This series is contextual in nature. I’m not writing this to highlight my five favorite books. I’m not even sure that any of these would make that list anyways. But, these are five books have affected my life significantly enough over the last several years. Situations in my life magnified their impact. They come in no particular order of importance.
I was at a spiritual crossroads in 2007. I had a reaction to a set of beliefs that I saw in current evangelicalism that bothered me. Whether it was an accurate understanding of the evangelical culture at large or a misunderstanding you will have to be the judge. I was having a reaction against what I thought was normative Christianity. As everything else in life goes…when you are reacting to something you see it everywhere and in everything–sometimes when it may not be there fully.
Either way, I had a bone to pick with modern evangelicalism (popular evangelicalism….not textbook). It was the idea that our faith was somehow separate from the real world. Science could prove our faith wrong, but it wouldn’t shake our faith. I took issue with this because I thought that if God existed then he was the best explanation for our world. If science “disproved God” (good luck!) then I would have to abandon the faith.
This idea that our faith was something that could not be proved in this world was irksome to me. Not only was this concept’s relation to the real world bothersome, but also the way it played out in decision making. From private interpretations of scripture (a big problem for the early church fathers) or divine calls and secret wills; God was used and abused by people right before my eyes. All the while God seemed like a chameleon changing his will as if with the seasons. Basically, people could do whatever they wanted as long as they had their secret knowledge of God’s will. Gnostics! Diviners! Bleh!
I had one foot out the door moving away from Christianity (or at least the evangelical church) when a friend grabbed me and recommended reading Francis Schaeffer. I began with Escape From Reason (not realizing it was the second book in the trilogy) and then moved to The God Who is There. In these books I would find another Christian who believed as I did (as I thought scripture taught) that the belief in God was the best explanation of the world we live in. And just like Michael Corleone, I was pulled back in….though still standing by the door, perhaps.
Since then, I have found I am not alone in my understanding of the evangelical world. And, I probably don’t agree with Schaeffer’s interpretation of philosophy anymore (especially his views on Aquinas). But as I said at the beginning of this series: This isn’t about the books that are my favorite. It is about the books that changed my life. Hats of to Schaeffer for keeping me a Christian, at least in name.