Some Shall Not Die — Philip
by Everett Cole
This story is an excellent example of well-executed Christian fiction. The characters are well-developed, the research is outstanding, and it’s not preachy. Clearly, the main character, Philip, is passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but he does it in a natural, compelling manner. If you’re a Christian, you’ll find your faith strengthened by Philip’s quoting of Biblical verses and intrigued by how much of this story is historical truth and how much is fiction, as the two are blended beautifully.
As stated in the introduction, the premise is based upon a statement made by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible that promised that some of his disciples wouldn’t taste of death until Jesus returned. The story recounts the mission of Philip, one assumed to be one of these chosen few, and starts when he’s in Britannia, i.e. today’s United Kingdom, as his companion, Barnabas, dies. Following that event, he’s summoned to a meeting with the other disciples so he leaves to return to mainland Europe. He winds up in a small village in Northern Italy and become involved with the various citizens of a town called Martigny.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for these early Christian missionaries, this story will take you there. It’s a great history (and geography) lesson with regard to travel at that time as well as the Roman Empire’s influence. Threats early Christians faced, not only from the Romans, but the Druids as well as hoards of barbarians, who resented the Roman invasion of their land, are clearly explained. Living conditions of the time are well-represented, as well as the simple nature of the majority of people, who were mostly illiterate. This enjoyable story takes you on a fascinating journey and provides a powerful glimpse of what it was like to be one of the early Christians. While fictitious, it nonetheless will provide fascinating context to your comprehension of the New Testament. For that, I highly recommend it, especially since it’s suitable for family reading time if you or your children’s eyes glaze over when reading the actual scriptures.
As a Christian myself, but also a professional astrologer, I wasn’t surprised when the primary antagonist was an astrologer and mystic. Of course there have always been charlatans, but I can’t resist mentioning that if it weren’t for the Magi’s knowledge of astrology, they never would have found Jesus or recognized his significance. The Bible tells us to expect signs in the heavens (as well as in the Earth beneath), the recognition of which in the majority of cases will require a knowledge of astrology. What better way to keep people in the dark than to forbid such knowledge? Furthermore, all the Bible says against astrologers is that they’re not as powerful as prophets and are not intended to replace them.
To set the record straight, it was actually the Roman Empire who did all it could to keep astrology out of the hands of those who weren’t in the highest echelons of society; they wanted to control the common people and what they knew. Individuals are never encouraged by emperors and/or dictators (or even popes) to think for themselves. Given the heavy influence on Christianity by the Romans, it’s no wonder that this false tradition has persisted in Christianity to this day.
I have found astrology to be so elegantly detailed and precise that it could have no origin other than from God, who created the stars and planets in the first place. Thus, how could their message not be from Him? A knowledge of astrology was required of those considered learned for centuries, but ironically fell out of favor during the Enlightenment, when most things spiritual in nature were dismissed as either nonexistent or of the devil when they couldn’t be proven with hard data.
The Sefer Yetzirah, the book of the Letters of Abraham, contains a wealth of information related to Jewish mysticism and Kabbalistic traditions. Astrology is mentioned in great detail. along with the statement that Abraham was the greatest astrologer of all time. It seems to me that’s a pretty high recommendation. Like so many other gifts given to man by our Creator, its use has been misunderstood and maligned to keep us from recognizing signs in the heavens and the many insights it can provide into our personal lives.
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