‘Contesting Faith’ is a novel that aims to make theological and philosophical issues accessible to ordinary readers who enjoy an interesting story with dramatic twists.
A 32 year old marketer named Matt learns that he has incurable cancer. In the emotional confusion of this news, he attends two funerals, one high church and one thoroughly secular. As he watches the mourners, Matt is forced to think seriously about his own death and how to face the rest of his life.
Frustrated by his initial attempts to find satisfactory answers to his questions, Matt decides to use his marketing skills to tease out the best answers through a blog diary. This evolves into a contest between different religions and ideologies where Matt will award one point for every answer that is both original and helpful. At an agreed date, he will ‘convert’ to whichever religion or ideology has the most points.
However, neither cancer nor life itself is predictable and much drama ensues before the final outcome of the contest. Even then, there are lessons to learn about how faith impacts life.
Recommendation from Barry Chant
Steve McNeilly’s new book Contesting Faith is an impressive piece of writing. It is a gripping, intriguing, entertaining and stirring piece of work. Young Matt Sherwin is dying of cancer and embarks on an innovative quest to discover which philosophy or religion can offer him the best way to approach death. There is plenty of food for thought in the issues raised. But the book is much more than a discussion of ideas. The story-line is intriguing, the writing flows smoothly, there are unexpected twists and turns in the plot, the characters come alive, the conclusion is both dramatic and surprising. And all along it keeps the reader guessing. You will not want to put it down until you reach the last page. I hear a whisper that the writer has volume two in mind. I hope he has. I, for one, will certainly want to read it.
This is a novel that you can give to your non-Christian friends. It touches on many of the common objections and modern alternatives to Christian faith in a non-threatening, easy-reading way. It also touches on what it really means to be a Christian.