Skip to main content

The Searchers





The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt by Joseph Loconte

Drawing on everything from Rembrandt to Thomas Becket, historian Joseph Loconte retells the Emmaus road story with wit, wisdom and insight.  As Loconte focuses in on the elements of the story in Luke 24 he writes, “What follows is a layman’s reflection on the meaning of that exchange, a story of hope, despondency, and faith.  It is a story latent with insight for the believer, as well as the honest skeptic” (xxiv).  Yet, what I thought was most insightful at the beginning of The Searchers is the way Loconte describes the unsettling nature of the story, the way in which the men walking down the road were shaken to the core by the events they had just been a part of. 

In the startling passage where Jesus comes up to the men and walks by them, we find a very interesting phrase that Luke records, saying “but they were kept from recognizing him.”  Loconte makes a unique point here by writing, “Perhaps we can learn something about the character of God from this encounter, something about his methods with ordinary people like us.  He will not coerce us. He does not normally overwhelm our senses” (20).  Luther’s famous phrase ‘deus absconditus,’ the hidden God is an appropriate application of this biblical setting on the road to Emmaus.  God is knowable, but  often he conceals himself for the purpose of disclosing his purposes later.  The people on the road to Emmaus were not ready for God to reveal himself but were concerned with other things (22).  What was remarkable about this chapter was the way Loconte combines cinematic representations, art and the visions in the Bible to show forth the mystery of God’s presence in specific scenes of life.

In the chapter on The Poison of Religion Loconte is careful to draw out the arguments from Hitchens and others about the poison that religion brings with it.  Yet, Loconte is quick to point out that “people of faith also have been great liberators from the forces of tyranny and oppression” (65).  Citing Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce and others, Loconte bears witness that the leaders of the day often persecute those who most virulently live out the Christian faith, and consequently, bringing great pain upon themselves.  At the end of the chapter Loconte comments on the passage that indicates Jesus as a prophet, one who sentenced to death by the rulers by writing, “How could their spiritual teachers believe they were doing the will of God?  It was like condemning goodness itself.  Only false religion, poisoned religion, could behave this way” (71).  The way of the cross for Jesus was the reverse stature of what many thought a great leader should exhibit. 

This book was a great look into the road to Emmaus, with many examples drawn from history, art and theology that bring a greater clarity to this powerful biblical passage in Luke 24.  I hope readers find great encouragement as they read through The Searchers.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Book Sneeze program for the review copy in exchange for review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…