Ted Dekker, known for highly creative plot twists and turns in books such as WHITE, OBSESSED and THR3E, takes an unsurprising writer's turn toward nonfiction in his latest title, THE SLUMBER OF CHRISTIANITY. This missionary kid-turned-successful-businessman-turned-bestselling-author believes that many believers have been seduced into a kind of spiritual boredom, merely surviving rather than thriving in their faith journey.
He writes, "In reading the New Testament, we see the writers repeatedly expressing their insatiable longing for their own inheritance, the hope of glory. For the bliss that awaited them. But the groaning for the afterlife so often expressed by these early writers has become a moan of boredom in the church today. We are more interested in the pleasures of this life than the bliss of the next."
Dekker suggests that nothing will truly satisfy us in this life unless it is "fully bathed in an obsession for eternity." Because many Christians focused their efforts on finding pleasure and happiness in this life, they are missing out on the true joy that comes from keeping one eye on eternity.
Unfortunately, the book gets off to a lackluster start. Dekker begins by recounting his own painful childhood as the son of missionaries, describing in detail specific moments of heartache, loneliness, and feeling like a misfit. While his stories are vulnerable and honest, they read as if he's still bleeding as they're retold, and as a result a small amount of anger, much like a low-grade fever, quietly sweeps through some of the prose.
Yet Dekker is able to focus his anger, disappointment and frustration into a transformational message of hope concerning the life to come, and that's where SLUMBER comes alive.
While many books tend to lose their luster halfway through, Dekker manages to kick his book into fifth gear --- a sign of the writer's natural talent and ability that undoubtedly will continue to develop in his next few nonfiction titles. The latter half of the book has an unmistakable passion as it seeks to wake Christians out of their sleepy state and into the God-reality that awaits them. The writing is quick, insightful and fast-paced as the author explores the meaning of hope, obsession, eternity and pleasure.
Dekker examines a bit of his own passion when he explores the theology of imagination. He argues that imagination is a "critical gift" for Christians. He goes on to use pieces of his own fiction to drive home simple but profound truths. Fans of Dekker's work will be excited to see him blend his talents for fiction and nonfiction to teach lessons, much like Jesus did in the Gospels. The book concludes with a practical question-and-answer chapter where Dekker addresses specific questions about his writing, theology and the message of the book.
Ted Dekker sets out to ignite a fresh passion for heaven on earth, and by the end of the book he clearly achieves his goal. If you're looking for an alarm clock for your personal faith journey, this book definitely is ticking.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on July 5, 2005