What would happen if…?

What would happen if modern civilization was destroyed by a lethal virus and nuclear war, thrusting the surviving population back into a time of medieval technology and brutality? What would happen if all knowledge was lost, including the knowledge of God’s Word? What would happen if one couple, far from home, running for their lives, four centuries from now, discovered a copy of the Bible, preserved and hidden for posterity by a dying Christian in “ancient” times?

This is what Bryan Litfin imagined and developed into a new novel, The Sword, published by Crossway Books (2010).

This book took me by storm. Litfin captured my imagination with the post-apocalyptic, futuristic/medieval setting. The interplay of action, romance and sound biblical doctrine resonated in me with every page as I couldn’t stop myself from continuing to read late into the night to find out what would happen next. In one sense I’m glad I’ve finished The Sword, because I need a good night’s rest. In another sense, I’m disappointed it has come to its end because I feel impatient at the thought of having to wait until next April (2011) to buy the sequel.

This book is one, I think, men will enjoy. It’s not that a female audience won’t enjoy it too, but that men in particular will relate to some of the book’s themes and the struggles of the characters. Call it “masculine-friendly”. But a caution to parents: this is not a kids’ book.

I’m glad for books like this (though I’ve never read a book quite like this!), because I think there is a need for good story-telling by theologically savvy writers. After reading books like The Shack, where story-telling comes at the cost of sound biblical doctrine, The Sword is a breath of fresh air. The quality of writing isn’t the best, though I hope to see Litfin’s writing improve with each new novel, but the originality and relevance of this, his first novel, more than makes up for his lack of experience writing fiction. Nevertheless, it’s hard to find good fiction that doesn’t toss deep and trustworthy biblical teaching out the window. It seems like many writers of so-called “Christian” novels have a very low view of their audience’s ability to think deep thoughts. Not so Shannon Van Roekel, in her novel I recommended recently, and not so Bryan M. Litfin.

For a long time, Maurice rubbed his shaved head in his palm, until at last he looked up at his student. “Teo, I think you have to let Deu be the God he is, not the god you want him to be.” (Bryan M. Litfin, The Sword, p. 247)