Craig Hazen has ventured into a very challenging contemporary endeavor: to use fiction, story-telling, to write about the weighty issues of theology, philosophy, and ultimately redemption. It's easy to lament that the appeal of storytelling is usually utilized to communicate bad ideas; Craig has taken on the challenge it to share good ideas in the novel Five Sacred Crossings.
I don't read much fiction anymore because I'm usually bored by it. Many authors fall into predictable formulas. I found Craig's book engaging, entertaining, and intellectually stimulating. It even made my cry. That's a rare combination.
The "five sacred crossings," which are the main points Craig weaves through the story, came from a lecture he gives on college campuses. Some of the characters are even based on the students he's met and the challenges they've made. Craig's advice to them is, if they are religious seekers, then the place to start with Christianity because there are five unique things about Christianity that set it apart from all other religions.
- It's testable-Jesus' resurrection either happened or it didn't, and there's evidence to evaluate.
- Forgiveness is free, which is unique to Christianity.
- Christianity has tremendous fit with reality and our experience. One example is that it treats the problem of evil and suffering in a way that resonates with reality and offers a solution to the deepest longings.
- Christians get to live a unified life using our minds in worship and study of God. There is one unified sphere.
- Christianity has Jesus at center. He's a universal religious figure that most religions claim in some part, but Christianity is the only religion in which He's the center, the focus. If someone is so influential to be claimed by most religions, the one that gives Him most honor and focus has an advantage over others.
These are points that we can incorporate into conversation with people about religion and Christianity to help them see why Christianity is set apart from other religions and the only one that is true, the only one that can give salvation and reconciliation with God.
Craig was a guest on the radio program Sunday and talked about the importance for Christians to use creative modes of communication to reach all kinds of people. He challenged Christians to use postmoden means to communicate objective, intellectual, theological and philosophical truths. Use poetry, stories, music, art - all kinds of expressions to tell the truth in an engaging, excellent way. These are powerful ways to reach more people who may not listen otherwise.
This is a truly unique book: a page-turner that is intriguing, intellectually and spiritually insightful, and a timely thriller. Craig has woven fiction and substantive theology and philosophy in a form that will attract and engage many people who wouldn't otherwise pick up a book on these topics. Good fiction is harder to do, I think, than writing about religion, and he's done both well. It really is a must-read.