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Why I Still Believe: A Former Atheist’s Reckoning with the Bad Reputation Christians Give a Good God

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For anyone who feels caught in the tension between the beauty of God's story and the ugliness of human hypocrisy, Why I Still Believe offers a stirring story of hope. Why would anyone be a Christian when there is so much hypocrisy in the church? Mary Jo Sharp shares her journey as a skeptical believer who still holds to a beautiful faith despite wounding experiences in the For anyone who feels caught in the tension between the beauty of God's story and the ugliness of human hypocrisy, Why I Still Believe offers a stirring story of hope. Why would anyone be a Christian when there is so much hypocrisy in the church? Mary Jo Sharp shares her journey as a skeptical believer who still holds to a beautiful faith despite wounding experiences in the Christian community. At a time when de-conversion stories have become all too common, this is an earnest response - the compelling conversion of an unlikely believer whose questions ultimately led her to irresistible hope. Sharp addresses her own struggle with the reality that God's people repeatedly give God's story a bad name and takes a careful look at how the current church often inadvertently produces atheists despite its life-giving message. For those who feel the ever-present tension between the beauty of salvation and the dark side of human nature, Why I Still Believe is a candid and approachable case for believing in God when you really want to walk away. With fresh and thoughtful insights, this spiritual narrative presents relevant answers to haunting questions like: Isn't there too much pain and suffering to believe? Is it okay to have doubt? What if Jesus' story is a copy of another story? Is there any evidence for Jesus' resurrection? Does atheism explain the human experience better than Christianity can?   How can the truth of Christianity matter when the behaviors of Christians are reprehensible? At once logical and loving, Sharp reframes the gospel as it truly is: the good news of redemption. With firmly grounded truths, Why I Still Believe is an affirming reminder that the hypocrisy of Christians can never negate the transforming grace and truth of Christ.


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For anyone who feels caught in the tension between the beauty of God's story and the ugliness of human hypocrisy, Why I Still Believe offers a stirring story of hope. Why would anyone be a Christian when there is so much hypocrisy in the church? Mary Jo Sharp shares her journey as a skeptical believer who still holds to a beautiful faith despite wounding experiences in the For anyone who feels caught in the tension between the beauty of God's story and the ugliness of human hypocrisy, Why I Still Believe offers a stirring story of hope. Why would anyone be a Christian when there is so much hypocrisy in the church? Mary Jo Sharp shares her journey as a skeptical believer who still holds to a beautiful faith despite wounding experiences in the Christian community. At a time when de-conversion stories have become all too common, this is an earnest response - the compelling conversion of an unlikely believer whose questions ultimately led her to irresistible hope. Sharp addresses her own struggle with the reality that God's people repeatedly give God's story a bad name and takes a careful look at how the current church often inadvertently produces atheists despite its life-giving message. For those who feel the ever-present tension between the beauty of salvation and the dark side of human nature, Why I Still Believe is a candid and approachable case for believing in God when you really want to walk away. With fresh and thoughtful insights, this spiritual narrative presents relevant answers to haunting questions like: Isn't there too much pain and suffering to believe? Is it okay to have doubt? What if Jesus' story is a copy of another story? Is there any evidence for Jesus' resurrection? Does atheism explain the human experience better than Christianity can?   How can the truth of Christianity matter when the behaviors of Christians are reprehensible? At once logical and loving, Sharp reframes the gospel as it truly is: the good news of redemption. With firmly grounded truths, Why I Still Believe is an affirming reminder that the hypocrisy of Christians can never negate the transforming grace and truth of Christ.

30 review for Why I Still Believe: A Former Atheist’s Reckoning with the Bad Reputation Christians Give a Good God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donna Craig

    Mary Jo Sharp grew up atheist. She became a Christian as a young adult. After struggling with some church experiences, she began to search for more evidence and support for Christianity—or, maybe for a reason to stop believing. I really enjoyed going along with Ms Sharp on her journey. Her thoughts and points are so clear and intellectual. I actually got so much spiritual encouragement from this book! It is also clearly written and a pleasure to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debra Slonek

    Can you be a critical thinker and a Christian? Is it ok to agree to disagree with other Christians on topics that are not considered absolute truths in the Christian faith? My response to these questions is yes and amen! With logical, critical thinking and a heart for Jesus, the author invites the reader to join her as she shares her faith journey. Hypocrisy and the need to judge, accompanied by a total lack of compassion can do great harm to those who are new to the Christian faith and to those Can you be a critical thinker and a Christian? Is it ok to agree to disagree with other Christians on topics that are not considered absolute truths in the Christian faith? My response to these questions is yes and amen! With logical, critical thinking and a heart for Jesus, the author invites the reader to join her as she shares her faith journey. Hypocrisy and the need to judge, accompanied by a total lack of compassion can do great harm to those who are new to the Christian faith and to those who are investigating and considering the Christian faith. As Christians, our choices of behaviors, words and actions can affect the eternity of another. I so love how God rescued this author from atheism and guided her into a personal relationship with Him. I enjoyed reading about all the stops along the way and the many divine appointments which led to her belief in God. As she was searching for answers about her faith, she was strongly drawn to pursue a degree in Apologetics. God took a critical thinking atheist, and through quite a process, transformed her into a Christian Apologist. God is patient and brilliant! I really enjoyed the chapter about the problem of beauty. Beauty is one of the objective realities of God. The beauty all around me, that I enjoy so much, has an awesome purpose. It draws me in, only to point me to the ultimate artist, God. How beautiful is that! I learned so much from reading this book and I am so grateful to the author for sharing her story. I am now more prepared to share and defend my faith in a thoughtful and intelligent way. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Why I Still Believe is not only a compelling and relatable memoir for anyone who has found themselves at odds with the church in terms of critical thinking or just plain compassion, it is also a fabulous introduction to the world of apologetics. Mary Jo Sharp shares her story with wit and candor while also introducing her reader to foundational apologetic concepts. In the age of the de-conversion hero, Sharp's story stands out as she try to challenge believers to think critically about what they Why I Still Believe is not only a compelling and relatable memoir for anyone who has found themselves at odds with the church in terms of critical thinking or just plain compassion, it is also a fabulous introduction to the world of apologetics. Mary Jo Sharp shares her story with wit and candor while also introducing her reader to foundational apologetic concepts. In the age of the de-conversion hero, Sharp's story stands out as she try to challenge believers to think critically about what they believe while also extending compassion and love toward those who don't. This book is not only wise and intelligent, but winsome and at times laugh-out-loud witty. It's fast-paced and perfect for readers curious about apologetics who have been too intimidated to pursue the curiosity. Also, if you are curious about the Christian faith and want to see an intelligent case for the worldview, Sharp has got you covered.

  4. 4 out of 5

    V

    Heart-warming, authentic, filled with wit and insight, Why I Still Believe is a mix of autobiography, apologetics, philosophy, and spiritual formation. Hypocrisy, doubt, and even in some cases, judgment exists, but so does authenticity, answers, and community. Why I Still Believe is the personal journey of Mary Jo Sharp, and her experiences both private and in Apologetics. Mary Jo Sharp shares from her own experience, people can be fallible, but God isn't. The book offers rich insight into Ap Heart-warming, authentic, filled with wit and insight, Why I Still Believe is a mix of autobiography, apologetics, philosophy, and spiritual formation. Hypocrisy, doubt, and even in some cases, judgment exists, but so does authenticity, answers, and community. Why I Still Believe is the personal journey of Mary Jo Sharp, and her experiences both private and in Apologetics. Mary Jo Sharp shares from her own experience, people can be fallible, but God isn't. The book offers rich insight into Apologetics and how it helps with Christian growth. Throughout the book are examples of almost "how not to be a Christian" while offering wisdom to learn from personal experience on impacting not only Christians around us but non-believers as well. Why I Still Believe is over 12 chapters of rich filled anecdotes, a crash course in Apologetics and topics such as the Resurrection and the problem with Evil. The book will resonate with those who find themselves longing for God, searching for God, or coping with bad experiences at church. Apologetics is often not understood in church. Overall, Why I Still Believe brings the topic of apologetics to the forefront and role it plays in a post-modern world that has grown more cynical and skeptical. "Just have faith" is not enough or an adequate answer. Believers and non-believers have sincere questions, and sometimes within the church home, too many are ill-equipped to help those individuals search for answers or wave off the questions as not relevant. Each chapter ends with a series of questions designed to get the reader involved in thinking more deeply about the chapters. Along with them Why I Still Believe encourages discussion among individuals, groups, and even within the church body itself. Also, the book explores how apologetics within the context of the church can better equip the Christian faith.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex Rea

    Gandhi was reported to have said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians.” Mary Jo Sharp is one who certainly would echo that statement for many years. She was a religious skeptic for most of her life and, though she transitioned from disbelief to trust, became another type of skeptic: an ecclesiological one. If Christians truly believed the things they say they do, why are they just so nasty at times? Do they actually follow the Jesus of the Bible, a walking example of love and humil Gandhi was reported to have said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians.” Mary Jo Sharp is one who certainly would echo that statement for many years. She was a religious skeptic for most of her life and, though she transitioned from disbelief to trust, became another type of skeptic: an ecclesiological one. If Christians truly believed the things they say they do, why are they just so nasty at times? Do they actually follow the Jesus of the Bible, a walking example of love and humility? The Christian world has seen its share of de-conversion stories lately. It was both encouraging and refreshing to read of a testimony that travelled the other direction. As I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “You’re a Christian because you were raised in a Christian household” (or something to that effect), Sharp’s testimony is a pointed refutation against the myopic and naïve assertion. Sharp walks us through her story and brings to surface a number of incredibly important questions for us all to think through. Such questions include, “Is it ok to have doubt?” and “Is there any evidence for Jesus’s resurrection?” (Both answers, by the way, are a resounding “Yes!”) As a student pastor, I find this work to be wholly accessible for the apologetic novice and will be recommending it as such. Sharp introduces numerous apologetic topics and does a good job of getting the reader’s feet wet. She also provides a solid “Further Resources” list at the end of the book. This would serve readers well in their desire to learn more about the topics in question. Christians may be jerks at times, but ultimately what matters is Jesus. Did Jesus actually do what he said he would do, namely, die on a cross and rise from the dead three days later? Do we actually have good reasons to believe that he did? If so, that’s a game changer. I’m reminded of the words of Jaroslav Pelikan, “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen-nothing else matters.” Yes, and amen! Christians may be jerks at times, but Jesus is a greater Savior. Whether or not one agrees with Sharp on her conclusions, he should still consider Sharp’s challenge in the conclusion: “Try to discover what your philosophical view would mean for all the areas of your life, but especially on the big issues of human dignity and worth, what it means to be human, the problem of evil, and whether God exists.” Thankful for Sharp’s contribution here. *Note: I received an advance copy of the text in exchange for my honest review and feedback.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Ticen

    "Easy to read" is not a category I usually think of with apologetics books, but then this is not a normal apologetics book. It is a mixture of the author's story, her disillusionment with the Church, and how that propelled her to explore more deeply the basis for the Christian faith. Her story is engaging, and mixed in that story are arguments for faith she has discovered and uncovered. A well-written, engaging story that will help both believers and those who struggle with faith to ask good que "Easy to read" is not a category I usually think of with apologetics books, but then this is not a normal apologetics book. It is a mixture of the author's story, her disillusionment with the Church, and how that propelled her to explore more deeply the basis for the Christian faith. Her story is engaging, and mixed in that story are arguments for faith she has discovered and uncovered. A well-written, engaging story that will help both believers and those who struggle with faith to ask good questions and answer them well. FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided an advance copy of this book in return for a honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Bedard

    An apologetics book like I have never read before. Not just a response to skeptical arguments but also to the bad experiences that many people have had in church. Too often we have neglected the mistakes that we are all aware of but are afraid to confront.

  8. 5 out of 5

    roxanna beck

    I love that this book is relatable to anyone that has been to church. Or even just been around other humans.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    In Why I Still Believe Mary Jo Sharp shares personal experiences as a new believer with the Church. She shares about the time her clothes were criticized by the pastor’s wife rather than a simple welcome to our church. She also shares about times as a pastor’s wife and the criticism from congregations that came out of preference rather than theology. Intertwined in these stories Mary Jo shares her faith journey from atheist to an apologist. I found Mary Jo’s three ways people view doubt and the ex In Why I Still Believe Mary Jo Sharp shares personal experiences as a new believer with the Church. She shares about the time her clothes were criticized by the pastor’s wife rather than a simple welcome to our church. She also shares about times as a pastor’s wife and the criticism from congregations that came out of preference rather than theology. Intertwined in these stories Mary Jo shares her faith journey from atheist to an apologist. I found Mary Jo’s three ways people view doubt and the explanations around each of the views incredibly valuable. She also points out that doubt is a normal part of a maturing faith. That there is a difference between church culture and Biblical theology. I love this quote: “Trying to put on my church’s cultural expression of faith made me feel like an imposter, like I was wearing someone else’s Jesus-believing clothes. Yet I had no idea how to find a genuinely fitting faith. And so doubt began to creep into my soul.” p. 26 Additionally, Mary Jo continues to remind the reader that we have to be willing to consider our own hypocrisy and flaws as we engage with the Church in order to have a relationship with God. We are all flawed, all capable of more evil than we’re willing to admit. “To think critically on a matter I’ve got to be open to the fact that I might be wrong.” p. 32 As Mary Jo takes the reader through her faith journey and the beginning of how she founded her ministry Confident Christianity she also addresses many of the common discussion points atheists bring up to support their viewpoints. The picture of humanity is the story is that we are indeed fallen from our original relational status with God. The result is that our knowledge, intellect, desires, and will are affected, and as a result we constantly dehumanize ourselves and others. We are not going to be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps – or, in the language of today, just “follow our dream, speak our truth, show love not hate” – because individually we continue to be the problem. Yet Christianity also pierces the human propensity to hate ourselves. God made us in his own image, so we are of highest value (Genesis 1:26, 31). p.178-179 Mary Jo Sharp Why I Still Believe I found this book to be full of wisdom from years of hard experiences coupled with humility. Mary Jo’s timely book reminds us all that we are flawed humans created for relationship with a perfect God and other flawed humans. For many, our experiences in the Church have been that as we’ve questioned church culture we’ve been told directly or indirectly questions revealed a lack of faith. In Why I Still Believe Mary Jo affirms that deepening our relationship with Jesus and our faith in our Creator requires study, exploration, and continued learning. Much of that will include asking questions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Pritchard

    The subtitle to the book says it all. I love apologetics. Learning ways to defend the faith is a thrilling and empowering experience. However, I've found that the greatest hurtle to showing somebody the truth of the faith is not their rational defenses, but their emotional ones. A few bad experiences, or a childhood of emotional abuse, can turn people away from Christ far faster, and for far longer, than the pleas of atheists and propaganda of the public school system. Over and over, I've talked The subtitle to the book says it all. I love apologetics. Learning ways to defend the faith is a thrilling and empowering experience. However, I've found that the greatest hurtle to showing somebody the truth of the faith is not their rational defenses, but their emotional ones. A few bad experiences, or a childhood of emotional abuse, can turn people away from Christ far faster, and for far longer, than the pleas of atheists and propaganda of the public school system. Over and over, I've talked with those that used to go, used to believe, and used to care about Christ. But no more. They didn't leave because God let them down, but because his people did. The subtitle is right, Christians often give God a bad reputation. The questions, then, are how can we avoid doing that, and while we are at it, what can we do to heal those wounds left by others? That's where this book steps in. The author, Mary Sharp, was raised an atheist, became a Christian after high school, but was driven to deep doubts about the faith through the emotional abuse of fellow "Christians" in her adult years. Finally, she began to pursue apologetics, hoping to find answers to the questions burning in her heart. Through extraordinary circumstances, some extraordinary friends, and the working of our extraordinary God, she found more than she ever expected. This book is the story of that journey, but it's also so much more. The story format drives the book forward, yet through the chapters, common problems are seen, common struggles are fraught, and complete answers are given. This book is both a biography and a well written defense of the beauty of God, even when we Christians give him a bad reputation. Highlights: Rather than give a breakdown of every chapter, I'll note some special highlights. Twelve chapters divide the book neatly, with each only spanning 14-20 pages. However, the introduction should not be skipped, as that sets the emotional foundation for all that follows. Chapter 1 continues beyond the introduction by showcasing her early fascination with God and learning more about him. However, the story quickly hits a sour note as initial encounters with Christians are tainted with hypocrisy and an utter lack of the love and hope she was looking for in God's people. Chapter 2 continues the description of the ugliness of some Christian individuals, with accounts of emotional outbursts, quick judgments, and harsh words. Yet, even then, the message of true, biblical hope still shines through and even this ugliness is only present to set the stage for the bright hope to come later. Chapter 3 does an excellent job pointing people to the truth that Christianity can be and is rational, and that there are rational Christians. Those seemingly stuck in their doubts with nobody to turn to do have hope; that hope is apologetics. But it also brings up the equally startlingly truth that logic and reason are not enough, that the problem is often a combination of ignorance and a lack of will to follow the evidence once presented. Chapter 7 has a very interesting section. Part of this chapter focuses on a debate with a Muslin, yet the presentation is brilliant. First, the Muslim presents his arguments, which Christian readers would naturally dismiss as false, even if they can't explain how. After a moment to consider, she shows not only his faulty reasoning, but why that reasoning is faulty in other areas too. This leads to the obvious need for rational thinking, all inductively leading along the audience until she reveals that many Christians also lodge complaints and arguments with equally poor reasoning. This process gently leads readers along until the final crushing blow that shows readers their own need for correct logic, else they themselves take on the errors of false worldviews and faulty thinking. Chapter 8 Has a wonderful note about expectations vs reality! Judgementalism is a big problem, but a human problem. That inability to trust, abundance of hypocrisy on both sides, and misbehaving of God's people, are all huge issues. Chapter 12 provides what I'd call the non-ending of the story. Even though it is a messy and incomplete ending, it is actually good that way. Many Christian movies/novels end in the perfect place where doubts are gone, people are happy, and everything is sunny. Yet, life isn't that way this side of glory, often our emotions and doubts linger, just as people continue to hurt us. In a way, this book provides some help, while also realistically showing our ideal may never happen while we are on this earth. Yet, she also leaves readers with a great sense of the goodness and beauty of God, even though this imperfect world with imperfect people. Conclusions: While Mary Sharp's writing is full of great illustrations, the most striking quality is the openness seen in her admission of personal struggles and needs. These are feelings shared by many, but many that are too afraid to express them. Throughout the book, insightful quotes, interesting references, and powerful illustrations strengthen the arguments raised. However, Mary Sharp doesn't just leave readers with a soulless tactics and emotionless arguments. She rebukes the fact that some see apologetic as a chess match, rather than a chance to bring others to Jesus and love their souls. She sees the need to address their hearts and approach all people with love and compassion. Through the narrative, lessons are learned for all. Atheists and those with a severe dislike for Christianity will see that it is so much brighter and better than it is often portrayed as. Christians will see the need for a right mindset and good thinking, and probably feel guilt for the times they have given God a bad name. Others will see the wonder of apologetics and the beautiful logic and reasoning that has answers for their doubts and questions. Without a doubt, this is a great book for seeing the wonder of God through the often cloudy behavior of his people. Notable Quoteables: Page 23 - [Discussing her first church experience that was soured by immediate rejection.] "I have always been a glass-half-empty kind of person, so it was typical of me to distrust. But how I wish someone had warned me not to get my hopes up. First-time church attendance should come with a disclaimer. Churches could post a sign or place fine print at the bottom of the bulletin: “Church attendance may cause extreme discomfort. Side effects of interactions with humans include, but are not limited to, doubt, anger, disappointment, and disillusionment.”" Page 210 - "To reduce Christianity to a neat-and-tidy recipe for happiness is to miss it almost entirely. There are at least three reasons why this is true: (1) the arguments can only take me so far, (2) the reality of the human condition, and (3) the vision of something better entangled with our current experience." Page 214 - "Part of my problem with turning away from Christianity is that I believe Christianity has the right diagnosis of the human condition, of my condition. Christianity has the story that makes sense of all this mess that we are in, but its story deeply and sharply daggers human pride, self-delusion, and self-aggrandizement."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hobart

    This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- WHAT'S WHY I STILL BELIEVE ABOUT? For the sake of time, let me lift this from Sharp's website: With fresh and thoughtful insights, Why I Still Believe offers a spiritual narrative that presents relevant answers to haunting questions like: Isn't there too much pain and suffering to believe? Is it okay to have doubt? What if Jesus' story is a copy of another story? Is there any evidence for Jesus' resurrection? Does atheism expl This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- WHAT'S WHY I STILL BELIEVE ABOUT? For the sake of time, let me lift this from Sharp's website: With fresh and thoughtful insights, Why I Still Believe offers a spiritual narrative that presents relevant answers to haunting questions like: Isn't there too much pain and suffering to believe? Is it okay to have doubt? What if Jesus' story is a copy of another story? Is there any evidence for Jesus' resurrection? Does atheism explain the human experience better than Christianity can? How can the truth of Christianity matter when the behaviors of Christians are reprehensible? At once logical and loving, Sharp reframes the gospel as it truly is: the good news of redemption. With firmly grounded truths, Why I Still Believe is an affirming reminder that the hypocrisy of Christians can never negate the transforming grace and truth of Christ. Sharp presents herself—warts and all—and her struggle with doubts, and some of what she's found to address them. I want to stress what the description says about "a spiritual narrative"—that's what this book is, and along the way, that narrative will touch on those bullet points. I'm not sure what the claim about "reframing the gospel" is about—how does it need "reframing" to be "the good news of redemption"? And as important as a reminder along those lines would be, this is more of an assertion about the hypocrisy of believers being unable to negate anything than it is a reminder (or defense of the faith for it). Ultimately, I think this is a story about a woman being let down by the shepherds of Christ's Church—she needed help, she needed guidance, she needed pastoral care and aid in finding the answers that she needed. In the absence of that shepherding, she had to help herself. SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT WHY I STILL BELIEVE? The chapters that follow are snapshots of my experience in the church and how those experiences shaped me and my beliefs. If you feel the ever-present tension of the beauty of salvation alongside the ugliness of human hypocrisy and evil, you’re not alone. If you are uncomfortable in the church but feel the risk of commitment calling, this book is for you. It is for those who’ve wondered if they’ve been left a cosmic orphan, and wondered again if there’s more to this unshakeable longing to belong. I can’t promise any tidy endings, but there’s still an irresistible Hope. I'm not going to talk about all the problems I have with what Sharp presented, but there were many. The above quotation is the concluding sentences of the Introduction. Set against those goals, I think she succeeds—she shows that the reader who matches those qualifications isn't alone, she doesn't deliver any tidy endings (and the tidy things she does present aren't really that tidy), and she does assert that there's an irresistible Hope. What she doesn't do is give much of a reason for faith against the tension between the beauty of salvation and the ugliness; she doesn't assure anyone that there's every reason to commit to Christ's Bride despite the weaknesses and personal discomfort—nor does she tell the reader much about the Hope she asserts to point to. What we do get is an honest account of one woman's stumbling through life, looking for the certainty of faith, looking for answers the Church should provide "to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), and who doesn't find much. Yet there's still faith to be found, which is commendable, it is relatable—it is good to know that as we stumble along the path that we're not alone. There's value in this, but that's not what the book promised, so I can't get that excited about what it delivered. There's not a lot of apologetics, there's not a lot of Bible, there's not a lot of biblical justification for assurance—there's almost no Gospel. There are some arguments for the existence of a Deity, but not for the Triune God of the Christian Scriptures. There's some arguing about some facts about the Resurrection of Christ—but not about what that means. A lot of what's labeled (by others or itself) "Evangelicalism" today is really some sort of "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism"—and that's about as close as we get to Christianity in these pages. Although, I'm not convinced Sharp actually delivered that much of anything "Moralistic"—Therapeutic Deism is about it. I'm not saying Sharp isn't an orthodox believer—I'm just saying that I don't see much along those lines in this book. Here I said I wasn't going to get too deep into my problems—and I really haven't, but I've gotten further along the path than I meant to. So I'm going to stop. When it came to assigning the nearly-obligatory Stars, I was torn—just what do I rate this? I ended up looking at my own definition of my ratings, and read: "Don't bother. It's not bad per se, it's just not good." That about sums it up for me. Can someone read this and benefit? I can't say that there's no chance of it, I'm just not sure what grounds there would be for claiming it's useful. The dross to gold ratio doesn't give me a reason to recommend this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ross

    What a book. I was not sure what I was going to get when I read this book. This book was an open, honest and raw look at what can happen in churches today. This book made me pause and think about what I do while I am at church and in my everyday life. If you are in the church world, get this book and take what is said seriously. Don’t hide your head in the sand, its happening in your church. If you are ready to walk away from your faith, read this book. Then talk with someone. Contact me!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    I had the pleasure of chatting to Mary Jo Sharp about her book on my channel which can be found here: https://youtu.be/egYObpwAoSI I highly recommend this book as it is extremely easy to read and deals with emotional doubt and wrestling with the difficulties regularly found within church relationships. Having read many apologetics books, I found this one is a very unique blend of personal story that still remains open rather than implying everything is now sorted along with hope in and defence of I had the pleasure of chatting to Mary Jo Sharp about her book on my channel which can be found here: https://youtu.be/egYObpwAoSI I highly recommend this book as it is extremely easy to read and deals with emotional doubt and wrestling with the difficulties regularly found within church relationships. Having read many apologetics books, I found this one is a very unique blend of personal story that still remains open rather than implying everything is now sorted along with hope in and defence of the good news of Jesus.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Hawley

    I don't think this book is exactly a 'memoir' but I shelved it that way because it's Mary Jo's personal story. Which is why I loved it. Easy to read, and Mary Jo is so easy for me to relate to. I reserve 5 stars for books that have an effect on my life and this one did. It reinforced my belief in a crucified, risen Saviour and in a God of beauty, organization, and profound grace who can be trusted for all His promises. I don't think this book is exactly a 'memoir' but I shelved it that way because it's Mary Jo's personal story. Which is why I loved it. Easy to read, and Mary Jo is so easy for me to relate to. I reserve 5 stars for books that have an effect on my life and this one did. It reinforced my belief in a crucified, risen Saviour and in a God of beauty, organization, and profound grace who can be trusted for all His promises.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Xane

    Mary Jo Sharp is not a perfect person. In this book that is part-memoir, part-apologetics investigation, Sharp wrestles with this fact while also confronting an even larger one: the church is not a perfect entity either. In its worse forms, the church's sin leads to tragic consequences: according to a recent LifeWay study, one in three young adults stop attending church because "church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical." Sharp contrasts this reality with the explanations for reality that Mary Jo Sharp is not a perfect person. In this book that is part-memoir, part-apologetics investigation, Sharp wrestles with this fact while also confronting an even larger one: the church is not a perfect entity either. In its worse forms, the church's sin leads to tragic consequences: according to a recent LifeWay study, one in three young adults stop attending church because "church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical." Sharp contrasts this reality with the explanations for reality that Christianity provides and finds that however hurtful and damaging the church can be, it also contains the best explanations for why it (and humans in general) are that way to begin with. She explains: "Hypocrisy requires a reference to a standard of moral conduct which a person verbally accepts, but then denies by their behavior. The concept of hypocrisy is robbed of meaning in a materialistic understanding of the universe." Sharp's background as an atheist means that her focus is largely on comparing her current and former worldviews (though more general defenses of Christianity against other religions are also discussed, albeit briefly). As a (relative) newcomer to the faith (she now has a degree in apologetics and is a professor at a Christian university), the church's numerous hypocrisies are on much starker display to her. For example, she includes a fantastic discussion of how the modern American church has so often reduced beauty to a utilitarian purpose; one of her professors notes "In rightly rejecting hedonism, we have also mistakenly rejected joy. We thought to avoid the sin of wastefulness but have fallen into the equal sin of stinginess." Another of her mentors explains: "However, there is a trend in the evangelical church to reduce the value of artistic endeavors exclusively to how they serve the true and the good. We tend to view the music, for instance, as an amplification of the sermon rather than as a testimony to the objective beauty of God himself. This view is why people believe that the lyrics of a song are what determine whether it’s Christian or not, which is a reductionist view of beauty, reducing beauty to the utility it serves. Rather, all beauty evidences the beauty of God himself, not just things that use words, and that’s a point we’ve been missing." This analysis perfectly captures why the Christian film industry, for example, so often fails to create quality art. (Side note: these insights illustrate the importance of surrounding yourself with wise and intelligent people, something Sharp seems to have done an admirable job of!) Sharp notes how "desires, emotion, and agendas, play a significant role in what humans believe," citing Holocaust deniers as an extreme example of just how far it is possible to go in denying truth. Indeed, because "there’s always a way to view an argument as unconvincing," we have to actively work at setting aside our presuppositions and motivated reasoning in order to uncover the truth. And lest we Christians allow our self-righteousness to get the better of us, Sharp makes clear that her words aren't only aimed at nonbelievers: "Inside the church community, I find inconsistency between the profession that humanity is fallen and the cautionary practices that should result from such a belief. For example, we don’t pay enough attention to the problem of a fallen mind—the idea that what I believe is probably wrong much of the time. I do find, rather, many people who are easily offended if anything is stated contrary to their way of thinking. In other words, I still find people who seem to believe they are generally good and typically right." Sharp concludes by noting that our pursuit of truth isn't always going to be easy: "The answers on this side of resurrection are going to be messy. Arguments won’t always get me to truth. My human condition disqualifies me from being able to save myself from falsehood and destruction." But this doesn't mean we should hold back from committing to a certain position after giving it a dedicated, thoughtful evaluation: "The cynic never lands anywhere but hovers over commitments (beliefs, relationships), holding himself just far enough away to never get really involved and just close enough to never really leave—always keeping his options open. What seems at first blush to be liberating actually ends up as enslavement to a lonely and frustrating position. [...] Taylor comments, "A good answer will call me to something higher, something better, perhaps something more difficult. It likely will call me to change.""

  16. 4 out of 5

    Norman

    Why I Still Believe isn't your average apologetics book. It's a combined memoir of a sceptic from an atheist background who, as a new Christian, is rocked by the hypocrisy she witnesses at first hand in the church. She can't reconcile this with what she knows about Jesus and how Christians are supposed to behave. This will be a familiar story to many and some have gone from this experience to abandoning their faith and Christianity. Mary Jo Sharp takes a different course. Through a series of pro Why I Still Believe isn't your average apologetics book. It's a combined memoir of a sceptic from an atheist background who, as a new Christian, is rocked by the hypocrisy she witnesses at first hand in the church. She can't reconcile this with what she knows about Jesus and how Christians are supposed to behave. This will be a familiar story to many and some have gone from this experience to abandoning their faith and Christianity. Mary Jo Sharp takes a different course. Through a series of providential pathways she faces her doubts (both self doubts and theological doubts) head on and emerges, not with every single thing answered definitively, but with new found insight into who we are, both as humans and Christians, and why we act the way we do. While there are many stand-out events in this book what struck me was the insight into the author's intellectual journey from scepticism and doubt to the makings of a Christian Apologist, someone growing more confident expressing their faith and answering doubts. It's both an apologetics primer and an opportunity to delve deeper into apologetics and theology. It is funny and serious and insightful and is marked by a disarming honesty including snapshots into the effects of the journey on her relationship with her husband Roger. I confess I would be keen, perhaps in a future edition, to have a closing appendix or similar with some of Roger's thoughts. Their mutual journey has bumps in the road but also forms a stronger bond. The chapter where the author teams up with David Wood and the late Nabeel Qureshi is one highlight among many. In fact it read to me like a cross between the formative makings of an apologetics team and a sitcom! The book is worth it for that chapter alone. Different readers will take different things from it but for me a stand out theme was the facing of doubts and scepticism head on and emerging stronger yet acknowledging that we don't have all the answers. If you're anything like me then you might have a desire to defend and promote Jesus to a sceptical world but you don't always have the confidence. You will see much of yourself in Mary Jo Sharp's story. I think it was Christian Apologist and Philosopher William Lane Craig who once replied to someone asking him what they should do about their doubts, "Chase them into the ground!" In other words don't let them fester but seek answers even if that means facing sometimes uncomfortable truths and reaching accommodations you wouldn't have considered previously. The journey further into God's kingdom can be both exhilarating and frightening but to emerge stronger in faith and confidence is worth its weight in gold! While the book is set very much in an American cultural context the experiences with the church, theology and sceptical climate the author faces are universal and you'll recognise your own situation. I'm Scottish and the story could just as easily be set here. This book is an easy five stars and is a very timely antidote to the pattern of those turning their backs on their faith. Indeed, another takeaway for me is that while some reject Christianity in favour of atheism, the author highlights the inability of atheism to provide any kind of solid foundation for life and living. You don't have to agree with everything (I'm pretty sure the author would applaud the critical thinking anyway) but it's well worth reading. There are numerous podcasts available if you want to hear the author herself and her website is called Confident Christianity. Google Confident Christianity and Mary Jo Sharp - if you just Google Confident Christianity there's also a Scottish one (Solas) which is great itself but a different site to that of Mary Jo Sharp! Happy reading!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I noticed on Goodreads that there aren’t many 1 or 2 star reviews for this book, and of those I haven’t seen a written review. So here’s my review in case you are wondering if you should read this book. First of all, I’m certain this book was written for a Christian audience. I took one for the team, so if you’re an atheist then no need to read this book. (Hahaha) I was attracted to the book because of the author, Mary Jo Sharp. Several years ago when I was a Christian, I was searching for answer I noticed on Goodreads that there aren’t many 1 or 2 star reviews for this book, and of those I haven’t seen a written review. So here’s my review in case you are wondering if you should read this book. First of all, I’m certain this book was written for a Christian audience. I took one for the team, so if you’re an atheist then no need to read this book. (Hahaha) I was attracted to the book because of the author, Mary Jo Sharp. Several years ago when I was a Christian, I was searching for answers and feeling like I was completely alone in the Christian world. I listened to a presentation by Sharp at a Christian women’s conference, and I felt validated. I read her book about apologetics and also completed her two study guide books. This got me hooked on apologetics for quite some time. However, no one else in my Christian circles was interested and some even seemed offended. At any rate, that’s why I read this book when I saw it on Goodreads. I thank Sharp for encouraging me to search for truth and follow the evidence wherever it leads. I have so much to say about this book in particular, but I’ll try to keep it short. Sharp says that she has only personally engaged with one person that accepted the intellectual arguments and does not believe in the Christian god. I’m surprised by this and think she should interact with more atheists then. Especially ones who used to be religious. Here’s a few other things I don’t agree with or care for: 1) Sharp also says that God is not reducible to a set of empirical facts and that we must choose to trust God. It’s a choice. Just choose to believe or not. And if you don’t believe, you can choose to act like you believe (I’m guessing it’s a “fake it til you make it” mentality) 2) She says God is a person (and doesn’t need or give evidence for this) 3) she frequently includes cringey conversations she’s had with her husband 4) she includes conversations she had in her head; including one about a life-changing decision concerning her master’s degree but she didn’t include any conversation between her and god, so the reader is left thinking that conversation didn’t take place (but should have for a Christian, in my opinion) 5) wow, she bought all her non-believing family members The Case for Christ book for a Christmas present; yikes!; she admits it was cowardice on her part but I think it was also just downright awful 6) she spent some time going over why Christianity is better than Islam with the main reason being that Muslim scripture encourages killing their enemies while Christian scripture encourages loving their enemies. Bwahahaha, I think she forgot to read the Old Testament. 7) Sharp has quite a bit about David Wood and Nabeel and her experiences with them; when I saw his name (David Wood) and she mentioned him being a sociopath, I remembered watching a YouTube video of this man telling his story. I couldn’t believe this is who has influenced her so much? Yikes...just watch that YouTube video and you’ll see what I mean. He’s obviously still a sociopath and seems like his belief in God is the only thing holding him back (for now anyways) 8) the Ravi Zacharias quotes — *cringes* with what we know about Ravi now 9) Sharp includes a little information about Richard Dawkins and like most other apologists she shows her complete lack of understanding about genetics, natural selection, and evolution 10) then there’s quite a bit about “humans are not good” and “humans are the problem” and all that original sin nonsense. She backs this up by concluding that “humans do genocide” and this is why we need God to straighten us up. Again, I think she forgot the Old Testament and some parts of the New Testament. 11) Sharp mentions “atheist evangelists” and atheists think this or that, the atheist worldview... *rolling my eyes* It’s quite obvious reading this book that Sharp is a very sad individual as a Christian. I don’t say this to be mean or condescending. She even states that she’s only shared “just a little” of how she’s been hurt by “the Church.” She says she’s heartbroken. I get the feeling she’s trapped and the indoctrination is keeping her in this sad situation. If her husband wasn’t a Christian minister, I don’t think she would be trying so hard to make this work. With all her arguments she is only truly trying to convince herself. I know my review was way too long, so if you made it this far then you must not have anything better to read. (Just kidding. Somewhat)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen Patrick

    In a culture where deconversion stories have become all too commonplace, and often leave faith in tatters, Mary Jo Sharp shines a ray of hope. She brings the reader along on her own journey from atheism, to belief, through doubt, and onward to her destination as a bold apologist for the Christian faith. She draws the reader into her story as she faces head-on the threads of ugliness woven into the fabric of the human experience, and demonstrates in a compelling fashion that even when our stories In a culture where deconversion stories have become all too commonplace, and often leave faith in tatters, Mary Jo Sharp shines a ray of hope. She brings the reader along on her own journey from atheism, to belief, through doubt, and onward to her destination as a bold apologist for the Christian faith. She draws the reader into her story as she faces head-on the threads of ugliness woven into the fabric of the human experience, and demonstrates in a compelling fashion that even when our stories threaten to become unraveled, we have hope in Christ. Mary Jo then systematically proves how the evidences for the truth of the Christian worldview can be used to weave one’s faith back together again into a beautiful tapestry even in the midst of pain and hypocrisy. She reveals the amazing complexity of the Christian faith, stating that “To reduce Christianity to a neat-and-tidy recipe for happiness is to miss it almost entirely.” I was eager to read Why I Still Believe because Mary Jo Sharp provided my first serious introduction to apologetics three years ago. I have followed her ministry since then and observed her passion for equipping believers to defend the Christian faith with truth and compassion. I’m impressed by her honest reflections about coming into the Christian faith from an atheistic background, and how despite painful experiences within the church, she still has reasons to believe in a good and gracious God. Through anecdotal snapshots and glimpses into personal conversations, she walks the reader through her experiences as a new Christian and candidly describes the challenges to her faith she faced even as a minister’s wife. Those who have experienced hurt from within the walls of the church will see themselves in her story, and appreciate her encouragement to find hope on the other side of disappointment. Mary Jo walks the reader through some of the core apologetics arguments she considered while investigating the viability of the Christian worldview. She invites the reader to listen in on her conversations with both scholars and skeptics regarding the existence of God, the resurrection of Christ, the problem of evil, the divinity of Jesus, the moral argument, and the argument from beauty. She ultimately concludes that the Christian worldview is the best explanation for the reality we experience all around us, while honestly acknowledging that a tension exists in the Christian life between how things are and how we know they ought to be. Reading Why I Still Believe has prompted within me a desire to display a greater boldness in my witness, and to better equip myself to defend the faith. I finished Sharp’s latest book realizing that while each person’s story is unique, we all explore similar questions about the meaning and purpose of life. It has affirmed to me that questioning our beliefs as followers of Christ doesn’t indicate a lack of faith. Rather, it demonstrates complete trust in Him to provide answers to our deepest questions in His perfect timing. The author concludes that “To question my beliefs takes trust...it takes the control away from me and hands it over to God.” This book is an excellent resource for those struggling with doubt and working to reconcile painful experiences, often even at the hands of other believers, with the goodness of God. I recommend it to anyone interested in a refreshingly honest look at how to wrestle well with the ultimate questions of life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Johnston

    So if I'm being honest my anticipation was not high for the book itself. It was nothing against the author or the subject matter. But it was the fact that I read LOTS of apologetics books and I was anticipating a somewhat watered down version of arguments that I was familiar with. Long story short this is NOT what I got. Of course I got a number of important apologetic arguments but these all had a personal twist of what they meant to Mary Jo in her personal moments of doubt. However, what I did So if I'm being honest my anticipation was not high for the book itself. It was nothing against the author or the subject matter. But it was the fact that I read LOTS of apologetics books and I was anticipating a somewhat watered down version of arguments that I was familiar with. Long story short this is NOT what I got. Of course I got a number of important apologetic arguments but these all had a personal twist of what they meant to Mary Jo in her personal moments of doubt. However, what I did not expect was a gut punch that I got hit with in the early chapters as I had suppressed memories of my own experiences in the church flash vividly back to mind as I recalled the spiral of my own crisis of faith and the doubts I have had even since that remain unforgettable.
Each night as I would read a chapter I thought about my past history with various churches and Christians as well as my present dealings with them. Speaking of chapters they are the perfect length and adequately cover each topic or story without dragging on needlessly. Also the book makes for an easy read no matter your knowledge of apologetics. If you have ever been hurt by a "church" or those in it. Then this book is without a doubt for you. Maybe you have even attempted to move on to a new belief or spiritual perspective because all you could see was hypocrisy and unanswered questions. I know because I have been there and picking this up  finally felt a sense of relief that I was not alone while at the same time feeling dreadfully sorry that others had experienced the same. 
To go into a bit more detail, the first half of the book covers stories of Mary Jo's journey from atheist to Christian and then from average Christian to apologist. Along the way are some great stories that cover the spectrum from touching, to funny, and downright sad, these are all too exemplary of many situations some Christians experience. The second half of the book focus more on hard questions and where she sought the answers and how she reconciled these things in her own mind. Explanations are open, honest, and personal. The problem of evil is addressed as is the resurrection, the deity of Jesus, and the "problem" of beauty. 
Now, all this is not to say it is a perfect. You may not even like it because of what it reflects in yourself. Even as noted by one of the chapter titles "No Tidy Endings" there really are no satisfying resolutions to many of the stories shared. No follow ups, no "where are they now", and no answer to the problem of hypocrisy within the church. However, I feel sure that this was the ultimate intent. We don't know the whole story because its not finished yet. I mean perhaps one day we will see a sequel (maybe even from her husbands perspective) but greater yet is the grand story of reality. We only see small glimpses of the ultimate tapestry being woven but the final story will be great. Until then we must press on and try our best to not be part of the problem. Overall this would be a 4.5 from me. But it didn’t feel right rounding down in this case because of my own discomforts that came up while I was reading it. 
So you are about to be done with Christianity? Before you call it quits let Mary Jo take you on a personal journey. This journey answers many challenges and yet provides many more personal and life long questions that will drive you to think, just as any good book should.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

    Why I Still Believe is a motivating and inspirational story of the authors experiences of faith, hurt, doubt, and hope. Mary Jo Sharp is transparent and real, not only in walking you through her hurts, but in describing her innermost thoughts and feelings. What touched my heart the most about the book was the fact that she admitted things about herself and how these hurts affected the way she thought of fellow church members, her faith, and her marriage. This made her someone I could relate to. Why I Still Believe is a motivating and inspirational story of the authors experiences of faith, hurt, doubt, and hope. Mary Jo Sharp is transparent and real, not only in walking you through her hurts, but in describing her innermost thoughts and feelings. What touched my heart the most about the book was the fact that she admitted things about herself and how these hurts affected the way she thought of fellow church members, her faith, and her marriage. This made her someone I could relate to. It made her real. She made herself completely vulnerable in order to give someone a new perspective, a different experience, or just so that they would know they are not alone in their hurts and doubts. There are so many quotes from the book that have impacted me deeply. The one that sticks to my ribs the most is "God you're going to have to show me that you're real, because I'm not seeing you in your people". The book is filled with glimpses into Mary Jo's life while doubt crept into her life, glimpses of young married life and the struggles of just starting out in life, glimpses of her marriage and her husband and child. It is obvious that here she was living a normal life while all these thoughts and feelings were slowly taking over in her head and her heart. Until she discovered apologetics and began to pursue answers to her doubts. That is where it gets truly inspirational as the end result is not simply answers to her questions and restoration of faith. Her journey quite literally led her to a ministry that speaks to so many different walks of life and to so many with varying beliefs. She speaks to you where you are and not where she wants you to be. Mary Jo challenges you to figure out where you are and what your beliefs are with each passing chapter. If you doubt the existence of God, this book is for you. If you believe on blind faith and struggle to talk with those who want logic and evidence of Gods existence, this book is for you. For me, I know see the benefit and need of having the ability to talk to others on the subjects they question, even if I have never felt a need for an answer in a certain area. This book is definitely one I will read more than once because there is so much to absorb.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Milton Gonzalez (Books of A.I.M.)

    The story of Mary Jo Sharp is one of many. It is the all too familiar narrative of those who encounter a fallen community that utterly fails to reflect a perfect God. How does one reconcile the sad reality of what the church is with the scriptural depiction of what the church should be? How can one believe in the Judeo-Christian God and sustain such a belief when the professed God of Christianity is seemingly—if not evidently—nowhere to be found among His people? In Why I Still Believe, Sharp em The story of Mary Jo Sharp is one of many. It is the all too familiar narrative of those who encounter a fallen community that utterly fails to reflect a perfect God. How does one reconcile the sad reality of what the church is with the scriptural depiction of what the church should be? How can one believe in the Judeo-Christian God and sustain such a belief when the professed God of Christianity is seemingly—if not evidently—nowhere to be found among His people? In Why I Still Believe, Sharp embarks on a philosophical journey in search of truth. As she grapples with confronting questions and doubts concerning God and her ongoing experience with a “hurtful church,” Sharp turns to the discipline of Christian apologetics in search of answers. Through the process and endeavor of philosophical inquiry and apologetical argumentation, Sharp eventually finds truth and meaning in Christianity—i.e. the worldview it upholds. Despite the shortcomings of the church; despite the church’s failure to reflect the God of whom it claims to serve, Sharp still believes because (1) there is logical and reasonable evidence for God’s existence and (2) because Christianity—in a nutshell—makes sense. In sum, the book is a good read. Though the subject matter is not necessarily something that will appeal to everyone, there is much that can be learned from Sharp’s story and from what she brings to the table. As a former atheist and now Christian apologist, Sharp has much to offer. As Dr. Andy Bannister states in his endorsement of the book, “Why I Still Believe is a challenge to the church to de better, a fascinating insight into a skeptic’s journey to Christ, and a great resource for friends who are drawn to Jesus but suspicious of those who bear his name.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt Horne

    I loved this book. I grew up in a Christian home, so Mary Jo's journey is quite a bit different from mine, but as a junior high student, I had to come to grips with the seeming contradiction between science and Christianity. We both searched for answers and came to the conclusion that Christianity is the best fit for the things we see in the universe. For me, it was the cumulative case for all the available evidence that swayed me during my crisis of faith. The cosmological argument, the fine tu I loved this book. I grew up in a Christian home, so Mary Jo's journey is quite a bit different from mine, but as a junior high student, I had to come to grips with the seeming contradiction between science and Christianity. We both searched for answers and came to the conclusion that Christianity is the best fit for the things we see in the universe. For me, it was the cumulative case for all the available evidence that swayed me during my crisis of faith. The cosmological argument, the fine tuning argument, and many other arguments helped solidify my convictions. The book has some great features for newbies in the apologetical world. There are definitions for some jargony words littered throughout and questions at the end of the chapters for either discussion groups or even individual introspection. You could use it either way. I think everybody is going to have a crisis of faith at some point, no matter what they believe in. This is a great testament to that and it points to a way forward. I would recommend it to anyone. I was not paid for my review. I bought the book myself. I have a few Amazon copies if you want one. PM me and I'll send them out until I run out.

  23. 5 out of 5

    L.G.

    The market is full of books from people who have abandoned Christianity because of the hypocrisy in the church. It seems like we see new headlines every day about the failures of Christians. Mary Jo tells her own story of painful encounters in the church and her journey to trusting God in spite of His people. I identified with a lot of Mary Jo's experiences as a minister's wife as well as her struggle with volitional doubt (chapter 2) and her search for answers to the problem of beauty (chapter The market is full of books from people who have abandoned Christianity because of the hypocrisy in the church. It seems like we see new headlines every day about the failures of Christians. Mary Jo tells her own story of painful encounters in the church and her journey to trusting God in spite of His people. I identified with a lot of Mary Jo's experiences as a minister's wife as well as her struggle with volitional doubt (chapter 2) and her search for answers to the problem of beauty (chapter 9). This was such an encouraging book that pointed me back to the truth of the Gospel in every circumstance. I really appreciated Mary Jo's honesty about her anger and hurt, and I hope this book helps other Christians who are doubting feel more comfortable asking tough questions. We worship a good God who does not force us to leave our brains at the door of the church, and our questions have solid answers that we can stand on. It was good to be reminded! I'll be doing a longer more detailed review soon and will update.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Marie

    I loved this book! Mary Jo does an excellent job of expressing the beauty of Christianity, while also recognizing that the church is flawed (since humans are flawed). The strength of this book is Mary Jo's honesty - Christians are imperfect, and she has been hurt by them. Yet still, she finds hope in Christ and in God's plan for the world. She talks about the beauty of a Christian worldview, and how believing in the Bible means you believe in the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. I loved this book! Mary Jo does an excellent job of expressing the beauty of Christianity, while also recognizing that the church is flawed (since humans are flawed). The strength of this book is Mary Jo's honesty - Christians are imperfect, and she has been hurt by them. Yet still, she finds hope in Christ and in God's plan for the world. She talks about the beauty of a Christian worldview, and how believing in the Bible means you believe in the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. Every other worldview falls short of that, thus making human beings of lesser value. I agree with that 100% (also expressed well by Nancy Pearcey in her book "Finding Truth"), but I do find that answer sidesteps the question a bit - a skeptic is not usually asking "which worldview is more beautiful and gives us a better life?" But rather, "Which worldview is true?" We ask that because we believe it is better to know and understand the truth, whatever the truth may be. Overall though, I was very impressed by this book!! Definitely recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    My first morning book completed. I wanted this book because this is not talked about. We have a lot of stories out there of people leaving the faith, but what of those who stayed? But we dont talk about the doubts, so we dont talk about those still there. I take it back; some do address the doubts, but I hoped this book would also answer some of them. Mary Jo Sharp did a great job of chronicling her journey. She explained where many of her doubts came from, how she was drawn to God originally, ho My first morning book completed. I wanted this book because this is not talked about. We have a lot of stories out there of people leaving the faith, but what of those who stayed? But we dont talk about the doubts, so we dont talk about those still there. I take it back; some do address the doubts, but I hoped this book would also answer some of them. Mary Jo Sharp did a great job of chronicling her journey. She explained where many of her doubts came from, how she was drawn to God originally, how others in the universal church helped her work some of those doubts out, and left me with things to consider and questions to answer myself.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Juanita

    Different than expected. Its part memoir and follows the author as she wrestles with her own faith after finding out the church is made up of normal fallible people that sometimes say and do awful things and that critical thinking is not always welcome in christian circles. She ends up pursing a a degree in apologetics as a means to think through her own faith questions. The majority of this book is a mostly palatable argument for christianity over atheism. It doesn't come across as self-righteo Different than expected. Its part memoir and follows the author as she wrestles with her own faith after finding out the church is made up of normal fallible people that sometimes say and do awful things and that critical thinking is not always welcome in christian circles. She ends up pursing a a degree in apologetics as a means to think through her own faith questions. The majority of this book is a mostly palatable argument for christianity over atheism. It doesn't come across as self-righteous or condescending or as brow beating but in audio format it can be a lot. I admit to zoning out some.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I was able to participate in the launch team for Why I Still Believe. Any apologetics book takes dedication and isn’t typically an easy read. For this reason I am always a little reluctant when it comes to thinking about reading leisure reading to do with apologetics. This book was not what I was expecting, in a good way. It’s apologetics interlinked with personal stories in a way that is relatable, understandable, and often funny! Mary Jo takes on serious topics and helps us to understand the i I was able to participate in the launch team for Why I Still Believe. Any apologetics book takes dedication and isn’t typically an easy read. For this reason I am always a little reluctant when it comes to thinking about reading leisure reading to do with apologetics. This book was not what I was expecting, in a good way. It’s apologetics interlinked with personal stories in a way that is relatable, understandable, and often funny! Mary Jo takes on serious topics and helps us to understand the importance of our faith being in God and not man.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    Why I Still Believe is an amazing read for anyone who is doubting their beliefs or has been hurt by the hypocrisy of the church. A crash course In apologetics, Mary Jo is well written and guides you through her life story with real raw emotion. I really enjoyed the book and it definitely helped me get over some doubts I was working through. I was glad to read I wasn’t alone and not the only one experiencing the doubt and pain. Thank you Mary Jo for writing this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zak Schmoll

    Mary Jo Sharp was one of my apologetics professors at Houston Baptist University, but I learned so much more of her personal testimony by reading this book. Her honesty is refreshing. It is so tempting for Christians, especially in more public positions, to sugarcoat their lives, but this book does not do that. I wish I was that courageous and transparent. Of course this work also presents apologetic arguments that I appreciated, but more importantly than that, I think Mary Jo has shown through Mary Jo Sharp was one of my apologetics professors at Houston Baptist University, but I learned so much more of her personal testimony by reading this book. Her honesty is refreshing. It is so tempting for Christians, especially in more public positions, to sugarcoat their lives, but this book does not do that. I wish I was that courageous and transparent. Of course this work also presents apologetic arguments that I appreciated, but more importantly than that, I think Mary Jo has shown through her own testimony that Christians can wrestle with difficult questions, can struggle with doubts, can experience hypocrisy in the church, and can still come to the conclusion that Christianity is true. These arguments dealt with questions she had herself. Maybe you have left Christianity over doubts, or maybe you are a Christian wrestling with doubts right now. This is a book for you.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee

    Using her own story, Mary Jo, shares why she has stuck with the Christian faith and church in spite of the ways Christians have treated her. She wove apologetic thoughts and terminology in with her story making the things that tend to be dry and academic a bit more palatable. I appreciate the hope she has for the future and the grace she has chosen to give the church she is a part of. Ultimately her belief in God was not undone by the weak and broken lives of His people.

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