Monday, February 18, 2008

The Shadow and Night 1: The Horror!

For those who followed last month's posts on Jeffrey Overstreet's Auralia's Colors, I have posted a follow-up.

Chris Walley's The Shadow and Night, published by Tyndale, is ambitious in more ways than one. Perhaps most astonishing, it does not follow the typical pre-tribulation scenario in which the end of the world is near. Instead, it draws on the postmillennial view that God will someday grant a golden age of restrained sinfulness and a general triumph of the Gospel--somewhat like the premillennial view of the Millennium, only without the return of Christ beforehand or his personal, visible reign.

Obviously all concerned should be burned at the stake.

Okay, no, they should be commended for not mindlessly following the crowd, and I hope that there's no barking about heresy. Postmillennialism has been around for quite a while, and great and godly men have espoused it--Jonathan Edwards, for example, and more recently the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. I was startled to find a letter from the author included with the book, presenting an explanation and brief defense of the postmill setting. I am horrified to think the letter's probably necessary. (Then again, my own observation and experience is that most pew-sitters have no clue about theology, and most Christian readers couldn't tell an actual heresy from a hole in the ground. They'll still form an angry mob quickly enough if Someone Important yells "Heresy!" Most of these important people are pretty ignorant too.)

If it accomplished nothing else, this book would be important simply for letting ignorant Christians know that the lands beyond Leftbehindia are not God-forsaken wastes teeming with dragons. There are Christians out there, and you might as well stop by for a visit.

It is far more important than that, however. There's also the fact that it is thoroughly, openly Christian without being preachy. For all those who think that's impossible--and I have encountered many--I dare you to read this with an open mind. Yet even that is not its major strength. In my next post, I'll try to explain and defend what I think is its greatest achievement; for now, I'll present a summary of the story itself.

The Shadow and Night was originally published in two parts as The Shadow at Evening and The Power of the Night. The current book is the first of three parts; the other two are The Dark Foundations (already in print!) and The Infinite Day (due in June 2008). Together they constitute "The Lamb Among the Stars." This is how the story begins:


This is the tale of how, at last, evil returned to the Assembly of Worlds, and how one man, Merral Stefan D'Avanos, became caught up against it.

The story begins in A.D. 13851 on Farholme, which began to undergo terraforming more than ten thousand years earlier. Earlier still, midway through the twenty-first century, the Great Intervention occurred, and God sovereignly moved upon mankind to convict the world of sin. Although evil has still cropped up, it is uncommon, and most people find it almost inconceivable. A kind of star gate technology was developed soon after, and the push to colonize the galaxy began and continued through thousands of years of peace and righteousness.

But now that has been shattered on the most distant and isolated colony world, and Merral and his friends must struggle against evil for the first time in millennia. The enemy is invading not only their world but their hearts.

I'll be posting on this book and its ramifications beyond the tour, in case anyone's interested.

Other links on the tour:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

It's sad that we've made heresies out of things the Bible was clearly unclear about. LOL

Of course there are people with strong views in all the end-times camps, which is fine until such views become cornerstone doctrine—hard-and-fast, foundational, thou-who-believest-otherwise-art-not-saved theology.

I'm looking forward to reading what you think is this book's greatest accomplishment, Steve.


Rebecca said...

Ha! I saw the title of this post and thought, "Dangnabbit, he's done stole my post!" My Wednesday post. But, nope. Different thoughts entirely.

Such an interesting premise and the theology was, as you said, novel. For a novel. I'm not sure I "bought" the devotion of the people. It seemed God/belief was something tied up in society with a smattering of observance, but (especially once evil started creeping back), the individual heart relationship of the people with their Savior just wasn't there. Prayer was relegated to emergencies and was unconvincing, and God was scarcely mentioned. It seemed, almost, like any old Reformed-ish church I've attended. Sing a few songs, affirm you're undying adoration, and check God at the door before heading back out into the world.

It wasn't preachy, though. I'll give you that!

Rebecca. You can visit me here (drat blogger not letting me post with my wordpress id).

Steve said...

I had a similar response to the quasi-socialism and static society. But we are looking at it from this side of the Great Intervention: godliness is an effort for us, but not for them.

So it isn't really legalism, it's just lack of being tested. They don't pray as much as I would expect because they are used to having the answers readily available.

Once godliness becomes an effort, those who were just coasting will tend to fall into sin readily. This idea exists within the premill tradition as well: look at how the Millennium is supposed to deteriorate at the end.

John said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on post-millennialism. As an ardent amillennialist, it's tough for me to find stuff that coincides with my viewpoint. Finding one that wasn't Left Behind-ish was great, though!

cathikin said...

Well, my friend, you have captured my attention. I'm open to hear more and fairly sure that anything with this kind of reaction from you is worth delving into further.

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