Below is a quote from the book Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker, taken from pages 233-235 of the hardback edition. I’m a fan of Dekker’s writing and I enjoyed this offering as well. He writes a lot of action. Thrillers and fantasy stories. This book is set in the medieval age. The time of lords and castles and crusades and such. The conversation below is between a war hero and a bishop. The hero has encountered something beyond his special training, something that cannot be overcome with a show of human force. He determines it is evil and runs to the cathedral for divine help.
The bishop faced me, stern. “You never been baptized?”
“You’re not Christian?”
“Of course I am.”
“But you aren’t a member of the body of Christ. You’re not in the church. So then you cannot be Christian.”
“I am a warrior for this church, fellow!” I tried to calm myself. “I have killed a thousand of her [the church’s] enemies. Forgive me, Your Eminence, but I must know how to defeat evil. I love the woman!”
“While I appreciate your loyalty to defeating Christ’s enemies, you’re clearly ignorant. You speak of love? I can tell you that passions of the heart have nothing to do with defeating evil.”
“Then what does?”
“Obeying the church. Fleeing immorality and washing your hands of all sin. Fastings, almsgiving, holy communion, repentance, unction; these will cleanse you. You must believe in the triune God, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the bride, which is the church today.”
“I don’t have time for all of that tonight. Come with me. You can expose this evil for what it is! Bring your crucifix and your holy book and help me strip [this man] of his charade.”
“He’s a Christian, you fool.”
“Then he’s an evil Christian who drinks the blood of innocents.”
That statement brought an immediate scowl to the bishop’s face, and I regretted making it. “No Christian can be evil,” he said. “They are cleansed by the church.”
“Please, I don’t know what makes a man good with God. I only know that I need you to rescue [the woman] from this evil. If I were a proper Christian, I would do it myself.”
Further down the page—
“So then, you will be able to help me?”
“We’ll see. With God’s grace, I think we can set you straight.”
“It’s not me I care about. It’s her. It’s him!”
“So you’ve said. We will dispel evil, I can promise you that.”
I tried to keep this from spoiling the book in the event you decide to read it. Even with its lack of action, this segment stuck in my head. I have thought about this off and on for days. I don’t think this conversation is too far-fetched to have today. Remove the old style of speech and this thing could have happened this morning. What do you think about the war hero and his coming to the church? How about the bishop, any thoughts on his answers to the war hero? Do you think evil was dispelled? How do you think this exchange relates to church today?
Do you feel like you’re not a “proper Christian” sometimes? What does it mean to be proper?