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Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church Paperback – October 21, 2003


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Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church + Reaching for the Invisible God + What's So Amazing About Grace?
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578568188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578568185
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like many Christians, Philip Yancey has often felt kicked around, abused, and damaged by the institutional church. And like many Christians, he has found solace in reading about and getting to know some extraordinary individual believers. He profiles 13 of those believers in Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. "I became a writer, I now believe, to sort out words used and misused by the church of my youth," Yancey writes in the book's first chapter. The church of his youth, which described itself as "New Testament, Blood-bought, Born-again, Premillennial, Dispensational, fundamental," Yancey now describes as a frightening place where racism and bigotry were regularly preached from the pulpit. After graduating from Bible college, Yancey became a writer and chose to direct his attention to "people I could learn from, people I might want to emulate," such as C. Everett Koop and Robert Coles. He also read widely and passionately--Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., G.K. Chesterton, and Annie Dillard, to name a few. Soul Survivor offers probing, honest profiles of 13 individuals who have "helped restore to me the mislaid treasures of God." For most readers, these profiles will serve as starting points to explore the lives and minds of the individuals who have inspired Yancey. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Yancey's bestseller What's So Amazing About Grace? may not know what to do with this book. In some ways, it is his darkest work ever, chronicling his own lover's quarrel with the institutional church specifically, the church of his childhood that promulgated racism and practiced a pharisaic legalism. In other ways, this book is one of his most hopeful, for in it he charts a spiritual path through all of the muck made by organized religion. As guides, he looks to "a baker's dozen" of thinkers, writers, doctors and activists who have taught him about Christianity. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life shamed Yancey into confronting his own racism and then helped his heart be transformed by Christ's love. Leo Tolstoy taught him self-forgiveness, while Fyodor Dostoyevsky modeled grace as a lived reality. John Donne taught him to wrestle with the ultimate enemy, death; Annie Dillard demonstrated ways to appreciate God in creation; Mahatma Gandhi showed him the power of one individual to change the course of history. The most moving chapter is perhaps the tribute to Paul Brand, an orthopedic surgeon whose work on leprosy helped Yancey to understand how pain can become a gift from God. It's not a perfect book; the chapter on G.K. Chesterton is too short, and the essay on former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop seems superficial in a book with such theological depth. Despite these minor flaws, this multibiography is a much-needed signpost, stubbornly pointing to the life of faith.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

I worked for 10 years as an Editor and then Publisher for Campus Life magazine. There I learned journalistic skills (there's no tougher audience than teenagers), but every year it seemed I wrote fewer and fewer words. In 1980 my wife Janet and I moved to downtown Chicago where I began a career as a freelance writer. (She has worked as a social worker and hospice chaplain--which gives me plenty of material to write about!) We lived there until 1992, when we moved to the foothills of Colorado. I've written around 20 books, most of them still in print, thankfully. Three of them I coauthored with Dr. Paul Brand, who influenced me more than any single person. My own favorites are "Soul Survivor" and "Reaching for the Invisible God" because both of them forced me to dig deep and get personal. I'm a pilgrim, still "in recovery" from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that interest me.

Please visit my website at www.philipyancey.com for more information, essays, events, travel notes, and a blog.

There is also an official Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/PhilipYancey?v=wall

Customer Reviews

SOUL SURVIVOR is a big departure from Philip Yancey's usual style of book.
mjanke
Read this book and learn about history, faith, and struggles of extraordinary people trying to live up to God's purpose for their lives.
Gerald L. Watkins, Jr.
Yancey presents each person as an exposition of Christian faith in one way or another.
John R. Rock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 90 people found the following review helpful By mjanke on October 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
SOUL SURVIVOR is a big departure from Philip Yancey's usual style of book. It reads more like a pseudo-biography -- both for him and for the thirteen people who have most influenced him in his walk of faith. Much of the territory here will be familiar to long-time readers of Yancey's, but it works because of the different way it is presented.
Each chapter is devoted to an individual. Always readable, SOUL SURVIVOR reaches beyond that into more powerful air when the subject becomes more weighty (read: controversial). Chapters on Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Brandt, Mahatma Gandhi, and C. Everett Koop, in particular, I found the most enjoyable and enlightening. Yancey tells their tales in an honest manner, recognizing their shortcomings, and in doing so makes their examples all the more powerful.
As I read his (and their) story, I had to marvel at the grace of God, because Yancey has come a long way. No other person, outside of my parents, has had a greater influence on my Christian walk than Philip Yancey. Realizing that this same man was once a blatant racist (among other flaws which he is open about) amazes me. It also gives me hope, as it should his other readers, for if God can take a man and change him this much (using the influence of various authors and historical figures) it should help us to see the possibilities of what God can do in our own lives, as well as recognize the effect that our lives can have upon others.
SOUL SURVIVOR is not my favorite Philip Yancey book, nor is it his best (that title still belongs to WHAT'S SO AMAZING ABOUT GRACE). But it is a fantastic, personal journey that I am so pleased to have been allowed to be a part of. If you are disillusioned by the institution of the church here is a book that will help you to see past those flaws to recognize how God really works through individual men and women. And that is what the church is really all about. FOUR 1/2 STARS.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Michael Erisman on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. Yancey writes in his usual conversational tone, with emotion and feeling. However, the book is nothing like what I expected. Frankly, I read it only on his reputation, and based on some of his excellent previous work.
The title of the book is very misleading. In reality it is a series of essays on people who had an impact on his life including Martin Luther King, G.K. Chesterton, Paul Brand, Robert Coles, Leo Tolstoy & Feodor Dostoevsky, Gandhi, Everett Koop, John Donne, Annie Dillard, Frederick Buechner, Shusaku Endo and Henri Nouwen. After an initial discussion of his own Church experience in the South, and some honest, direct, and often disturbing revelations about racism and prejudice, he launches into the essays.
Each section is written as a critique of the person's Faith and impact of Yancey and others. I found the sections on Paul Brand, Robert Coles and G.K. Chesterton, especially fascinating, as I had very little knowledge of their work prior to reading the book.
I would recommend this book, simply ignore the title and enjoy some wonderful insights into the Faith of some very interesting people. While Yancy spends too little time on the effects of the Church to warrant the title of the book, the insights are worth the effort.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "braun8" on January 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Yancey, once again does tremendous work in this book. He is open about his own failings resulting from growing up in a racist southern church. He sites the influence of the church on his early views of Christianity and how much he has grown over the years. He continually brings the Christian life into perspective as he goes through other lives of people who have had an impact on his own journey as a Christian.
I would highly recommend this book to folks who 1) want a great book to read 2) need to hear an open and honest perspective on the church in the life of a Christian and 3) for those who need to see that "going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than going to Mac Donald's makes you a hamburger," as Keith Green used to say.
Yancey does an excellent job of bringing the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Paul Brand, Dr. Robert Coles, Gandhi, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky into focus such that one can get a good view of what it means to be a Christian or live a Christian life based on the principles Jesus espoused while here on earth. It's an excellent book for a discussion class and has lots of tough questions along with examples of lives that went beyond the Pollyanna or cliché phrases you hear from many so called Christians. Read it, absorb it, and let its affect cover your whole being. I think you'll grow from it, I know I did.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on September 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I love the honesty of Yancey's work. Soul Survivor is possibly his most personal, most effective book yet. Phil Yancey tries to approach life without blinders. Soul Survivor is a wonderful retelling of his journey so far.
Yancey does not pull any punches in recounting his past. From being raised in a narrow, racist, legalistic church, to the influences that changed him into the man he now is...it is all told here in Yancey's interesting, engaging manner.
I would give my left arm for more honesty in our nonfiction writers. Yancey achieves meaningfulness by confessing his past and present shortcomings in this book. It is a shame that we don't see such openness in more authors. Honesty is probably my favorite thing about Yancey as an writer.
I really enjoy Yancey's descriptions of those who have influenced his life. It was great to read about how Yancey's old writing partner Dr. Brand affected his life. I think my favorite part of the book is his profile of Annie Dillard. I have recently started reading Dillard myself, and I am blown away by her.
I recommend this book. I encourage you to get a copy today.
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