Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Write-Up: The 11th Demons, by Bruce Hennigan

Bruce Hennigan.  The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos.  Bloomington: WestBow Press, 2013.  See here to buy the book.

This book is part of a Christian fiction series about Jonathan Steel, a demon hunter.  Essentially, Steel sends demons back to the underworld.  Although this is not the very first book of the series, its author, Bruce Hennigan, tells readers that they do not have to read the previous books to understand and appreciate The 11th Demon.

Jonathan Steel is the demon hunter.  His uncle, Cephas, was a skeptic in the 1960’s about the demonic, until he came into contact with a demon.  He is a source of experience and spiritual wisdom in this book.  Another character is Vivian Ketrick.  She accepts being inhabited by demons because they give her power.  Yet, she is torn because she also desires a regular life, which includes a romance with a deputy.

The demons have their own perspective.  They have a long memory and bitterness, which can never be alleviated.  They desire power, and that easily can put them into conflict with each other.  Yet, they also sow chaos.  They did so in November 1963, with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which precipitated social and political turmoil.  They also sought to sow chaos in Jerusalem soon after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Bruce Hennigan enjoys Christian apologetics, and that shows in this book.  There is a defense of hell, and also an affirmation of the New Testament canon against the works of Gnostic Christians.  A Gnostic-like sect plays a key role in this book.

In this book, people and demons are looking for an Ark.  There is question about what exactly this Ark does: does it contain information about the plans of demons, or does it give one power?

Questions are still in my mind after reading this book.  First of all, do demons desire chaos, or do they desire power over human beings, which presumes some order?  Is their vision for the first to lead to the second?  I not only have these questions in response to this book, but also in response to other Christian works about Satan that I have read, ancient and modern.

Second, Cephas talks about how attempting to bind a demon by one’s own power or through exorcist rituals does not necessarily work, for one needs to pray to God, who has authority.  In what sense, then, has Jonathan Steel been a demon hunter up to this point?  Is Cephas talking about the demons who can only come out by prayer and fasting (a la Matthew 17:21), not all demons?  Is he simply emphasizing the value of relying on the authority of Jesus when attempting to conduct an exorcism?

Third, it makes sense that demons would be in conflict with each other, just as there is no honor among thieves.  You get a bunch of evil, self-serving entities together, and you will get conflict.  At the same time, would that not nullify Jesus’ point in Mark 3:25 that demons would not try to cast out other demons, for a house divided against itself cannot stand?  (That was Jesus’ response to those who claimed that he was casting out Satan through the power of Satan.)

This book did not particularly thrill me.  It struck me as rather scattered.  While Hennigan and others say that one does not need to read the previous books in the series to enjoy this book, I think that one should probably do so, in order to understand and appreciate the characters.  Cephas’ story was all right: a skeptic who changes his tune in response to the supernatural and is looking for a lost love.  His apologetics did not present me with anything new, at least not overall.  (I wonder if the church fathers realized that parts of Mark 16 were a later addition, which is what Hennigan seemed to imply.  This book at least inspired that question in my mind.)  The tie-ins with the Gnostics and the Kennedy assassination had the potential to make this book intriguing, but the effect was unsatisfying to me.  Perhaps it was because those elements were rushed, or elliptical in places (as when the Gnostic-like sect was discussed).

I received a complimentary review copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.

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