Friday, October 10, 2014

An Introduction to God (Ancient Faith Publishing)

There are many books in the Christian world that bill themselves as an introduction of sorts. Most introduce you to key tenets or beliefs of Christianity. Some introduce you to key characters in the Bible. Few are even so bold as to introduce you to Jesus. However, the book I am reviewing today is the FIRST book I have seen that is An Introduction to God.

An Introduction to God is written by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, author, podcaster, and blogger for Ancient Faith Radio. In this book, Fr. Damick seeks to answer five key questions:
  1. Where is God?
  2. Who is God?
  3. Why Go to Church?
  4. Whom Can We Trust?
  5. Why Be Moral?
I believe that I, like most people, have struggled with all of these questions in some form or another. However, I was immediately intrigued by Questions 3. I think that is because Christians struggle with this issue most of all. I can't tell you how many times, I have heard, "Why do I have to go to Church? I can meet God in my backyard." It's the tired, "I'm spiritual, but not religious argument." In his answer to Question 3, Fr. Damick presents us with another question, "What is Worship?" He then goes on to define worship and explain the center of worship, which is the Eucharist. We then see a history of worship in the Bible, Christian History, and Ecclesiology. After this detailed study on what authentic Christian worship is, we finally are given our answer to the question, "Why Go to Church?" We worship God because we need communion with Him. We find that union in worship centered around the Eucharist.

I think the part of the book that troubled me the most dealt with Question 4, "Whom Can We Trust?" There were some good parts to this section, like when he discussed Sacred Scripture. However, his attitude and treatment towards the Roman Catholic Church was a bit harsh. He seemed to look down his nose at "organized" religion and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, when I think it could be argued that the Orthodox Church could benefit from some more organization. He seemed appalled that the Pope has his own webpage, when the Ecumenical Patriarch  Bartholomew does as well. He also also chose to only reference the Roman Rite when discussing the Catholic Church. Though it is by far the largest Rite, there are 20+ Eastern Rites in the Catholic Church also under the authority of the Pope. 

I had mixed feelings about this book. There is merit to it for Christians, atheists, and agnostics. However, some branches of Christianity might feel attacked reading certain sections and put it down and never return to it, which is a shame. However, it seems that this book is geared towards those seeking God and have an interest in learning more about the Orthodox Church or are already on their way to joining the Orthodox Church. I am very appreciative of the bibliography at the end, which contains recommended readings for newcomers to Orthodoxy Christianity. It is always frustrating to finish a book and wonder what to read and where to go next on your journey. Thankfully, Fr. Damick didn't leave the reader hanging. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me by Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!