An Encounter With a Prophet is an extremely controversial book. Individuals, who feel that they never received satisfactory answers to uncomfortable questions about God, seem to think the book is a rich, clearly written book which, for the first time, provided satisfactory answers to their questions. To fundamentalist Christians the book is a poorly written rag full of blasphemy.
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The most informative review we have found on this title, to date, comes from Epinions.com. The full review is set out below to assist prospective buyers in deciding if this book would appeal to them.
Let your journey begin here
Children, I have always believed, have an innate talent for logic. Perhaps because they are relatively untouched by the "real world" they are still able to reason and rationalize without worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of them. As a child, I experienced a death in my nuclear family and since then have been on a lifelong journey to learn and understand all I can about religious belief and their origins, as well as scientific study on life after death. To say I have "struggled" with Christianity’s teachings and actions is an understatement.
When I was about thirteen years old, I sat down with a Southern-Baptist minister, who was trying to talk "logic" with me (i.e., convert me). The exchange was brief, and altogether frustrating for the minister and me, as I was honestly seeking answers, not attempting to be "fresh".
"God is perfect, right?" I asked him.
"Yes." He replied.
"And God made us, right?" I asked.
"Yes." He replied, again.
"And there is a Hell, right?"
"Oh yes, most definitely." He responded.
"So, if God made us, and He is perfect, why would He make us imperfect and send us to Hell because we are imperfect?"
I remember the perplexed look on his face, as if for a few seconds he was genuinely searching for an answer. The problem was, by "Christian logic" – there was no answer. So in response, he simply told me to stop being "fresh" and to call him when I had "serious questions" that could be answered.
An Encounter With a Prophet by C.A. Lewis is a beautiful, simple and logical attempt to answer that very question.
I was drawn to this book on Amazon.com (where I’ve spent countless hours in the "recommendation" section). Without thinking too much, I purchased the book for my already huge collection. When I received it, I literally read it in one sitting (on the day I got it). I was flabbergasted that questions I had posed to so many people; college professors, a Pagan High Priest, a Wiccan or two, psychics, ministers, priests, rabbis, scientists & engineers, a therapist, pretty much every family member & friend I have and countless others, were opened up to me in such a small, uncomplicated book.
The story, which for me was secondary behind the ideas, begins with Nathaniel. Nathaniel is a high-stress, high-pressure and high-strung businessman, he is late for work (and an important meeting) and of course, it is pouring rain. He notices a man on the street corner, just standing out in the deluge and mockingly rolls his eyes at this jerk getting drenched. For some unknown reason, however, Nathaniel finds himself pulling over and picking up this stranger, and his life is changed forever.
Nathaniel is agnostic, and we soon learn this stranger is a deeply spiritual person. Immediately, Nathaniel begins drilling him with questions, hoping to catch the stranger in that "Christian illogic" trap and therefore, find himself some smug satisfaction. He is, of course, in for many surprises, as this stranger not only answers his questions with patience and understanding – but with a clear and resounding logic that even Nathaniel cannot dispute.
A true spiritual journey is never easy. When a person opens the floodgate of doubt and questioning, the road is very difficult. Many people, like Nathaniel, simply shut the door because at every turn they are met with illogic. They are told that "Jesus and God love you", but if you’re "not good" you’ll go to Hell! Perhaps they read the Old Testament, and learn about a wrathful and angry God, a God of fire and brimstone and fright – and then they read the New Testament and hear a very very different message from Jesus. They go to church and see ordained ministers, people of the cloth sworn to uphold God’s message, turn into pedophiles and miscreants. They watch self-ordained ministers on television bilking money from the poor and downtrodden in the name of Christ, as they buy their BMWs and mansions. They hear of "pious" and "devout" leaders spreading war, terrorism and hate throughout the world... all in the name of their God.
Christianity (as well as all other organized religions) is filled with hypocrisy and misunderstanding. An Encounter With a Prophet can honestly and truly open your eyes if you let it. Look past the "simplicity" of the story and hear the message. Once I finished this book, I did more of my own research and found some wonderful books (see recommendations at bottom) about the "historical Jesus" and even further debunked the myths I had grown up with regarding the Bible, God, Christ and the afterlife.
Not everyone is ready to read and appreciate this book. That is neither good nor bad, it just is. But with a simplicity and grace, which in many respects reminds me of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, this book opened a pathway to understanding how modern-day Christianity turned into what it is, who Jesus really was, who/what God really is and how we, as present-day humans, can live by the principles of goodness and light and not of fear and intimidation.
Perhaps it is simple maturity (please don’t call it old age!) – but over the past two years, it is as though a veil of understanding was given to me. I do not struggle with the shattering religious doubts I once did. I do not "fear" death, God or Hell. I do not "do good things" because I am scared of going to Hell if I don’t anymore – I live simply, peacefully and quite harmoniously because I have forged my own personal relationship with the Creator of this Universe and of me. Call it hokey, call it clichÃ©, call it whatever you want – but since the day I woke up to hear my sister was dead, I have never felt so at peace with my own beliefs, my life and the passing of loved ones - and this book is surely partly responsible.
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