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A friend posted this article originally titled “26 Books Every ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Seeker Should Read.” I didn’t catch why she excluded “religious” seekers from her list. Nevertheless, a worthy topic, and one I would like to expand on to include this “seeker” – me – and a list of my own that have influenced me in my 73 years of life.
I will begin in my late teens when I was dating my wife of now 53 years. She was a Roman Catholic, and I thought if this young romance is to go anywhere, perhaps I should learn a little of her religion. I had little or no religious beliefs, let alone knowledge, but I did understand that Catholicism was the oldest religion, and therefore if there was a “true” religion, this was most likely it. I don’t recall thinking of the many other religions – Islam, Buddhism, Judaism … I wanted to know about the “real” one — I was a “seeker.”
So at the age of about 18 I frequented the local library and started to read about Catholicism. I have no recollection of the books I looked into, but suffice it to say that this brief experience began my life as a “seeker.”
A few years later I would fall under the influence of my girlfriend’s older brother – an Atheist. Gordon had a persuasive gift of gab, and me being a “seeker” he had a ready student and introduced me to Atheism and Existentialism, hence the first books on my list.
- Why I Am Not A Christian — Bertrand Russell.
- No Exit — Jean Paul Sartre
- Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
- The Playboy Philosophy – Hugh Hefner
Skipping ahead a few years, married and back in college after a time working and a Navy tour, I read books like this one:
- The Passover Plot — Hugh J. Schonfield
A book “debunking” the Jesus myth.
So during those years I guess I considered my “seeking” finished and I settled into a world view of evangelical Atheism – yes I was outspoken and mocking of all things religious. I’m sure there were other books from that era, but I don’t recall. The ones listed above were certainly the most influential in my life.
So at a ripe old age of early twenties, I settled into my “know it all” world view of Atheism. This lasted to age 36.
I’ll list the books that transformed my life (and that of my family as well) from that point on, beginning with the earliest:
- The Late Great Planet Earth — Hal Lindsey.
- There’s A New World Coming – Hal Lindsey
- The Rapture — Hal Lindsey
- Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth — Hal Lindsey
- Others by Hal Lindsey
Lindsey’s books unexpectedly caught my attention when I innocently picked up his Late Great Planet Earth book back in 1980. I thought I was going to read a fanciful yarn akin to Erich von Däniken‘s “Chariots of the Gods.” What I got instead was Lindsey laying out a case claiming that today’s current events line up with the prophetic Biblical writings of thousands of years ago describing the “last days” of planet earth. This was like getting hit upside the head with a 2×4 and got my attention and interest.
Lindsey wrote his book in the 1970s in the midst of the Cold War when the Soviet Union was a strong and prominent player on the world stage and Communism was on the march in many parts of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it appeared that Lindsey might be off the mark in highlighting Russia as one of the key players in the “end times” scenario. However, Russia is once more prominent as a world power, and in fact is now positioned in the Middle east (Syria) whereas it was not in the 1970s – something to pay attention too.
There are many other thinkers and writers on Biblical Prophesy and I have read a number of them — some good and others not so good (an exercise for the student?). But let me move on …
Lindsey’s books, along with my study of the actual Biblical passages he highlighted, launched me out of atheism and into Christianity. But I was a total rookie and had many questions and internal conflicts. The following are some of the books and ministries that helped this “seeker” through those oft-times confusing times.
I could go on and on, but let me conclude …
During this period of seeking and growth back in the early 1980s, I actually did read the Bible through from cover to cover. One of the surprises I found, as one of the worlds foremost experts in that book that I had not previously opened, were the many practical lessons useful for living a full life … how to be a better husband, father, friend, employee, boss, brother, son, citizen …
So I would encourage you as a fellow “seeker”, don’t stop at being just a “spiritual seeker”, but press on to seek the whole banquet that will fill that hunger within you.
Don Johnson – January 2017