The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Ted Dekker

Rachelle Dekker

The author of this book is Ted Dekker. It is co-authored by his daughter Rachelle, who apparently thinks a lot like Ted does.

I’ve read a number of Ted Dekker’s books. To understand them, you must realize that not all will be as it appears at first glance. Ted is a theologian by training, and he buries theological propositions in his books. They are often buried deeply and unless you know where he might be going it will take you most of the book to figure it out. He has some good ideas, though I think he over reacts to his past church or home experience.

Ted has a habit of personifying spiritual characteristics as physical ones. For instance in his Books of History series, sinners show their sinful nature by a skin disease. People drown in a red lake to be converted and healed of their skin disease. It seems weird at first, but you get used to it once you understand it.

In this case the people are more realistic, to a point anyway. It is the story of a small, radical congregation. A prophetess who also happens to be their minister’s wife, learns that the final appocalypse of judgment against evil will come in three years. They are warned to move into a remote valley where they will escape in order to repopulate the earth. But this will only happen if they remain pure. Absolutely pure. No sin. No sinful thoughts. No appearance of sin even. The prophetess and her husband are quite paranoid and the list of things that threaten purity get very long and difficult to maintain.

They are very good people, and very sincere. But they are stuck in their little valley for over ten years, and the time starts to get long, and the pressures rise. The punishments get worse as time goes on because they HAVE to maintain their purity or they will all be eternally lost.

Finally the pressure gets so great that the prophetess needs to order a whipping. And then an execution. And then another. Could God’s people stoop that low? Could you? Even if it seemed that your soul and the souls of your family and friends would be lost if you didn’t?

You will be surprised at some of the things in this book. What, or who, are the Fury that threaten the entire population of earth? You’ll be shocked at what they might teach you. Who controls the Fury? (That’s not a typo–Fury is a plural form of Fury, even as moose is the plural form of moose).

You will also come away with some healthy qualms about ever joining a cult which might save your life someday.

But that’s enough for now. Read the book and tell me what you think!


The Rise of Christianity

Book Review

Author: Rodney Stark

Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco

Printed: 1997

Format: Paper back, 246 pages

Abstract: A history of the early church writen from a socialogical perspective.

I ran across this book during my research for the current project I’m working on, and it is quite intriquing. The author was Professor of Sociology and Comparative Religion at the University of Washington when he wrote this book toward the end of the 20th century.

Stark was especially interested in explaining the growth and development of Christianity in the first three centuries after Christ. He notes that the Roman Empire didn’t consider Christianity a political threat or it would have wiped it out very quickly in its earlier stages. He tosses around various growth rates. That was what drew me to the book in the first place–I wanted an accurate estimate of the size of the Christian population at the end of the third century.

If you are like me, you have been told that Christianity was mostly a religion appealing to the poor and the slaves. Stark makes a convincing argument that this wasn’t really the case. He feels that Christianity had a lot of friends in high places and that the cult-like status of Christianity would have appealed to part of the upper class of the Roman population.

I was also quite interested in his discussion of the animal-like behavior of the general population that led them to be interested in killing as a spectator sport. Christians were thrown to the lions or slaughtered by gladiators to the cheers of a blood-drunk crowd. He also notes that had all of those Christians recanted and been cleared, the spectacle would have continued. The authorities would simply have found other people to be slaughtered. This was part of the essence of being Roman. But he goes on to note how the pressure of Christianity forced this to change gradually.

In our world today, Christianity is often degraded. I enjoyed reading a positive book by a scholar who gives good reasons for not feeling that way about my faith.

This book is well worth reading, if you enjoy reading an accademic level treatise.

One final note: I got this book through an interlibrary loan but there was only one library in Alberta that seemed to have it. But it is available at Amazon and on special at Christian Book Distributors during this Black Friday season.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

An Overview

In my opinion, the Book of Revelation is one of the most abused books of the New Testament. Theologians, conspiracy mongers, and self-made prophets have destroyed the message of the book, and made it seem mysterious and complex. So much so that many Christians won’t even read it. They may read books about it but assume that there is little in it for ordinary readers. Yet the book is the only one in our Bible that offers a specific blessing on those who read it.

The book of Revelation includes various indicators telling us how to view it. But nowhere does it indicate that it is to be understood as a timeline of the last days. So, how is to be understood?

An Apocalypse

I am going to assume, for the sake of this writing, that the author of the book was the Apostle John, since that seems to be the prevailing opinion of the early church. I am also assuming that he wrote it, or at least had the vision it is based on, while he banished to the salt mines. Any discussion beyond that might be interesting but not helpful in looking at the content and meaning of the book.

It is important to note that the book is written in the fashion of ancient apocalyptic literature. This would have been immediately apparent to his audience. Unfortunately, this isn’t always apparent to modern readers, especially readers from the west. Most of us have been taught that we need to take the Bible literally where ever that makes sense. Apocalyptic literature wasn’t written from that perspective. Typically, it was only taken literally when it had to be, in order to make sense.

The book seems to have been written as a series of snapshots, and that is how I think it makes the most sense. It isn’t a timeline for future events, though it includes future events. It isn’t a historical documentary either, though it includes events that are obviously in the past.

Several Purposes

John states at the very beginning that this book is Revelation of Jesus Christ which God had given to Jesus to show his servants. Jesus then sent an angel to pass this on to John, though Jesus speaks as well in different parts of the book.

The book is the only one in the Bible that starts with a blessing on those who read it, those who hear it, and those who keep [or obey—NLT] what it says. This blessing guides us to a purpose for this book much different from what most people assume. We will come back to this.

This book is also the only one in the Bible that ends with a curse on those who change its teaching. That should make us hesitant in being too secure in our personal interpretation.

I also seems evident that another purpose for the book is to illustrate the victory of good over evil, and Christ over Satan.

Interpreting the Book…

These concepts are my own opinions, and I’m sure that some readers will disagree. However, I feel that the snapshots in Revelation are best interpreted as if they were parables. When you interpret a parable you look for a main idea. Details beyond that are given to carry the story-line, but not necessarily to aid in interpreting the parable. In fact, trying to work the details of the parable into the interpretation will inevitably lead to a false interpretation.

That same is true of many Bible prophecies, especially those in the Apocalyptic books like Daniel and Revelation.

As an illustration of what can happen, look at Revelation 20:9 – 27. The angel tells John that he is going to show John the Bride. When the bride appears, she looks like the Holy City, Jerusalem. For years I have heard this interpreted as a literal city in which we will live once we get to heaven. And this might be the case. However, the angel said that this was the Bride. So it is just as likely that the vision was comparing the Bride to a city. In this case the splendour of the city was describing the splendour of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

A Brief Overview

So what does this book show us about Christ? In chapter one, we see a picture of the glorified Christ. In chapters two and three, we see how Christ views the church. He promises them glory, but only if they overcome. Throughout the book, you see Christ’s burning desire for a pure Bride and the lengths to which He is willing to go in order to purify her.

In the main body of the book you also see Christ judging sin and the hatred that He has for sin. It also clarifies that God judges deliberate sin. But even in the middle of judgment, the opportunity for repentance is still available until the very end of the book.

In the end we see the victory of Christ over evil. And in the last chapters we see the beauty of the union of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Time in God’s Eyes

God views time from a much different perspective then we do. We see time from within the boundaries of time, but God dwells outside time. God has no past and no future, because in eternity it is always now. This can make it very hard for us to understand a book like Revelation since it is written using God’s perspective rather than ours.

Imagine yourself standing at the end of a large pipe or tube and looking into it. Any items in the tube are transparent so that you can see all of them at the same time. Then think of these items as being history, some in the past and some in the future. That is somewhat like the way the God views time. From his perspective a thousand years is the same as a day, and a day is the same as a thousand years. The future is just history that hasn’t happened yet.

The Revelation is written from God’s perspective of history and you can see that many times in the book. For instance, in the last chapter, you have the picture of the bride represented by a city. It is given in present tense, with sinners outside the walls and the Bride within. Yet at the same time a few verses earlier, we see future tense, which is obviously after the following verses. That is how God sees time, and that is one reason that Revelation is confusing to human readers. We are used to books with chronologies, because we are locked into time. To God, time is much more subjective.

A Conclusion

In the last chapter of Revelation, the angel told John twice that the time for its fulfillment was near and these things would soon take place. Then in verses 12 – 19 Jesus told John that He is coming soon but that there was still time for sinners to repent and enter the city to become part of the Bride. The Bride is within the walls while those who practice sin are outside, but Jesus is still inviting those outside to enter the city. The water of life is within the city. So is the tree of life. Sinners can gain access to them by leaving their sins behind and joining the Bride.

But don’t put it off because Jesus is returning and that will be the end of the opportunity.

John could hardly wait. How about you?