Ascent from Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior by Michael Leehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ascent from Darkness is the story of Michael Leehan's conversion from Satanism to Christianity. The bulk of the story covers his time as a Satanist, how he felt and what he did during that time, and how he eventually converted.
It's probably important that I give a disclaimer before I give my thoughts on the book. I am likely not the intended audience here. Leehan is a charismatic to the very core of his being, first as a Satanist and then as a Christian, and I just can't get on board with that way of doing things. Not that I think it's necessarily inherently wrong, just that it's not my cup of tea.
Having said that, the book is overall fairly well written. The narrative flows well, and he keeps you wanting to know what happens next. By the end, you're pulling for the guy and want to see him saved from his lifestyle and brought to Christ.
The great strength of this book, and the main reason I'd recommend it (should I ever do so) is that it deals very honestly with the spiritual world. In the vein of a Frank Peretti work, Leehan discusses the reality and influence of the world of demons, angels, and all other sorts of extrasensory matters. In our deeply materialistic culture full of people who refuse to believe in anything beyond what we can see and touch and feel (and occasionally not even that), it's refreshing to be reminded that there is a greater world at work, and that our actions and lives have one foot in an eternal realm. Especially clever and useful was the inclusion of testimony at the end of the book of people who know Leehan and witnessed some of the events of his life. It gives an element of depth that would not otherwise be present.
And yet, I don't really see myself recommending this book (it still gets three stars for being well written, that's a rock-solid rule I hold myself to). Nowhere does it have a clear expression of the Gospel, and it almost seems as if there's a deeply dualistic worldview at work in the text. Leehan is clear that he has exchanged service to Satan for service to Jesus, but he never makes clear any idea of how that works. The atonement is nowhere discussed, nor is it clear what the role of the cross is in Leehan's conversion (I am not commenting one way or another on his personal salvation- he says he's a Christian, and I am perfectly willing to take him at his word, I'm just commenting on what is contained in the book). The book is quite clear that God wins over Satan and evil and darkness, but it is not clear how God does so. It's certainly a good thing that Leehan no longer feels rules by the powers of darkness, but for me to endorse this book as a Christian it needs to be reworked so as to explain the role of Christ. Perhaps a second edition would be useful to this end...
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