I wanted to share some thoughts about Philip Yancey’s book entitled: Rumors of Another World. Since it was originally published, it has been re-published with a different title: A Skeptics Guide to Faith. I’m not sure why they did this, because I much prefer the original title! Be aware that these 2 books are one and the same.
Known for his down to earth and honest approach, Yancey has written openly about his struggles with faith and disappointments with the church (and God) in the past. The titles of his books alone are revealing: Disappointment with God, Church: Why Bother?, Soul Survivor…..you get the idea! Yet, in Rumors of Another World, he takes a different approach. Already fully aware of all the reasons not to believe, Yancey points us towards reasons to believe: the many “rumors” in our visible world that can reveal the invisible world to those who have eyes to see it.
Rumors of Another World is divided into three sections: what are we missing, signs of disorder, and two worlds. The first section focuses on the fact that the sacred can not be examined or tested in the scientific sense. There are hints and clues, but not proofs, of the supernatural. We must “pay attention” and look beyond and above ourselves in order to make sense of the world around us.
The second section focuses on the fact that we all seem to have a deep seated sense that things are wrong in the world. And if something is wrong, then it must have once been right! Where does this sense come from? Sin, injustice, and pain are themselves evidence of the transcendent, and should point us towards the fact that our world is broken and awaiting the final redemption. For Yancey, the reality of evil actually strengthened his faith in the invisible world. (For a series of posts on Faith and Suffering, see here.)
The final section is more strongly apologetic, emphasizing that Christianity seems to make the most sense of the world around us. The heart of the Christian view of reality is the stark belief in two worlds. As Christians, our hope in the next world should affect our actions in this world.
As I read through Rumors of Another World, I felt like I was on a journey with Yancey. Questions are posed throughout the book and semi-answers are given, as he encourages us to listen to the rumors of the unseen, sacred world. Yancey does not lecture or preach, but rather comes along side the reader in this search for the unseen world.
The book is also filled with quotes and anecdotes from a diverse variety of individuals, both historical and contemporary, which serves to enrich the thesis of the book. Often a book is written for one particular audience, but I feel that Rumors of Another World has a dual nature, making it of value to believers and unbelievers alike. The unbeliever can be challenged to at least consider the rumors of an unseen world, while the believer can be challenged to heed the rumors, and live life in light of eternity.
In another post or two, I’ll interact with some more aspects of the book. Link to next post: Is God Hiding