CSFF Blog Tour – The Strange Man, Day 2


Some things can't be ignored

It just won’t do.

Try as we might, there’s no way to miss the elephant, so we might as well give him prime time.

Rather than discussing genre as I hinted at in my Day 1 post about Greg Mitchell’s The Strange Man, I want to look at a bit of theology — the slam-dunking elephant tromping across the pages.

The story hinges on the main character (always a good thing for a novel). Here’s what Jason Joyner has to say about the protagonist (who, for those of you unfamiliar with the book, is NOT the strange man):

Dras Weldon is your typical adult adolescent, not willing to grow up and out of his world of comic books, action figures, and B horror movies. The fact that his childhood best friend Rosalyn is looking to actually move on from Greensboro isn’t helping. He is tired of hearing criticism from his older brother, the pastor, as well.

When The Strange Man decides the time is ripe for Greensboro’s harvest, Dras is an unlikely combatant. He doesn’t have anything to fight with, unless he can reconnect with his withered faith in time.

Let me elaborate a little. Dras is a hard-drinking, disrespectful, user. Not of drugs. Of people. Rosalyn is his best friend, and he’s even in love with her, though he won’t admit it. But night after night she puts up with his drunken stupors, seeing him safely home no matter what condition he’s in.

And his family? His father is dying, but Dras can’t remember to be at family dinners. His mom is so programed by his past behavior that when he drops by she automatically reaches for her purse, thinking he’s come to ask for more money. His brother is convinced of the same thing.

And yet, Dras considers himself a Christian. After all, he prayed a prayer at camp one year when he was nine.

Never mind that he admits all he knows about the Bible is that the first book is Genesis and he thinks the last one is Revelation. Never mind that he has no interest in spiritual things, demonstrated by the fact that he only goes to church to appease his family — and then arrives late, with a hangover, and nods off periodically.

Trust me when I tell you, in spite of all this, author Greg Mitchell admirably makes Dras a sympathetic character. Consequently, the reader is hoping for change and cheering Dras on when he confronts, not only his own demons, but those of the entire town.

But back to the theology. The strange man, a demon set on devouring the shriveling community of Greensboro, sees Dras as standing in his way. But apparently God has marked the boy, and the strange man can’t take him out directly.

So apparently Dras thinks he’s a Christian and God thinks he’s a Christian (maybe), but everyone else in town believes he’s a messed up screw-up capable of doing anything.

Dras himself says his life was the single most influential thing in keeping Rosalyn from coming to God.

So there’s the question. Is it really possible for a person to be a Christian, yet have no evidence of Christ in his life?

I’ll be honest. I’ve heard about people who supposedly believe you can pray a “sinner’s prayer” and then live however you want without fear of eternal judgment, but I’ve never met anyone like that (at least that I know of).

The people I know who prayed to ask Christ into their lives either walk away and don’t claim to be Christians any more, or they struggle at different levels to understand what being in God’s family means on a practical level. This “I’m a Christian but no one would guess it” is new to me.

What’s more, I’m pretty convinced it’s not Biblical.

Mind you, I’m aware that Christians still sin (though there is a segment of professing Christians who claim they don’t — very Job-like in their insistence that they do no wrong). What I’m wondering is this: will a Christian show no interest in God?

After all, Christians pretty much agree that our faith is about relationship — ours with God, which makes us then care about the other people in our lives. So if a person doesn’t read Scripture, pray, listen for God’s voice in the preaching of the Word, if he only treats people in his life with selfishness or anger or disrespect, how is it possible for him to be a Christian?

If it were true that a person has become a new creature in Christ, ought there not be some small bit of evidence?

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