The Air We Breathe

The Air We Breath
Author: Glen Scrivener
Reviewer: Tony Fowler

The air we breatheThe common view of many people is that Christians live by outdated and, some would add, intolerant values. The secular world lives by ‘real’ values such as equality, compassion and freedom – values that are based on science, and lead to definite progress. Glen Scrivener, an Anglican priest from Australia, argues persuasively that these values, and even science itself, have flowed from Christianity. He demonstrates this by looking back through history, and also at what the early chapters of the Bible teach us about humanity.

Scrivener has three groups in mind as he writes: those who are outside the Christian faith; those who have had some involvement with Christianity, but for one reason or another no longer think it’s for them; and Christians struggling with the attacks that come from the first two groups. His style is engaging; and his approach will be particularly helpful for younger people, say from late teens to 30s. But all ages will learn something of value from this excellent book. Scrivener is faithful to face the challenges of the many occasions when Christians have failed to live by the values we profess. He tackles them head-on – the issue of slavery is just one example of this.

If the book has a weakness, it’s that the starting point for many of the chapters is so recent and up-to-date that passing years will perhaps dull our memories of those events. The book may, therefore, soon seem dated. So read it without delay, if you want to grasp its significance while these concerns are still fresh in your mind – and the minds of the friends and family members to whom you’ll want to pass the book on.

Scrivener is telling us that Jesus’ arrival in the world changed everything. Yet most people don’t realise this fact. We’re unaware of its influence on every aspect of life – just as we never stop and think about the air we breathe, and without which we would die. The secular person, who sees no point in Christianity, is in fact trying to live a life based on Christian values without recognising their source. They want to enjoy the fruits of Christianity, while attempting to chop off at its roots the tree that provided them. They want the Kingdom, he argues, while rejecting the King. This book encourages us all to look at the evidence with an open mind, and to discover the explosive power of the resurrection that sent Christians out into the world with the values that transformed it.

The challenge for Christians is to live in the light of the death and resurrection of our Saviour, and to be true to the values that He unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.