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Struggling with Faith and Doubt While in College: Michael Kruger

with Michael Kruger | February 10, 2023
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Can hard questions be like weight-lifting for your soul? Seminary president, author, and theologian Dr. Michael Kruger talks about struggling with faith and the battles that can make us stronger than we've ever been when it comes to faith.

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  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Can hard questions be like weight-lifting for your soul? Shelby Abbott speaks with Seminary president, author, and theologian Dr. Michael Kruger talks about struggling with faith

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Struggling with Faith and Doubt While in College: Michael Kruger

With Michael Kruger
February 10, 2023
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Shelby: How is that possible for attacks on, on your faith to end up being beneficial to a young person?

Michael: Well, I bet you could testify to this too. There's a strange paradox. Of going through trials of your faith and their forks in the road. Some people get wrecked by them and we have to own that and realize that's a danger, which is why you don't want to go in naive. But some people after having gone through the trial are so much deeper, richer, and more fulfilled in their spiritual life than ever before, and so much stronger. Now they can help others.

Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading.

I'm your host, Shelby Abbott. My desire with this podcast is to help guide you toward the life-changing power of Jesus for relationships and a constantly shifting culture. I am hyped because today I'm talking with author and Reformed Theological Seminary President, Dr. Michael Krueger. So not too long ago, I was intrigued when I saw that Dr. Krueger wrote a book called Surviving Religion 101. Now, with me being in college ministry for so long, I was like - anything that can help students get some of their most pressing questions answered about God and the Bible, it's just a win in my opinion. I read the book and I was not disappointed. It's practical, easy to understand, and each chapter is written as a letter to his daughter while she's a student at a secular university. Very unique.

Consequently, it's like personal and warm, and also super informative and helpful at going after real theological and social questions in our culture today. So to start, we're going to talk about the two mindsets to avoid while being a Christian in college. Then we'll get into why attacks on our beliefs might actually be a good thing, and then he'll explain how to think and talk about morality and differing worldviews. This is an amazing conversation with Michael Krueger.

So Dr. Krueger, you are the president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. You have a PhD, you're a professor, and a writer, and a speaker. You have a lot of expertise in several areas. What I want to know is, if you could instantly become an expert at something you're currently not good at, what do you think that would be?

Michael: Well, I have some hobbies that I enjoy that I always wish I knew more about and was better at.

Shelby: Like what?

Michael: I love to fish - love saltwater fishing. I wish I could do what the experts do. They always seem to catch a lot more fish than I do. That's always something I would love to have more information on.

On a sort of academic dimension, there's areas, fields sort of adjacent to mine. I wish I knew more about, or was more of an expert in. For example, biblical archeology has always been a fascinating field of interest for me. I've done some things kind of in and around it, but I would love to know more about that.

Shelby: Okay, that's great. When I see like pictures online or articles about biblical archeology, I'm like, oh, this is just, I have no idea what they're doing. I had no idea that things were buried. Buried under buried under buried - and that kind of thing is like, oh, good for them. This is what they're fascinated in. What's the biggest fish you've ever pulled out of the saltwater?

Michael: Oh, wow. It's hard to know because, you know, in so many years when I was younger, we went out off the coast of Mexico and fish, and we caught some fairly big fish, well over a hundred pounds. Wow. But I mean, I'm not doing tournament stuff or you know, they're doing four or five hundred pound fish. So that's, most of my fishing is in shore. Which means you're not deep sea, you're, you're in sort of the intercoastal waterway. So you're talking about much more modest sized stuff at that point.

Shelby: Yes. My wife and I lead a summer mission in Ocean City, Maryland with college students, and every year they have a white marlin tournament that draws out all these like,

really kind of famous people. Like Yes. Michael Jordan comes out almost every year, and the prize for the biggest white marlin is like millions of dollars.


Michael: Oh Yes. And the kind of equipment you’ve got to have for that kind of fishing is, you know, serious stuff. It's very expensive.

Shelby: And they're coming in on their big yachts and stuff like that too, to like fish. It's a huge thing.


Michael: I'm a total rookie, so I'm, I'm just out there just doing my weekend best. I don't have anything like that to use.


Shelby: Well, you obviously work in the academic area, and you've been kind of closely associated with universities. What's a college memory that you have that still makes you laugh today, like from your maybe undergraduate time?


Michael: [Laughter] Well there may be a question here of how much I can tell, if we're going to go down that path.

Shelby: This is called Real Life Loading, so let's just be honest. [Laughter]


Michael: Yes. Confessions here with Dr. Krueger. Well, I was at UNC and I had a really great college experience there. I mean we were like most college students, we oscillated between intense study times, where you would be stressed about your schoolwork versus goof around times where you would prank your friends-

Shelby: Right.

Michael: -and do different things. We have, you know, fun stories of such things where we would go on prank-Fest where there would be weeks and months of back and forth and back and forth, which were really hilarious and fun. And we still have some great memories and some photos from such things.


Shelby: Yes. That's awesome. I'm glad to hear that you were the typical college student doing pranks like the rest of us. Well, okay, speaking of college, that's actually the focus of one of your most recent books called Surviving Religion 101. You talk about a lot of different things in there, and obviously we can't cover exhaustively everything. But I wanted to know, what are your recommendations for someone who wants to walk with God as they enter a secular university? Maybe a senior in high school right now, or maybe, maybe a junior. They want to go to a secular university. So, what would you say to them knowing that in a very real sense, they're entering a spiritual war zone?


Michael: Yes. I encourage people to avoid two extremes, I think can be very damaging to somebody in either extreme when you go off to school. One is sort of the nothing can touch me extreme, which is sort of, I grew up on a Christian home. I'm a, I'm a solid believer. My, my parents were believers. I got this.

Shelby: Right.

Michael: Nothing to be afraid of here. I can handle whatever comes my way, and there's sort of this lackadaisical - maybe overly naive attitude where you go in without, you're not taking cautionary steps - you're not planning, you're not thinking, you're not protecting yourself, and you're going to get creamed.

That whole idea that you just go into college and just be completely careless about it, I think is a real danger. I want to tell people, look, it's a dangerous road. You know, one of the quotes I in the book I give is from Tolkien, where Frodo gets advice from Bilbo, and Bilbo says, like Hey as soon as you step out your door on that road, it's a dangerous road.

You better be ready. You never know where it's going to take you.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: That's sort of one extreme I want to avoid. Then the other extreme I want to avoid is, I see a lot today and maybe more than I used to, which is the sort of heading off to university thinking, okay, every professor is Darth Vader. Everybody hates evangelicals. I've got to be Mr. Combative over and argue with everybody, and I'm going to wall up, hole up. It's battle guns out of the holster from day one type attitude, and that is a problem too. I've seen this sort of overly combative, overly angry feeling like everyone's out to get you martyr complex. And by the way, that, aside from just being miserable yourself when you're that way, You're also miserable around other people. No one wants to know you or hear the gospel from you when you're that way. I think those two extremes, if you can avoid is a good start and when you head off to college.


Shelby: Yes, that's great. I wish I would've known that. I became a Christian in college my freshman year, January of my freshman year, so halfway through. But I remember already feeling like, yeah I'm being attacked here, so I need to go after people - just that appropriate focus on how to communicate with others about what you believe is really important.

Michael: Yes, and I think I probably needed that advice myself. I mean, not everything's a World War III. You don't have to fight with everyone. You don't have to make your point every time. You don't have to raise your hand on your professor every time. You don't have to be that guy or that girl, and I think just taking a deep breath can really help.


Shelby: Yeah, that's good. Well, you also talk about how attacks on your faith can end up being a good thing or even a great thing. How is that possible for attacks on, on your faith to end up being beneficial to a young person?


Michael: Well, I bet you, you could testify to this too. There's a strange paradox of going through trials of your faith and there are forks in the road. Some people get wrecked by them, and we have to own that and realize that's a danger, which is why you don't want to go in naive. But some people after having gone through the trial are so much deeper, richer, and more fulfilled in their spiritual life than ever before. And so much stronger and now they can help others. One of the things I say in the book is, look, don't look at every trial as a negative. It can be a time of testing, yes, but it can be a time of training as well. That training can really prepare you for what you do.

I mean, that was a little bit of my story, right? I look back on what God is doing in my life, and I think, well, I went through a really hard time, but hopefully now I'm seeing why, right? Which is hopefully, you know, with the career path that he's led me on, that's helping other people based on what I went through. Would I give that up? No.

So here's what I think is true, both in the present and historically. The Christian Church does the best actually when, not when all is going well, but actually when sometimes there's resistance in challenge and they have to trust God to get through it. The church grew the most and was the most fruitful in the second and third centuries, and it was not in political power and was not well received by the Greco Roman world. And the same thing is true now. So I just think we need to be more optimistic when you're like, look, you don't need to be in power, so to speak. You don't need to have everything go your way for God to really be at work.

Shelby: That's good. That's really good. And that kind of leads me into probably one of my favorite parts of what you talk about in the book. I love the way you talk about how to talk about your faith - and things like moral absolutes with others. You tell Emma that the goal of your conversations about what's right and what's wrong are not so much about helping your friends understand your views as about helping them understand your God.

Now, why is it so important for people to understand where morals come from in the first place? Help our audience to see why it's better for them to focus conversations on the bigger and more foundational questions.

Michael: Yes. This is a strategic move that I encourage in the book, in lots of other places too.

I think it's a cultural mistake we're making, honestly. Anytime there's cultural wars over or moral issues, there's going to be obvious flashpoints.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: Right. Maybe it's abortion, maybe it's sexuality, maybe it's 10 other things, and the Bible has something to say about all those things. No one's denying that. And certainly God cares about those issues and there's a time and place to address them. The problem comes when the only thing we do is argue over the individual moral issue and look at it on a only approximate level. When that happens, it ends up being just you versus them, my opinion versus your opinion, and it's just sort of this horizontal stalemate.

What I encourage people to do is to say, okay, let's leave aside whatever thing we're debating, let's just put it on the shelf for a moment. Regardless of whether you think marriage should be between one man and one woman or not, or this is right, or this is wrong, or whatever. Let's back it up and look at the big macro ethical question, which really needs to be answered, which is, how do you know anything is right or wrong? How do you know anything is good or bad or moral or immoral?

Now, as soon as you do that, first of all, you've removed the hot topic, okay. Now hopefully the temperature in the room just goes down a little bit.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Then the other thing that happens, secondly, this is really important, is now you've put your conversation partner in the place where they have to give an account for their worldview - which is a very different place than arguing over a particular topic. Because they've never had to give an account for their worldview. They've never had to explain where morals come from. And that puts you, believe me, as a believer in an advantageous situation. Because we have good answers to those questions. If we have good answers for those questions, I would submit that the non-Christian worldview struggles to answer those questions, and that's exactly where you want the debate to be. It's a piece of advice I hope more people will listen to, because I think they currently make a difference.

Shelby: We'll get back to my time with Dr. Krueger in just a minute, but now it's time for what I call a Shelby Sidebar on Real Life Loading. You know, a few years ago I went to see an intramural softball game with my wife and my father-in-law Ed. We were setting up our chairs and the game time started and we noticed a glaring absence from the diamond, and that was the umpire. There was nobody there to actually call the game. Now, they had hired someone to do this and apparently they just hadn't shown up yet. So about 15 minutes after the start time, the two team captains kind of came together at the pitching mound, had a little discussion, then looked out to all the spectators and said, does anyone here want to call the game for us?

Now, my father-in-law, Ed knows the game of baseball pretty well, so I wasn't super surprised when he quickly jumped up and responded with, “I'll do it.” Then he walked over behind Homeplate and began to call Balls and Strikes. I'll never forget that moment, because as I watched him umpire the game, I thought, wow, he's really gone from being a casual spectator of this softball game to being very much involved in its outcome.

You know, I think all of us are faced with spiritual moments in life that take us from being casual spectators to active participants, especially when it comes to being a person of faith. Yes, we had faith to accept the payment for the penalty of our sins when we became Christians, but do we have that same kind of faith to be lived out in our lives on a day-to-day basis? Probably not.

You know, walking by faith is something that we talk a lot about in Christian circles. The problem is we just don't do it very much. When faced with a specific challenge to be actively involved in the world, but not of the world, it's going to take faith on our part that can be extremely difficult to live out. It's easy to sit and be a spectator, but God doesn't want us to live- kind of a mundane existence of sitting and watching the world go by. He wants to involve us in what he's doing in the world. Faith is something that God values in a way that I don't think we really comprehend most of the time. No, we may not necessarily understand it completely, but in our heart of hearts, we know that God wants us to live by faith and walk by it moment by moment.

And if we do, life is lived to the fullest. We're involved in the game instead of just watching it. We're doing what we were created to do. We're inside the Father's will. It's a good place to be, right? So why don't we all stop watching the game and get involved in the game?

This has been a Shelby sidebar on Real Life Loading. Let's get back to my time with Michael Krueger.

So here's a more intellectual question that you put in your book and that people ask, at least I've heard this asked. If God is a good God, then why doesn't he stop all this suffering? Is he not able to stop it, or does he not want to? Because neither option seems like a good one.


Michael: Yes. If you're going to write a book about How to Survive Religion 101, you got to deal with what's known as the problem of evil.

Shelby: Yep.

Michael: Which is what you just described there. And let me just say at the outset that this is a challenge. It's both intellectually challenging, and it's emotionally challenging. Why doesn't God stop bad things? Why doesn't He intervene? And I think there's a place there where we cannot be defensive again with a non-Christian. And we can say, you know what, I understand you're, you're angst over this. I understand why you're wondering about these things. You're not the first to wonder about them. Let's talk about that. And then you need to explain how, even though we don't have all the answers we wish we had, at the end of the day, there's not a reason to think that the problem of evil actually undercuts the truth of the Christian God.

And I make a case in the chapter Why That is because we think God has a morally compelling reason for why he ordains evil in the world. Why he allows it now, even though he hasn't fully revealed what that morally compelling reason is. Our non-Christian friend is now put in the position to have to prove he couldn't have one.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Michael: There's no way God could ever have a compelling reason for allowing evil in the world. So, you know, the Christian answer is that God is sovereign. He has reasons, even if He doesn't reveal all of them. Or, he does reveal some of them, and I mentioned that in the chapter. And then of course, the perfect example of realizing that God can have a purpose for evil, you don't realize is the cross itself, which looked like one of the most heinous, awful things ever. And God had a good reason for it. You wouldn't have known it in advance, but you have to trust that he had one.

Shelby: Yes. And that's one of the things that I've wrestled with specifically too. Because I've suffered from chronic pain for the last about 12 years or so with a herniated disc in my back. And so that brings you to the end of yourself pretty quickly. Like-

Michael: Oh yes.

Shelby: -pretty fast. And you start asking those questions like, God, are you good? Do you really care about me? Are my prayers just hitting the ceiling? And I know you can take this away if you want to, but you're not taking it away. Are you punishing me? You know, you start to wrestle with all of those things.

Michael: Yes, those are hard things.

Shelby: They are, they're difficult stuff. And you know, not everybody goes through physical stuff, you know? Their parents get divorced, or they lose a friend.

Michael: Yes. There’re other kinds of pain.

Shelby: Yes, there's other kinds of things that make them ask these questions. Like if there's all this garbage in the world, how is God good? Why doesn't he take this stuff away? And those are good things to ask, and then press in - press in even more as opposed to ask and then back away.

That's one of the key elements here is like there's intellectually satisfying things that we can land on when it comes to your questions, but also in the process, kind of what we talked about at the beginning. Allow this to make you. Go deeper into your relationship with God, work out that muscle that breaks down, so it builds back up stronger.

Michael: Yes, absolutely. And, and I think you want to not just give the sort of philosophical rebuttal.

Shelby: Right.

Michael: I think there's room here for another way to really press the non-Christian to think about their life. You could say, “Hey, I know it's hard when God doesn't always fix things right now.”

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: But Christians do believe God will fix things one day, and will make all things right. That is the moment where you can bring the gospel into someone's life and say, “Hey, you don't have to live in darkness and despair. I'm not suggesting that everything about suffering and pain is suddenly easy as a Christian. But there is hope, and golly if you can just have hope that's a big step forward.”

Shelby: Yeah, that's good. It's very good. Well, I wanted to move from that into another question that's more related to the Bible. So there's a claim that comes up about the Bible pretty often. It's the idea that certain books were left out of what we currently have as our Bible. So there's like other things that were written out there that should have been included.

And then the books that we have currently in our modern Bible weren't quote unquote picked until centuries after they were written. So you talk about this false narrative that feeds into this specific belief about the Bible. What's the false narrative that gets spread around a lot, about specifically Constantine, that people have a tendency to believe as it relates to the Bible being pieced together?

Michael: Yes. Obviously this is a category that deals with a New Testament canon, and which happens to be something that is a special research field for me. One of the repeated refrains out there that I allude to here on the book is this idea that the canon is merely the result of human political power sort of trips in the ancient church, probably fourth, fifth century, when a group of human beings sort of oppressed everybody else by forcing their books on the church. They pick them over and against supposed centuries of tradition where the church read other books. On that sort of scheme, the canon is for one, a human product. And then two, it's actually an instrument of oppression.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And it's merely yet another example of how religion's really more about power than it is about truth.  Now, you just hear that narrative and you think, wow, that's going to play well in our modern world. And by the way, it does mean on a college campus you say that - it's like, yes, right, off with oppression. Religion is already perceived as oppressive. So there's a sense in which to reject the canon is to reject the power of the church that oppresses people.

Okay, well that all sounds really good, and it makes it sound like the canon happened in some smoke-filled room somewhere. [Chuckle] The problem is that it's just not historically accurate. I mean, it's a great piece of rhetoric, but it falls apart pretty quickly when you look at historical data because the canon did not come as merely the result of some late imposition from some power brokers in the church.

But rather, the canon seemed to grow up naturally and organically from within the Christian movement. It's more bottom up than top down. And how do we know that? Well, we know that for lots of reasons, but we know that because there was a canon long before Constantine, and long before the fourth or fifth century in any sort of place where the church had power.

I make the argument in the book, and I've made it in many other places, that by the middle of the second century, there's already a core canon, and by core it means there are 22 out of 27 books already well established in the church. And so my point is like, well who picked those? Yes. You know, Constantine wasn't around yet. and there was no power structure around yet.

And you just realized that those are the books that were naturally, the church was coalescing around. And that doesn't suggest some power move that suggests there's something about these books that the church recognized at a very early time.

Shelby: Yes.

So all of this that we're talking about when it comes to things like how to talk to people about what we believe, pointing people toward God, all of that is great. And some people might think, oh, apologetics is just not for me. Because that's not the way I'm wired. But you say that when it comes to non-believers, Many college students who reject the faith don't reject it because it's not true. They're more concerned with what satisfies them, or what quote unquote works for them.

Michael: Yes.

Shelby: What should a young person do if it feels like Christianity just isn't working for him or her? They might, they might think it's true, but it just isn't working for them. How would you respond to that?

Michael: Yes, well first with understanding and sympathy, we all hit a point in the Christian life where we're like, wow, if Christianity is true, shouldn't my life sort of be better than this, or if

Christianity is true, shouldn't I be able to fight sin more effectively? If Christianity is true, why is there so much junk in the church and broken relationships? And you can go down this list if Christianity is true. Wouldn't there be more existential satisfaction here?

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: But I'm not happy; I'm not satisfied; I'm disgruntled; and by golly it looks like these other religious systems have it a lot better. And maybe even just secular worldview seem a lot happier. Christianity isn't working, and I don't really care about historical evidence. I don't care about facts and figures. I just want to be happy.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Michael: I get that we've all been there and, and often or there in some sense. There's two major things I would go to about that. First, I would say we got to get the order right. Okay. We think Christianity does work, but we don't think that's what makes it true. We don't think it's true because it works. We think it works because it's true and so true. Still truth has to be the foundation.

I'd rather have truth than and have a hard life, than live a lie and have a good life.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Now the non-Christian may disagree. But I think there's an inherent sense in all of us that we'd rather be doing what we know is true, even if it makes life harder. I think about the movie The Matrix, right? When, you know they give Neo the red pill versus the blue pill. All Morpheus promised Neo was, I'm going to give you the truth, right? And he wakes up in a world which is a lot more miserable than the one he was in, but everybody says it's worth it because it's not a lie. Okay? So step one, truth does matter and it's the foundation for what works.

Then step two is to remind the non-Christian and remind ourselves truthfully that Christianity does work. It does provide things that make life more fulfilling and satisfying. That's not why it's true. That's not the only reason to follow it, but it does produce things that make life more flourishing.

I talk in the book about how it gives real meaning and purpose. I talk about giving hope in the midst of suffering - and there's many other things we could talk about beyond those things. So it does work, but we have to realize it always works within the context of a fallen world. It's going to work imperfectly, so to speak, until Christ comes back and sets all things right. So, there'll be starts and stops and hiccups. But you know you don't want to use experience as your full gauge, or otherwise every time you hit a rough patch, you're going to bail.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: What if the early church did that? They suffered a lot. If they said, “Hey, if, if suffering is the name of the game, I don't want anything to do with Christianity,” then they would've left.

Shelby: Right.

Michael: But they knew it was true. And I'll tell you one last thing is that the person in the Bible who was all about comfort and didn't want to have anything to do with suffering and ended up leaving the Christian faith because it was a life of suffering, was Judas. Judas ended up, and you can piece it together, his portrayal of Jesus is when he began to realize, Jesus started talking about suffering and carrying your cross and his coming kingdom wasn't all that Judas thought it would be. So Judas is an existentialist. Judas wants what's good for Judas, and so he ended up leaving what was true, because it was going to cause trouble and difficulty, and we want to make sure we don't end up in that place.

Shelby: Yes. I have a friend who says like, “Hey, keep in mind that Judas heard all of Christ's sermons, and we know where he ended up.” So it's not about like per se, just knowing all the right things. It's about like embracing the fact that this will change my life, and it's going to be uncomfortable. The Christian life isn't meant to be comfortable. It's meant to be transformational, and that transformation, while painful is definitely worth it.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Shelby: And I like that the fact that you're, you're not painting a picture of just knowledge and understanding of what the truth is to be the summit of the mountain, it's part of the process. But it actually will lead you to places you may not want to go. But again, it's definitely worth it to be there.

Michael: That's right. And, and this is why this is a conversation for another day. But we can see parts of American Evangelicalism when they proclaim the faith, it seems like sometimes the proclaiming the faith in terms of all the ways it's going to make your life better.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: And is there a sense in which that's true? Yes. There's a sense in which that's true, but when you lead with that card, you set people up for failure - because they think that the whole reason you're a Christian is because it just makes things better. It's just your big self-help book.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: And what happens if it doesn't make it better? What happens if it makes it harder?

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: Well you got to prepare people for that.


Shelby: Yes. It's really good. Well, I want to kind of conclude with this. You’re obviously a married man and you have a family, but I like to talk about not necessarily the nuclear family, but the family of God, and how has the family of God been a life giving anchor for you?


Michael: Yes. I think you make a great distinction there, which is that obviously God has given both kinds of families.

Shelby: Right.

Michael: You know everybody who lives has a physical family or you wouldn't be alive.


Shelby: Right.

Michael: And those play a key part in God's kingdom. But we also know that those are really foreshadowings of the real family of God, because the real family of God is eternal in the sense that brothers and sisters in Christ are the ones that you'll be with forever.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: There will be no marriage in heaven. Christ will be our bride, and we, we will be each other's family, brothers and sisters in a spiritual sense. If you're going to make it in the Christian life, if you're going to survive Religion 101, which is sort of what we've been talking about, you can't go it alone. Of course, this is one of the themes in my book. Step one, just don't run off in the dark alone when you deal with these things. And you know, I make a joke in the book about my horror movie advice - which is you know, I love scary movies -.

Shelby: And you do, and I can’t stand them.


Michael: Yes, not everybody likes 'em. Fair enough. And, and I'll come back on the show at some point. We’ll discuss the merits of horror movies.

Shelby: Okay.

Michael: Regardless not everybody loves them. But when you watch them, you realize that the protagonist makes the same mistake every time.

Shelby: Yes.

Michael: Which of course is sort of what's the cliche, is they go off alone in the dark and you're like yelling at the TV going, what are you doing? Stay in the group, stay in the light. Well, same thing, true spiritually. Just don't run off alone in the dark. Stay in the group, stay in the light. The family of God is going to be so key for how anybody can get through these sorts of things.

Shelby: Yeah, I totally agree with you and that's one of the things I mentioned in my book when in the context of doubt as people are wrestling with it, they have a tendency to go inward and isolate. Because they're afraid to ask questions. They're afraid they might be labeled as like “that guy” who's asking those questions and being a difficult Christian.

Michael: Right.

Shelby: No, embrace it. Lean into it, talk to people about it. You'd much rather do that in the context of community than isolate yourself. Because when you isolate yourself, it's always bad. It's always bad.


Michael: Yes and part of that is the church also needs to do better at making a welcome space for people to bring those doubts up. The individual is responsible for not isolating and coming forward. But then the church is responsible for making sure that they feel comfortable coming forward - and they're not driven in isolation by virtue of saying, “Hey, we don't allow hard questions here.”

Shelby: Yes, that's good.

You know, hard questions are what help to make our faith stronger, not weaker. So let's go after them in the context of community. I love my time with Dr. Krueger, and if you are someone you know is wrestling with legit questions about the Christian faith, pick up his book, Surviving Religion 101. I really think it'll help, because it really helped me.

And if this episode with Michael Krueger was helpful for you, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend wherever you get your podcasts. It could really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading…, if you'd rate and review us. And it's kind of easy to find us on our social channels. Just search for Real Life Loading, or look for our links in the show notes.

I want to thank everyone who's on the Real Life Loading team, Chloe, Bruce, Kaytlynn, Jarrett, and Josh. I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading.

Real Life Loading is a production of FamilyLife®, a Cru® ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.