First, I nearly didn’t sign up for this review because I hate writing negative reviews and the plot summary I read at Amazon for Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer sounded more like Anti-Christian liberal propaganda than a Christian novel. But I decided not to judge a book by it’s Amazon blurb and read it with an open mind, or at least as open as a Christian can be and stay true to Christ.
I found Broken Angel a fairly well written, fast paced read that will suck the reader right in. Even this one. Brouwer commends himself as a writer and should be proud of his craftsmanship. It’s not often propaganda of any sort actually makes an entertaining read.
Now, I doubt writing Anti-Christian liberal propaganda was the author’s intent, or I should hope not, but at best, he’s fallen victim to one of the devil’s favorite schemes. Get the Church frantically worried about a problem she doesn’t have so she’ll over-correct this non-existent problem and slide into the equal and opposite error.
In 2006, American voters turned control of Congress over to Democrats. In 2008, we’ll probably elect Barak Obama and stupidly widen the control of the party that wants to raise oil prices and taxes on us.
And Brouwer apparently believes the Religious Right will respond by all moving to the Appalachian mountains, cede the region from the Union, and turn it into a theocracy headed up by a sociopathic (you know them by the company they keep) cult leader named Bar Elohim (either that or he’s intentionally insulting Jews.) I consider that name (Bar=Son of Elohim=God) akin to blasphemy, but wouldn’t be surprised if that was the point. Interestingly, the name choice, intentionally or not, actually makes the character an anti-Christ who chose the Iphone’s descendant for his mark instead of the too-obvious microchip in the hand. (As our friend at Back to the Mountains has noted previously, the language of the actual text references a brand on the skin rather than an implant.)
Oh, I forgot. We Christian Conservatives not only plan to ditch the Republican form of government we’ve fought so long and hard to preserve in favor of theocracy, we also want to ban reading and bring back stoning for capitol offenses such as being a rebellious daughter. I’m sure they’d have dragged out the traditional adulteress, but the author thankfully avoided the cliche and instead martyred a member of the novel’s underground church on the former charge.
In case you couldn’t tell, I find the basic premise totally absurd, down right insulting, and even dangerous.
First, barring Al Queda conquering the
Christian Conservatives believe strongly in the Republican form of government. We call ourselves “Republicans” rather than “Theocrats” and for a reason. Theocracy is a straw man, a scare tactic used by liberals to silence the Church’s prophetic witness. And an old saint I knew once wisely said, “What you fear shall come upon you.”
Second, the reading thing doesn’t even deserve a response. I have no idea where he got the idea we’d outlaw reading and agree to not teach the skill to our children. The Christians that settled this land, all Conservative by today’s standards, raised literacy levels to all-time highs because we wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible. The author might make an anti-Catholic appeal to
No, surely he wouldn’t intentionally insult us. He believes in choice, after all. So he’s totally going to respect our educational choices. He would never dream of equating our educational choices to banning literacy.
Speaking of the author’s favorite idol, choice, I can dismantle his argument using his own bible passage. (In fairness, my own favorite idol, fear, is a doozy.) According to the author, God gave Adam and Eve a choice whether or not to eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Funny. My bible says (Actually, Steve Rice’s, I’m quoting the NIV, but the emphasis is mine):
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Adam and Eve were given their choice of trees to eat from, except the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of this tree they were not only not free to eat, but doing so was a capital offense. The ability to violate the law and the freedom to choose, although often invoked by the word “choice” are two entirely different things. If Adam and Eve had actually been free to choose to eat that tree, we’d all still be happy in the garden. Instead, a penalty was levied and carried out (ultimately on the Cross, praise God!)
If this scripture is indeed our model for Choice, it would be logically “pro-Choice” to out-law abortion and sentence to lethal injection any doctor caught performing them. (Never the woman. What abortion does to a woman, legal or not, is punishment in and of itself–and there is healing available to her in Christ.) What I mean by that is, if Roe V Wade were reversed and the tenth amendment restored (an easy way to solve our country’s political crisis, by the way), a woman in a “red state” where abortion was outlawed would have as much choice as Eve did when she ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
We have a term for the form of government where choice is God. Anarchy. Choice, like theocracy, is a weasel word used to silence the prophetic witness of the Church. We are somehow loving, we are told, when we sit by silently as a generation makes choices the Bible says will end in death and destruction. We are loving when we say nothing, do nothing, and allow them to be destroyed rather than calling them to repentance, and through this, showing them the way to forgiveness?
You will not find that verse in the bible. Rather we are commanded to be light and salt. We are commanded to be the moral conscience of our society. This is not theocracy, or a violation of the “Separation of Church and State.” Our founders indeed outlawed the heinous evil of the
And ironically, the Church’s allowing herself to be silenced, her fleeing the large cities where her witness is the most unwelcome for small cities, in verbally stoning those who dare to stand up for the Truth in the public square, has sentenced far too many Christians to a symbolic Appalachia.
Unfortunately for the author, he still hasn’t presented a logical case for the literal one presented in the book. At minimum, I have news for him. There have been Conservative groups trying to get enough people together to move into one state to cede it from the
Yes, Conservative Christians are (stupidly in my opinion) fleeing big cities and nanny states like
One last gripe. Broken Angel portrayed the evil bounty hunter for 3/4 of the book as a clear-cut sociopath, then had him experience an emotion a sociopath is biologically incapable of experiencing. Besides self-love and anger, they simply don’t emote. They’re smart enough to fake it when it suits them, but we were in his point of view.
Overall, while Broken Angel has its strengths as a novel, it is first and foremost, an implausible, albeit cleverly couched, propaganda piece. Let the reader beware.
Loved your review and comments! Glad you at least found it to be ‘fairly well written and fast-paced’. 🙂
As for the ideas you present, again, thank you. Would be great to keep the discussion going. I’ll offer three quick and probably not well articulated defenses to some of your points.
One is that the Broken Angel was intended to be story first, so I’m glad it kept your interest.
As for the ideas presented, it is meant to examine a worst case scenario as a way to present some of the dangers of mixing faith and politics. Broken Angel is not to serve as a factual prediction about where America will be in a few generations.
Two, I agree when you talk about ‘one of the devilâ€™s favorite schemes. Get the Church frantically worried about a problem she doesnâ€™t have so sheâ€™ll over-correct this non-existent problem and slide into the equal and opposite error’. However, this doesn’t mean that the Church should never be examined. Martin Luther’s reformation was badly needed. If, none of my points about American politics are valid, I would still argue that examining it or questioning it is a healthy process.
Third, I also appreciate the time you spent on the ‘choice’ in the garden, and I’ll be sure to be more specific in how I address it in the future. Yes, God gave a command not to eat the fruit. However, the fact that he did not bind them, but allowed them to choose whether to obey, still in de facto terms means that Adam and Eve were allowed to choose between obedience and disobedience.
One of the reasons I enjoyed your review is that I’m far less concerned about being right in these ideas, and much more concerned in getting discussions started about the role of faith and politics. I think Gregory Boyd’s “Myth of a Christian Nation” makes some great points, and if you haven’t read it, I think you’d enjoy it.
I’m so surprised you identified with the theocracy in Appalachia. It was apparent to me rather quickly that the group headed by an anti-Christ, as you so accuratedly stated, was a false church.
I wondered for a time whether Mr. Brouwer was implying that church would become so corrupt it would lose all connection with godliness. But no. Instead, the underground church (literally and figuratively), as it is in so many other countries, surfaced as the true Body of Christ.
One thing you said about Christians seemed off to me: We are commanded to be the moral conscience of our society. I actually don’t see that in Scripture. We are commanded to be holy and to live righteously. The net result might be that we become the moral conscience of society, but our witness is to be about Christ, His mercy and sacrifice, and the forgiveness of sins.
Part of the problem in the US, in my opinion, is that the Church in the 50’s was the moral conscience of society, and society patted itself on the back and said, We’re so good, what’s all this talk of sin about?
There is no moral ground we can lead our country to that will make us acceptable in God’s sight. The only thing we can do to help our country that will have long term effects is to make disciples and to pray, as God told us to.
Yes, we should walk in obedience, be good citizens, even discuss issues that might persuade others, but those will have short term effects, at best.
Long term, we need to stick to God’s plan.
As for your comment on the Catholic Church, it did indeed happen in some areas, such as Southern France during the time of the Albigensians, that certain bishops (unwisely) forbade Bible reading, but such was not the typical practice of the Medieval Church. Most people did not have Bibles because books were prohibitively expensive and because most could not read. Bibles for everyone are a luxury of the printing press. The notion that the Catholic Church kept the Bible locked up is a Protestant myth; the Medieval period produced a good deal of biblical scholarship, not all of which was done by priests.
First, thanks to everyone for commenting. Believe it or not, I hate conflict and politics bores me. I was rather apolitical before I “married into” the “religious right” wing of the Republican party. Truth is a topic I cover here freely; politics I prefer to leave to my husband as much as possible. This is never the sort of piece I want to write. God had to do some arm-twisting to get me to.
Becky, I warned you about my position when I signed up; I guess you forgot. In short, I took it this way because, regardless of the author’s intent, theocracy is a charge liberals hurl against any Christian who dares to take their faith outside the four walls of the church. It’s used to bully Christians into silence so they can advance their agenda without those annoying gadflies warning them that God will not be mocked.
My only options reading Broken Angel was that the author was either a mole who knew exactly what he was doing, or merely tricked by the enemy. I chose to go with the latter. After all, I remember a time when I was deceived by false teaching, that ended up in my writing even, and how God delivered me out (earlier enough in my career that I could do some major rewrites of all but one or two unsalvageable manuscripts I keep around mainly in an attempt to keep me humble.)
I am ashamed to say I even remember what it’s like to think, yeah, we’re human beings from conception, and yeah, abortion is murder, but who am I to tell a woman it’s wrong? It’s God who opened my eyes and made that issue in particular so dear to my heart. If I’m a firebrand, as some might say (no one here I don’t believe), He has made me one.
But it seems I was using lingo that is unfamiliar to you. Paul worded the command like this: “Speak the truth in love.” (verse 15, but Paul is long winded like me, so his full point fills nearly the entire chapter. Serious, this is a critical must-read chapter for any Christian engaging the culture today, politically or otherwise.)
But it ultimately comes from Jesus himself:
MT 28: 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Yes, I am citing the Great Commission. Before someone can come to the genuine Christ, they must first come to the understanding that they are in fact sinners in need of a savior, that their behavior is in fact wrong and they will suffer eternal punishment if they don’t repent. Any attempt to witness without this stand for the Truth will ultimately fail. If the Church can’t speak the Truth in the public square, then we also can’t fulfill our Great Commission. That is why it is so important that we stop buying into our enemies’ attempts to silence us.
The Church collectively, and those called to the type of ministry in question in particular, are also still under God’s command to Ezekiel in chapter 3:
One last thing I should mention. I’ve observed the Church, all of us, have a tendency to a twin set of errors. To assume that everyone should be a “hand” as Paul put in in 1 Cor. chapter 12; that we should all have the same ministry passion, vision, and function in the body. Everyone should be evangelists; everyone should feed the hungry, etc. The other is everyone shouldn’t _____ because I don’t see that vision, have that call. Or because I think it’s taking folks away from my ministry passion. Or even because I was called and said no to God and need to justify myself. Apathy tends to justify itself by attacking those who do labor in the vineyard. Some are audacious enough to call this their “ministry.”
This is the sort of thing Paul had in mind when he wrote the Romans, “who are you to judge another man’s servant?”
One thing you said about Christians seemed off to me: We are commanded to be the moral conscience of our society. I actually donâ€™t see that in Scripture. We are commanded to be holy and to live righteously. The net result might be that we become the moral conscience of society, but our witness is to be about Christ, His mercy and sacrifice, and the forgiveness of sins.
I would say that we are commanded to be salt and light in Matthew 5, we are commanded to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God in Micah 6.
What is salt? Salt is a preservative. So, in saying that Christians are called to be salt, it tell us that Christians are called to preserve. The question is how do you preserve a society? How do you a preserve a nation or a city? By letting ungodliness and unrighteousness reign.
No, you see a city with no conscience will soon fall and be brough to desolation. As I turn the pages of history, the history of the Christian Church is one of great men who stood up to Kings, Tyrants, and Parliaments. St. Basil of Caeserea got the first pro-life laws passed in the history of the world in the 4th Century AD. Was he outside of God’s will?
What can we say. There was a church in America in the 1850s, they decided it wasn’t going to try and be the conscience of America and it let slaveholders do whatever. They would just preach the gospel. What came was a Civil War that left nearly a million men dead, and a nation that has never been made whole and is racially divided to one extent or another until this day.
Then, there was the Church in Nazi Germany, where en masse decided they didn’t want to be the conscience of the nation. They’d conform to whatever the nation was doing and continue to preach and sing. When the camps streamed by on their Nazi Concentration camp, they’d sing a little louder.
But in the 19th Century, there was a Church in Great Britain and a man named Wilberforce who with his friends in following God, changed the course of British History, ended the slave trade and eventually freed Britain’s slaves without a war.
Who would you rather be associated with? Were the German churches that rolled over for Hitler Christlike? What about the American Churches that refused to speak?
When the church withdraws, it is the innocent who suffer, while the church enjoys the fruits of pietistic indifference.
Secondly, I must disagree with your view of the 1950s. What happened in the 1960s and subsequent decades was not the result of a “too righteous church” where people had no idea they needed Christ. Billy Graham had a 17 week crusade in New York City in 1957 for crying out loud. What happened in the subsequent decade is that creepying theological liberalism in the Seminaries coupled with Christian abandonment of areas such as Higher Education, Media, etc. led to these falling to people whose views were destructive. It is Christian Capitulation not Christians being overly righteous that led to this. It was a process that was decades in the making.
Third, I’m aware there’s no salvation in changing culture, but again it’s about preserving what’s around us, to fuflill the mandate to be salt and light. It’s also about the Golden Rule, and doing to others as we would like to be done to ourselves.
As for the gospel, I believe the ultimate end of our culture if unstopped is the creation of a psychopathic society. This culture is trying to abolish conscience, shame, and the value of human life. If a person has no conscience, no ability to comprehend right and wrong, how do they comprehend that they are sinners? How can you understand a need for Christ? You cannot. If everything is someone else’s fault, how can you come to Christ? You cannot.
Thanks Adam! You’re so much better at putting things in historical context than I!
BTW, I didn’t reply to the response on choice because it basically restated the argument I just took apart in defense to it and I hate repeating myself.
No, I didn’t forget what you said. I don’t in any way mind divergent views on the tour. When you wrote that email, I hadn’t read Broken Angel so didn’t know what I might think about the subject. I still don’t understand why you would identify with a group that bans Bibles. Obviously that is not the Church, so I was surprised by your response.
Adam, of course you are free to your opinion. However, you implied something in my comments I’d like to correct. In saying Secondly, I must disagree with your view of the 1950s. What happened in the 1960s and subsequent decades was not the result of a â€œtoo righteous churchâ€ where people had no idea they needed Christ your use of quotation marks suggests I said the church was too righteous. Those were not my words nor my intent.
Rather, during the 50’s, the culture at large in the US accepted the moral guidance of the church for many externals–things like most businesses not open on Sunday, grocery stores didn’t sell liquor, and teachers could pray and/or have their students pray openly in class. The point I made (or thought I had) was that many people believed they were therefore “good enough” to make it to heaven because they happily adhered to the externals.
Do I think society is better off now? No. But I don’t think restoring society to those externals will solve the real problem–the need for people to come to Christ. I don’t see a big difference in the out come of the two societal positions, now and then–I love my sin and I have no sin. Both leave people in a lost state.
Our mandate as Christians is not to reform society. Christ didn’t take that on when He walked the earth, and He didn’t hand that job over to His disciples when He left.
Yes, I am to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before my God. I think I can have a powerful influence on those within my sphere of influence if I obey God’s word–which calls me to pray for my government, obey the laws of the land, love my neighbor, love God with all my heart, make disciples. Yes, and be light and salt.
Which brings me to another point I think is important. I don’t know for sure where this “salt is a preservative” idea came from. I’ve heard it in sermons, too, but it’s not what Scripture says: You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again … -Matt 5:13. This, right after the statement about persecution of the prophets, and right before the comments about being light.
The point seems clear to me that the light set on a hill draws men to it. Food made savory with salt makes the dish desirable. In other words, we don’t need to set out to redeem society. We need to be witnesses to Christ’s redemptive work and to pray. God will use our witness and answer our prayers to do with society what He wishes.
As I said, you are free to a different opinion. And I do believe God calls Christians to different roles. Consequently, I’m glad there are Christian politicians and constitutional lawyers.
But I don’t think it is accurate to say Scripture gives us the charge to be the moral conscience of our society. That’s all I’m saying. 😉
Am enjoying the discussion. Maybe for me it comes done to wondering why we have a ‘religious right’, as if faith must be put into a narrowly defined political spectrum. If anything, I’d like to point out there are dangers in not questioning this.
Because to me, itâ€™s disturbing reflection of evangelical America that diversely different political figures like Reverend Wright and Pat Robertson both take up huge chunks of media time under the same banner of Christianity.
Even a casual comparison between their political views and the recorded words of Jesus shows they certainly are not speaking on his behalf. Where the Reverend Wright calls upon God to damn America, Jesus did not request the same for the oppressive Roman overlords. Unlike Pat Roberstonâ€™s solution for Hugo Chavez, Jesus never advocated the assassination of leaders of foreign nations.
This problem begins with the unspoken assumption that American evangelicals must be of one political stripe to make a difference. Gather as many blacks under Reverend Wright as you can, or as many whites under Pat Robertson or the Moral Majority, and let the best army win. In this landscape, conservatives are Christians. Liberals are the anti-Christ.
The gospel accounts, however predominately show Jesus as a person who lived intentionally concerned with the common good of all people. As for politics, Jesus pointedly refused to lead his people against their overlords. Yet in rejecting the leadership mantle offered to him, Jesus showed a great understanding of politics. Especially when it comes to faith.
Living in a land where cross-shaped shadows of historyâ€™s most infamous torture instrument were a constant reminder of Roman rule, Jesus well knew that on the kingdom of earth, power is gained by the sword. He knew too, the pitfalls of grasping that sword, used so literally in his name during the Crusades, and metaphorically in recent presidential elections through the leverage of votes.
In contrast to the Christian right, Jesus, who knew God best, did not invoke his Fatherâ€™s name to impose moral imperatives on the secular society around him â€” Greeks and Romans who lived far more hedonistically and with far less regard for human life than todayâ€™s â€˜Hollywoodâ€™. Unlike Christian boycotters, Jesus did not expect a secular world to live by biblical standards. The irony is that the institution Jesus did criticize and hold to those standards was the religious establishment that eventually slaughtered him. Why? For asserting that it had failed God miserably in pursuit of politics and power.
Few who argue the divinity of Jesus will dispute that because of Jesus, western civilization was changed. He transformed society by transforming individuals, not by transforming government. He offered hope and inner peace, leaving his followers a simple directive to feed the hungry and cloth the poor, asking them to give love and to accept suffering and sacrifice.
In this sense, yes, Jesus was a leader. By example. He rejected the power of the sword for the powerlessness and suffering and sacrifice of the cross. But Jesus and his teachings continue to transform individuals, while Rome is an ancient fallen empire, and the leaders of his day are dust, forgotten except as history lessons.
This is not to imply that Christians, as individuals, should remove themselves from the democratic process, in voting or running for office or even in leading groups with a common political cause. But marching beneath a Christian banner begins to set up an exclusionary group â€” â€˜either youâ€™re Christian and youâ€™re on our side, or you oppose us, thus you canâ€™t be a Christianâ€™ â€” with results readily seen in the polarization of American politics. There are liberal Christians who want to help the poor and fight for justice.
The Christian banner hurts effectiveness too. Leaders of Christian coalitions who claim the moral high ground in the name of God are often viewed with the suspicion accorded to an invading crusader, and are correspondingly hampered by this suspicion, no matter how positive or well intentioned their efforts.
The greatest danger in the politicalization of faith awaits for the day it might have total success, a danger that Americaâ€™s founding fathers foresaw by establishing the separation of church and state. Horrible and godless as a democracy might appear at times to the religious right in America, it is still far more inviting than the reign of the Christian Inquisition or the current Muslim theocracy in Iran.
I hope, if leaders are not visible on the horizon as Dr. James Dobson has said he fears, itâ€™s because the best young men and women of the next generation donâ€™t want to reduce to a political philosophy something as wonderful and powerful and as mysterious as their faith.
Most of all, I hope that they understand we all need great teachers far more than we need great leaders.
Re: Christians involvement in politics. We’re taught in Romans 13 that all political authority comes from God; politicians literally exercise the authority and power of God himself. How can a Christian not be concerned with the way in which God’s power is put to use?
And how can a Christian conscience not want justice for the oppressed, whether they are slaves or innocent babies in the womb?
Okay, this conversation has raised a lot of questions that need answered, but this whole thread is getting long, unwieldy, and confusing to follow to the point where it’s losing it’s benefit. So I’m going to close it and respond to the loose ends in future columns. If I for some reason forget a question that someone seriously wanted an answer to, shoot me a friendly email to remind me. This was a Q&A column before it was a book review site so I’ll be glad to explain the truth on these issues as God enables me to anyone genuinely open to hearing it.
To Mr. Brouwer, your premise still bears false witness against the Brethren while siding with the enemies of the Cross that we all say we’re so interested in. That you defend yourself without apology does not well commend you, though I do thank you for being civil. We can continue our conversation, preferably by email, when you show yourself genuinely interested in understanding why what you are selling under the guise of Christian fiction advances the doctrines of demons. I know that sounds harsh to your ears, but remember from my point of view you’re in mortal jeopardy and I’ve chosen to love you too much to pretend otherwise. I know first hand that God can save us out of such pitfalls, as He delivered me, but also how difficult and pride-breaking it would be for you at this point in your career to turn around. When your interest goes beyond defending your position and you’re actually open to hearing what I have to say, then we can talk. In private. (Adam might be more appropriate to have that conversation with, however.)
I will end with a controversial, but true statement. The Post-Modern world view so prevalent today and Christianity are incompatible. Anyone who combines them has indeed trusted in an anti-Christ who doesn’t exist and cannot save them. Yet God alone knows hearts and is able to deliver from this spiritual death trap those who are truly seeking Him. I know this is true for He delivered me. However, we must be willing to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Anyone who is willing and wants to understand why this is, email me.
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