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Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  3,142 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
Philip Yancey, one of America's leading Christian thinkers and author of more than a dozen books with sales of more than five million copies, returns for his most profound and soul-searching books yet. Soul Survivor is the story of his own struggle to reclaim his belief, interwoven with inspiring portraits of notable people from all walks of life who have succeeded in the ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 21st 2003 by WaterBrook (first published January 1st 2001)
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Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
The book title says it all - particularly the emphasis on unlikely mentors. Philip Yancey witnessed, like many people, the injustices, such as slavery and racism, inflicted by the church in the name of God. Instead of walking away from the church, he journeys back in time and examines the life of 13 remarkable men who are not preached about as a fine Christian examples. However, on sorting through these unlikely men's lives he discovered God's handiwork. Mahatma Ghandi, India's 'Great Soul', l ...more
Kim Voss
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I read by Philip Yancey. His style is easy and he knows his audience includes both Christians and those who are searching. I've enjoyed everything I've read by him because of this.
Hany Adeeb
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

كنت اود ان اكتب عن 13 شخصية التي افرد فيها فيليب يانسي كتابه بالكاد نجوت ، و لكني اثرت ان اقدم ايجاز لفكرتي عن الكتاب . و ما اعجبني و ما ازعجني .. الكتاب يمكنك الاستمتاع به .. من خلال شخصيات تعرفها و اخرى حديثة .. يمكنك ان تسمع عنها ، اثرت في حياة فيليب يانسي .. و الكتاب يجمع رؤيته .. و ان ظهر انه مثل صحفي يسجل لا مجرد شخص تاثر بهم ..
فالكتاب بعكس توقعي قدم شخصيات .. استطاعت ان تغير في فكر فيليب يانسي ، و لكنها ربما لا تؤثر في ، كما ان نظرته للنماذج المقدمة غربية اكثر منها مسيحية و انسانية اكثر
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love love love this book. yes it falls in the christian category, but it's simply about people who lived their lives in a way that's bound to inspire you. the 13 mini-biographies give you a good sense of these people and yancey helps you to learn more about them through suggested readings at the end of each chapter. i've read 3 other books already just based on what i learned from this book.
M. H.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: مكتبتي
لا ينقل هذا الكتاب سوى صورة حية نابضة مدهشة متفردة عن الإنسان، بصدق وقوة ووضوح، في رصانة مرنة، وبلا أي أقنعة. من أروع وأصدق ما قرأت على الإطلاق..
Ben Zajdel
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is rare when you find a book that can change your whole perception on life. Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey not only changed my perception, but did what a good book is supposed to do: inspire a person. I will point out that not everyone will find it to be so dramatically life-altering. But Yancey had a childhood similar to mine, and his perspective is unique. I know that I'm a little late in reading this book (it came out in 2001) but I couldn't help but spread the word about it.

The subtitle
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melanie by: Walter Wink (The Powers That Be)
This is the most moving and encouraging book I have read in a long time. What I liked best about it was how Phillip Yancey doesn't just compile a "top ten" list of inspiring people and reproduce children's story idealizations of their lives. He interweaves his own journey of faith, growth, and repentance with stories of how each person challenged him to reexamine his life and values, while avoiding the temptation to whitewash them into saints. I was very touched by the second chapter, on Martin ...more
I read this book in one week, while doing a missions trip with my church to Guatemala.

I've long identified with Yancey, who comes from hardcore fundamentalist deep south segregationist Baptist roots; I too come from fundamentalism and the apocalyptic "low church". His earlier works cleverly slide in progressive, even liberal thought into a larger Christian context that paints a very different Jesus from the ugly model that (rightly) gets all the press.

But in this book he explores the people who
Modigliana Young
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every few years I seem to come back to this book. I find it refreshing. The mini biographies are so interesting I get frustrated when Yancey turns to reflecting on himself - which is silly because he wrote the book as a type of spiritual autobiography. The reading recommendations at the end of each chapter are very enticing.
mirela Darau
I like yancey very much!! he's one of my favourite authors, and, toghether with wurmbrand, my favourite author on "spiritual matters":) I found the title of this book intriguing and captivating at the same time, but when i opened it and saw it is about his mentors, i was thrilled. As far as it concerns me, nothing can influence and teach me more than a good living (or once living:P) example. So i'm excited to read it!

I read so far about Martin Luther King Jr., Chesterton and dr. Paul Brand. Rea
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not really this book that I like, but the books and lives it has introduced me to. My reading list has now expanded tenfold.
Karissa Boger
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some chapters inspire, others make you think- over all it was a very good read.
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can count on Philip Yancey for one thing, that would be complete and utter honesty in his writings. That's a rare quality, especially amongst Christian writers. This book is a great read, if at times a little dull (personal preferences - some people are more interesting than others). Here Yancey explores the lives of 13 people who helped him to retain his Christian faith and live for God, despite the hypocrisy and hurt he experienced in the church. He praises them for teaching him valuabl ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-life
A book about the thinkers, writers, dreamers, doers & believers that Yancey has either known or read. People who have influenced his faith in some significant way. And helped him rediscover God after rejecting his southern fundamentalist, racist "Christian" upbringing.

This book provided a great introduction to some really amazing folks both historical and contemporary, whose works I was not familiar with. Like G.K. Chesterton, Dr. Paul Brand and Annie Dillard. And others I knew of but not in
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Philip Yancey freely admits that he has "spent most of my life in recovery from the church." He grew up in a racist, cult like church in Georgia. He grew to reject most of that church's teaching but yet he still retained his faith. How? This book is his answer.

Yancey profiles 13 people who have influenced his faith. People who allowed that faith to flourish despite the damage he suffered from the religion of his youth. Some of these people he met but some he knows only through their lives and w
Heidi Petterson
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
After reading What's So Amazing About Grace? and loving it I picked this book up. It sat on my bookshelf for over a year before I finally read it. I didn't know what to expect with a subtitle like How My Faith Survived the Church but I definitely knew I would be able to relate to some degree. It is amazing how Yancey brings up so many brilliant points without ever being disparaging (I can't say I have that gift, myself). It is an excellent read for so many reasons, not the least of which are the ...more
Philip Yancey’s writing is a pleasure to read. He's clear and concise, weaving through such little details that you get completely drawn into reading. Still, the book is not an easy read, because it’s a thoughtful reflection on the faith journey of an intelligent writer and also because it makes you start thinking about where do you stand in your own life, faith, relationships. Philip Yancey holds a mirror up to our own failures as well as his own. It’s a book that makes you set aside time for s ...more
Jim Jackson
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved, loved, loved this book. As one who came to faith in a Southern Baptist setting at age 18, and then migrated quickly to an orthodox Christian college, I was quickly drawn into a lot of pressure about acting good. I don't think I even learned about the concept of Grace until I was in counseling in my mid twenties, after feeling beat-up for years by what I interpreted to be the hypocrisy of legalistic Christianity. This book helped me feel at ease with my many unconventional thoughts what ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love that so much of what shaped Philip Yancey's beliefs were based on a many individuals with a wide range of beliefs. I too was raised in a very exclusive dogmatic church with skewed beliefs and after being released from the church 10+ years ago I am just now finding the true foundation for beliefs and that in Christ there are so many faucets that are unbelievably wonderful. I am thirsty wanting to explore all the writings of and about the people discussed in this book. Great read!
Philip Yancey is one of my favorite spiritual writers because he does more question-posing than answer-giving. This book is a discussion of writers and thinkers who have been most influential in his life. A list including MLK Jr., Annie Dillard, and, one of my favorites, Henri Nouwen. Took about eight months to slowly read this. Love it.
Interesting, but hardly earth-shaking.
Nermine Hosni
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#جي.كاي تشيسترتون: ( الطبيعة - الايمان مع خفة الظل - الفرح)
تعلمت ألا اضحك وألا ابتسم وألا ابكي حاولت ألا اهتم او ان يكون لدي رد فعل في مواجهة أمور عدة : البرد او الحرارة ، الروائح الطيبة او الروائح الكريهه الجمال او القبح المحبة او الكراهية ٦٦
ان جمال العالم هو ابتسامة السيد المسيح الرقيقة معبر عنها من خلال المادة ص ٧٠

قد يكون الله صنع كل اقحوانه علي حده لكنه حتماً لم يتعب البته من صنعها قد تكون لديه الرغبة في الطفولة الي الابد لأننا اخطأنا وتقدمنا في السن لكن ابانا السماوي اصغر منا سناً ص ٧١

John Thompson
This book starts with a chapter entitled, “Recovering from Church Abuse” which sets the background to Yancey’s upbringing in Georgia, a Southern State of America, in the 1960s. He then wanders through the impact thirteen people had on his life, many of which he met personally:

• Martin Luther King Junior
• G. K. Chesterton
• Dr. Paul Brand
• Robert Coles
• Leo Tolstoy
• Feodor Dostoevsky
• Mahatma Gandhi
• Dr. C. Everett Koop
• John Donne
• Annie Dillard
• Frederick Buechner
• Shusaku Endo
• Henri Nouwen

I ha
David Mitchell
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yancey makes his case well. He has indeed recovered from the church (viz. “I have spent most of his life in recovery from the church”. Page 1). His church “mixed in lies with truth” in a “hermetically sealed” racist Georgia of the 1960s. Fitting to his recovery is a prominent chapter – perhaps one of the best in the book – dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. Ever since the start of his recovery path Yancey has “clung fiercely to the stance of a pilgrim” – “one person among many on a spiritual se ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, religion
Philip Yancey has written so many good books, but in my mind this is the best. It's a memoir and a journey of faith, through which the wisdom of others was instrumental. Some are living, and have been close friends; others are long dead writers whose work was influential. Some I had never heard of, but am tempted after reading this to look into their lives and writings.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Chose the authors who have influenced your faith the most and interweave your life story with their journey. From them, give meaning to life's disappointments, struggles and wrestling with God, after that list the chosen author's books. Then you will have your own Soul Struggle. What a rich book. I have added books to read and listen to after every chapter. A book to digest.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps more timely and more needed now in 2017 than its original publishing in 2003. A salve.
Apr 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. The subtitle says nearly all: "How my faith survived the church" -- turn out Yancey grew up in a racist church in the South and had to leave it for several years to come to terms with his own faith. Soul Survivor is written as 13 mini-biographies of 13 (really 14, as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are put in a single chapter) individuals whose writing and work helped the author rethink his faith. In the process it is in a way in itself a spiritual auto-biography. Throughout, he emphasise ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xtianlies
This author never disappoints the reader: He never answers a question! However, this book is interesting because of it references other authors or researchers which are really interesting by themselves. The whole book could be summarized in two things: American Christianity is racist, and the author recognizes it since he was born and grew up amongst hardcore white xtians (i.e. KKK and the like). And, Xtianity could be something good because other people talks about it though they never practice ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this one awhile ago and neglected to review. Too bad, or I could have recorded some of the quotes that stood out to me and the alleyways my thoughts took to follow them. I do remember, though, that the author's story, and those of the people he wrote about, made me feel woefully ignorant of world history. Like sadly, sadly ignorant.

Here are a few quotes I did mark:

"One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty" (24). - Martin Luther Ki
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A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Philip Yancey earned graduate degrees in Communications and English from Wheaton College Graduate School and the University of Chicago. He joined the staff of Campus Life Magazine in 1971, and worked there as Editor and then Publisher. He looks on those years with gratitude, because teenagers are demanding readers, and writing for them taught him a lasting principle: ...more
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“Christians are not perfect, by any means, but they can be people made fully alive.” 24 likes
“We admit that we will never reach our ideal in this life, a distinctive the church claims that most other human institutions try to deny.” 10 likes
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