Friday, July 20, 2012

book review: Ascent From Darkness by Michael Leehan

“One Saturday afternoon as I sat on my red corduroy couch my heart filled with anger toward a God who seemed distant, even cruel. My tiny snatches of knowledge about this God of the Bible had built the picture of a tyrant in my mind’s eye…. Hadn’t God created a fear-based system with the threat of hell that forced people to bend their knees to Him, not out of love, but out of self-preservation? ….

Finally, I said, ‘God, I will not serve You. I will not serve a God of fear and punishment, who forces His victims into submission. I will serve the dark side.’ And I blurted out, ‘Satan, come into my life. You are now my god. Use me, have me, and control me for your purposes.” (Michael Leehan, Ascent From Darkness, Kindle Location 478)

Michael Leehan describes the incident, above, in his book Ascent from Darkness: How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior. His decision to serve Satan that Saturday was the culmination of years of disappointment and turmoil. His painful, undisciplined childhood was followed by a youth dominated by pain-killers and alcohol. His marriage began happily but ended in divorce after nine years leaving him hurt, lonely, and missing his three young kids. It was shortly after the divorce that he decided to give his life to Satan.

Most of Ascent From Darkness is a description of the next 20 years of Leehan’s life, spent in satanic servitude. It is a disturbing account of occultic entanglement, showing a dedication on his part that would put many Christians to shame. He did things like buy and carry copies of the Satanic Bible to put in church sanctuaries and Sunday School room, and infiltrate Bible studies and home groups to sow theological confusion and seduce women. At one point he observed a long fast to gain spiritual power. His arms were scarred from the numerous cuts he inflicted on himself while absorbed in spirit communication. His deepening involvement led to daytime blackouts when he channeled spirits and nights disturbed by spooky phenomena, fear, and torment. He obsessed over how to carry out his assignment to kill his girlfriend’s pastor and then commit suicide himself.

He eventually broke free in a miraculous encounter with God—an ending that made this dark book worth reading. Though some have criticized it because it deals almost exclusively with the dark years of Leehan’s life, I found the book a worthwhile read for other reasons as well:

  • It disclosed the fearful price that Satan exacts in loyalty, obedience and servitude.
  • It showed how Satan's promises are lies.
  • It illustrated, by contrast, the light, life, freedom, and joy we have in Christ—things it's easy for us to take for granted, until we've experienced (vicariously, through reading about it was experience enough for me) what life on the dark side is like.
  • It gave insight into what may be behind many of our society's bizarre and self-destructive behaviours (like the prevalence of cutting, the spirit of lust that has not only taken down lay-Christians but many pastors too, and rampant suicide) and gave clues as to how to minister to demonically oppressed people.
  • Mike's spiritual zeal for and commitment to the dark side puts me to shame as I compare it to my zeal and commitment to Jesus.

Mike Leehan’s own words about why he wrote the book are powerful and instructive for those curious about the occult and those wanting to warn loved ones about the dangers of getting involved in it or help them break free from it:

"I have learned the only thing that evil can take over is darkness. Darkness invades our lives when we shut out the light of God's love. But where there is light, there cannot be darkness. Light pierces darkness and illuminates the truth.

We must realize that we are in a world that is spiritually intertwined. There is more to our existence than the obvious. We must open our eyes to see the spiritual realm, which is very real and very powerful. And we must learn the weapons of our adversary, not only to avoid becoming ensnared by darkness but to be able to reach into that darkness to rescue others, like me, with the light. We are instruments of change. We are powerful vessels carrying an eternal cargo of either life or death.

The reason for sharing my story in this book is to demonstrate the power of God over Satan and to show how merciful a God we have in heaven. To give Him the glory and praise, and to demonstrate the power of love over fear, to show the love our Father has for us, to let God's light expose the darkness—but mainly to facilitate the hope that by reading this story, people might turn to the King of Kings!"
- Mike Leehan, Ascent from Darkness, Kindle Location 3462.

Title: Ascent From Darkness: How Satan’s Soldier Became Christ’s Warrior
Author: Michael Leehan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, October 4, 2011, Paperback, 272 pages (Kindle version 441 KB).
·  ISBN-10: 0849947030
·  ISBN-13: 978-0849947032

I received this book as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

Linked to Semicolon Blog - Saturday Review of Books: July 21.

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