As many of you are no doubt already aware, last year (in addition to starting a PhD, getting a new job and moving cities) I wrote my first book (I know, why?!) Ahead of its publication next month – and riding high after my radio debut this morning on Premier – I let Elizabeth Neep, Commissioning Editor of the More > Series (IVP), and generally wonderful woman who has been holding my hand throughout the process of making this book a reality, throw a few questions my way to help to better explain the heart and intention behind my decision to write MORE > Truth – Searching for Certainty in an Uncertain World, which is to be published by IVP on 21 February 2019. I really hope this interview whets your appetite for MORE > (pun absolutely intended)!
1. So Kristi, it’s finally here! The launch of your first ever book. It’s been quite the journey since we first Skyped to talk about the possibility of you writing for the MORE > series. What was it about the series that caught your attention?
It has been quite the journey, hasn’t it? When we first spoke, I think the first couple of MORE> books were yet to hit the press. So, without anything tangible to go on, it was really your passion in wanting to get short answers to big questions in the hands of those who are unlikely to read anything more on the topic, and may find Bible reading rather daunting, just so appealing. I loved that the grounding motivation of MORE > is to make God’s word accessible to us in the trenches of our day to day lives with all its busyness and mayhem. We often think there isn’t enough time to think through these questions, so why should we even bother trying? That’s what I love about this series – it challenges our internal scepticism by presenting us with edible portions in answer to some of these big issues. These books are aimed at Christians who may struggle with reading the Bible or be on the fringes of faith. Having said that, I hope wherever folks are at in their love and understanding of Jesus, they may find something edifying in this one!
2. Between us we decided the topic of ‘truth’ would be of interest to our target audience of twenty-to-thirty-somethings. Why do you think this is something our generation needs to hear?
The question of truth - ‘what is true?’ and ‘how do I know?’ - isn’t one that is going to go away any time soon. It’s an ancient question with quite recent public ramifications. Truth is a rich theological reality, and one that we can delight in knowing. We can often be tempted to go with the grain of the world rather than against it when it comes to ‘post-truth’, can’t we?
We, too, can often feel like truth is some kind of an ethereal abstract notion, one that doesn’t really make much difference to me right now, rather than an ongoing relationship with Truth himself.
I actually received an email late last night from a MA student at Warwick. She came along to one of my talks on this in the Summer. She said that she had recently attended a seminar assessing the role of worldview in research. She was presented with lots of ‘isms’ and just felt a little bit out of her depth. She so wonderfully said that when she remembered that ‘Truth is a person’, it was like ‘the clouds cleared’. This is why our generation needs to hear this: Knowing Truth renews our confidence and hope in Him in an anything goes age. Truth has walked this earth, he comes close to us. And whilst there are lots of scholarly debates over the nature of truth, at bottom, as Christians we can have confidence over confusion in a crucified Christ, even though we may not know everything. I’d love for those who read this book to think, ‘Yes, that’s who Jesus is.’ And not feel like they have to hide Jesus away from the public marketplace of ideas in fear he may not stand up to scrutiny.
3. As an Academic you are used to reading and teaching from very big, detail-oriented books. Why did you choose to start with something small and much more popular-level in style?
Thank you for asking this question, it’s one that I imagine I’ll be getting a lot over the coming months. Academic institutions hold an important place in society in the guarding, furtherance, and transmission of knowledge. Ideas promoted in university contexts go on to then form the pavements and pathways of our quotidian lives in the next 10-15 years. What we hear on the streets today was probably first presented at an obscure conference a decade ago! And for us, especially in the church, we can often be on the back foot when it comes to understanding and responding to these ideas and ways of being. That is why I wrote this book. I long for brothers and sisters, students, young professionals, and most especially non-thinkers, non-readers, to have something that they can relate to, which will help form and fuel their daily lives. Whilst the preponderance of ideas come from universities (though perhaps this is changing a little bit considering the proliferation of views propagated through social media platforms), we all have to live with them – academics and non-academics alike. If I can say this, I am passionate about making truth accessible. I want others to be gripped by the joy of knowing truly that shapes our behaviour as well as our minds. So, in some ways, I’ve started with the more difficult task – opening up a complex issue simply - I hope!
4. What do you hope your target readers will get out of this book?
A little taste of truth: I hope Jesus will become more real and relevant to readers. I’m praying readers will understand our current cultural climate a little bit more, and have a glimpse into the coherence of the Christian worldview, how our desire for Truth is located in the God-Man. Knowing Jesus is Truth fundamentally shapes all of our knowing ventures and activities by the power of the Spirit before the Father. I’d love for readers to see this isn’t a dusty topic, but one our hearts continue to wrestle with, and, more than that, receive hope. We don’t have to throw our minds away in favour of ‘blind faith’. We have an answer – we have Him.
5. And how about any of your more academic readers and peers?
It might not share anything new; what I’ve presented in this book is just the tip of the epistemological ice-berg (if that!) This book is written from a Christian perspective with the goal of encouraging the Christian community, and as such, it is primarily devotional in nature and not intended to serve as a robust academic articulation of epistemological paradigms and their detractors. MORE>Truth contains age-old truths conveyed simply, but I hope it may speak to them, Christian or not, in a new way, and keep the conversation going – on whatever level or way that may be.