Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Divine Intention by Larry Shallenberger
"...the best strength of Divine Intention is its conversational nature. It touches on the true weakness in Christianity today."
It's no secret we're living in the greatest time of change the secular world and Christianity has ever seen. Technology has rendered many things obsolete. Cultural values are spilling over borders everywhere, mixing with thoughts, ideas, and perspectives previously thought incompatible. And the Church--the representative body of Christ--is likewise convulsing in the throes of growth and change.
On one side, contemporary, cultural (and perhaps even post-modern) Christianity clamors to be heard over the din of programs, three-point sermons and Legalism. It is calling for a more feeling, experiential, relevant and out-reach oriented Christian life. On the other side stands the fundamental, orthodox vanguard of the "old school" who preach loudly against heresy, liberalism and weak Scriptural founding. What should the church be? Should it be for Christians only and the edification of the saints or should it be an instrument of evangelism, executing the Great Commission? Can it be both?
In the middle are people such as you and I who were raised in quiet, happy, harmonious churches but are now disillusioned with fallen pastors, rigid congregations, and the didactic struggle that tugs at all sides of the church.
Is it worth it? Is the church worth saving?
Larry Shallenberger's Divine Intention takes aim at this particular quandary. Part fictional, part devotional, it looks at the state of the church today: where we are, and where we have to go from here. It examines the early Christian church of Acts and holds it up as a mirror to contemporary churches. It studies the controversial figures of Paul and other apostles, and muses, “Are we as Christians and churches worthy of being compared to those early Christians, or have we strayed too far into structures and forms that are function oriented only, and not God-breathed and God-filled?”
Perhaps the best strength of Divine Intention is its conversational nature. It touches on a true weakness in Christianity today. Because we are so fragmented along denominational, ideological and traditional lines there is no thoughtful, intellectual, and spiritual give and take happening among Christians. Divine Intention doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but it's not designed that way; it's crafted as a mirror to expose what's on the inside---to see how it matches up with those first people Christ commanded to "go forth". It's designed to start the conversation as well as point in the direction of what such a "Godly" conversation should look like.
Divine Intention also has a lot to say about discovering God's will in our lives. This too is a conversation, not a bullet-point list of "What God Wants On Your Itinerary this Year". Shallenberger directs us instead to conversing with God on an intimate, prayerful level, living a life of obedience (as we should) to discover what God's will holds for us.
Larry Shallenberger doesn't have all the answers, but he proposes the usefulness of thoughtful, spiritual, divine conversation. For this, seek out Divine Intention today.
Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun
Bulletin and The
Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s
Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened
Horizons Vol. 3 & 4,
NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus
Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations,
Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s
writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The
Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his
wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at
Catholic Central High School
in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing
at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and