A Crisis of Faith

The battle of beliefs between the Christian Church and Gnosticism

Christian - Non-Fiction
336 Pages
Reviewed on 05/29/2017
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Author Biography

Tony Sunderland is an Author and educational researcher who is acknowledged as an innovator in the writing and presentation of nationally accredited courses ranging from social science to the history of learning. His critically acclaimed book The Obelisk and the Cross, published in 2016, investigated some of the more contentious and abstract ideas about Christianity and the history of religious thought in Western society. He believes that there are many alternative explanations of how ‘things came to be’ in the Western world and that these have either been ignored or suppressed by dominant and overpowering narratives of what can be termed as consensus history.
Tony has visited many of the great archaeological sites in Egypt, Israel, Jordon, Italy, Turkey and Greece. His current research interests centre on the investigation and understanding of the Bible, the Nag Hammadi scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls and how these great texts have influenced the development of modern Western spirituality. Tony has been married for 27 years and has two children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

A Crisis of Faith by Tony Sunderland is a self-described study about the battle of beliefs between the Christian Church and Gnosticism. While technically accurate, such a tidy description creates a minor disservice to the highly comprehensive yet focused view taken by the author in describing the evolution of Christian beliefs since the advent of the early Church. In reality, Mr. Sunderland once again offers the reader (as in his earlier book, The Obelisk and The Cross) an incredibly broad overview of religious history by referencing back to the pre-Christian genesis of later spiritual beliefs, then ranging forward to the speculative assessment of our modern, technocratic society. That he includes between those bracketing endpoints a provocatively detailed and knowledgeable analysis on the discrepancy between the orthodox and communal Catholic Church and the more individually-focused Gnostic teachings, simply attests to the author’s academic and concisely inclusive writing skills.

In A Crisis of Faith, Tony Sunderland provides a constructive backbone to this rigorous but engaging study by thoroughly examining the similarities and differences between the institutional teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the less accessible but well-researched Gnostic world as revealed mostly by revelations found within the Nag Hammadi Library – a fairly recent discovery of mystery documents comparable to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even more recently translated and distributed for popular access and consideration. As with any academic writing, even one so geared toward popular interest and acceptance, A Crisis of Faith betrays no overt agenda of its own. Tony Sunderland is meticulous about not rendering his personal judgment regarding content, thus allowing the reader to contemplate and consider the massively important current implications of such a well-presented religious history. The timing could not be better.

Deborah Lloyd

In the first page of the Author's Note of his book, A Crisis of Faith: The Battle of Beliefs between the Christian Church and Gnosticism, Tony Sunderland describes the basic differences between these two belief systems. The Church is defined as a community of believers practicing faith together to find eternal salvation. The structure of the Church itself is an essential element of a person’s relationship with the divine. Gnostics believe the individual person has the divine within, finding personal freedom and gnosis, or knowledge, through the Universe. Throughout the centuries, the Christian Church has labeled gnostics as heretics. Mr. Sunderland examines how these two forces have interacted over the past two thousand years. Since the discovery of the gnostic writings from the second century CE in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, a greater understanding of its teachings has been attained. The author also examines how these writings have been interpreted within twentieth century experiences of two World Wars, the Great Depression and tremendous changes. Additionally, an introspective analysis of other modern cultural experiences such as music, films, and technology is included.

Although this book is steeped in historical information and explanations, the average reader will attain a deeper perspective of how Christianity and existentialism have interacted throughout the centuries. The writing is logical, clear and concise. Whether the reader is a scholar, or a curious spiritual seeker, this book is informative and enriching. Author Tony Sunderland has created a wonderful synopsis of religious thought in his book, A Crisis of Faith: The Battle of Beliefs between the Christian Church and the Gnosticism. It is a gem for anyone who wants to explore these differing ways in seeking the divine.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Most people who are familiar with the Christian faith at all are familiar with the Old Testament and the New Testament. Understanding these books (or one or the other, depending on the sect of their religion) is considered the only way to truly understand God (or as best as one can) and to understand what he wants of us. But there is another text that has been long forgotten and seems to provide a very different story of the God most have come to know. The Gnostic Gospel has a similar path, but with previously unknown stories, at least for anyone in the last several centuries. But just what is it about this book that should be known, and what does A Crisis of Faith by Tony Sunderland seek to do about it?

This book is one that will definitely make you think. The Christian Bible has long existed without much contest for centuries, though there are some who have fought over interpretations and the two main versions of the Bible. But a third version has never been approached or considered before, and this requires you to think hard about everything you read in this book. It’s all about introducing the stories and the beliefs from each of the books of the Bible to make them easy to understand and even easier to compare, so you can understand just what is going on in each. It’s a great book for anyone looking to further their religious understanding and studies. A Crisis of Faith by Tony Sunderland will definitely make you wonder what is out there.