In the novel’s opening dialogue, Dr. Francis tells Kevin, “Evil is beyond the reach of no man,” to which Kevin counters, “But can a man remove himself beyond the reach of evil?” The ensuing dialogue establishes the novel’s central argument: The spiritual nature of human beings hosts a constant battle between good and evil. In this conversation, Kevin tells him that for his paper about human nature—which we later learn is entitled “On the Three Natures of Man”—he has, following the example of Christ, chosen to use fiction as a vehicle for his main point. This comment is extraneous to the plot itself (for the reader never actually glimpses the text of Kevin’s paper), but it indicates that Ted Dekker’s use of narrative in the novel will serve the same purpose. A phrase from Dr. Francis that Kevin has appropriated sums up this trinity: “the good, the bad, and the beautiful,” the latter referring to the human soul caught in the middle of the struggle between the two moral extremes. The relationship to this battle of human free will and consciousness is the primary philosophical question of the novel and the foundation for the tension that fuels the action.
Throughout the novel, inner faith in Christ and the practical outward life of the Christian are mentioned only briefly in a few conversations. However, Dekker’s development of this theme is rooted, he makes explicit, in Romans 7:15-25. Dr. Francis alludes to the passage in a...
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