The "gravedigger thesis" can be put simply: The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger. In the 25 years since philosopher and social critic Os Guinness first published The Gravedigger Files, much has happened: the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of the computer age, the re emergence of China and India, the rise of Islamic terrorism, and the worldwide revitalization and politicization of religion. But the central mystery of Dr. Guinness's "spy novel", inspired by his affection for John le Carre thrillers, remains unsolved: Can Christians regain the full integrity of faith in Christ while fully and properly engaged in the advanced modern world? This new edition of The Last Christian on Earth, which includes previously unpublished "top secret memos," is Dr. Guinness's parable about the future of the Christian church in the West. Written in the grand tradition of le Carri, Fleming and Clancy, this thriller pays homage to the genre while transcending it, because the real life ending has yet to be written!
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A quarter of a century after the release of "The Gravedigger File," Os Guinness has revised and republished that work under a new title: "The Last Christian on Earth." Even if one has read the previous book, this one is worth investigating For one thing it has been reworked to be more "tech savvy," given the rise of electronic communication over the past twenty-five years. In addition, the author has included in an appendix a discussion of "An Evangelical Manifesto," first unveiled in May 2008. What the present work does is affirm the predicted drift of the church since "Gravedigger" was released. It is clear that the Western church is on a slippery slope and in need of reawakening to its mission of engaging the contemporary world with the timeless message of the Gospel. To do so, two extreme positions need to be avoided...namely ecclesiastical isolationism and cultural assimilation (my terms, not the author's). Guinness is an astute discerner of the times. The word-pictures he paints are vivid and clear. "The Last Christian on Earth" is written in the tradition of C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" and Randy Alcorn's "Lord Foulgrin's Letters," where a demon supervisor corresponds with and instructs an underling. While Lewis did this with great success, I personally find those who attempt to emulate his style to fall a bit short. A good read, but given the increased pace of world events, it will likely need another revision within a couple of years.