Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Review - Finding an Unseen God

Truth is dead.
God never lived.
Life is filled with pain.
Death is the end of life.

Whenever we as Christians hear these statements, immediately our defenses go up and we are ready to defend our faith against whatever else an atheistic, agnostic, or spiritually relativistic person can throw at us. We often forget the humanity of the person making these statements in our attempts to defend and go on the offensive against these principles. We simply switch into debate mode and steam headlong into our desire to win the argument at all costs.

Finding an Unseen God is part autobiography and part philosophical apologetics for the Christian faith as seen from the perspective of a former atheist. The above axioms guided author Alicia Britt Chole’s world until one day, unexpectedly, her world was broken into by a Person who had doggedly pursued after her for her entire life. She chronicles her journey into and subsequently her sudden departure out of the world of atheism. The chapters alternate between her story and her helpful, compassionate insights into the mind of an atheist. It is this compassionate, full-of-grace style that permeates the book while refusing to argue for the sake of argument. Her points come across simply yet profoundly and full of wisdom. In noting the tendency for both sides of the argument to become heated over the elusiveness or non-elusiveness of truth, she offers and expands on four filters for any belief system to be tested by:

• Is my belief system consistent (at its core)?
• Is my belief system livable (and not just quotable)?
• Is my belief system sustainable (through life-size pain)?
• Is my belief system transferable (to others)?

Although at first it seems that the manner in which the short, bite-sized chapters are presented is confusing, the disjointed writing style becomes welcoming as she flits back and forth between childhood and adulthood, one thread detailing her life before Christianity, the other thread discussing the philosophical whys and wherefores of belief. For example, when talking about her dad and his non-religious views, she breaks away to first delve into explaining atheistic thought-processes before returning once more to her dad. In a way, it gives depth to both lines of thought.

She closes with five “things I like about God” and again I was struck by the simple manner in which she writes about a God whose love has affected her life so dramatically. The book ends with a revision of the original belief statements that once again brings our focus to the true and living God who is Truth.

Truth is not dead.
God has always lived.
Life is full of pain.
Death is but a door.
And the God who is, aches to love us.

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