Gaslighted by God – Tiffany Yecke Brooks

Gaslighted by God Tiffany Yecke Brooks
Gaslighted by God: Reconstructing a Disillusioned Faith by Tiffany Yecke Brooks
Published by Eerdmans on May 24, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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“We have a right to encounter God where we are. We have a sacred responsibility to experience God authentically." 
What happens when the God we’ve been taught to believe in seems powerless to help us in the struggles of life? What do we do when the God we personally encounter no longer resembles the God we’ve been shown in narrow interpretations of the Bible? 
Many of those raised in the world of fundamentalist Christianity have been manipulated into accepting a false reality that runs counter to lived experience. The result is confusion, isolation, fear, shame, and trauma, often carried throughout one’s entire life. This book is for the victims of this spiritual abuse—anyone looking to reclaim their faith from legalism, nationalism, sexism, anxiety, intolerance, and other mechanisms of control utilized by God’s self-appointed gatekeepers. It’s for anyone who has learned that the real God is infinitely complex, that authentic faith is perfectly compatible with doubt, and that our suffering is not something we’ve earned. 
Gaslighted by God is not a book of easy answers—it’s a companion for those mourning the loss of a belief system who need their pain recognized and legitimized. Tiffany Yecke Brooks shows—through stories from her own life, conversations with Christians from a variety of backgrounds, historical anecdotes, and messy episodes from Scripture—that there can be faith after disillusionment. But it will be a different faith—bruised, battered, nuanced, and real, rather than one wrapped in tissue-thin platitudes and three-point sermons. It will be a faith empowered to see beyond who God “should” be to who God is.

What if you did everything right and it all still fell apart? What if you believed with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and still you felt disconnected? What if you loved God and your neighbor but continually felt like that was a one-way relationship? What if everything felt like it wasn’t working but you kept being told that it was? For some, all of that describes their relationship with God. They’ve been told this is the victorious life, but it doesn’t feel victorious. Gaslighted by God is an emotionally intense, deeply-felt exploration of how to begin recovering a faith disillusioned by experience. Going through this experience can be overwhelming, isolating, and terrifying. Tiffany Yecke Brooks offers readers comfort and solidarity—validating the feelings of disillusionment through biblical and contemporary sources.

Gaslighted by God begins with an introduction that I fell in love with. As I’ve deconstructed (in order to build a faith that’s better and stronger), I’ve intensely felt the need to let go and sit in the mystery of God and be content in knowing that I will never know some things. Growing up, I loved apologetics (and still do, to an extent). Apologetics was the 20th century Christian response to scientific rationalism. Since secularism portrayed itself as more intellectual, Christians decided to fight the battle on those grounds. While that has its merits, what some forms of Christianity lost amid all that was the sense of mysticism. If everything has to make sense, what do we do when something doesn’t make sense? We can either accept the mystery or contrive a solution. Many decided that the contrived solution was better. Which leads to feelings of being gaslighted. Because insisting there’s a rational answer doesn’t make there be one. Gaslighted by God understands that and, in no uncertain terms, that “This is a book about we renegotiate our understanding of a God who no longer seems good and who no longer seems godly…a book for people who are fed up with pat answers and bad theology.”

In fourteen chapters, Gaslighted by God explores various ways in which the God of our experience might not align with the God we’ve been taught. Not every chapter may apply to your life, but inevitably you’ll find something that does—even if it’s not something you were looking for.

  1. Shell-Shocked Faith: Reconciling Scripture and Experience
  2. Asking: The God who Demands Too Much
  3. Apathy: The God Who Doesn’t Seem to Care
  4. Atrophy: The God Who Can’t Seem to Act
  5. Anger: The God of Punishment
  6. Ambiguity: The God of the Inscrutable
  7. Abandonment: The God Who No Longer Feels Present
  8. Absence: The God Who Never Was
  9. Arbitrariness: The God of Shifting Goalposts
  10. Antagonism: The God of Chaos
  11. Accountability: The God Who Expects Us to Act
  12. Anxiety and Abuse: The God of Manipulation
  13. Allegory: The God Who Must Fit Our Narrative
  14. Authenticity: The God of Infinite Faces

Through it all, Brooks is deeply biblical, diving into the text to pull out examples of people in Scripture who went through these same experiences. Gaslighted by God validates those experiences, reminds readers that they are not alone, and points toward a path of healing and grace. I had to take this book slowly and in pieces because reading too much of it at once just overwhelmed me. There’s a lot of pain in this book, and Brooks doesn’t shy away from that. But there’s also hope. And it’s hope that prevails in the end.

As the book closes, Gaslighted by God says clearly the statement it had implicitly been building up to: God does not gaslight us; human beings do, and they often do so in God’s name through a selective, incomplete, myopic, or power-driven agenda. Brooks looks at all the ways humans have felt hurt by God or God’s people and encourages them to step away from toxic versions of faith—not to step away forever, but to rebuild and experience God in a way that is authentic and whole. If you are struggling in your relationship with God, Gaslighted by God is a book of hope and validation.