Book Review: The Witnesses, by Robert Whitlow
What if you witnessed what no one else could see? What if you had prophetic insight like the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-12) and your secret knowledge could turn the tide of battle for your nation? Would your prophetic gift be a blessing or a burden?
The Witnesses is the latest novel from the mind of Robert Whitlow. The book tells the story of 82-year-old German immigrant Frank House and his 26-year-old grandson, Parker. During WWII, Frank was an officer in the German army. He was tasked with using his prophetic gift to help Germany identify where the Allies would attack and how to defeat them. He was so bothered by how he was being used that he deserted the German army in 1944 and crossed the border into Switzerland. Later, he immigrated to America and settled in New Bern, North Carolina. Fast forward to 2003 and Parker House in beginning his career as an associate lawyer. As his career is on the rise, he is also beginning to show signs of the family inheritance—prophetic insight.
The book goes back and forth between Frank being haunted by events that took place during WWII and Parker navigating the politics of small-town courtroom law. Frank has to deal with his darkest regrets and Parker is forced to confront the consequences of his choices.
Prior to this book, I was unfamiliar with the work of this author. Having read and enjoyed this novel, I will seek out his previous works. I found the book to be well written and entertaining. The author weaves in Christian principles and a gospel message without being overbearing and preachy.
While I enjoyed the book, I struggled with the author’s portrayal of how we receive spiritual gifts. Whitlow uses the example of the apostle Paul laying hands on Timothy and imparting to him a spiritual gift. In the book, Frank House, or Franz Haus as he was known as a boy in Germany, receives his prophetic gift when his godly grandfather laid hands on him and prayed for him. Later, Parker receives the gift when his grandfather Frank, who had since become a Christian, does the same to him. At the time, however, neither Franz/Frank nor Parker are believers in Christ.
From a biblical standpoint, spiritual gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation. Spiritual gifts are given to believers, not unbelievers. We do not choose our gift nor does any other person choose one for us. They are sovereignly given by the Holy Spirit.
As a novel, the book is enjoyable and entertaining. As a theological treatise, it has some holes. Enjoy the intrigue but don’t base your theology of spiritual gifts on a novel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.