This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).
To be frank, I started I Am Not Afraid, by Robert H. Bennett, with a certain degree of dubiousness. My experience with exorcism as an American pastor and biblical scholar has been largely relegated to the sensationalized propaganda that Hollywood produces. I braced myself for an overly dramatic, highly emotional rollercoaster ride; that’s not what a got.
Regardless of your position on the topic, the reader quickly realizes that Bennett has organized his book in a logical, scholarly fashion. He includes primary source facts, examples, statistics, and interviews to support what he is saying. He uses an effective, organized pattern to present his information and is in no way dramatic or unbelievable. He explains the animistic belief system in Madagascar (as well as other countries) wherein spirits are invited (even begged) to enter a person to endow them with powers of prophecy, fortune-telling, and even healing. In that light, the plausibility of possession seems much more likely; moreover, what is disconcerting is the growing interest throughout the West in spiritualism, séances, Ouija boards, and other forms of spirit communication.
The second half of his book is perhaps the most convincing. In it Bennett talks about the church and how the Western worldview varies radically from how Christianity is understood and practiced in most other parts of the world. He specifically talks about the Gospels and how the topic of exorcism is dealt with there. Bennett takes a provocative stance in looking at this part of scripture. Was possession unique to that time period? Were Jesus and the disciplines just too unsophisticated to understand what was going on? Or perhaps, have we (in our arrogance) dismissed this element of the Bible as being either anachronistic or archaic? This is an interesting point since we see how society in general (and the Enemy specifically) like to use this tool to divide, confuse, and dilute the church.
At the end of the book, I was not soundly convinced of Bennett’s observations; however, neither was I smugly dismissive. I was left with the feeling that I want to see for myself. I want to walk those same streets he did and look into the eyes of these people and let the Spirit discern in me what the truth is. Ultimately, I think that was Bennett’s hope: to make us think, to make us question, and to make us want to know the truth.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Concordia Publishing House through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.