This is Yancey at his best, honest, inspiring, and moving. Once again he is not afraid to challenge the church and expose the muck that is in the christians life, through the lives and mistakes of himself and others.(Henri Nouwen, Martin Luther King, Gahandi to name a few) This book changed my thinking, motivated me as a christian, and brought me closer to God.
Soul Survivor is, in a sense, Philip Yancey's spiritual autobiography in which he reveals the struggles he has had, growing up in a Christian environment, to retain his faith in a church which, in his words "has distorted . . . [God's] message on many occasions, damaging lives and confusing countless people in the process." It is interesting to learn something of the thirteen remarkable people who have helped shape Yancey's spiritual journey, but the book is really aimed at those who have experienced similar pain and confusion at the hands of an often legalistic and judgemental church. Happily I am not such a person and so found little here for myself; certainly the book is not to be recommended as a universal read for all Christians, unlike his classics, "The Jesus I Never Knew" and "What's So Amazing About Grace." But Yancey, as ever, writes well, and I'm sure many people will identify with his story and find comfort and hope for their own wounds.
Yancey's writing is a breath of fresh air amidst so many Christian books on doctrine, end times, family dynamics and other hot topics. He doesn't write from a position of authority, but from the point of view of a questioner, learning as he writes.
This particular book gives potted biographies of thirteen men and women who have had profound influences on Yancey's life and faith. They're not great campaigners of the modern church, or even martyrs of old. Instead, these are flawed people of the 20th century, often struggling themselves with questions of life and faith.
One of them, Mahatma Ghandi, never became a Christian at all although his life of peace was in many ways Christlike. Most of them were writers - Tolstoy, Donne, Chesterton, for instance - who left behind powerful legacies of the written word, yet whose lives were tormented in various ways, physical or emotional.
I didn't find this as thought-provoking as many of Yancey's books, but it was an interesting read and showed me new ways of looking at the various writers he describes.
If you’re interested by how different kinds of writing can affect someone’s faith profoundly, then this is a good book to read. If you like Yancey’s writing and are interested in some of the background to how he reached his current beliefs, then this fills in some of the picture well. However, as a stand-alone book it’s not particularly inspiring; I’m glad I re-read it, ten years after originally reading it, but it didn’t do anything for me second time around, and I wouldn’t recommend it as an introduction to his work.
I rated it four stars the first time I read it; three-and-a-half would be fairer.
I didn't get into WSAAG because I felt it too lightweight and had read into the subject quite a bit. But I enjoy this a lot. Don't be mislead by the title it's not about the damage done by the church but much more on how the damage was undone by various writers and figures. I found it very inspiring mainly because I hadn't heard of many of the characters yet they turned out to be some of the best. It is a very broad book in terms of the subjects covered. Good insight into a writers life and the wonderful living out of christianity in terms of personal evangelism. just beware-quite a few long words!!