Fighting for Faith in a Fallen World
“In this book we’ll think about what was lost in the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis. We’ll look at the consequences of the curse of sin, the results of grasping for the fruit of moral self-rule, and the effects of human rebellion that indelibly mark our lives. But I hope to do something more. I hope to paint a brutally honest picture of what living in a fallen world looks like. And I want to paint it in red hues that depicts a bloody battle waged over the souls of men.”
The Fall contours everything. As such, I cannot think of a single (faithful…) Christian book that does not have some sort of reference to the cosmic rebellion. What Life in the Wild does, and, as far as mainstream Christian literature is concerned, does uniquely, is to solely grapple with it.
More on this later.
Because of this book’s similarity both in length and approach to Dewitt’s Sunny Side Up, comparison is inevitable. Both are attractively written with a deliciously simple, yet semi-poetic, style. Both have provided me with an arsenal of quotes to use in talks and seminars. Both are Jesus-centred and eye-raising whilst being grounded, application-thick and earthy. Indeed, the unique selling point of both is the same; a tenacious expectation that the reader will change, coupled with a hand outstretched, ready to lead the reader gently through this process. They really are remarkably similar in style.
Whereas Sunny Side Up unpacked John 21, Life in the Wild does the same for Genesis 3. Dewitt uses this chapter as a springboard in an odd, somewhat meandering structure. Rather than sequentially tackling the curses of the Fall, Dewitt addresses each theme in a seemingly random order. Concerning his choice of themes themselves, there is a pleasing selection of material from the oft pointed-out curses of partition between human and God and between human and work, as well as the often neglected gender-wars, spiritual warfare and creation-care. It is all good and helpful material.
More on this later.
Through a non-speculative retelling of the Fall narrative, Dewitt gives us wise expectations for our fallen world that are clearly pointed towards the New Creation, of which he spells out a relatively moving vision to close. He toes the sin-line well by not compromising on its severity whilst emphasising forgiveness through Christ. One never feels shamed by him.
The content of Life in the Wild is excellent. It is all true. Any shortcoming to do with the book, then, is less about what material is in the book, and more about what is not. Sadly, I do not think that a book of this length is well-suited to the titan task Dewitt (with characteristic humility) sets out to achieve. That is, addressing a number of issues that are raised in a single chapter may well work for a sermon, but a book feels like the wrong medium. Each of the above-mentioned themes deserve, and are usually given, an entire book, or indeed a library, of their own. Life in the Wild is tailored to teach us how to live well in this world, but without addressing the nuance of the curses, I am not sure how well it can do this.
And this means, unfortunately, that I do not really know who I would suggest the book to. Maybe it would be perfect for somebody who knows nothing at all about the Fall, but other than this (narrow) audience, the sheer depth of the topics discussed are better dealt with in the plethora of other fantastic books on offer.