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Pacific Book Review

Has God preordained everything in our lives: choices, thoughts, sins, and triumphs? Or has He given us free will? This is one of many profound questions discussed in Finding Truth: Journey of a Christian and His Church, a thought-provoking work of fiction centered on a young orphaned boy struggling to survive and finding God in the process. His thoughts delve deeply into Biblical readings as he discovers truly inspiring ways of thinking about God, love, faith, and free will.

When a smallpox epidemic takes the lives of his parents in the late 1800s, Christian must fend for himself. His caring parents taught him discipline, the importance of reading, and fortuitously, how to survive. Constructing a rudimentary shelter, Christian fishes and grows his own food despite being utterly distraught over his loss. A preternaturally deep thinker, Christian turns to spirituality and how knowing God might make sense of his tragedy while giving his life meaning and purpose.

Christian ventures into town, befriending boys his age and the local Pastor Caring. Christian is enamored with the Bible. His close readings combined with dreams of visiting angels fill his mind with religious inspiration. He impresses everyone with his creative and dynamic interpretations of Scripture. His enthusiasm is infectious and the townspeople have a spiritual awakening. He is a revelation to the locals of his town and their church.

Finding Truth starts off as a coming-of-age tale in the matter of a Jack London short story. But it morphs into a morality tale about his growth as a spiritual leader. The locals had devoutly believed that God controls all things – we cannot know the mind of God, nor should we try to understand why bad or good things happen. However, Christian preaches that this is incorrect because it shuts off the relationship between themselves and God. We sin and yet God still trusts and has faith in us as we go forward. Likewise, we should not let personal tragedy or the sins of others stop us from having faith in each other and in God.

Christian goes a step further, suggesting that God isn’t concerned with what the future will hold because of that two-way faith relationship. It is a fascinating Biblical reading to suggest that while God is all-powerful, He does grant us free will and that grant is based on faith, love, and trust. Christian’s spiritual philosophy does nothing to challenge God’s omniscience or omnipotence. He is simply saying that God hasn’t “pre-saved” anyone. Rather, God has given us free will because He trusts us: a reciprocal relationship – a state of love and trust wherein we have faith in each other.

This is a really compelling coming-of-age tale and Christian’s explication of Biblical Scripture is inspiring and thought-provoking. It is an endearing morality tale underscored by colorfully descriptive character names like Professor Caring, Mr. Knowsalittle, and the ever-stubborn Mr. Confident (a naming scheme that might allude to Hawthorne). The book comes with an appendix further developing Christian’s innovative understanding of Biblical passages. Finding Truth is superbly written and is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in Christian theology – especially as it applies to things like God’s plan, free will, trust, and faith.