An Interview with Writer Steven Hutson

In Search of Clarity is a new book by Steven Hutson, a southern California writer and literary agent interested in religious, social and political topics. Hutson’s new book eschews politics to focus on religion – Christianity – and, more specifically, addresses certain key issues regarding the history and texts of Christianity that are often overlooked by “casual” believers.

Because his own story is one of relatively belated awakening to the issues in his book, Steven Hutson’s presentation of doctrinal clarity reads as a memoir, as a how-to book and as an intellectual travel guide with Hutson guiding the reader through the stacks of a personal library of Christian and Christianity-oriented materials. His aim is to clarify some of the more murky (or just plain forgotten) facets of his religion.

As a non-believer raised in a Lutheran household, my interest in Steven Hutson’s book is two-fold: I know Steven. We drink our coffee in the same coffee shop. And I appreciate the drive to truly and honestly engage with the tenets of his belief system. “The unexamined religion is not worth believing,” Hutson writes, and I couldn’t agree more with this principal, not only as it applies to religion but as it applies to so many considerations of values, morals, and intellectual tendencies.

Recently, I had a chance to pose a few questions to Steven Hutson about his book, In Search of Clarity. If after reading this article you’d like to learn more about Hutson’s book or his views, you can visit his website, Hutson Books.

What led you to write In Search of Clarity?

When I began to use the Internet, back in the late 1990’s, I participated in Christian chat rooms and message boards. I was astounded to discover the great diversity of thought among the professing Christians out there. So I set out to learn why and how such a simple book (the Bible) has been interpreted in such contradictory ways.

What is your book’s subtitle meant to convey: “A Look at Religious Confusion In America”?

In the course of my research, I quickly found my answer. Or at least, AN answer. That is, many believers hold strong convictions, but don’t know why. All they know is that they’ve been influenced by church traditions or family custom. When confronted with another view, they don’t know how to respond, because they never understood their own doctrines in the first place.

Is this a “message” book, a self-help book? How would you describe In Search of Clarity?

Good question. I suppose my “message” is not to persuade my readers to believe as I do, but rather an appeal to educate themselves. Do you know why you believe as you do? Can you point to the moment in time when you became a Christian? Can you defend your doctrines in Scripture? You might be surprised, as to how many people can’t answer “yes” to any of these questions.

In writing In Search of Clarity, did you come to any conclusions about how to reform religious study or religious attitudes in America to improve basic knowledge of Christian texts, history, and doctrine?

Absolutely. We should all read our Bibles daily. Study church history, and the origins of your own church/denomination/sectarian creed. Then set them aside for a moment, and consider how closely they follow the dictates and examples of Scripture. Find a mentor. Then pay it forward.

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