Friday, October 19, 2012

Brotherhood of Betrayal

In the 1990's, author Randall Arthur penned three novels. The first was entitled Wisdom Hunter and the second Jordan's Crossing. Now I have just completed reading what, in my opinion, is the jewel of the set, Brotherhood of Betrayal. All three books deal with the dangers of extreme mindsets in the church, their possible consequences, and a model of what a faith that honors God actually looks like.

This book centered on an American missionary family living in Sweden. The patriarch, Clay McCain, is a pastor who founding a thriving church plant outside Stockholm. Clay, along with his wife Rachel, had been living in more than a bit of tension as their funding was provided by a foundation based on a strict fundamentalist tenet. Yet through the years, Clay and Rachel had embraced a much more liberal, grace-based ministry. The story begins as Clay was set to leave his house early one morning to meet a group at the church to go on a few day retreat. Clay never showed up. After an all-out manhunt, he was not found. The evidence that did come to light during the investigation showed that Clay had run off with his mistress. Yet how could a popular Christian leader leave his wife, his three young children, and his church without an explanation?

After many months had passed without any news, Rachel was forced to move back to the states with her children. Yet instead of unconditional support from her family, friends, and home church, she was treated as a contemptible pariah. Out of money and with her family on the brink of collapse, she tentatively reached out a hand and was rewarded with the first tendrils of human compassion and support. When we finally meet Clay in person about a third of the way into the book, we find a man who has fully given into the worst sorts of hedonism. When he finally comes to his senses, he is penniless, stranded, dependent on alcohol, and his health is gone. Slowly Clay begins to find himself and rediscover his faith. Eventually, after seven years, he locates his wife and family but through circumstances, never gets to talk to them. Dying, seemingly broken and alone, yet Clay finishes the race in victory.

Randall Arthur has written another book in this series that just came out this year. It is called Forgotten Road. I look forward to reading it. After a long search, I have finally gotten my hands on a copy of it.