When Ted Dekker released his book Immanuel’s Veins several years ago, I bought and read it without knowing anything about it beforehand. After all, he’s my favorite Christian author, I knew I’d like it. Except I didn’t. I didn’t like it at all.
Most people who dislike Dekker’s works complain that his themes are too heavy-handed, that readers should be gently lead to the theme rather than beat over the head with it. You cannot walk away from a Dekker book without knowing exactly what general life lesson he wanted you to learn, and Immanuel’s Veins is not exception to this rule. The theme of blood having power runs from cover to cover and seems an appropriate theme for a book dealing with vampires. As with most of Dekker’s works, however, the theme is tied up in allegory, so much so that one cannot fully grasp the depth of the theme without understanding the biblical princ
ipal from which he draws. The blood of Jesus is the only thing which can rescue people from damnation, redeem a life from despair, and restore a soul to communion with the Father. The Bible teaches that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22, NIV), and Dekker fleshes this verse out in Immanuel’s Veins.
This is not my issue with the book, though. I happen to like that the theme is not hidden behind layers and layers and that I do not have to work really hard to figure the theme out.
My big issue, why I will never re-read or recommend this book to anyone, is that the book is hyper-sensual. I understand that this is a love story. I also understand that this book seeks to draw some lines between lust and love. But must we roll in the mud to understand that mud is yucky? Paul admonishes us in Philippians 4:8 to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Does chapter after chapter of a first person account of Toma’s raging emotions and desire qualify as what Christians should be dwelling on?
I finished reading the book out of loyalty to Ted Dekker, but I felt dirty by the end. It was too sensual. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either: According to Dekker himself, a publisher in the Netherlands refused to publish the book for the same reason. I’m all for free speech and lack of censorship in the publishing world, but that doesn’t mean that I have to approve of everything that is published. I personally side with Holland publishing company and say that this book crosses the line into being inappropriate for Christians to read.