I’ve become a bit skeptical of “Christian” fiction. Too much of it is incredibly derivative, or over-the-top evangelistic, or just flat-out poorly written. When it tries to make a theological statement, too often it fails completely. For those reasons, I’ve all but given up on the genre — a genre in which C. S. Lewis thrived.
The Sword has given me hope.
The premise of the book is outstanding — Christianity has been forgotten in the wake of a global apocalypse. No word on any Rapture of believers or anything – the indication is that they all died out. So there’s no “Left Behind” storyline here — in fact, the Christians have been gone long enough that nobody has really heard of Christianity or Judaism. Litfin is rebuilding Christianity from scratch, and we’re along for the ride..
Litfin doesn’t candy-coat things, and he doesn’t shy away from making his nascent Christians human — including showing their arguments and disagreements as they try to figure out what this new faith is all about. I think it’s interesting too that thus far in the series, the converts really aren’t Christians — they haven’t even read the New Testament. If anything, they are simply recovering a form of Judeo-Christian theism, and building from that theological base. This is refreshing in Christian fiction — too many books I’ve read would have had someone discover a cache of Gideon Bibles and a series of VHS tapes on “How to Become a Christian” and that would have been it. These people are struggling with forming theology based on this ancient book they have found. And there is the possibility that their Christianity will bear little resemblance to our own, which makes me even more eager for the next installment.
I’m really looking forward to future books in this series. If more Christian fiction would pay attention to Litfin and his books, then I’d be able to retire the scare quotes permanently. And maybe actually read more of it.