From a reviewer:
There is a definite Christian flavor to the book, without being preachy or over the top. Abby’s character is a Christian, though she has her flaws, and there are some scenes where biblical principles are discussed, but I think that the book still has secular appeal.
I so appreciate this review for Time and Again, because I do try very hard not to be “preachy” or “over the top” when I’m weaving faith into fiction. I should tell you that it and the rest of the trilogy are not at all evangelistic. The theme is that God is sovereign and that “all things work together for good.” I did not imagine anyone but an atheist would find them objectionable. And since, I personally dislike fiction in which the characters are constantly spouting Bible verses, I don’t ever do that in my books.
Nevertheless, for some readers even a mere two verses are apparently just too much to be tolerated. Here’s a portion of what another reviewer said about Time and Again:
She [Abby] is CONSTANTLY quoting Bible verses. I can handle religion being woven into a story where appropriate, but this had the preachy quality and that rubbed me the wrong way.
She gave it one star. Based on that, I suppose that if for some odd reason she happened to read one of my more recent books from the Rewinding Time Series she would give it a negative-ten-star review.
Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance, is the first book in the series. It’s about a young woman named Merrideth Randall, whose day job is teaching history at a small college. In her after hours, she turns to her first love, historical research. And she has a tool other historians can only dream of—a computer program that rewinds time, giving her a first-hand look at the past.
In Once Again, Merrideth uses the amazing program to assist her in finding the location of a long-lost pioneer fort and to meet the brave settlers who lived there in the late 1700s. Although the book is categorized as Sci-fi/time travel, it’s not a traditional time-travel tale. Merrideth only virtually experiences people’s lives as she “rewinds time.” Not only did I not want to mess up the whole space-time continuum thingy ( You’re welcome.) I did not want to imply that human beings had the power to change the course of history. God is sovereign over time, as he is over everything else!
But even virtual time travel is pretty cool. Professor Merrideth Randall has lots of historical mysteries to solve in Once Again. And she is also trying to find the answers to life’s puzzling “little” questions—like why bad things happen to good people, and what kind of God do we have, anyway?
When one of the young pioneers takes the Gospel to an Indian tribe, Merrideth thinks he is brave, but foolish. She doesn’t understand why missionaries risk their lives to take their religion to people who have their own and don’t want or need someone else’s. And when she realizes the young preacher is ministering to the very tribe that had scalped his brother, she is astonished at the magnitude of his forgiveness.
Her colleague Brett Garrison puzzles her, too:
Brett made being a Christian sound like something more, but Merrideth couldn’t put her finger on what differed between his religion and hers… Hopefully, he would not turn out to be one of those people who had a Bible verse for every occasion. One of her freshman roommates had been like that. Emily had started in spouting verses the first day and hadn’t let up until another roommate told her to stop already with the proselytizing. By their sophomore year, Emily had gotten metaphorically slapped down enough times that she stopped quoting Bible verses altogether. Merrideth always felt a little guilty when she thought about that. Maybe she should have stuck up for Emily, but hadn’t she needed to learn not to be so pushy with her beliefs?
Merrideth has always thought she was a Christian. After all, she goes to church, contributes when the offering plate goes by, and “tries to be nice.” But with what she sees and learns, she begins to wonder whether she is a Christian after all.
She is right to question her salvation. She is a fictional representation of the many, many Americans who have a form of Christianity, but not the substance thereof—a believing faith in Jesus Christ. In the coming books in the series she will continue to ponder questions that have no easy answers and meet people who cause her to think. But have no fear; one day it will all be clear to her.
Back to the one-star review…I have to admit, I was mad when I first read it, because what she complains about are the very things I try so hard not to do—and did not do, in my opinion. Afterwards, I thought that I should be happy, because maybe her annoyance is a sign that my book caused her to think about her soul. Maybe the one she is really annoyed with is God. Maybe He is working on her. Maybe I am doing something right.
Satan hates anything that promotes the Kingdom, and he will have even more to hate with my new Rewinding Time Series, because the salvation message is clearer and more obvious than the trilogy ever hoped to be. Actually, another title for the series could have been The Redemption of Merrideth Randall. The spiritual theme in Once Again is based on Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Merrideth is shown Jesus’ command to forgive seven times seventy times lived out in the life of the young missionary.
Then in the second book Only One Way Home Merrideth runs smack dab into the politically incorrect nature of Christ’s claim to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and the only way home to Heaven—as she gets a firsthand view of the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
The theme verse of book 3, How Sweet the Sound is Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned…” Merrideth faces the fact that her sins are every bit as bad as those of the murderous river pirates she observes preying on the “innocent” pioneers.
So I have donned goggles and a helmet to meet the onslaught of gnashing teeth and angry words that I fear will be coming my way with this series. I send out each book with a prayer that the biblical principles and messages woven into the story touch the hearts of readers, not annoy them. Unless the annoyance is a sign that they’re thinking hard about their own souls, in which case I hope readers are annoyed.
Even with the enlarged Gospel message of the Rewinding Time Series, rest assured I still stand by my Christian fiction guarantee to readers: there will still be no spouting of Bible verses, no fiery preaching, no using the Gospel as a club to bludgeon people with.
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