Welcome to my review of TUCK by Stephen Lawhed, Day 3.
Today I want to speak to what Stephen Lawhead calls “The High Cost Of Heaven”, and explore the book’s spiritual content.
To quote Lawhead:
“Wily Welsh archers were not the only plaque in William’s life, however; he also suffered from that acute affliction of his time: fear of purgatory.”
For those unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine (and I am no expert), Purgatory is the place that your soul goes to pay for your sins until you are cleansed enough for heaven.
As a protestant, I reject this doctrine as unbiblical.
But, I also understand that Purgatory’s root lies in man’s natural reaction to the requirements of a holy God vs. our sinfulness. There is a GREAT GULF that lies between the two, and how can man bridge that gap? How can anyone hope to enter heaven? What can any man say before God that would give him the right to enter heaven?
The belief in Purgatory is a man centered attempt to fill that gap.
The truth of the matter, however, is that God has filled the gap, become the bridge by sending Christ to die for our sins. So what does heaven cost? Nothing less than the death of God’s own son. Now that is costly beyond imagining.
But here’s where I appreciate what Lawhead has done: He has raised in the readers mind the awareness of sin and the existence of God’s impending judgment.
Any discerning reader will come away from these books with the concept that these people REALLY believed that God was holy and that their sins needed atoning. And this is good.
No, the book does not give the whole gospel. It does not show God’s complete forgiveness as offerred in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ … but does it have to?
I consider this book as planting seeds in readers—that God can water and bring to life.
In fact, something very like this just happened at work on Monday. I was sitting with a colleague, and he remarked to someone else “Hey, I went to church on Sunday.”
The other fella says, “You went to CHURCH? Why would you do that?”
The first guy says, “I guess I’ve spent enough time sinning and need some forgiveness.”
What an open door for me to share the gospel the next time he and I can have a private talk!
The consciousness of sin is the first step to salvation. The Holy Spirit is working in this man, and I praise Him for the opportunity!
Another interesting side note to all this is that in the prologue, William Rufus is considering his own death:
“Try as he might, he could not work himself into a festive humour because the bishop’s rat of a thought had begun to gnaw at the back of his mind: his time was running out. To die without arranging for the necessary prayers would doom his soul to the lake of everlasting fire … was he really prepared to test the alternative at the forfeit of his soul?”
WOW again. What a way to begin the book!
What I wonder though, is this: Do these words ring true for Lawhead himself, in an autobiographical sense?
Not that Lawhead believes in Purgatory, or that he believes any less in the grace of God, but that Stephen had to take many months off from writing Tuck to deal with some serious medical issues.
So as I read this, I saw, maybe wrongly, his own thoughts on the shortness of life.
(If you remember, please pray for Stephen and his family that whatever he’s dealt with would not come back and that he would be blessed with many long years of life.)
But the point is this: Are you ready to face God? Do you know what you will say when you stand before Him and He asks you why He should let you into heaven?
If you don’t know how to answer that question, please go to this link, read it, and spend some time in prayer.
I read the booklet (at this link) when I was 15, and it changed my life forever.
In conclusion: Thanks, Stephen, for planting seeds in people’s hearts for God’s kingdom! May you be blessed by those you meet in heaven as a result of your books!