Saturday, June 30, 2007
DRIVEN BY ETERNITY by John Bevere
Driven by Eternity is John Bevere's book on Christian, eternity-minded living. Everyone dies, and to live like you aren't going to is simply foolish. More importantly, if the Bible is true, what we do in our lives has serious, eternal consequences. This book is about how we, as Christians, live lives of meaning and purpose now and forever.
The book is focused around a lengthy Pilgrim's Progress-style allegory of judgment. In this allegory, quite a few valid points are made about life and God. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is, but something in the story didn't sit well with me on a literary level. Maybe it was the king quoting the words of God from the Bible. The bizarreness of the whole story took some getting used to. It seemed like Bevere wanted to break down and write a novel, and maybe he should have.
The reader may notice immediately that Bevere has a preachy, sometimes patronizing tone. Based on this tone, the reader may well imagine that Bevere thinks pretty highly of himself (he clearly thinks his allegory is pretty deep and exciting). One anecdote makes him seem pretty uptight. He's drawing an illustration from The Matrix (warning: this book contains spoilers for The Matrix), and he goes out of his way to point out that he "rented the edited version of this movie" (p. 83).
Driven by Eternity is by Evangelicals, for Evangelicals, and Bevere basically says as much in it. He talks about visions, miracles and supernatural experiences in a the-sky-is-blue, the-grass-is-green kind of way (which I for one do not really have a problem with). But some of the things that are everyday to Evangelicals will put a lot of people off. On page 102, Bevere begins to make a point from Job. But first he tells us that "the Spirit of God" told him to go read that part of Job. Great, but it doesn't add to the discussion.
I could nitpick at a lot of Bevere's theology, but that really wouldn't do anybody any good. The two big things worth mentioning are Bevere's challenge of the "once saved, always saved" doctrine (his arguments contain some holes) and his mainline Evangelical stance on the end times, which is more or less biblically unsupportable, and which he builds off of quite a bit. But the responsible reader will not let these errors get in the way of the message.
There are some style issues. Bevere needs to get acquainted with the comma, and he has other punctuation problems. Even at about 300 pages, the book runs long, because Bevere flogs the horse on every point. The elements of his allegory seemed quite self-explanatory to me, and I was genuinely surprised when he stopped to spell it all out. The book also feels disorganized, as we stop in the middle of the allegory and don't come back to it for quite a while.
Flaws aside (I know I listed quite a few), no true Christian can argue with Bevere's core message: that a real Christian is one who bears fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8), who desires to please God more than himself. Bevere also makes excellent points on how unforgiveness and self-focus can hold people back and how, on the whole, we need a greater focus on the good works Christians are called to do.
I really tried to like this book, but I just couldn't get the job done. If you are a Charismatic, an Evangelical, or a Pentecostal (or any combination thereof), you will probably think this book is great. Everybody else probably won't. I myself was disappointed.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT