Book Review: The Faithful (Author: Jonathan Weyer)

Introduction

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I have a hard time finding fiction books to read. In general, I read 90% non-fiction, with only 10% (or less) being fiction. Today, I finished another fiction novel – the debut volume by Jonathan Weyer entitled The Faithful.

The book clocks in at nearly 400 pages and is categorized as “Christian” and “Horror.” This may be the first volume I have ever read which has combined these two genres officially. Most other volumes which might fall into this category (e.g. some works by Dekker and Peretti) have been classified as thriller rather than horror. Certainly, that is the logical thing to do – calling oneself a horror novel is sure to slim down one’s Christian reading audience…

The Story

In The Faithful are hero is Aidan, a younger assistant pastor in a growing Ohio church who amidst horrific personal losses begins to question his faith. At the same time as his belief in God is falling to the wayside Aidan is experiencing a significant uptick in supernatural activity.

Aidan discovers his ex-fiancee has been murdered in a ritualistic manner and joins forces with our heroine, Det. Jennifer Brown to hunt down the killer. Along the way Aidan is joined by a motley crew of characters, most notably the eccentric and elderly Father Neal who has a heavy background in the occult.

The Highlights:

  • Weyer writes as someone from within the evangelical spectrum, evangelicals will be able to identify with the issues he raises – especially regarding relationships within the church.
  • Weyer uses a witty sense of humor to draw our attention to the many shortcomings of the church while also reinforcing our faith in the God of the church.
  • Weyer probes a number of controversial issues and discusses them in a mature manner and it is evident that Weyer is well-read, not only in Christian literature, but also in secular literature – such as that written by Richard Dawkins.
  • Weyer offers a compelling storyline that keeps you guessing right up until the end.

The Lows:

  • The novel has a large number of spelling errors which detract from its readability.
  • It ends with a bust instead of a bang. The build up is great, but one is let down at the end.
  • While Weyer makes accurate criticisms of traditional evangelical interpretations of several Scriptures relating to the paranormal, the book overall embraces a somewhat hokey (imho) vision of the paranormal which stretches credulity.
  • Weyer runs through traditional barriers within Christian literature with a fair frequency – mainly through the use of profanity but also through some edgy cross-gender scenes (think the lake scene in Peretti’s The Oath, but several times over).

Conclusion:

For individuals who have been hurt by the church, this book is a healing read that wittily examines hypocrisy, legalism, fear-mongering, gossip, and so on within the church. While dealing with the paranormal, I found the contents not particularly scary – certainly not as frightening as some of the material published by Dekker and Peretti under the heading of thriller…but perhaps I’m just not easily spooked by ghost stories.

The exegetical arguments advanced throughout the work against some traditional evangelical interpretations of Scripture as relating to the paranormal deserve further consideration, but the book overall unfortunately undermines its own advances in this area by stepping too far beyond the bounds of its exegesis.

I’d wait for Weyer’s sophmore attempt. I expect it to correct many of the weaknesses in the current work. Though I don’t expect Weyer will curb the language elements (being from a “good” fundamentalist background I “know” that Presbyterians are all liberals [please note: I’m being humorous.])

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