Christianity Really Is in Crisis in The Last Christian
- 2010 31 May
Author: David Gregory
Title: The Last Christian
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Eternal life? Or unending existence? In this futuristic, techno-spiritual novel, brain-transplant patients unexpectedly find themselves choosing one over the other.
Yes, I said "techno-spiritual" and "brain transplant" to describe a novel released by a Christian publisher. Author David Gregory has imagined a fascinating, disturbing America in the year 2088, where Christianity has been relegated to the extremist corners of society and is considered a dead religion. In its place has risen a devotion to tolerance and an intolerance for those who might espouse absolute beliefs of any sort.
When Abby Caldwell, born to missionary parents, emerges from the jungle after her village has been destroyed by an unknown illness, she discovers an America far different from the one her parents left over 35 years before. A cryptic data message from her grandfather takes her on a journey to reintroduce Christianity to the nation. But her mission puts her at odds with the leading artificial intelligence (AI) industrialists, who have perfected a method of downloading the human brain into silicon form.
Abby and her accomplice, history professor Creighton Daniels, uncover the AI leaders' plot to force the world to endure brain transplants—to become "transhuman"—a process that promises a person eternal existence. Abby and Creighton realize that the procedure also severs all possibility of a person's connection with God and ultimately threatens humanity's spiritual future. But the conspirators reason that a populace that can exist forever doesn't need a mythical God anyway.
Will Abby succeed in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to a people who would rather live in virtual reality, and who have been taught to disregard Christianity as a primitive myth? Can she and Creighton outwit the technological masterminds who want to change the definition of humanity? An intriguing plot and shocking ending keep the pages turning and make this adventure hard to put down.
Is it reasonable to think that Christianity could die out within the next 80 years? The author addresses this premise directly, giving several theories as to why it is a reasonable possibility. Touching on events that have already happened, such as the scientific dependence on Darwinism and the social conservatives' political activism, he also projects into possible future events and trends that would contribute to Christianity's demise. Believers will be both appalled and convicted at some of the ideas presented.
Another major theme of the book wrestles with the meaning of life. Does our intelligence alone make us alive? Or do we need our biological bodies (including the brain) in order for our spirit to dwell within us? What did Jesus mean when he said "I am the way, the truth, and the life"?
The Last Christian reads like a secular thriller—fast-paced, complex and confusing, with engaging characters and an appropriately surprise ending. Parts of it seem fantastical (a brain transplant? Really?), so a moderate suspension of belief is required. But unlike many secular novels, it's not mindless. The content calls for critical thinking and perhaps a bit of soul-searching.
**This review first published on May 31, 2010.