Thursday, March 24, 2011

A View From The Back Pew by Tim O'Donnell

The subtitle of A View From The Back Pew is "God, Religion & Our Personal Quest for Truth." This is a memoir of the VERY personal quest of Tim O'Donnell, who grew up a Catholic but whose search for faith results in a New Age-y post modern spirituality created by himself.
O'Donnell's motivation for writing about his experiences is to keep others from wrestling with the same guilt and fear that he attributes to his Catholic upbringing. It is interesting that although he questions the very foundation of the Catholic Church, he is so convinced that it is the only "true" church that he never takes the next logical step of investigating the theology and practice of any Protestant church. Would his conclusions been different if he read C. S. Lewis or Tim Keller?

Rejecting both the tradition of the Catholic Church and the Protestant emphasis on the authority of scripture, O'Donnell becomes fascinated with the Gnostic Gospels and the writings of Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels. This leads him to reject the orthodox doctrine of the divinity of Christ in favor of the belief that Christ was a human being with a highly-evolved spirituality. He concludes that "if we just have a measure of the faith in our own divinity that Jesus had, we too will exist on a plane where we can transcend time and space." 

The book combines O'Donnell's quest for religious truth with his life story, but the transitions are awkward.

(I received a free Advance Reader's copy of the book from the publisher for review and did not promise to post either a positive or a negative review.)