Bishop John Shelby Spong
June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021

Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology.
We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed!

Honest With God: Reflections On Faith And Doubt

 
This book is not a step-by-step “how to” for the Christian spiritual life. It is a book of spiritual wrestling with God and Scripture, written “from the foxhole” in the clash of faith and doubt. These reflections — agonizing, grateful, pondering, questioning, exultant — come from the author’s dialogue with the Biblical texts that form the headings of each chapter.

Texts like these formed the fabric of author Mel Leaman’s life as the son of a Mennonite missionary and pastor. They offered the comfort of heaven and the terror of hell. When theological categories like these began to crumble during his seminary years, rather than simply jettison the Bible and Christian theology, Mel began an often painful journey to discover the truth of God and Scripture for himself.

In this book, the reader gets to see what the inner journey looks like when naïve, unexamined belief is challenged by doubt . . . and must become faith. Rarely do we have access to such transparency of soul, and rarely are we privileged to witness the exquisite sensitivity these reflections reveal. Honest To God: Reflections On Faith And Doubt will no doubt be encouraging to many, not because it trumpets the truth or gives confident spiritual guidance to seekers, but because it encourages them to keep seeking. For by the end of the book we discover, along with the author himself, that if faith, doubt, questions, beliefs, and a whole kaleidoscope of emotions are all parts of the seeker’s journey, something greater than the sum of the parts emerges: something as subtle as the first hint of morning light gently coaxing aside the cold mist.
 

 
Reviews

Mel was my pastor as a child and I still remember his sermons. He moved away when I was young, but I still remember fondly his ministry. When I found him on social media, I was eager to connect and see how his life had been going. When he told me that he wrote a book, I was very interested! I read it and was not disappointed. While I didn’t what was coming ; I can’t tell you what a wonderful story was that unfolded from his many years composing this work. When you read it, you will know a big part of what he is about : honest perspective. Many people will write books from this honest perspective, but Mel’s book makes you feel like you’ve been in a series of conversations with a trusted friend. It calls to the heart and reassures you that we are all human and that runs the full gamut of emotion. It’s a beautifully worded book that is an easy read, which further lets you into the heart of the author much better than nearly anything I’ve read. I highly recommend it as a special book that will touch your spirit. Thank you for writing it! -R. Myers

Dangling between his hope of faith and the despair of doubt is Mel Leaman. His keen understanding of both Hebrew and Christian biblical scriptures entice me to daily read some of his HONEST WITH GOD REFLECTIONS On Faith And Doubt which help me feel and think through my own relationship predicaments. I do this not because Mel Leman is a vital friend and I need his council and guidance. I also do this because he is a talented singer, author, teacher, pastor, spouse and father. I wish he could be a vital friend to everyone, but being unable to accomplish this helpful and meaningful role with everyone, I wholeheartedly recommend the reading of his book, HONEST WITH GOD REFLECTIONS On Faith And Doubt as well as attend his musical concerts and/or classes. I read several of his reflections with God everyday. He is a forthright, honest and unpretentious writer who knows how to include metaphors to make his thoughts and feelings ring out loud and clear. He enables me to think, feel and act in my own questioning and true God and human oriented manner. Thank you God for Mel Leaman’s book. -Don Hurst

In this book, Mel raises many issues that need to be reflected on and discussed – do my prayers go higher than the ceiling? What does it mean to be a person committed to justice? How does my faith impact my life? Many of us (I have been a pastor for over 4 decades) may hesitate to bring these issues into the light: Mel, in a thoughtful, compassionate way, brings them to light as he shares his own journey towards wholeness. Highly recommend.

About the Author
Mel Leaman graduated from Taylor University in 1972 with a heart to love and serve others. This passion over the years was initially expressed through teaching Jr. High students and then six years as a full-time youth director at Asbury UMC in Maitland, Florida. He then served three years as a student pastor in the Eastern Ohio Conference, followed by a 15 year pastorate at West Grove UMC in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (EPA). His love for college students led him to Lincoln University where he taught World Religions for 15 years before his retirement. Mel received a Doctorate of Ministry to Marriage and Family from Eastern Baptist Seminary (now Palmer) in 1990. He earned his Master of Divinity from the Methodist Theological School of Ohio. Presently, he serves on the E.P.A. Commission on Religion and Race, leads small groups, and enjoys writing songs. In addition, Mel is working on a documentary project about four graduates from Lincoln University who worked with Malcolm X on behalf of Civil Rights. Mel and his wife, Joan are blessed with two sons, their wives, and four grandchildren.

Review & Commentary