Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Invisible World by Anthony DeStefano

It's an invisible world. DeStefano says if you do not recognize that, you are missing out on a big piece of reality, in fact, reality itself. “You can ignore the invisible world as much as you want, but the invisible world is not going to ignore you!” (143)

Have you ever had the feeling that something mysterious or supernatural has just occurred? While some of these experiences may be attributed to human abilities yet undiscovered, we cannot reduce all of them to materialistic causes. Many of the most important things in life, DeStefano says, do not come to us through our physical senses. Yet we live life as if what we physically experience is all there is.
He wants to make the spiritual world more clear to us. He hopes that when these invisible realities are not so unfamiliar to us, it will be easier for us to act our moral beliefs, our lives will be fuller, and we will experience a lasting sense of peace.
With respect to God, DeStefano reminds us that He is “other” and there is a definite limit to what we can know about Him. Yet God did decide to become visible, in the form of Jesus.
He acknowledges that there have been many angel stories recently made public and we cannot distinguish the true from the phony. Reports of seeing angels are just too subjective. The truth, however, is that they do exist. Spiritual beings are an essential part of Christianity and all the other major religions of the world.
Angels “'talk' directly to the spiritual part of our nature.” (52) They impress concepts upon our minds and souls, DeStefano writes, nudges that may bypass the brain. Angels are observers and cannot read our minds.
DeStefano reminds us that just as there are “good” angels, there are evil ones as well. They were not created that way but chose that path. Many people do not believe in the evil angels and DeStefano admits that their existence and actions are hard to understand. Also called demons, they don't usually show themselves (despite popular movies). Demons don't want people to believe that they exist so they stay hidden.
He notes that humans have an invisible aspect to them and is convinced that the Christian view of humans is the most balanced – humans being body, soul, and spirit.
DeStefano knows we need help in living life and it comes from God to us in the form of grace. “Grace is all about actualizing, to a degree not humanly possible, all your God-given potential.” (132)
He ends his book with our invisible destiny – our existence after death. He reminds us there are automatic consequences from the life we have lived.

DeStefano has written this book for the general public skeptical of spiritual beings. He is the first to admit, “This is not meant to be a theology text book.” (86)
That being said, here are a few of my observations about the book. DeStefano uses all of the right terms (sin, unrepentance, choose, heaven, hell, judgment). He concentrates, however, on a relationship with God and nowhere presents the actual saving gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection. Because of this, even though the book is advertised as within evangelical Christian belief, some may be uncomfortable with the lack of emphasis on belief in Jesus as essential to a true relationship with God.
One particular aspect of DeStefano's writing about angels is unbiblical, I think. “They don't speak,” he says. “They don't express their thoughts in words.” They communicate, “through some kind of direct mind-to-mind contact we don't understand...” (64) He seems to be precluding angels speaking audibly while it appears there are accounts in the Bible of angels doing just that. God, the ultimate spiritual being, certainly speaks audibly as some heard Him at Jesus' baptism (thinking it was thunder – see John 12:29).
Also of angels he says, “Since angels don't have bodies, they don't have neurological systems.” (73) They don't process their thoughts through brain cells. They don't have to process their thoughts as they are in full possession of facts immediately. (74-75)
Something about that doesn't sit well with me. Just because angels are invisible does not mandate they be without bodies. There are accounts of them appearing in the Bible in bodily form, especially in the Old Testament and in the New Testament book of Revelation.

So, who should read this book? DeStefano may have aimed this book at the confirmed materialist, the one totally skeptic of the spiritual realm. However, sometimes he writes with the assumption the Bible is true and the reader will believe what it says. For example, “Any one who thinks hell doesn't really exist should go back and read those [Bible] passages...” (180) At other times he writes as if the reader has never heard of the Bible. For example, “There happens to be a very famous book that God wrote called the Bible! In this book you can find...” (189)
So I am not really sure who should read this book. It might be appropriate to give to your atheist friend but I would suggest you read it along with him and clarify any misconceptions that arise. This book may convince your friend that the spiritual world really does exist. It would not bring him to salvation, however, and may even leave the impression one can have a relationship with God without belief in Jesus. Saving belief in Jesus is certainly not discredited in this book! It would just need to be proclaimed through personal contact after your friend has read the book.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Doubleday, 206 pages.

Watch the video trailer.
Go to the author's website.

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