Back in the late 90s, when I was a book editor at at Seventh-day Adventist publishing house, I had two friends who wrote a couple of books about how the world was going to end. One of them had his office right across from mine, and shared his work as he was writing it. As I read his work, I didn’t say anything, but thought to myself, “I could write this.”
About the same time, I got into a theological discussion with another editor, who happened to be a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor. I offhand made the comment that, “If Jesus were to come tomorrow….” to which he promptly responded, “Jesus can’t come tomorrow. There are specific signs and events that we know are going to happen, and it would take at least six months for these things to unfold.” To that I responded, “Who are you to tell Jesus what He can and can’t do?” All along through the Bible, people thought they had God all figured out, only to have Him surprise them in one way or another.
And so I got the idea of writing ANOTHER end time book. I say ANOTHER, because my denomination is kind of weird in that respect. There are many who don’t believe in reading fiction at all, fiction being defined as anything that didn’t actually happen. The cardinal exception to that is, of course, end-time books. As you can imagine with a name like Seventh-day ADVENTISTS, most of our identity is tied up either the Seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (the Second Advent). And so even the traditionalists cut authors like me a little slack when it comes to telling a futuristic story like my book, If Tomorrow Comes. When I took this writing project on, I wanted to be faithful to the events that my church believes regarding last-day events, and yet interpret them in a way that people would not expect. And so I wrote my book.
It was published in 2000, was held in great acclaim by many people, loved by kids, and yet very few people bought it. Two years after it came out, the publishing house decided to take it out of print.
And so when I started my self publishing endeavor with Prevail Publications last year, one of the first projects I made available was a rewritten edition of If Tomorrow Comes. The original was published through a Seventh-day Adventist publishing house and sold through Adventist Book Centers; the new edition was made available through Amazon. I didn’t explain, I didn’t apologize; I didn’t hedge my bets. I just put it out there.
And it is actually doing quite well. In six months as an e-book, it has sold well and received more comments on Amazon than it ever did with the original printing. Many are very positive; some are not. Here’s an example of one of the critical ones:
“The book is well written and has an engaging story line,.. however the author makes assumptions that there is only one denomination and one way to worship that sets Christians apart and provides pleasure to God. The majority of this book seems to revolve around whether or not one chooses to worship on Saturday or Sunday,.. if you worship on Sunday,.. you are going to Hell. While the author is holding strong to his own doctrinal beliefs according to his own denomination, I find it short sighted, divisive and without substance. Christianity is not about a specific denomination, theology or dogma,.. it is about following what is put forth biblically and I believe the type of division that denominations and the understandings of man do far more to divide the church and limit God than it does to recognize His omnipotence, His mercy, His love and works against the Church Jesus envisioned as being one.
“Due to this I give the book 2 stars and will avoid this author in the future.” –Randy
I’m sorry Randy felt that my writing was “short sighted, divisive and without substance.” His is one viewpoint, and there are many others who disagree with him. But he is entitled to his point of view, just as I, as the author, am entitled to mine. I didn’t intend to deceive anyone. All I did was tell a story based on my view of what might happen in the last days of Earth’s history.
I have read my share of books that I have disagreed with, and I never felt like I was deceived, just because the author saw things differently than I did. Unfortunately, I find too often in Christian churches that we get defensive if someone expresses a belief that’s different than our own.
And so I thought long and hard about how I should react to his comments, and a few others. And my final conclusion is this:
Thanks for buying my book. Thanks for reading it. I am sorry I don’t believe the same way you do.
OK, maybe I’m not. But have a nice day anyway.