What enables some to survive as Christians when so many others falter? Without resorting to empty answers, clichés, relativism, or smug certainty, A Christian Survival Guide provides an accessible and safe place to deal with issues that can give Christians sleepless nights. By focusing on spiritual practices, discussing solutions to faith struggles, and offering perspectives from multiple Christian traditions, this survival guide moves readers into a thriving relationship with God, even if that means not necessarily finding all the answers.
A Christian Survival Guide doesn’t run away from the big, tough questions of life like:
- Does the Bible have to be “true”?
- Where is God in an evil world?
- Did God sanction genocide?
- Is hell eternal conscious torment?
- Does money keep us from following Jesus?
Candid and wry, Cyzewski deals with the tension of hard questions without resorting to empty answers, clichés, relativism, or the smug certainty that can so often drive seekers and strugglers further away. He writes for those who both care and question deeply, and offers survival tips to help readers move from living on the edge to a place of health and life.
This survival guide is not meant to be a "one size fits all" handbook. It is a first step to confronting the big issues and challenges of a life of faith--even the ones that Christians fear most.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: From Surviving to Thriving 11
Part 1 Christian Beliefs
1 Prayer: A Still Small Voice for Big Loud Problems 23
2 The Bible: A Source of Crisis and Hope 34
3 Violent Bible Stories: Deliver Us from God? 46
4 Deliver Us from Evil: Is God Late? 59
5 Hell: Getting Our Goats… and Sheep 74
6 Errors in the Bible?: Fact-Checking the Holy Spirit 90
7 The Bible and Culture: Less Lobster, More Bonnets 103
8 No Doubt? Are Christians Beyond a Doubt? 116
9 Apocalypse Now? Yay! It's the End of the World! 126
Part 2 Christian Practices
10 Sin Addiction: The Freedom of Restraint 143
11 Money: Give Everything Away and Then Tithe 10 Percent to Jesus 154
12 Community: When Bad Churches Happen to Good People 163
13 Not Ashamed of the Gospel? Death of a Sales Pitch 174
14 The Holy Spirit: Flames of Tongue-Tied Fire 182
For Further Reading 203
About the Author 208
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author presents topics that many people probably do struggle to come to terms with. He does not suggest answers. He disclaims that up front. It seems that his opinion is that whatever has been taught in the past is wrong or misguided. He seems to mockingly reject current authors and Christian leaders who have a specific stance. He instead offers wandering thoughts which seem to just want to roam around outside of the issue instead of come to grips with it.
Ed Cyzewski is one of the most encouraging Christian writers I know. He writes in a straightforward, accessible, non-preachy way, and he is incredibly self-effacing and funny. A Christian Survival Guide is not a verse-by-verse systematic study of theology. It is a simple guide to the larger picture of faith in Christ and how that impacts our daily growth. Yet Ed manages to address briefly and with humor practically every difficult area of struggle people often end up wrangling about with God. His guide is written in winsome, everyday language, making this small book appealing to anyone who is puzzled by faith, God’s actions, or by the explanations they’ve been given. This book is for someone who doesn’t want to read straight-up theology, who, in fact, might be turned off by the very idea. I found Ed’s approach to difficult issues unique and mind-stretching. The way he words his questions, the application of God’s unchanging nature yet flexibility within each culture and era, and his deep love and trust of God’s goodness temper everything Ed writes. I found some of Ed’s explanations the best I’d ever seen given of these difficult topics. In other areas, I had reached different conclusions in my own study. Nevertheless, Ed approaches every issue with an eye to both God’s goodness and justice, while giving complete acknowledgement to the tension in each. I heavily underlined his introduction and all his discussions of violence, evil, and the nature of pain. Ed poses questions, offers his thoughts, and gently assures the reader that God can be trusted, that he does love us. Yet, Ed reminds the reader throughout the book that his guide cannot and does not attempt to answer every question. Ed and I have some theological differences, yet none centered around the gospel, so there’s no need to list our dissimilar conclusions. However, he presents his ideas in such a thoughtful way that he helped me to understand the other “side” of issues. In fact, I think this is one of the best things about this book. It allows the reader to grasp the thinking of other Christians as they consider who God is and why he does things as he does. In-fighting between Christians drives people away from the church and causes people to doubt their faith. Yet there is room in the church for different views on matters that are not central to the gospel. Knowing how someone else thinks reminds us of their humanity and their reason, preventing us from dividing over disputable matters. Ed’s book provides an important bridge for people to understand one another. This book is for thinkers, not knee-jerk reactors. Ed gives help to those who question God with white-hot fury, as I once did, or with disillusioned coldness. But he also helps those of us who fought that battle with God a long time ago. We would do well to remember that fight. Recalling our own struggles gives us compassion for those currently struggling with the same issues. Well done, Ed!
I had the privilege of getting a pre-release copy to review A Christian Survival Guide, so here’s my review. I also did an interview with him this week on my blog. At first, I thought, "do I really need to read this?" I’ve been a Christian believer for a few decades and done ministry most of my adult life. As I dove into the book, I found myself getting more and more drawn in by Ed’s writing style and content. Ed has a great combination of genuine openness about his own struggles with faith, and self-effacing, sometimes biting humor. It makes what could be heavy reading into a thought-provoking exploration of some areas of faith that are difficult for many. ¿Even the book’s chapter titles and subtitles are engaging. It starts off with “Prayer: A Still Small Voice for Big Loud Problems,” where Ed shares some of his issues with prayer shared by most of us. "Violent Bible Stories: Deliver Us from God?” is one of my favorites. Then there is, “The Bible and Culture: Less Lobster, More Bonnets,” another favorite of mine. The book has two parts—Christian Beliefs and Practices. I like that there’s a practical, as well as, theological view of the Christian faith. In the practical part, issues such as sin, money, church community, evangelism, and the Holy Spirit are looked at. Although I don’t struggle with the Christian faith in general, I appreciate the insight gained in this book. For those of us who have been believers a considerable time, it’s easy to get into a rut or become oblivious to what others may struggle to understand about God and faith. This isn’t just a book for young believers. It’s a genuine look at the Christian faith, and questions or issues that get debated, yet aren't always discussed with openness and honesty. I believe Ed does that in this book. He does not give trite nor clichéd answers. In fact, he makes a point of encouraging discussion and reliance upon God to gain answers. Ed doesn’t skirt difficult issues, but lays them out to consider, perhaps for some of us, in a new light. I’m glad I read A Christian Survival Guide. It’s given me a fresh look at things I’ve set aside, and given me a new outlook about the faith struggles I once had. It’s also a good reminder of how to encourage others in their faith.