Christian Themes

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 603

The Circle Trilogy weaves together numerous themes that are either foundational or central to Christian life. In Black , through his unfallen future Earth, Dekker imagines the intangible as tangible: God (Elyon) speaks directly to humans, and they can literally—not just metaphorically—bathe in the water alive with his presence. Organized...

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The Circle Trilogy weaves together numerous themes that are either foundational or central to Christian life. In Black, through his unfallen future Earth, Dekker imagines the intangible as tangible: God (Elyon) speaks directly to humans, and they can literally—not just metaphorically—bathe in the water alive with his presence. Organized religion practiced by the community is vibrant for each person and brings delight and spiritual refreshment daily. Fruit provides nourishment not only to the palate and body but also to the soul. Relationships between humans are free from jealousy and strife, and individuality is no threat to the community: People reflect God’s creativity in their distinctiveness without expressing that individuality in self-exaltation or selfishness.

One of the most vivid materializations of spiritual truth in the novel is the Great Romance, the name used in future Earth both for Elyon’s means of relating to humans and for the courtship of a man and woman. In Black, Tanis teaches Tom that a man follows the same steps to win a woman’s heart that Elyon takes to rescue “everything that is his . . . he chooses . . . he pursues . . . he rescues . . . he woos . . . he protects . . . he lavishes.” By depicting religion as a romance between humans and God with God as initiator, Dekker portrays passion and desire—not simply duty and decision—as essential elements of a true relationship with God.

Evil, too, is more visibly a corruption of something originally intended by God to be good, and the consequences of exchanging evil for good, of desiring the creation instead of the Creator are incalculably disastrous. As with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis, the essence of the first sin in future Earth is a desire for knowledge that grants godlike power. Dekker also portrays a Christian understanding of God’s hatred of and grief over sin when, during Tom’s conversion-like experience in the lake, Elyon gives him a glimpse of the ugliness of his own sin followed by the sound of Elyon’s voice screaming in pain as a consequence of that sin.

In the second and third volumes, Red and White, the events in future Earth parallel and become a metaphor for the practice of religion that is merely ceremonial versus the mercy, faith, suffering, and joy that are at the heart of biblical Christianity. Red portrays those obedient to Elyon (God) at war with the disobedient, but many of the obedient have lost sight of love and mercy. Justin’s death and resurrection at the end of Red offer a vivid picture of Christ’s death and resurrection, and the implications of the new life and community this sacrifice makes possible for Elyon’s followers are demonstrated by the members of the Circle in White. Their new freedom through drowning and living anew in the red water of the pools parallel several biblical teachings central to Christianity, perhaps most explicitly expounded by Paul in Romans, chapters 6-8: the Christian’s appropriation of forgiveness and new life by dying to self and sin through baptism into the death of Christ, the resulting experience of a second birth and new life, and the mercy and love toward others that this process is to produce in the Christian as one becomes like Christ.

Throughout the trilogy, Dekker presents a clear contrast between unfallen, fallen, and redeemed humanity. The dual plot provides a vehicle for the reader to appropriate these biblical teachings to daily life. The tale encourages readers to apply to twenty-first century Earth what Dekker has taught them through the creative images of unfallen (and then, recently fallen) future Earth and its inhabitants.

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