The Air We Breathe
Glen Scrivener up-ends common assumptions about the origins of the values now held dear in Western cultures today. He examines each of these values and traces their origin to Jesus' teachings, demonstrating the vast gulf that lay between the values of the world in which he lived and the values he taught and embodied in his sacrificial death, and which went on to underpin much of what we believe to be self-evident today.
It's one of the most lively, stimulating and eye-opening books I've read in years and usefully informs my conversations with both Christians and non-Christians alike. I'd recommend it for the opening chapter alone 'The Night Before Christmas' - if nothing else it should help to correct any tendency you've had to reduce Jesus' crucifixion to a dry theological concept!
The Air We Breathe is Glen Scrivener’s explanation of how The American Declaration of Independence has it wrong. How we have it wrong. How the values we hold to are not at all self-evident, but have come to us from the teachings of Jesus. He has drawn from secular and Christian students of history to help us see that freedom, kindness, progress and other values are not found in Greek and Roman philosophers, but came into the world quite suddenly in the first century AD.
One of his most interesting arguments is that objections to Christianity are often making Christian assumptions, not shared by those from pre-Christian times. He says that when we complain about Christians who are hypocrites, or who are corrupt, greedy, oppressive and exploitative, we are saying the same things that Jesus said to the religious folk of his day, and calling them to embrace the Christian values they claim to believe in.
His book is beautifully structured and logical. Its short chapters are easy to read and hold your attention.
Scrivener gives us a clear and simple digest of some of the academic material circulating today in large, forbidding tomes (and a few more popular works).
He aims to share his vision with people he calls nones, dones and wons: those who have never been Christian, those who have, but are now done with the church, and those who are believers. Some of the secular folk he cites tell us that the book is worth the read for believers and unbelievers.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and think you might find it engaging, too.