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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When attorney Tom O'Sullivan III racks up gambling debts with the mob, they force him to carry bribe money to corrupt judge and senate hopeful Reese McKelvie. Tom secretly tapes the judge accepting the bribe, but he wonders what — if anything — he should do with the recording. Seeking help for his gambling problem, Tom (a nonbeliever) joins a recovery program at a Chicago mega-church called Diamond Point Fellowship. He develops a friendship with his recovery leader, retired Navy officer Phillip Taylor.

Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune reporter Garry Strider fights to hold onto his job and his live-in girlfriend, Gina. Gina becomes a Christian and moves out to maintain the integrity of their relationship. Desperate for a good article, and wanting to prove to Gina that religion is a sham, Garry decides to investigate her pastor, Eric Snow.

Eric, a former entrepreneur, started Diamond Point Fellowship with Pastor Art Bullock. Eric has just announced to Art and his elders that he may be offered a senate seat. The current senator is about to be ousted for misconduct, and Eric (along with Judge McKelvie) is in the running to be the temporary appointment to the position. Art and most of the elders are leery of Eric's entry into politics, believing the church is where he can make the most difference. But Eric has convinced himself that God wants him to make a larger impact elsewhere. The one elder siding with him is Debra Wyatt, a new believer and former ruthless federal prosecutor. She's the first of several political advisers to urge him to distance himself from the church. She convinces him to step down as a pastor and rent office space outside of the church campus.

While investigating at a mid-week Diamond Point service, Garry hears a girl scream. He learns she had a disease that rendered her almost completely blind and deaf, but the prayer of an elder suddenly brought healing. Garry calls Eric to get a reaction from the pastor, but Eric hedges. As a political hopeful, the last thing he needs is the media making Diamond Point look like a sideshow act. Eric offers possible explanations for the healing but refuses to admit that a miracle might have occurred.

When Tom hears McKelvie is in the running for senate, he knows he needs to do something with his information about the judge. He can't tell Phillip his whole story; he knows only official clergy members are exempt from sharing confidential information with the police if questioned. He explains this to Phillip, and Phillip refers Tom to Pastor Art. Tom spills his story to Art, and Art agrees to hold onto the recording for safekeeping.

The pressure mounts for Eric when a second person is miraculously healed at another prayer service. Debra and Eric's other political advisers urge him further and further away from any associations with the church he founded. They even convince him to chair an organization with a Muslim, Buddhist and atheist board so he will appear to be free of Christian prejudices.

Tom and Phillip are eating at Tom's favorite restaurant when a gunman enters and kills Tom. Art rushes to Phillip's home to provide comfort to his friend. Art realizes he would be breaching confidentiality if he told the police what he knows about Tom's tape. However, he could talk to someone who already knows about the situation: Judge McKelvie. Art confronts McKelvie and tells him about the recording. The pastor bluffs that he's sent the tape to Garry and has told the reporter to listen to it if McKelvie doesn't remove himself from the senate race.

Garry stays the night on Gina's couch after a romantic dinner. In the morning, he gets an email that says it's from Art Bullock. The message asks Garry to bring the package he gave him, but Garry tells Gina that Art never gave him any package. Gina drives Garry's car to a nearby bakery to pick up some breakfast. Suddenly, the car explodes. Gina is critically injured.

Eric hears about the accident. He tells Debra not to stop him from going to the hospital to visit Gina and support Garry. Afterward, he secretly goes to the Diamond Point prayer service. He makes an effort to talk to Art in the parking lot when a gunman shoots Art in the chest. As Eric is praying for his friend, Art (wearing a bullet-proof vest) stands up.

Eric finds Tom's copy of the bribe tape, calls McKelvie and tells him he'll share it with the media if he doesn't resign. The judge meets with his mob connections, and they refuse to help him. McKelvie reveals that the FBI has been listening to the conversation. Then he shoots himself.

As the story ends, Gina's condition is improving. Eric and Garry begin to develop a rapport, and Eric decides he needs to prayerfully reconsider whether God wants him to enter politics.

Christian Beliefs

Gina grew up in an Italian family where Catholicism was "part of the package." Only after attending Diamond Point Fellowship does she develop a relationship with Christ. She turns down Gary's marriage proposal, telling him Christians aren't supposed to marry outside their faith. She's disillusioned when she and Garry experience so much conflict, since she'd thought her newfound belief system was supposed to bring peace. She ponders how lonely a marriage would be if she could never share her faith with the person she loved most.

Garry is a skeptic. His experiences with Christianity include attending a raucous healing service with a friend and watching evangelists' downfalls in the media. While Gina's in the hospital, he prays to a God he's still not convinced is real.

Phillip tells Tom he believes the church's gambling recovery program works because it is based on biblical values, including admitting one's wrongdoing to God. Phillip later writes Tom a note urging him to deal with his secrets. He quotes David's words from Psalm about how failing to confess our sins saps our strength.

Eric Snow's prayer life/pastoral work is clearly suffering due to his obsession with claiming a senate seat. He debates with members of his pastoral staff about whether prayer and the church are the best ways to reach the world. Garry asks Eric why, if God is real and performing miracles, a man of faith would try to downplay them so much. While Garry waits in the hospital for Gina's diagnosis, Eric talks to him about free will and why bad things happen.

Art suggests the miracles at church are God's way of reminding people He's loving, active and in control, and that there's no greater adventure than following Him.

Other Belief Systems

Debra Wyatt and Eric's other political advisers repeatedly urge him to distance himself from the church. They say religion makes people skittish, and he won't be taken seriously. They want him to portray other belief systems as valid as his own. They convince him to head up an organization that includes people of different faiths (along with atheists) to demonstrate his acceptance of others.

Authority Roles

Judge McKelvie uses his powerful position for his own financial gain. Eric distances himself from the church he helped establish in favor of his own political aspirations. He ultimately re-examines the value of his faith and the people who rely on his example. The governor and his team manipulate Eric by telling him he'll lose the senate seat if he doesn't conceal his religious beliefs. Art goes to great lengths to uphold his duty as a clergyman and protect Tom's secrets.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord's name is used in vain several times by Christian and non-Christian characters. The word screw appears a few times, and one character blurts out the first half of b--tard. Several people are shot, some to death. The depictions are not graphic.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Gina tells Garry they need to stop having sex unless they get married. She moves out, in spite of how long they have been cohabitating. She offers to sleep with him later in the novel, but he respects her new belief system enough not to take advantage of her moment of weakness.

In prepping Eric, a political adviser asks him if there's any evidence of him being involved in sexual misconduct or pornography. The governor mentions a time when gay rights protestors kept another pastor from winning a senate seat.

McKelvie accuses Debra Wyatt of trading sex for favors from reporters. She says that she did before she became a Christian.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Many (non-Christian) characters, such as Tom and Garry, regularly drink. Tom believes alcohol may be part of the reason he allowed himself to get so deep in debt.

Gambling: Tom has a gambling problem. After struggling and accumulating debt, he seeks help from a 12-step program.

Smoking: Mafia thugs smoke.

Lying: Art insinuates to Judge McKelvie that he has given an incriminating tape to Garry. His dishonesty results in McKelvie's mob ties severely injuring Garry's girlfriend.

Suicide: McKelvie shoots himself when his dark secrets become public.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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