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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Talking about faith to skeptics is an age-old challenge, and it even further tests the mettle of its defenders in the present age where liberalism leans toward reason. We are living in an era with a different situation, and belief in a higher power is no longer the same—a challenge that Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank boldly undertakes. In A Full-Figured Faith: The Expanding Effects of Doubt & Skepticism on an Evolving Jewish Faith, he presents an anthology of essays on traditional Jewish principles and practices. Some people, members of the synagogue, in particular, find these practices questionable or no longer relevant in an age where science trumps dogma. Divided into thirteen chapters, this book is an enlightening discourse on addressing the different types of skepticism, with Rabbi Rank’s suggestions on how to look at faith with a reflective eye.
According to the author, both modern skeptics and believers should not search for God through supernatural inquiry. God is a manifestation of our rational faculties and is encountered existentially. He taps into the history of Jewish faith and subscribes with full confidence that Jewish scholars and philosophers, notably Maimonides, also dealt with an inquisitive Jewish community. In Rabbi Rank’s words, Maimonides “sought to upgrade Jewish belief to fit with the prevailing philosophy of the day.” Rabbi Rank is ardent in his claims that this attitude becomes a reliable reference in giving direction to skeptical inquiry. He does not take offense at reason-infused questions. Instead, he trusts the experiences of the people in his community that they have an enormous resource of wisdom and experience as they face doubts. A Full-Figured Faith is not about winning arguments. It is about establishing faith by perceiving God as a reality in the things that we think and do. If you find yourself questioning your faith in the grand scheme of things, this book offers help.