Glen Scrivener – The Air We Breathe: How we all came to believe in freedom, kindness, progress and equality
The Good Book Company
ISBN 978 1 78496 749 7
This is a well-written and perceptive book. Its basic premise is that many of the foundational beliefs of civilised society have their original basis in Christianity; it is quite literally “the air we breathe.” This thesis owes much to the thinking of people like the Christian historian Rodney Stark, and the friendly to Christianity historian Tom Holland, who provides a brief commendation of this book.
This type of apologetics is of great value for putting the record straight, shaping the way that Christians think about their own place in the world, and providing apologetic fuel for our evangelistic conversations. It is also the kind of book that could be lent to an interested non-Christian as a conversation starter.
Yet, there is a caveat; what seems obvious to the believer is often hidden in plain sight for the unbeliever. We do need to take care that we do not use a ‘follow steps A to C, and you will reach the D of discovering the true God’ approach as the answer to everything.
As I was reading the book there was another question that began to form in my mind: what about the other side of the story? What about the skeletons in the Church’s cupboard? What about the abuses of money, sex and power? What about those who have been wounded by the Church over the centuries?
Glen Scrivener, to his credit, anticipates these objections and tackles them head on.
It is interesting how he manages to critique these departures from Christian standards by scrutinizing them by the measure of those standards. It is helpful to reflect that our very moral outrage is a fruit of a moral base shaped by Christianity.
I would have liked to have seen a bit more meat on the bones of this aspect. Maybe that is the subject of another book Glen?
John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia