In Search of Deep Faith
Why bother with the Christian faith?
In the post-Christian world, doubt and skepticism come naturally to us. Many have given up on faith of any kind, finding it shallow and unsatisfying. But still we yearn for more. We hope for our children's futures. We long for lives that are meaningful, even eternal.
Grappling with his own questions, Jim Belcher set out on a quest to see how the Christian faith faces the challenges of the modern world and answers the cries of the human soul. Seeking renewal after a draining season of life, he and his family spent a year traveling through Europe, exploring the faith that has shaped civilizations throughout the centuries. They rediscovered key figures, places and events in the history of Christianity, from C. S. Lewis's life at Oxford to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's death in a concentration camp. Through the experiences of William Wilberforce, Vincent Van Gogh, Corrie ten Boom and others, Belcher saw glimpses of insight, beauty and courage that transcended human limitations. He found himself surprised by joy and compelled by faith.
Whether you are giving up on Christianity or encountering it for the first time, you are invited to come along on this pilgrimage. Even if you are unsure of the destination, the journey itself may take you far deeper than you could ever imagine.
FROM THE AUTHOR
The story of In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher
After almost 20 years pastoring two congregations, raising four children and finishing my first book, I was tired and worn down?out of gas. I needed to make a change, to find a way to regain my passion for my calling. While I was exhausted, my wife and I were also worried about our four children and whether they were developing a strong enough faith to last a lifetime. Were they being more influenced by the culture around them?the media, materialism and friends?than by the story of Christianity and its reality in their lives?
Then we hit on an idea. What if we traveled on a pilgrimage for a year to England and Europe, and studied and experienced the biographies and places of some of the great heroes of the faith?people like C.S Lewis, Sheldon Vanauken, William Wilberforce, Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria Von Trapp. Maybe this could get my passion back for my calling and at the same time help my children develop a deeper faith?a faith that shaped their imaginations and identities and futures.
So we left the comforts of Orange County, Ca and moved to Oxford, England. We didn?t have any definite plans but upon arriving we discovered that a pilgrimage has three components: to rediscover our roots, to understand that life is a journey and to know our ultimate destination. These three ideas became our inspiration, shaping the themes we pursued, revealing the heroes we studied, and steering us across time and place. And as the pilgrimage unfolded, day by day, month by month, what we learned and experienced over the year would startle us and surprise us and change us forever. In Search of Deep Faith is the record of this pilgrimage, an unfolding drama marked by suspense and intrigue.
I hope you will take the journey with us and go deeper into the faith than you could ever imagine.
"'Come and see' is always and everywhere the invitation to the truest learning, and Jim Belcher is a remarkably gifted teacher, drawing young and old, believer and skeptic, into his own pilgrimage. Allowing us the unusual grace of seeing over his shoulder and through his heart as he leads his family into the stories of the people and places that have shaped his own soul, Belcher asks the honest questions about life and the world that we all ask, and answer. I want everyone I know and love to read In Search of Deep Faith, learning from Dr. Belcher about the things that matter most. A Pilgrim's Progress for the twenty-first century."
"Equal parts pilgrimage memoir, parenting book, theological reflection and biography collection, In Search of Deep Faith takes you on a particularly fascinating journey. That combination might sound strange, but it totally works, allowing us to view historical authors, theologians, artists and dissidents through the eyes of the author and his family, and to reflect on theological anchor points as if we were traveling with them."
"A generation that desires to be 'radical' needs to be reminded that the word actually means 'rooted.' Jim Belcher's beautifully written family adventure through Europe provides an accessible, and touchingly personal, introduction to our Christian roots and church history. He reminds us that if we think we've seen farther, it's only because we stand on the shoulders of giants."
"Jim Belcher's intimate portrayal of his family's year-long journey through Europe reminds us that it is in life's pain, suffering and trials that we discover beauty, and its Creator."
"Winston Churchill famously said, 'The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.' My friend Jim Belcher points the way forward by taking us on a compelling journey back through time and place in search for the ways in which the Christian faith has impacted the world, transformed people and shaped cultures. The fruit of Jim's year-long pilgrimage throughout Europe, In Search of Deep Faith is a personal, probing and provocative adventure into the robust realism of the Christian faith. Highly recommended."
"The first chapter was my favorite--until I read the second. The second chapter was my favorite--until I read the third. Chapter by chapter, Jim takes you and your family on a practical theology pilgrimage through Europe that will expand your vision for Christ-centered living. You'll be thinking about it and talking about it long after you finish the final page."
"What an engaging and illuminating book Jim Belcher has written. He carries us on an intellectual, biographical and geographical journey with his spiritual and theological heroes. You will not be surprised to find that his heroes are yours also. But this absorbing and honest book gives that rarest of gifts: a new, poignant way of thinking about familiar history. In the process, his pilgrimage enhances our own."
"This book had me at hello. The more I read, however, the more I was drawn into Belcher's earnest pursuit of the holy and found my own faith being deepened. Belcher is a master weaver of memoir, history, art, literature and theology--strands not easily brought together in one place. Upon the last page, I am reminded of Thomas Merton's words, 'Sit finis libri, non finis quaerendi'--'Let this be the end of the book but by no means the end of the searching.' Powerful and moving, In Search of Deep Faith offers a pilgrimage through the pages not to be missed."
"Jim Belcher's book is a great theological adventure story and Christian travel guide to Europe all rolled into one. But more than that, this book is just the ticket to a deeper faith for all who will take the journey."
"Part travelogue, part parenting manual . . . this book aims to assist pilgrims and parents on their own journey of faith. . . . In truth, there is only one person who ever had authentic faith. What makes the sainted heroes about whom Belcher writes untrivial is their struggle with Jesus Christ and their growth in his likeness. His faithfulness to them is what liberates them from the tedium of being a good example."
"In Search of Deep Faith is an engaging, informative journey into the lives, times and significance of heroes of the Christian faith. Their stories of sacrifices and devotion to God will inspire worship leaders to more passionately lead others in worship."
"In Search of Deep Faith . . . points us through many stories to the one answer in Christ. It invites us to pilgrimage together in a life of faith, risk, and, above all else, to know God better. The cloud of witnesses have gone before us, lived out deep faith, and finished the race. We are on a journey to do the same, and this book is a welcome companion for the way."
"In Search of Deep Faith creates a love for courageous Christians of history, connects these discoveries to the challenges of today's world, and charts a course through the European continent that I would love to trek."
"In his new book, Belcher expands upon the idea of deep church, investigating the sources of modern doubt and skepticism and sharing examples of Christian witness. In Search of Deep Faith helps readers discover just that: a faith with the power to carry through the ages and still convict our hearts today."
Map of England and Europe
Prologue: A Need Deep Within the Human Heart
Part One: Rediscovering our Roots
1. Oxford: The City of Spires, Pilgrims and Martyrs
2. Igniting Desire: Sheldon Vanauken's Search for Meaning
3. The Struggle Within: The Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
4. The Weight of Glory: C.S. Lewis and the Power of Story
5. The Call: William Wilberforce and Two Conversations that Changed History
Part Two: Life as Journey and the Need for A Map
6.Broken Beauty: Searching for Vincent van Gogh
7. Goodness Happened There: Le Chambon and the Transforming Power of Community
8. Suffering: The Case of Corrie Ten Boom
Part Three: Seeing Our Destination
9. Confident Hope: Learning to Die with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
10 Confidence: Searching for the Real Maria von Trapp
11 Heidelberg and Normandy: Lessons from Castle and the Cliff
Epilogue: Piligrims in South Florida
Subject and Name Index