Why I Read It
This book was mentioned by our pastor, Dr. Jeremy Scott. There are several reasons I appreciate our pastor, but one of them is that he doesn’t stop learning and he is a reader. I ordered two used copies of the book and thoughtfully read one copy and passed the second copy on to someone else to read with his family. I was not disappointed by the book. Furthermore I appreciated the reminders of what really matters as we walk in a dark world where truth is so needed. This was more than just a series of stories. This was a helpful primer on how to live what we believe in a fallen, hurting world.
Reasons You Should Read This Book
The Unexpected Journey is a thoughtful series of mini-biographies. Thom S. Rainer takes us on a journey of conversations with people from different faiths and religious or anti-religion perspectives. This included interviews with those who believed or practiced, Mormonism, Judaism, Hinduism, Atheism, Jehovah’s Witness, Agnosticism, Wiccan Paganism, Buddhism, Unitarianism, Astrology, Islam, and Satanism. That, by itself was interesting. Of course, there is some overlap in these belief systems. But that is not the main reason to read the book.
The primary reason to read the book is to be a better light and salt in our world. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:13-15
There were repeating themes in the twelve chapters of this 208-page book. They included the importance of knowing the scriptures, loving others, listening more, and speaking less, praying for those in your life journey, practicing hospitality, and inviting others to share what they believe. We need to learn about their home lives and encourage them to study the Bible objectively. Thom Rainer also encourages the reader to be willing to invest time in the lives of others, love them with Christ’s unconditional love (no conditions!), live like a Christian, and to share his/her faith frequently.
Table of Contents
Chapter three was of special interest to me. The reason is that I spent time with friends in India via Zoom and on two separate trips to India in 2018 and 2019. I have seen a bit more about Hinduism and have a bit more understanding of the reality of the Hindu beliefs and the real-life implications of those beliefs. Sadly, many in the United States call themselves Christians and live their lives with a weird mix of atheistic thinking, agnostic uncertainty, or subscribe to “karma” and some ridiculous, unbiblical definition of God’s sovereignty and what that means for daily living.
Preface: Before the Journey
1. “Mormonism Was Our Life” – An Incredible Journey to Christianity
2. “I Have Found the Messiah!” – A Jew Discovers His Savior
3. “I Went from the Guilt of Karma to the Grace of Christ” – A Former Hindu Shares His Journey
4. “The Worst Idiots Were Christians” – From Atheism to Christianity
5. “They Let My Daughter Die” – A Turbulent Journey from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Christ
6. “There Are So Many People Just Like Me” – A Former Agnostic Tells Her Story
7. “I Became Adept at Casting Spells” – The Amazing Testimony of a Former Witch
8. “My Buddha Statues Stopped Helping Me” – The Journey to America and Christ
9. “It Seemed to Be Such a Humble Approach to God” – The Journey from Unitarianism to Christ and the Trinity
10. “Astrology Was My Identity” – The Unexpected Journey from New Age to Christ
11. “My Hatred of White Christians Led Me to It” – From Black Muslim to Traditional Islam to Christianity
12. “I Experienced the Power of the Satanic Realm” – The Unexpected Journey from Satan to Jesus
Conclusion: After the Unexpected Journey
About the Author
“Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers and Executive Director of Revitalize Network. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he received his degree in business administration. He received both the Master of Divinity and the Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. Dr. Rainer has served as pastor of four churches. He is the former president of Rainer Group consulting. He served for twelve years as dean at Southern Seminary and for thirteen years as the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer has authored or co-authored 33 books. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and eleven grandchildren, Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will, who is with the Lord, Harper, Bren, Joshua, Collins, Joel, Dominic, and James.” SOURCE: Revitalize Network
Language: English, Publisher: Zondervan; Release date: May 26, 2009; ISBN 9780310542872
I ordered used copies of the book. If you are interested, there are many different formats available at the following bookseller locations.
TenOfThose (does not have this title, but this is a great resource for books!)
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.