Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, Sinner, Green, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion
Published by Thomas Nelson on July 3, 2005
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As believers, our walk with God is motivated by "hope"-not the bland, vague notion most people have, but the expectation of an exotic, pleasurable inheritance that guides us and fires our passion...or, at least, should.
Ted Dekker has written an expose on the death of pleasure within the Church. Because many of us have set aside hope and the inspired imagination that drives it, Dekker says we have been lulled into a slumber of boredom, even despondency. Our faith wanes, the joy at having been liberated fades, and we feel powerless. "The Slumber of Christianity" explores what robs us of happiness and how we can rediscover it and live lives that rekindle hope. The pursuit of pleasure is a gift to all humans-a function of the Creator himself, who is bent upon our happiness.
It's time for Christians to reclaim our inheritance of pleasure. "The Slumber of Christianity" will inflame hearts toward full-fledged, mind-expanding encounters with hope, through the imagination. "
In 2005, Ted Dekker turned to non-fiction as a means to explore the heart of his writing journey. The Slumber of Christianity is, in many ways, Ted’s real-life version of Jan Jovic’s Dance of the Dead in When Heaven Weeps. It’s a book meant to rattle the establishment and point toward a God who is bigger, wilder, more inclusive, more passionate, and more thrilling than the sanitized God of the American evangelical experience.
Dekker has undergone quite the spiritual journey since 2005—just see his non-fiction devotionals The Forgotten Way and The Way of Love or his fictional Beyond the Circle duology for examples of that. But even in The Slumber of Christianity, you see the seeds of the mystical Christianity Dekker would come to embrace. Dekker’s prose is every bit as compelling as his fiction and he interweaves his own life story with his message in a way that makes the book personal and passionate. He also relies on his strengths, using story and analogy to create parables that draw out the points he’s trying to make.
Reading this book also made me realize that we need a Ted Dekker memoir. Or biography. (I’ll write it!) Dekker interweaves his personal story into the text, giving readers enough insight to understand why he’s so passionate about this topic. Sometimes the personal reflections work, other times they seem extraneous. But come on, the story of a missionary kid who grew up between the jungles of Indonesia and boarding school who became a bestselling author by way of coming to America and starting an adult diaper business is more than compelling.
The Slumber of Christianity could have benefitted from some more rigid internal structure. If you’ve ever heard Ted speak, you know that is style is very stream-of-consciousness. That style gets reflected in the book, so that his flow of thinking is sometimes very circuitous. Those familiar with Dekker and his work may be able to hang on and enjoy the journey. Those coming to him for the first time may find themselves a bit lost. The book also falls a bit short of practical application, which it hints at but never really offers with any robust sense of practicality. I almost wish that Dekker had followed his better instincts and left it out. Editors and publishers probably wanted it, but the heart of the book is not to tie everything together with easy answers and simple application, but to rest in the mystery of the unknown. The book would have been stronger had it simply relied on its passion and zeal without trying to reduce it to a three-step generic process of meditate, read the Bible, do life together.
There are also places where Dekker’s zeal gets him into a bit of trouble. At the very end of the book, there’s a Q&A section (which sort of shows the haphazardness of the book’s internal structure) where Ted is asked about the solution for Christians who suffer from depression or anxiety and feel hopeless. His answer is basically religious nonsense “I would say that he suffers first and foremost from the terrible slumber of Christianity.” It’s a myopic, unhelpful answer that doesn’t take into account the physiological and psychological realities of mental illness.
Dekker has changed enough in the past couple decades that I doubt he would endorse The Slumber of Christianity as an accurate picture of his theology today, but the passion that he has—and the ultimate telos he is pursuing—is the same. The Slumber of Christianity is about awakening Christians to the magnificent reality of heaven and the life to come. Today, Dekker’s emphasis is more about awakening Christians to this life, not just the one to come, to tell them the magnificent reality is that the Kingdom of God is already inbreaking. It is coming and is now here. Our slumber is not just to the reality to come, but the reality that is our very present. The Slumber of Christianity is a first step. It’s not the last, but it’s the first. Awaken to the reality, peel back the skin of the world, and you just might find a different kind of life. That pursuit placed Ted Dekker on the journey he’s been on since and where he’s at now is a result of that pursuit.
If you want to get energized about living in God’s Kingdom, The Slumber of Christianity is the place to begin. It has all the passion of someone just baptized shouting out the Gospel. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more grounded, organized, and practical, maybe look somewhere else.