss his latest book, Unlearning God, with Steve Kimes. The book is described this way:

With his trademark humor and gentle wisdom, Philip Gulley is a spiritual director any wayward pilgrim could warm to. In Unlearning God: HOW UNBELIEVING HELPED ME BELIEVE (Convergent; OSD: 9/25/2018), he invites readers into his own sometimes irreverent, sometimes daunting, but always refreshing journey of soul-deep reconstruction. In addition to lovers of Gulley’s works, this is a book for readers whose faith has been challenged by the world around them. Gulley teaches the reader to let go, or unlearn these burdensome obstacles in their faith so that they can forge a more authentic relationship with God.

Raised in small-town Indiana by a Catholic mother and a Baptist father, and proselytized by Jehovah’s Witness neighbors, young Gulley struggles with the absurdity of all three camps being utterly convinced the other two are doomed. To nearly everyone’s consternation, Phillip grows up to become a Quaker pastor. “Someone else’s faith,” he writes, “is a poor substitute for having our own.” Yet even his own tradition, he discovers, serves best as a way point in the serious, lifelong process of letting go of inherited certainties in order to flourish.

Driven by Gulley’s trademark storytelling and chapters bookmarked by small sections titled “Why this Matters,” Gulley identifies a number of tenants, dogma, and conventions in his religious journey that he has chosen to “unlearn” on his quest for an all-encompassing faith…

Writing in the tradition of Barbara Brown Taylor, Rob Bell and Rachel Held Evans, Gulley showcases his well-loved gift as a narrator of the American religious experience and his acute sensibilities as public theologian in conversations that will charm, provoke, encourage and inspire.

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and popular author and speaker. He has written 21 books, including the Harmony fiction series, the Porch Talk series of inspirational essays, If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (coauthored with James Mulholland), and The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating a Better Christianity. Gulley holds a master of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary. He is co-pastor of Fairfield Friends Meeting in Camby, Indiana.

For more information, please visit: https://www.philipgulley.com

Some subtopics covered on the podcast include:

  • How Philip sees himself as a writer and folk theologian (1:16)
  • Some of Philip’s history in different spiritual communities (4:31)
  • The certainty of fundamentalism and how that is not the same thing as faith (13:36)
  • Beginning to unlearn a god who is too small (19:45)
  • Paths to Hell (23:01)
  • Christian cliches we use so often we might think they’re from the Bible:
    • Love the sinner, hate the sin (31:50)
    • God has a wonderful plan for your life (38:30)
    • The sacraments (42:03)
  • How to learn more about Quakers, not quite Anabaptists but holding a lot in common (46:59)

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