The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour: The Shadow Lamp

You can purchase The Shadow Lamp here.

By: Thomas F. Booher

I've discussed the exceptional writing of Mr. Lawhead in my review of The Spirit Well, and the general plot for the complicated tale can be found there as well. Though what I have to say below is aggressive, I do want to say up front that this book is well worth reading based on the writing, and if you take the story as a non-Christian piece of fiction, the plot and what I expect the conclusion to be should still be enjoyable. But this book is part of a Christian blog tour and written by one who professes to be a believer. Therefore I must say the following.

I have found the previous book and this one much the same. The culmination of the whole story is becoming clear, however, and I am quite alarmed with the way God is represented. In fact, I am wondering whether this series can rightly be called Christian at all.

I hope that is not the case. In fact I hope Lawhead can stop by and reassure me that he is not proclaiming an impotent God who knows not the future and thus cannot determine it. Worse, I hope he is not putting forth a gospel that is contrary to Scripture and devaluing the cross of Christ.

Now before I get some snarky comments about not knowing the difference between preaching and telling stories, let it be known that I am quite aware that an author can portray something in a story contrary to how he actually believes. Yet if that is what one does, then why would we still call the book Christian? Again, I recognize and agree that taking another's position and playing it out in a story can be an effective tool to show the bankruptcy of such a position. But if I write a book about an atheist professor and in the story he wins converts and the story ends with an approval of atheism (or non-Christianity, or an apostate sect of Christianity), why should I get to say, "Oh, but I don't actually believe that, I am a Christian" as if by virtue of the fact I am a Christian I have written a "Christian" piece of fiction? There would be nothing in the story that would make it Christian at all, and simply because the author is Christian means nothing.

I would also like to know how the CSFF blog tour defines itself and what it's policy is on the books that it reviews. What is the criteria? I say this because in The Shadow Lamp we have what appears to be an aberrant teaching on the sovereignty of God, his knowledge (or lack thereof), and most importantly, the purpose of Creation and what salvation actually is (I will explain why I think this in The Shadow Lamp in the next post, but it should be clear).

I say all this recognizing that there is another book to come in the series. I did some research, however, and it seems that what Lawhead is writing is what he actually believes, and so I do not anticipate any major theological revisions in the story. Consider that Lawhead regards Pelagius as sound and not a heretic despite most church historians regarding Pelagius as one who taught that man had no need of God's grace in order to be saved and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior. Pelagius also denied original sin, the teaching that all mankind is born dead in their sins and has inherited the guilt of Adam and Eve from the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, if man isn't dead in sin, then salvation means something other than salvation from sin, from spiritual death. And if man is capable of saving himself through means of the will, apart from God's grace, then what is the message of the cross? An example par excellence?

I do hope Mr. Lawhead stops by and clears this up for us. I hope that the reason he doesn't see Pelagius as a heretic is because he believes Pelagius did not deny original sin or the need for the grace of God and the atonement in order to be saved from sin. Per the link above, I have some hope that this is the case, for Lawhead has said:

. . . as a result of my researches into various aspects of the Celtic church, I’ve come to the conclusion that Pelagius was not only a member of the Célé Dé, he was certainly far from  the heretic he was made out to be by his enemies.  Moreover, while he was one of the more noteworthy expressions of   the Celtic Christianity of Britain and Ireland, he was not the only one; there were many more. As a product of his homeland and culture, the views of Pelagius were by and large the views of the Celtic church — views which Rome increasingly found irritating for one reason or another. For example, the Celts were all for taking the Good News of salvation to the Barbarians, while Rome considered this anathema.

Even if this is the case, and I certainly hope that it is, it seems that Lawhead is at best advancing some sort of open theism theology with a multiverse twist in The Shadow Lamp (open theism being the doctrine that God Himself does not even know the future, since for God to know the future it would have to already be predestined by Him).

In my next post, I will attempt to show where I see Lawhead doing these things and then offer what I believe Scripture clearly teaches to be God's ultimate purpose in creation as opposed to what Lawhead offers is his story in a final post. After all, as believers, and as those who want to see good Christian fiction writing, getting the basic purpose for history right is of paramount importance. If we don't understand God's grand design, we can't tell a Christian story.

CSFF Blog Tour Participants:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your thoughts. I have about 60 pages to go in this book, and I am wondering how God is fitting into all this EoE theory. Looking forward to your other posts.