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Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith

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For more than twenty years, Charles Templeton was a major figure in the church in Canada and the United States. During the 1950s, he and Billy Graham were the two most successful exponents of mass evangelism in North America. Templeton spoke nightly to stadium crowds of up to thirty thousand people.   However, increasing doubts about the validity of the Old Testament and the For more than twenty years, Charles Templeton was a major figure in the church in Canada and the United States. During the 1950s, he and Billy Graham were the two most successful exponents of mass evangelism in North America. Templeton spoke nightly to stadium crowds of up to thirty thousand people.   However, increasing doubts about the validity of the Old Testament and the teachings of the Christian church finally brought about a crisis in his faith and in 1957 he resigned from the ministry.   In Farewell to God, Templeton speaks out about his reasons for the abandonment of his faith. In straightforward language, Templeton deals with such subjects as the Creation fable, racial prejudice in the Bible, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus’ alienation from his family, the second-class status of women in the church, the mystery of evil, the illusion that prayer works, why there is suffering and death, and the loss of faith in God.   He concludes with a positive personal statement: “I Believe.” From the eBook edition.


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For more than twenty years, Charles Templeton was a major figure in the church in Canada and the United States. During the 1950s, he and Billy Graham were the two most successful exponents of mass evangelism in North America. Templeton spoke nightly to stadium crowds of up to thirty thousand people.   However, increasing doubts about the validity of the Old Testament and the For more than twenty years, Charles Templeton was a major figure in the church in Canada and the United States. During the 1950s, he and Billy Graham were the two most successful exponents of mass evangelism in North America. Templeton spoke nightly to stadium crowds of up to thirty thousand people.   However, increasing doubts about the validity of the Old Testament and the teachings of the Christian church finally brought about a crisis in his faith and in 1957 he resigned from the ministry.   In Farewell to God, Templeton speaks out about his reasons for the abandonment of his faith. In straightforward language, Templeton deals with such subjects as the Creation fable, racial prejudice in the Bible, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus’ alienation from his family, the second-class status of women in the church, the mystery of evil, the illusion that prayer works, why there is suffering and death, and the loss of faith in God.   He concludes with a positive personal statement: “I Believe.” From the eBook edition.

30 review for Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith

  1. 5 out of 5

    C.

    Before Billy Graham there was Charles Templeton! Amazing gently told account of the former associate and lifelong friend of evangelist Billy Graham.His honesty is touching,and that his story is told without being in 'attack mode'. As someone who was an evangelical Christian for decades and now a nonbeliever,I rank this book right up there with my new non-religious favorites which have taken the place of all my Christian/religious nonfiction books. What I find especially amazing is how books such as Before Billy Graham there was Charles Templeton! Amazing gently told account of the former associate and lifelong friend of evangelist Billy Graham.His honesty is touching,and that his story is told without being in 'attack mode'. As someone who was an evangelical Christian for decades and now a nonbeliever,I rank this book right up there with my new non-religious favorites which have taken the place of all my Christian/religious nonfiction books. What I find especially amazing is how books such as this and....Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth W Daniels The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read by Tim C. Leedom Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan Barker all make so much more sense than my bible and preachers ever did! I know why real life and years of bible study my eyes finally opened to the fallacy of religion,but these books have helped me to understand why I allowed such self-delusion for so many years! Only those with an open mind who are lovers and seekers of Truth,and wonder why religion so strongly admonishes[like every cult]followers to never allow themselves to think about contradictions they read/see for themselves, or to never question what their own common sense is screaming for them to question, are able to appreciate such works,but those who do will treasure them for helping them to reach their full human potential instead of going through life as an automaton. I highly recommend Farewell To God by Charles Templeton

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Buller

    The first time I read this book it shook my faith. It seemed to raise so many devastating critiques and questions about Christianity that it was hard to imagine the mere possibility that there could be answers. So I read it again. As I read it a second time I carefully analyzed exactly what he was (and was not) saying, his precise lines of argument, what exact evidence he was drawing on, etc. After reading it a second time my faith was far less shaken. Like so many anti-Theists these days he majo The first time I read this book it shook my faith. It seemed to raise so many devastating critiques and questions about Christianity that it was hard to imagine the mere possibility that there could be answers. So I read it again. As I read it a second time I carefully analyzed exactly what he was (and was not) saying, his precise lines of argument, what exact evidence he was drawing on, etc. After reading it a second time my faith was far less shaken. Like so many anti-Theists these days he majors on emotional manipulation, selective appeals to evidence (ignoring evidence that does not support his conclusions), half-baked reasoning and so on. This book is only a very tiny step up from the kind of Atheist nonsense you are likely to find in the comments under YouTube videos. It barely registers as pop-philosophy; hardly worthy of serious consideration. It is frankly embarrassing that I ever let it shake my faith; a sign of the frailty of my faith at the time, not a sign of the quality of his arguments. For the record, there are some very intelligent and very thoughtful Atheists out there. Christians need to step away from "blind faith" and take what they say seriously. Templeton was never one of them. I rate it a "2" instead of a "1" simply because he is a rather articulate writer who can really move the reader along. Where he moves them along to, however...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    My father is always buying religious literature, littering our bathroom and dining room with it, trying to get me to read it, to just "understand where he's coming from." So I picked up Charles Templeton's Farewell to God in retaliation, more for him than for me. I was hoping to pass it along to him after I finished it, to finally see "where I was coming from." Of course, my dad isn't much of a reader, and is already steeped in his own library of works, so it might be a while until he gets aroun My father is always buying religious literature, littering our bathroom and dining room with it, trying to get me to read it, to just "understand where he's coming from." So I picked up Charles Templeton's Farewell to God in retaliation, more for him than for me. I was hoping to pass it along to him after I finished it, to finally see "where I was coming from." Of course, my dad isn't much of a reader, and is already steeped in his own library of works, so it might be a while until he gets around to this one. As for my own read of the book, as much as I agree with each and every of Templeton's points, I can't help but think I could have argued them more convincingly, given the chance. Templeton is a former minister, and a famous one at that, old friends with Billy Graham. He worked in the ministry for quite a few years, but the glaring disparities he saw between what Christianity was and what it loved to say it was ate away at him slowly until he could no longer bring himself to say the words he was being paid (on television by that point, no less) to say. Templeton attacks Christianity from a stance inside the religion, a different approach than famed atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens who come from scientific and philosophical backgrounds. What Templeton's book does is pick apart the Bible and the greater doctrine of the church, piece by piece, holding each story and each consequent inconsistency up to the light of an inquiring mind. He does not claim to know more or be smarter than others, just to have come to understand the horrors in the faith he'd dedicated his life to. It's really a rather sad tale when you step back from it, and I applaud the man for finding the strength enough to write such a book. But as it goes, the writing is pretty pedestrian. It's hardly even a book for the Beginning Atheist; it's much better suited for someone who is finding themselves confused about the religion they've been raised in, looking for answers to why things just don't quite make sense. It's a simply written book, and it gets its point across expertly, so I can't knock it for that. But for someone as angry as me, it comes off a little soft. Templeton doesn't even classify himself as an unbeliever--he's a vague agnostic who insists that he still believes in "something." Perhaps he is referring to the god of Einstein, the ultimate power of the universe. Or of the aether, in its ever-flowing, almighty ambivalence to mankind. Or so I can hope, because to look for more would unhinge his entire argument, whether it came through a church, a mosque or a synagogue.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darrel

    I read this many years ago and can say that it was a key part of my own journey. It is a courageous work and one that touches both the emotional and intellectual components of faith and doubt. I put it in one of the top five books on the subject.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A good first book to recommend to those beginning to question their religious beliefs. From the perspective of one time evangelist Charles Templeton who doesn't stive to hit the reader over the head with his or her superstitions. Rather he uses biblical inconsistencies and the contradictions seen in everyday life to force the reader to challenge their beliefs.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    All I can say is I don't see how a believer could read this and have their faith intact afterwards. A man who studied the Bible inside and out takes it to task in ways that even Dawkins can't do.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    One of the best books I've ever read. Everything he said made sense, and it only solidified my stance in agnosticism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Hanson

    Dated and cursory, yet if you want a broad coverage of belief-in-gods issues, this is a great start. It's more Templeton's reasons for walking away from faith rather than an earnest argument for others to; though he repeats over again rhetorical questions such as, "How could a loving god do that?" I found his discussion if Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection interesting, as well as the creation stories. He shows that the multiple versions conflict and therefore cannot be true: there are two cre Dated and cursory, yet if you want a broad coverage of belief-in-gods issues, this is a great start. It's more Templeton's reasons for walking away from faith rather than an earnest argument for others to; though he repeats over again rhetorical questions such as, "How could a loving god do that?" I found his discussion if Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection interesting, as well as the creation stories. He shows that the multiple versions conflict and therefore cannot be true: there are two creation stories, the seven day story and the Adam & Eve story, and they can't both be true; therefore, neither one can be true. His arguments are compelling but not that deep. For example, he argues Noah's story is a fable, yet he does not define what a fable is or try to peg the story as such according to any criteria. He is right, but his argument could be stronger and more academic, and less readable. Templeton claims his not atheist but agnostic, that he is open to the possibilities of a life force of some kind. His arguments pretty much show he is atheist and in the end leaves very little wiggle room for creation of any sort. He falls into the atheism is faith trap as do many theologians. Atheism is not belief gods do not exist, rather atheism is not believing because there is no credible evidence they do. Enough of that, this topic sends fundies into fits. Overall I'd recommend this for anybody interested in faith, from the atheist to the fundamentalist. Fundies will not read this book, of course; because I seriously doubt most fundies can read any book, even their precious bibles. Modern, progressive theologins should definitely read and tackle it; this is the wall they are trying to overcome. If your faith is so strong, no wall is too high. Read it and find the new church.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Stopher

    While this book is well-written from a literary standpoint, I expected more of a rational argument than Templeton provided. Several, dare I say many, of his points were invalid and it seemed that he was merely grinding his axe. For example, on page 33 he states, "Having chosen his twelve apostles (all Jews) and having given them what has been called the 'Great Commission,' he added specific instructions: Go nowhere among the Gentiles..." Anyone who has read the Bible, specifically the Gospel of While this book is well-written from a literary standpoint, I expected more of a rational argument than Templeton provided. Several, dare I say many, of his points were invalid and it seemed that he was merely grinding his axe. For example, on page 33 he states, "Having chosen his twelve apostles (all Jews) and having given them what has been called the 'Great Commission,' he added specific instructions: Go nowhere among the Gentiles..." Anyone who has read the Bible, specifically the Gospel of Matthew, would know that the Great Commission is given in Matthew 28, at the end of Jesus' ministry, but the instructions to avoid the Gentiles is found in Matthew 10, toward the beginning of his ministry and initial training of his disciples. Templeton obviously doesn't like the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Inquisition, and he doesn't like the preaching style of modern day preachers, but these aren't real reasons to deny the existence of God. Much of this seemed to be more smokescreen for his real reasons, that "contemporary" people should be "rational" enough to ignore ancient fables. Templeton would have us believe that almost all of the narrative of the New Testament gospels are fictional, and even a significant portion of the sayings of Jesus, yet he clearly decides that some of Jesus' sayings are inspirational, just not the written claims about an illegitimate child who hates his parents. One thing I did notice was the number of times Templeton mentioned not having someone to talk to about his questions. It seems that he got what he sought out at Princeton; a faith devoid of depth that led him nowhere.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This book repeats a lot of the standard arguments against Christianity. The book is much better than Dawkin's book The God Delusion (which was nothing but a nonsensical rant). I especially found the discussion about Billy Graham and the early days of his crusades interesting. The one part of the book I found a little hard to believe was Templeton revealing how after years of being a pastor and an evangelist, he suddenly stumbled upon distrubing questions like "why does God allow suffering" and " This book repeats a lot of the standard arguments against Christianity. The book is much better than Dawkin's book The God Delusion (which was nothing but a nonsensical rant). I especially found the discussion about Billy Graham and the early days of his crusades interesting. The one part of the book I found a little hard to believe was Templeton revealing how after years of being a pastor and an evangelist, he suddenly stumbled upon distrubing questions like "why does God allow suffering" and "what about the blood shed in the old testament." Are we supposed to believe that he had not ever thought about these things before deciding to become a Christian and that he had never read the Bible until after had been a Pastor for years. I dunno. I find that odd, but I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Overrall it was a good book, and the tone was very respectful. Such a refreshing change from other dogmatic atheists such as Christopther Hitchens and Sam Harris.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Honest and plainspoken account of uncomplicated doubt and alienation from contemporary Christianity. Wouldn't convince me to leave the church, but a good book for understanding how some people might come to the conclusion that they should.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    The first section, “A personal word”, where Templeton tells his story is the most interesting. After that? He does a great summary of a number of biblical passages. He points out why they can’t be taken as literal history as we understand history today. He points out that the “Old Testament” portrays a vengeful, tribal god and the “New Testament” attempts to present a charismatic leader as part of this god. The book feels like a farewell to the god that Templeton (and Billy Graham) were introduc The first section, “A personal word”, where Templeton tells his story is the most interesting. After that? He does a great summary of a number of biblical passages. He points out why they can’t be taken as literal history as we understand history today. He points out that the “Old Testament” portrays a vengeful, tribal god and the “New Testament” attempts to present a charismatic leader as part of this god. The book feels like a farewell to the god that Templeton (and Billy Graham) were introducing people to in their mass evangelism. While presenting some great points, some of the arguments address a simplistic, fundamentalist version of Christianity I cannot really imagine believing. (Creationism? Praying for the victory of your football team?) Many Christians would agree with many of his points and still believe. Even more so people who have other versions of ‘god’ may not find his reasons for agnosticism compelling. Overall, it’s a quick, easy, rambling read. We’re given the thoughts of one person who attempted to live with integrity, was involved with some of the mass evangelical North American movements of the twentieth century and moved from belief to agnosticism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    At more than halfway I decided that even at one or two chapters a night I could not abide this book. It is very well written, but definitely not balanced with supporting facts. It is very clever is presenting ideas. He states truth then adds in his opinion mixed in the same sentence so it all blends together and you swallow the whole sentence without a thought. Many have pondered the violence of the Old Testament. Many have wrestled with the question of who Jesus is. This is NOT a book that wil At more than halfway I decided that even at one or two chapters a night I could not abide this book. It is very well written, but definitely not balanced with supporting facts. It is very clever is presenting ideas. He states truth then adds in his opinion mixed in the same sentence so it all blends together and you swallow the whole sentence without a thought. Many have pondered the violence of the Old Testament. Many have wrestled with the question of who Jesus is. This is NOT a book that will move you to faith, but will put up a concrete barrier to finding it. I found it interesting that there is very little scripture quoted and no reference notes to where these "facts" could be easily compared to the original source. I know you will write me off as a religious zealot who cannot face the truth. So be it. But the God he talks about is not the God I know, experience and depend on.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Chow-Dukhan

    Well written, easy to read book by Charles Templeton about his doubts about the teachings of the Christian church of a loving omnipotent God, that led to his abandonment of the faith. The book points out discrepancies in the Testaments that questions the validity of some of the events that were to have occurred in the past, the creation of heaven, earth and the existence of hell, the resurrection of Jesus and the treatment of women and non-Christians, as well as the trappings of the modern church Well written, easy to read book by Charles Templeton about his doubts about the teachings of the Christian church of a loving omnipotent God, that led to his abandonment of the faith. The book points out discrepancies in the Testaments that questions the validity of some of the events that were to have occurred in the past, the creation of heaven, earth and the existence of hell, the resurrection of Jesus and the treatment of women and non-Christians, as well as the trappings of the modern church and the lifestyles of the priests and preachers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    From the times of his late teens, Charles Templeton dedicated himself to the ministry. He was a popular public figure, often joining Billy Graham on large stages in auditoriums and preaching to crowds of thousands. But in 1957, he rejected his faith and resigned from the ministry. This is his thoughtful and at times sad account of the personal journey that led him to reject the foundations on which he had built his beliefs. It was with deep regret that he found they could no longer sustain him. T From the times of his late teens, Charles Templeton dedicated himself to the ministry. He was a popular public figure, often joining Billy Graham on large stages in auditoriums and preaching to crowds of thousands. But in 1957, he rejected his faith and resigned from the ministry. This is his thoughtful and at times sad account of the personal journey that led him to reject the foundations on which he had built his beliefs. It was with deep regret that he found they could no longer sustain him. Templeton traces his life as a convert, teacher and scholar. He follows his life journey as a thinking, reasoning and questioning man, a process which ultimately led him to reject evangelical Christianity. During this process of stepping back from something he had dedicated his life to, he was forced to confront his own sense of shame and failure. He shares his regret about the friends and loved ones he hurt when he had to tell them about his decision. As he follows the truth as he sees it, he focuses on the bible and its inherent implausibility. In the late fifties this was sacred ground, as this revered text had an aura of sacred immunity that surrounded it. But Templeton simply could no longer accept some of its most outrageous concepts. Grappling with the difficult questions that came to him and trying to gain better insight into the bible, he consulted his lifelong friend Billy Graham. Graham’s advice was that he should stop questioning the bible and just accept it as God’s word. That answer did not help him and indeed just solidified Templeton’s point: why does religion never allow you to think about or question church doctrine? Why can a believer not question the contradictions and inconsistencies in the bible? Why can anyone not question what common sense leads him to question? Templeton shares some of the issues he struggled with during this process and encourages others to do the same. And he poses other questions readers might think about if they are confused about the religion they were raised in or looking for answers about why things don’t make sense. Looking for answers is part of growing up and part of how society and the world has evolved. So why is that approach so off limits with religion? As Templeton concludes his journey of stepping away from blind faith, he shares what he now believes in, which is a sense of spirituality. This satisfies his curious intellectual mind and brings him comfort. Everyone needs to believe in something and he is now more comfortable with his present beliefs. This is a forceful critique for those who have an open mind and seek the truth. It is neither an attack on evangelicals, nor an academic treatise. It is simply Templeton’s account of his personal and often painful journey. Unlike books written by other authors (e.g. Christopher Hitchens and David Adams Richards), it is written by someone from within religion rather than by someone who is looking into religious thinking from outside of it. That makes the story of Templeton’s journey even more powerful. This is very readable book and I think it attains its objective, which is to make you think.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    Farewell To God is well written and highly readable, a fair and insightful argument for intelligent thinkers who want to hold on to all that is good in our Christian heritage while acknowledging the obstacles to unquestioning belief. Templeton observes that: "The laws of life that affect our daily lives are not revealed truths communicated by a deity on a smoking mountain or delivered through some special compact into the hands of priests or rabbis or members of the clergy; they lie at the heart Farewell To God is well written and highly readable, a fair and insightful argument for intelligent thinkers who want to hold on to all that is good in our Christian heritage while acknowledging the obstacles to unquestioning belief. Templeton observes that: "The laws of life that affect our daily lives are not revealed truths communicated by a deity on a smoking mountain or delivered through some special compact into the hands of priests or rabbis or members of the clergy; they lie at the heart of life. The philosopher discovers them in his pondering and passes them on. The scientist tracks them down in his laboratory and passes them on. The novelist observes them in his scrutiny human behaviour and passes them on. The poet intuits them in his meditation and passes them on. There is no need to petition the gods, to erect costly temples, to follow elaborate forms of worship, or to sanctify ordinary men on the presumption that by virtue of their vocation they have special access to the truth. The laws of life are intrinsic in everything that exists and are available to anyone.” In the closing chapter “I Believe” the author lists what he does believe, and I especially like this one: “I believe that there is what may best be described as a Life Force, a First Cause, a Primal Energy, a Life Essence, and that it is the genesis of all that is, from the simplest atom to the entirety of the expanding universe.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Clear, easy to read. Not rude, belligerent, or degrading. This should be required reading for every Christian or those thinking of converting. This should be in hotel nightstands next to the Gideon bible. It clearly points out all the flaws, inconsistent stories, inconsistent morals (and lack thereof), and other holes and not so tidy plot points in the Christian religion focusing primarily on the Bible, the base of the religion. It also drives home a pretty good point about "cultural Christians" Clear, easy to read. Not rude, belligerent, or degrading. This should be required reading for every Christian or those thinking of converting. This should be in hotel nightstands next to the Gideon bible. It clearly points out all the flaws, inconsistent stories, inconsistent morals (and lack thereof), and other holes and not so tidy plot points in the Christian religion focusing primarily on the Bible, the base of the religion. It also drives home a pretty good point about "cultural Christians" which I what I personally think many people are. And he is correct in that the Fundamentalist really are the ones who have the religion right and are doing it as prescribed. And that's a hell of a scary thought.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Craig Evans

    Unlike some of the "New Atheists", Mr.Templeton is displays in his memoir his reasons for leaving religion, and is able to authentically meet believers on their own playing field then shred that field and dig holes in the solid footing of that belief. 3 stars for content. 5 for points made.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Easy read!!! Templeton was a major figure in the church in Canada. He speaks about his increasing doubt about the validity of the teachings of the Christian church.

  20. 5 out of 5

    columbialion

    A logical reasonable argument for the rejection of corporate religion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    one of the best books i've ever read in my life, made me seriously start question the idea of "fiath in god"

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Thiessen

    A really good book for anyone making the jump into agnosticism. Light on atheist material, but poses some obvious fallacies involved with Christian dogma.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    eye opening!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michelle L

    LOVED it! Loved his approach and open-mindedness, and respect towards Christians at the same time. This is the kind of book I love to share with my Christian friends. :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aynsley

  26. 5 out of 5

    TJ Luczynski

  27. 4 out of 5

    J.d.williams

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Walke

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter Jacobsson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

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