October 22, 2020

Recommendation: The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor

myth.jpgMany of the books I review here at IM are books that are either sent to me by publishers or recommended by friends I respect. In the case of Daniel Taylor’s The Myth of Certainty, I found the book on my own, and quickly fell in love with every single page. I can’t think of a book in my library where I am more enthused over every sentence. If you’ve found this web site and my writing to be speaking your language and describing your experience, get this book.

Taylor is an English teacher at a Christian college and is known for his books on the value of stories. Taylor is also the voice of what he calls the “Reflective Christian” who finds him or herself somewhere between the certainties of Christians and the certainties of secularists. Taylor analyzes both sides of the certainty game, and encourages the thinking, thoughtful, often isolated believer in his or her journey.

I’m not going to even attempt to take this book apart for you. I want you to discover it on your own. With utter simplicity and honesty, Taylor will make many of you realize what you’ve been experiencing for years and why you feel the way you do. He’ll also help you find the gifts that God has given you and the gifts you offer to others. Rarely have I felt more hugged and encouraged than I did savoring the sentences, quotes and stories Taylor offers in this book.

I’ve been reading the book and discussing it on Thursday nights with my friend Keith. Often we laugh, have moments of “aha!,” find our eyes getting moist and just feel we’ve made an amazing, lifelong friend.

If I had a five star scale, this book would get a seven. It’s been out of print several times, and will be again. Get on the used book sites and buy a couple of copies.

Thank you Daniel Taylor. You reached me and helped me remember that God made me the reflective, curious, analytical, doubting, confessing, ever changing, always feeling awkward Jesus-follower that I am.


  1. Michael,

    With those “Aha” moments, you’re starting to sound like a Lutheran. Peace.


  2. Today’s WSJ has an article related to this, I think:
    An Ecumenical Revelation

    Interestingly, it was the liberal leaders who had problems with our new conservative participants. Some wondered aloud “who let them in.” Others wanted us to advocate for positions that would keep some conservatives out, like opposition to the war in Iraq and tolerance for homosexual behavior.

    Instead of excluding conservatives, though, we adopted a different understanding of interfaith activity. It is not an understanding based on the idea that with a little conversation we can iron out all our theological differences. Rather, it is one based on the idea that religious beliefs are distinct, deep-set and deserve to be taken seriously. On that point, it turns out that Rabbi Weizer and Sheikh Drammeh understand each other well.

  3. Re the post on WSJ article, see pp53-56 in Taylor’s book for connection.

  4. For real communication, there must be charity: extending to the other the right to be other, to have significant core values and tastes which are different from one’s own values and tastes. It’s hard enough to be clear about one’s own values and tastes so clarity (truth) also must walk hand in hand with charity.

  5. I got my copy last week and added it to the stack of “to read.” I’m currently working on six others, among which is “Brand Jesus” — I’m on the last chapter. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

    I’ll have to move this one to the top of the stack.

    God bless, Dan

  6. Dennis A Bratcher says

    Yes, I read it back in the late 1980’s (originally came out in 1986 or so), and felt very close to his way of perceiving and receiving things. I think if I had gone into fundamentalist academia I would have had a similar kind of life that he narrates in the fictionalized interludes (but you probably live!).

    As a comment on the quotations given by T Dunbar:
    the need to be careful, contextual, and catholic in our inter- and intra-religious discussions must always be the first priority.

  7. This looks really interesting and I’ll probably get it. But a couple of the reviews on Amazon described it as more comforting than practically helpful. Is that valid?

  8. I’m not sure what a practically helpful book on this topic would look like. It’s not a how-to, but I found it very helpful, very pastoral and encouraging.

  9. Dennis,
    I said that love and truth should have first priority. I don’t understand what you mean.

    My post assumed, as context, Taylor’s book and the WSJ op-ed but unless you unpack your reply more, I don’t know how to respond.

  10. Dennis A Bratcher says


    It was a comment saying the same thing in different words. It is an alliterative form I use to remind myself.

    Comment can also mean Commend!