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Jack Deere: Even in Our Darkness

Jack Deere, Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 288 pages, ISBN 9780310538141.

I am sure that many in the church world are familiar with Jack Deere. He was at one time a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, during that time he was also a cessationist. That is, he did not believe in the contemporary exercise of some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that the apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12-14. However, Deere eventually came to believe in the modern-day reality of all of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. This shift in his doctrinal position cost him his job at the seminary. But the loss of his position there transitioned him into becoming even more well-known, at least in charismatic circles. He authored a few books, a couple of which attracted a lot of attention. His book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit is highly regarded. In it he shared his own journey from being a cessationist to becoming a continuationist. He also presented the biblical basis for believing in the present day exercise of the gifts of the Spirit and in the process dismantled the theology of cessationists, who reject some of the gifts of the Spirit as being for today. His book Surprised by the Voice of God was also popular.

Even in Our Darkness is very different from his other books. His other books were decidedly charismatic and, at least partly, theological in nature, this one is autobiographical. In it he tells us his life story. While many of us were aware of the high points in his life, namely, his books and his speaking engagements, many of us were not aware of some of the things he experienced before, during, and after the time of his great popularity. In this book he tells the reader about the challenges and struggles he faced. He has referred to this book as an “unsanitized” view of his becoming a friend of God. By that he means the story has not been cleaned up but rather is told “warts and all.” This book is definitely unsanitized, the story he shares is told with absolutely brutal honesty. You may find some of what you read shocking or disturbing. Be forewarned that there is some coarse language in the book, but it is kept to a minimum. Deere explains in the text why this language was included.

You are going to encounter some heart wrenching moments as you read this book.

Because the book is a man’s story it requires a different kind of review than I would normally write. The contents of the book are the reality that he has lived, it is his history, and a reviewer cannot argue with that. The things that he wrote about actually happened. I will try not to give you a lot of specific details about the book so that I do not spoil it in for you in the event that you choose to read it for yourself. But please know that you are going to encounter some very heart wrenching moments as you read this book.

The very first thing you encounter in the book is an account of the death of his son. The book is actually dedicated to his son, Scott. Deere will talk more about his son’s death later in the book. After that the book goes back in time to Deere’s childhood. As he tells his story the reader learns about the troubles in his family, specifically with his mother and father. His father eventually committed suicide when Jack was twelve years old. After his father’s death he had a very rough grandfather who assumed the responsibility for his disciple; Deere despised him. During the course of recounting the events of his early life he reveals his own sinful nature as well, his rebellion, and foul language. When he became a teenager sexual sin became a part of his life. This would become an area of struggle, and sometimes failure, for him. He participated in inappropriate sexual conduct both before he became a Christian and afterward. In fact, he admits to moral failure even while studying at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2018

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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