Review

The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt

by Joseph Loconte

Joseph Loconte is an associate professor of history at King’s College in New York City, where he teaches Western Civilization and American Foreign Policy. His background includes work on international human rights and religious freedom, and has appeared in the New York Times,  the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and on National Public Radio. In THE SEARCHERS, he offers thoughtful readers much to ponder during an exchange between two disciples of Jesus discussed just days after His death.

"Readers will do well to read this book slowly and savor each chapter’s message in quiet reflection. THE SEARCHERS is an important work, especially in a culture that continually asks why and then doubts every answer given."

Loconte is an eloquent and careful writer whose challenge is to accurately describe the rush of emotions and doubt that plagued Christ followers immediately following his execution. He bases this text upon the passages found in Luke 24: 13-35, where two of His disciples were walking to Emmaus discussing Jesus when He appears (though they do not recognize Him) and begins asking them questions. Along the way, they share what they understand about Christ (and what they don’t), but only after Jesus breaks bread with them are their eyes suddenly opened and they recognize Him. Then, just as suddenly, Jesus is gone. However, their belief is strengthened and their doubts diminished as they return at once to Jerusalem, find the Eleven, and say, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon!”

Introducing his topic through this powerful interaction between Jesus and His followers, Loconte then begins sharing how every human heart has a longing for “home,” and throughout this scholarly text continues to provide evidence of this truth. He similarly shares the many and varied forms of opposition to finding this “home” in Christ as well. Whether doubts come by way of false religions (or false religious leaders) accompanied by their un-Christlike actions and proclamations, people worldwide harbor doubts. But doubting doesn’t have to end the pursuit of faith. Rather, it can be the very open door through which seekers eventually find Christ, and a depth of understanding they formally forfeited.

Some of the stories (true ones) that Loconte shares are painful to read --- painful because, as he quotes in the text, “Jesus would vomit at some of the things done in his name.” No Christ follower can deny such charges, and the shame that has followed Christian history is frequently so at odds with Christ’s life and commands that the two are barely recognizable. Thus, the value of Loconte’s text is to study and then discuss these affronts to Christ and faith. Readers will do well to read this book slowly and savor each chapter’s message in quiet reflection.

THE SEARCHERS is an important work, especially in a culture that continually asks why and then doubts every answer given.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on June 21, 2012

The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt
by Joseph Loconte