Thursday, February 26, 2009

Living with the Underworld - Pt 7

Well we've reached the end of the book after a month of leisurely reading. And not one reference to The Sopranos in this final chapter (except perhaps for select phrases on page 133.) I haven't decided what I think about using this one main illustration for most of the book. For those of us who've never watched the show, it's a bit like enduring another sermon with far too many rugby illustrations—I mostly know what he’s getting at, but I have to use my imagination. I also can't decide whether I want to watch The Sopranos to connect with Peter's references, or just take his word for it that the parallels are there. It's clever to hang the underworld theme off the other underworld, but I can't help wondering if this book will still have currency when The Sopranos is as memorable as Hawaii-five-o. (Have no idea what I'm referring to? ... I rest my case.)

Putting those reservations aside, I do continue to appreciate Peter's clear teaching, especially when it comes to putting the devil in his place (pages 139-140). And the issue of exorcism has been helpfully dealt with once and for all in my mind with statements like 'there is no exhortation in the New Testament for anyone to perform exorcisms' (page 140, also page 142). To point out that spiritual warfare is talking about the 'ordinary' things of Christian life is liberating. For someone told at that tender age of 18 that my family was cursed because both of my grandfathers were masons, it was a relief to read page 144. Well, not totally, I'd already worked out that my rock-solid conversion at roughly that same age was better evidence than a crack pot theory about the Masonic lodge, but I'm sure it'll be a relief to someone reading it today. In my experience all these wild claims about the devil's work did was harm the life and unity of that church, which is ironic in the light of Peter's observations on page 144.

At the end of the book what am I left with? A strengthened conviction that the gospel is at the heart of all we need to know, and that sharing the gospel is the stuff of genuine spiritual warfare (page 146). Now that's tangible, and much more easily engaged in! Peter's final words are very comforting: no need for fear, what a promise! (page 149). It's certainly worth attempting to get this book into the hands of our non-Christian friends and family.

So at the end of the book my summation of it all is: firstly, it's an enjoyable read full of humour and at times quite poetic uses of language (like the image on page 90 of us carrying the grave within us). As mentioned in an earlier post, this book was also a helpful exploration of semi-taboo topics. If we don't talk about them we end up getting them wrong! I found it to be a balanced opinion on things that can be blown way out of proportion in most discussions. And ultimately I found it to be a great proclamation of the gospel—the centre which must have the focus! It's been great reading this book with you this month. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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