It isn’t often that faith in God and how it is threatened and tested in today’s increasingly secular world is put in the form of fiction.
But, in his first novel, former Sen. Jim DeMint, R.-S.C., does precisely that. In so doing, he makes the reader alternately laugh, cry, and grow absorbed in the debate over whether God exists.
"Satan’s Dare," from Fidelis Publishing centers around two men initially endowed with faith who are tested in a way that makes readers of any faith shudder.
Johnny Wright has given up his training at a prestigious St. Louis seminary to move home to Boone, North Carolina to become youth pastor at his family’s church.
But then tragedy strikes. His wife Patti is severely injured in a car accident and, in the process, loses the child she was carrying. Then Johnny is forced to leave his youth ministry following trumped-up charges by the jealous pastor that he had sexually harassed his daughter. The Wrights then move again, this time to Palmetto Christian University and a position for Johnny as associate professor.
Despite the severe slamming they have been dealt, Johnny and Patti never lose their faith in God.
The same cannot be said of Tony Guest. Once CEO of Guest Ministries Worldwide, the murder of his wife and four-year-old daughter at the hands of a convict they brought into their home led him to reject his faith. In short order, Tony became the nation’s number one atheist — author of best-selling books, a fixture on TV talk shows and the lecture circuit, and the honoree at luncheons hosted by George Soros.
Guided by Palmetto Christian’s gentle President Howard Clark, a friend to both Johnny and Tony, the two meet for a public and much-watched debate on whether God actually exists.
“You have a Santa Claus God, I had a Santa Claus God,” declares Tony, calling on Christians to cease believing in God as children eventually grow away from believing Santa Claus.
Johnny counters that “unless people believe in God and hope for an afterlife, then this world is in chaos…There has to be more in this life, or life is not worth living.”
At the conclusion of a civil debate on a most controversial subject, Tony issues a challenge to Johnny: to prove to him in the coming year that God exists, that “the Bible can be reconciled with science.” Johnny readily accepts the challenge and puts his students to work on answering the questions about God with science.
Unbeknownst to Johnny and the audience, Tony Guest has been undergoing a personal change in his life. After steadfastly avoiding any relationships since the loss of his wife and daughter, he has met a woman who owns a bookstore and is a Christian. As he falls in love with her, Tony also begins to question his atheism and starts to pray and read Scripture for the first time in years.
Johnny’s hot pursuit of scientific evidence of God’s existence, as well as the change of attitude Tony is undergoing, provides both food for thought and excitement — all the way up to the dramatic ending.
"Satan’s Dare" is, in many ways, a modern retelling of the story of Job, upon whom God permitted the devil to wreak a string of tragedies to determine whether his faith would survive.
DeMint provides a highly personalized saga of how faith survives and nurtures in a world in which relativism and secularism abound. In so doing, "Satan’s Dare" both captivates and challenges readers of any faith.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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