Book Review: The Unknown God

The Unknown God, or Inspiration Among Pre-Christian Races, by C. Loring Brace

As someone who has read more than my fair share of books attempting to smuggle the beliefs of Buddhism into Christianity [1] and who has thought long and hard about the issue of ancient religions and general revelation [2], this book was a great pleasure to read, and a book that deserves to be much better known and remembered concerning the area of comparative religion and the study of general revelation.  It is common to read books that seek to tear down other religious traditions or backgrounds based on the presence of corruption or imperfection on the part of believers or doctrines and the admixture of superstition and vain mysticism, and there is plenty of such criticism to be found in these pages, but this book provides the other side of the coin, and that is a sincere and open appreciation of truth in other religious backgrounds and traditions that can serve as a bridge in evangelism, since people can be more easily persuaded of the whole truth if it is freely admitted and openly acknowledged that they already begin with a deep understanding of certain aspects of truth, so that there is a bridge already for the would-be evangelist to cross.

The contents of this book are thematic in organization, beginning with a clear statement of the author’s intent to view what was the most noble among various non-Christian belief systems and then proceeding to examine ancient Egyptian religion, Judaism, Akkadian psalms, the Greek mystery religions, Zeus as a spiritual God, the rather cerebral faith of Socrates and Plato, the writings and beliefs of the Stoics, and then the book’s first review of the foregoing.  After this the author discusses Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism before reviewing again and then examining the relationship between Christ and the Apostles (especially the Apostle Paul) and the religious beliefs of their day, even including an appendix on the general revelation known to ancient Peruvians.  Overall the approach is both honest about the flaws of believers when compared to the ideals of their faith, as well as the importance of faith to have a practical application and also a sense of purity and simplicity in one’s relationship to God and other people, all of which takes a bit more than 300 pages to deal with.

Although the book does not include a discussion on Islam, which would be of great use in making this book relevant to contemporary readers, there is a lot to praise in this book, and a review should be given based on that which is in the book, and not generally what is omitted.  Among the most praiseworthy aspects of this book, beyond the author’s congenial and charitable approach to evangelism and general revelation as well as the importance of practical outgrowths of faith, and the importance of recognizing the Fatherhood of God, is the author’s use of numerous citations from the ancient writings being discussed to demonstrate heathen culture at its best.  There is certainly a great deal to criticism in heathen culture at its best, but given that even the Apostle Paul could on several occasions (see, for example Titus 1 and Acts 17, most obviously) quote from the more enlightened contemporary pagan writings, we can do no less in seeking to build a bridge to those of other belief systems in bringing them to scriptural truth.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/book-review-the-art-of-raising-children/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/book-review-born-for-love/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/book-review-it-wasnt-your-fault/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/book-review-christians-remember-your-past-lives-learn-how/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/we-are-his-offspring/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/divine-providence-in-the-story-of-naaman-the-syrian/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/the-many-and-the-one-the-relationship-between-love-and-political-freedom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/no-other-gods-before-me-an-examination-of-henotheism-and-monolatry-in-the-bible/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Book Review: The Unknown God

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Christ And The Hindu Diaspora | Edge Induced Cohesion

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  3. Pingback: Book Review: Paganism Surviving In Christianity | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Reblogging for future reference.

  5. Pingback: Book Review: A Glossary Of Important Symbols | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Pingback: Chessmaster God | Edge Induced Cohesion

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