Review: More Questions than Answers, by Eleanor Shepherd

More Questions than Answers: Sharing Faith by Listening, by Eleanor Shepherd (Resource Publications (a division of Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010)

No matter  how secure our faith, we all have questions, issues, things we don’t fully understand.

In More Questions than Answers, Eleanor Shepherd reminds us that honesty about these very things is the beginning of a journey that benefits us as well as the friends with whom we walk.

“When walking with our friends, we encourage them to explore faith with us. We admit that our knowledge of faith is incomplete, but it is growing. We want them to join us as together we test our spirituality and meet for ourselves the ultimate truth, Jesus Christ. We call our journey together spiritual accompaniment.” p. xvii

Spiritual accompaniment is unconditional friendship. Our non-Christian friend is not a project to be discarded if she doesn’t come to believe as we do. Nor is our Christian friend to be set aside if he doesn’t grow as fast as we’d like.

We benefit personally from accompanying others. We learn not to be threatened by questions we can’t answer—God doesn’t vanish in a puff of smoke if we can’t explain Him. Our faith doesn’t vanish either. By honestly and prayerfully facing them, we grow deeper in our faith.

More Questions than Answers is divided into three sections:

The Listening Process addresses the art of listening. It includes basics of psychology, counselling etc, but always at lay-person’s level.

Discovering and Sharing Faith teaches how to go about spiritual accompaniment, illustrated by personal examples. It warns of the obstacles we may face.

Finally, The Source reminds us to listen to and rely on God. There is a short Bible study to develop our spiritual listening skills, and a shorter “Gospel in a nutshell” to help us answer when a friend asks how to become a Christian.

This is a book for Christians who want to be more valuable spiritually in the lives of those around them. It isn’t evangelism-by-the-numbers; it’s investment in the lives of those God gives us.

I appreciate books like this that emphasize faith conversations rather than confrontation, and that teach us to value the whole person.

Canadian author Eleanor Shepherd is a retired Salvation Army Officer now serving with Opportunity International Canada in Quebec. You can catch up with Eleanor at her blog. She also contributes to the Canadian Authors Who are Christian blog.

[Book source: my personal library. A version of this review first appeared in Faith Today Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011.]

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