'Soul Survivor' - Philip Yancey book launch at Thomas More Centre

'Soul Survivor' - Philip Yancey book launch at Thomas More Centre

Bill Muehlenberg

Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church
by Philip Yancey

American writer, journalist, lecturer and evangelical Protestant, Philip Yancey, visited the offices of the Thomas More Centre on Tuesday, 23 October, 2001. Coinciding with the release of his newest book, Soul Survivor, the best-selling author spoke about this and some of his earlier works.

Paul Gray, Herald Sun columnist and Yancey fan, chaired the meeting. Paul said he was deeply influenced by Yancey, and his book What Is So Amazing About Grace? had especially impacted his life and faith.

Many in attendance said the same thing, noting how his books had stimulated their thinking, challenged their preconceptions, and deepened their faith.

Yancey said his newest book was about his own spiritual pilgrimage. The 13 individuals profiled in the book were spiritual mentors for Yancey, and had altered forever his understanding of the faith and the object of faith, God Himself.

The book, subtitled How My Faith Survived the Church, picks up a theme found in many of his books. His own church upbringing seriously misrepresented God, as do many other churches. A big part of his spiritual journey has been to shatter those distorted images in the attempt to see God for who He really is.

The 13 spiritual teachers featured in the book taught Yancey how to reflect more accurately on God, on faith, and his Christian interaction with the world. These spiritual leaders include Chesterton, Donne, Tolstoy and Gandhi. Each one taught Yancey to see God anew. Each one led to a deeper understanding of the Christ he worships and the Christ he serves. For example, John Donne taught Yancey how to think about pain, while Chesterton taught him how to think about pleasure and beauty.

This process of spiritual rediscovery is one in which we all are - or should be - involved. It is part of what C. S. Lewis wrote when he described God as the great iconoclast who must forever shatter our false images of Himself. Idolatry is seeing God as anything other than who He really is.

After a brief talk, questions were fielded. It was obvious that many had enjoyed Yancey's earlier books and looked forward to benefitting spiritually from his latest offering. The ecumenical spirit of the meeting was noticeable, and all came away refreshed and inspired to pursue God afresh.

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