A few weeks ago, Energion Publications sent me a free review copy of Finding My Way in Christianity: Recollections of a Journey by Harold Weiss. I knew that this book would be different than the books that I normally read (although not as different as the previous book that I reviewed for Energion), but I was still interested in reading and reviewing it.
And, I’m so glad that I read it! This book was a joy to read! Yes, Weiss and I would disagree on many theological points, but I still enjoyed reading his book.
The book is (almost) autobiographical. It does not follow specific events in the life of the author as much as it follows his spiritual journey. Each chapter centers on a location where Weiss lived and the various factors that influenced his thinking about God in that location.
The book begins with Weiss living in Montevideo, Uruguay before World War II as a child of German immigrants. He was raised in a family of Adventists and his father worked for the denomination, which certainly shaped his theology.
From there, each chapter discusses events and influences of various locations: ParanÃ¡, Buenos Aires, La Habana, Collegedale, Takoma Park, Durham, New York, Berrien Springs, and Notre Dame.
In the first few chapters, the reader learns much about Adventism (at least, more than I knew), and about the apocalyptic traditions that shape the denomination. Later, as Weiss attends college and seminary in Adventist schools, he begins to question some of the denomination’s traditional apocalyptic interpretations.
This certainly resonated with me as I’ve been questioning some of my denominations traditional ecclesiological interpretations. And, my denomination prides itself (with a capital P) on its ecclesiology.
Eventually, Weiss begins to study and accept higher critical views of Scripture and questions even more of his denominations beliefs. In the later chapters, as the author begins to explain his understanding of Scripture and the nature of God, there were many points where I would disagree. But, I can empathize with his decisions.
I cannot end the review without discussing the author’s purpose in writing. He does not intend to simply tell his story. Instead, he sees modern apocalypticism as a danger to Christianity and the world. Growing up in a denomination that specializes in apocalyptic interpretation perhaps gives Weiss a better view of these matters. So, he states at the end of this book his purpose:
My purpose in writing a memoir of my faith journey, and in my other various activities, has been, precisely, to be an agent of peace, more specifically, peach within Christianity. (pg. 228)
In fact, in the last two chapters of the book (titled “Justice, Faith, Hope and Love” and “Epilogue”), the author argues that the life of the Christian must demonstrate just, faith, hope, and love. Otherwise, all of the doctrines are meaningless.
With this point, I can certainly agree!
I would greatly encourage anyone to read this book. You will probably not agree with the author at every point. At times, you will sympathize with some people in the book, and at other times you will be angry with the way Christians treat other Christians. However, it is interesting to follow the author’s spiritual journey. And, perhaps more importantly, this book will lead the reader to consider his or her own spiritual journey and the influences that have helped to shape their theology.