The Question



Book: The Question

Author: Carolyn Erman

Publisher: Zayin, republished in 2011

ISBN-13: none

Related website:

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:

Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Erman, Carolyn.  The Question (published in 2003 and republished in 2011 by Zayin Publishing, P. O. Box 571, Wilkes-Barre, PA  18703).  In this Volume 3 of the series “A Time for Every Purpose,” Hope and David Jensen, who live in the farmlands of Missouri, return with their loved ones and friends, as well as several new characters, to face a number of life decisions and challenges and losses with good and bad, sickness and health, new life and death.  David and Hope want to have children but haven’t been able so far, while Hope’s younger sister Shelley Farr and her husband Steven are having a baby.  So are David’s younger brother Daniel and his wife Kathy in Arkansas.  Their friends Adam and Laura cope with life after their move California.  Hope’s parents, John and Betty Phillips, must deal with serious illness.  Don Tennison is still interested in Shelley’s friend Annette Neil, who is still struggling with issues from her past.  Their young friends Dean Irwin and Carla Young are talking about marriage.

David’s 55 year old dad Martin Jensen, a widower, meets Grace McConner and wonders if it is time to remarry.  Their older friends Noah and Evelyn also adjust to being remarried after years of being single.  And former Phillips ranch hand Kevin Thompson, who is back in Missouri due to the death of his mother, continues trying to get over his previous affection for Hope.  Plus, with plenty of horses, there is always the possibility of a serious accident.  Who will have a baby?  Who will get married?  Who will pass on from this life?  From a negative standpoint, this book has a somewhat soap-opera feel to it.  There’s nothing immoral or ungodly about it, but the narrative goes from one story line to another to another, back to a previous one, to another, then to another previous one, and so on.  I found it difficult to follow at times and hard to remember all that had gone on before.  While I appreciate books where the characters live by their religious faith, there is quite a bit of what many would consider false doctrine in this series.  The Question especially promotes keeping various aspects of the Old Testament law, including the Sabbath, and various elements of Premillennialism appear.

Also, a lot of emphasis is placed on being led directly by the Holy Spirit.  And a many opinions are included as almost fact, such as opposition to youth groups and lock-ins and views on work arrangements.  Of some it is said, “They are self-employed, which is the Lord’s ideal….It is not a sin to be employed, but if it is possible to end employment to men, that is good.”  Scriptures are sometimes used questionably to justify these views, and anyone who might disagree with them are portrayed as rather benighted or unenlightened.  Even the website where I first saw a recommendation for these books warns that there may be doctrinal beliefs that vary from those of many believers.  From a positive standpoint, I again appreciate the stress on the importance of maintaining purity before marriage, though, as with the earlier books, many people, even strong conservatives, may think that some of the suggestions are a bit overboard.  And the benefits of homeschooling are presented.  There are some good things about the book, but I still feel that some caution is needed.

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