5 Stars Out Of 5
Can we escape from our generational curses?
February 12, 2018
(Note: I spent many hours consuming and reviewing this book as a tribute to Jack Deere, and also I think as a father myself, I was mourning of the suicide of his son).
Numbers 14. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affectedeven children in the third and fourth generations.
Ezekiel 18:20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.
1. This is a book about generational curses. I do not know if even Jack Deere realises it since he does not mention it in the book.
I used to wonder about the two contradictory Bible verses above. After reading his book, now I understand what they mean. We are doomed to repeat the sinful patterns of our parents and grandparents. When we are friends with God, we can mitigate or even remove completely, the curse resulting from repeating their patterns.
Jacks father was callous and in his selfish pursuit of his career, he neglected his family. Jacks mother and her father did not have any love for Jack and were physically cruel to him. They were also immoral.
The teenage Jack resolves to put it all behind him because Christ makes us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). However it is not so easy. He repeats his fathers patterns of callousness and to his son and wife. I think there was a failure of communication and involvement with his son, which is not fully brought out in the book.
The book is a journey of the suicide of Jacks father, the conflict with cessationist Dallas Seminary, the suicide of Jacks son, and the childhood sexual abuse and addictions of his wife.
2. Growing up, he thinks that romantic love (The Kiss) will rescue him from his pit - this is the salvation that the secular world preaches. Just like a girl dreams of a knight in shining armor who will sweep her off her feet and rescue her from her dragons.
3. During the downward spiral of his parents marriage and his fathers unraveling, they visit a church. Some men from the church come and visit once, and then move on since his father does not join their church. This is an indictment of the American church system.
Tragically there was no one in the church system who would come around and befriend an unbeliever couple - Jack's parents. Either you join their club, or they move on.
Seeker sensitive megachurches are no different. They seem more 'accepting' of unbelievers and are modern. However, they just want our money - the 10% tithe of our incomes. "Give to God through us", they exclaim.
4. This book is revolutionary in a spiritual way. With his earlier books, Jack was revolutionary for embracing and propagating Charismatic Theology as a professor of the cessationist Dallas Seminary. Why is this book revolutionary? In the secular universe, achievement and success in life is the measure of the life of a man or woman. In the Christian universe, your measure of sinlessness is the measure of your spiritual worth. I have never seen a pastor confess a real sin unless it was from the distant past. The only time pastors and christian leaders confess a real sin is when they are found out, caught and about to be punished. I dont know if Jack Deere has confessed his major sins in this book but they are for sure, sins to some degree.
It is no longer fashionable to wear one's Sunday Best to church. Nowadays preachers wear untucked shirts, and jeans to the pulpit. However they still wear their Sunday Best in terms of the image or brand they convey. Confessing your real sins will get you terminated or lowered in spiritual status. Likewise with the congregation.
5. This book is remarkable for a third reason. This book is remarkable in that ordinary people can relate to things in it. I know that I can identify with some of the things in the book.
I would say that all memoirs or autobiographies are written for the authors glory (though few will admit to it). For the reader to admire and adore the authors achievements or strength of person. Wow!. Christian memoirs are written to show how God chose the author anointed and partnered with him or her to achieve some great purpose. Reader thinks, Wow! This person was special
I was suspicious when I started reading the book. But Jack Deeres book genuinely seems to have been written to give God the glory. The unseen wind of God moving in his circumstances was Gods hand on Deeres life. Gods hand is in the spotlight, not Jack Deere. The reader feels closer to God. The reader thinks, Wow, how great is our God! He can be accessible to me and his hand can be on my life too. The book fulfills its purpose.
6. There is something missing in the book and if I could ask Deere one question: I did not see even one mention of the correction, spanking, punishment of the believer by God. Where does it fit into Jacks theology? I wonder if growing up, he felt only punishment and no love from his mother, father and grandfather, so that his book is all about the love of God, and none of the correction.
7. On a positive note, what I find great about this book is that it tells us that God is accessible to all of us. We do not need to be great men or pastors or theologians like Jack was. This book is also a warning from another's mistakes - we must parent with our presence
8. There is a warning for those of us who are parents. As I see it, Jack did not give Scott his presence. Scott is molested by a church worker in John Wimbers church - Wimber was the founder of the Vineyard/Jesus movement! (It is a strange thing to read of the power of God manifest in their church, yet such sin).
Parenting with your presence involves sacrifice. I don't know why, but it appears that the Duartes were more Scott's parents than Jack was. Scott lived with them for over an year and they paid for his college.
Jack Deere's involvement with his son seems to have been limited to hunting in Montana. Why not schoolwork or learning a trade together or living with him? It is easy to diagnose from a distance (and may seem unfair) and to comment on other's lives. But I am thankful that Jack Deere has laid out his life for us to learn from. If anything, it makes me resolve to parent with my presence.
9. If I have a criticism of the book; The picture I have in mind of a jagged piece of wood with saw cuts and chisel holes. Abrasive peaks and shadowy depths. The original book was like this. Then his journalist son edited it and it became like someone who pours glue on the piece of wood. When it dries, the sharp edges become smooth, the valleys are filled. It is polished. And we have lost our view of the depths and abrasiveness of the author. I wish someday the publisher will publish the original unedited version - perhaps as a digital download to those who buy the hard copy. (In Jack Deere's own words, [CaringBridge] "Besides the blessing of being with our family, the move [to St Louis] made it convenient for my son the reporter to edit my book. Stephen is a brilliant writer Our relationship survived the editing process even though he won eighty percent of our arguments.").
10. Almost no mention of Jack's mother after he was 15 even though he stayed at home while attending TCU in Ft. Worth. It is almost as if chunks were edited out. His mother bought a 3 bedroom house but we later read that he was in a mobile home. What happened in between?
11. The clash between charismatic and cessationist theology cost Jack Deere his job, his church, and his friends. Why doesn't God speak more clearly or divinely to people telling them the correct interpretation of a passage of scripture?
From my geography book as a child, a cartoon diagram of the earth with 4 persons standing at opposite diameters, N,S,W,E each of them thinks they are up.
When we were newlyweds in India, an elder from our church, Alex Kurian, a PhD graduate of Dallas Seminary invited us to tea in Bangalore. I asked him my question, and he could not answer adequately.
A Jewish acquaintance scornfully remarked to me (when I shared the gospel) that Christianity has split into 3,000 religions.
12. Gun lovers may not like this, but a gun has so much destructive power and so easy to pull the trigger. If the Deere family did not own guns perhaps they would not have had double tragedies. I read that suicide and adultery travels down generations. It may be good for the Deere family to have a pact to get rid of their guns for the sake of their kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces, so that killing oneself with a gun will not be an easy option.