Escondido, CA

~ Guest Opinion

Modern Christian thriller is a wake-up call for our times

About seven years ago I wrote a play entitled “Through Fear and Trembling,” inspired from my reading of the book “In God’s Underground” by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. Pastor Wurmbrand dared to speak out against the Communist takeover of his Rumania in the aftermath of World War Two. He was rewarded with fourteen years in prison, where he was brutally tortured by sadists, who tried to “reeducate” him into atheism.

I was taken by the attitude of the Communists toward Christians, whom they regarded as criminals, and the similarities I saw creeping into our culture. Hence my stage-play, in which I looked at the state of our culture at that time, and projected into the future where I thought we were heading.

The scary thing is that about half of what I wrote seven years ago has already come to pass.

The America I knew as a child in the 50s and 60s is as different from the America of today as an oak tree differs from a pansy. Some think that America has made headway because of civil rights laws, a more equitable distribution of wealth, progress against pollution, and advances in science.

But are we truly better off? Has our flight from our Judeo-Christian roots brought the freedom we expected, or have we only found confusion, chaos, and bondage? It used to be that one could jump right on a plane. I walked to my public school as a child. Every December I saw and heard there the Christmas story. The school bands and choirs performed the wonderful carols of Christmas. I learned by heart the entire King James narrative of that story — which enthralled a child who lacked church experience.

Not everyone always did what was right. I certainly didn’t. But everyone knew the difference between right and wrong, and which bathroom to use. Neither was everyone a Christian, but most viewed the Christian faith as a positive influence on society.

How times have changed. At every turn now, those of sincere Christian faith are denigrated as ignorant, scientifically backward zealots, who despise everyone who lives outside their “bigoted” belief system. Christians are expected and even sometimes required to support lifestyles that were considered abnormal not so long ago.

Having written plays exclusively for many years, I asked my friend David Ross, the editor of the Escondido Times Advocate and the Valley Roadrunner, to turn “Through Fear and Trembling” into a novel. Adding some of his own ideas, he finely crafted the novel version, which he also updated to keep pace with our rapidly changing times. Here is a brief synopsis of the book.

The untimely death of Reverend Jeremiah Martin thrusts youth pastor Brandon Mills into the uncomfortable position of acting senior pastor at Green Valley Community Church. Only six weeks into the job, he is summoned to the office of Justinian Lubinecek, the local head of the Bureau of Government Affairs. When Pastor Mills refuses Justinian’s encroaching demands upon him and the church, ominous events begin to unfold; a missing camera, a missing widow, a missing teenager. Not everyone in the church is behind the young pastor’s stand. There might even be a Judas among them.

“Through Fear and Trembling” foresees an Orwellian time of persecution, both subtle and overt, that will be unleashed upon Bible believing individuals and churches in a culture that has come to regard the Bible as hate literature and Christians as criminals. Will the believers in Green Valley fold under the intense pressure, or will they fight back, calling upon the One who died and rose again on their behalf?

If I were to categorize “Through Fear and Trembling,” I would call it a Christian thriller. But I would hope that those of you who read it will do so for better reasons than entertainment alone. It is meant to be a wake-up call for those who profess Christianity and an eye-opener for many who do not.

We live in a culture that has abandoned absolutes in pursuit of an “anything goes” mentality, with no foundation upon which to judge anything. “Modern man,” said Frances Schaeffer, “has both feet planted firmly in mid-air.”

“Ross and Ward don’t flinch from presenting a pure version of the Christian gospel, which is refreshing compared to faith-based entertainment that sometimes offers subdued and politically correct pictures of Christianity. In addition, the authors’ thoughtful quotes and biblical excerpts remind us that Christians have, since Peter offended the authorities in his day, endured suffering and martyrdom.

“Perhaps the strangest aspect of the tale is that, while it ostensibly presents us with a glimpse into the future, its events resemble the gathering storm taking place in the United States right now . . . In their entertaining and slightly eerie tale, Ross and Ward remind believers that we must work out our salvation Through Fear and Trembling.”

—Keith Simpson, author

“Through Fear and Trembling” is available from, from Tate Publishing Company, from, or you can pick up a copy from David Ross personally at The Roadrunner office, 29115 Valley Center Road, suite L, in Valley Center.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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