Dodging Evil is the memoir of P.C. Field and her encounters with two worlds, the physical world and the unseen world. Born of part Yaqui heritage, she inherits abilities of her people to see into the unseen world and recognize spirits in operation.
The book gives an account of her life from her youth when she is in communion with the Spirit she identifies as God, to her rejection and going her own way, experimentation with evil, and coming to know Jesus as Redeemer.
The story is told as first-person account from someone in their seventh decade of life giving an account of what happened in their first. It reads as if you were sitting and listening to her tell her story. This is either a plus or a minus, depending on your preference.
We live in one dimension of God’s creation and this account is by someone who can see in a second. The challenge with accounts like this is how can someone who doesn’t see the same things tell if someone who does is telling them the truth? How can their story be verified? We verify this the same way we confirm any other situation where we don’t have all the information, we test for truth the details that we do have from as many points as we can and see if they proof.
There are both structural and theological issues with the book. Regardless of whether you are writing a true story or a work of fiction, the narrative has to hold together. This doesn’t. There are problems with the timeline, motivations, and some accounts where, while I am sure the basic facts are true, sound like they’ve been embellished for effect.
Maybe every bit of it is true and it just sounds off because of the way it is written. The finish is lovely: the cover beautiful, the interior well-formatted, and the copyediting tight. However all the way through, there was so much that didn’t make sense in terms of what was explained, that I kept thinking “this really needed a developmental edit,” but when I looked back at the acknowledgments, I saw that there were quite a few people who played a role in developing this book. Maybe they just didn’t know how to handle an account like this and didn’t see where the gaps were.
Many people don’t know how to handle accounts like this. Too often, they either dismiss it entirely or accept it whole cloth.
This leads to my biggest issue with the book, Fields states in the beginning that she is not a theologian (loc 96). Theology is a study of the nature of God and more than an account of spiritual encounters, this is very much a book of theology. Several times throughout the book she dismisses “organized religion” and their “dogmas.” There is a sense that because she sees in the spirit (at times, but not always which was one area where the account didn’t hold together) and has spiritual encounters that she has a greater understanding than dogmatic church people. There are multiple accounts when she “schools” church leaders on Scripture; however, in most of those accounts I would say she was very off in her exegesis (regarding the role and importance of congregations, generational curses, the sanctity of marriage, on tongues, on the preexistence of the soul, claiming freedom in Christ but completely ignoring 1 Corinthians 8, etc.)
There is a reason we are to be in a congregation and fellowship. There is a reason it is called the “body” of Christ. Any one of us on our own can get off track, which she acknowledges; however, she doesn’t seem to always apply that situation to herself. Whatever our experience is, we are to test it for truth. In order to do that, we have to test it against something outside of ourselves, not our own experiences. We test it against God’s word. We test it by the “fruit” of the experience. We test it against the world around us, and sometimes those “dogmas and doctrines” can help us come to the truth much more quickly because we have generations of marvelous thinkers who “did the heavy lifting,” as one friend put it, before us.
While Fields believes in Jesus as her Savior, and I do not doubt her sincerity, the plan of salvation she describes is Gnosticism. Her description of the elders and the young spirit in the beginning, the importance of the recovery of our “true selves,” the repeated emphasis on “we are spirit beings in a body” … all of this is textbook Gnosticism. The oddest thing to me about the book is that an evangelical pastor wrote the forward and didn’t see that as an issue.
Do I think she is a Christian? Yes? Regardless of what I view as her faulty interpretations of Scripture, salvation is not, as the Gnostics believe, about “right understanding” or knowledge, but by believing in Christ as Savior and the truth of the resurrection (Romans 10:9.) It is through his redemption of us by dying on the cross that we can be free from the bonds to sin. While it isn’t highlighted in the book, it does come through in her story. There is a “before” and an “after,” from the moment of justification with her sinner’s prayer, what her pastor and spiritual mentor refers to as “positional sanctification” in the forward, you see the freedom and ability to overcome. Sanctification is a process. We are “being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14) and we grow in our knowledge of God.
I think someone who is a Christian might read this and think, “hmm, maybe there are some things going on in my life that I’m not aware of.” That would be a good thing, but the danger would be some of the faulty beliefs presented in this book taking root. However, I don’t think someone who doesn’t already believe in Christ would be convinced that he is the answer from this narrative. I think they could easily see this as a confirmation that “all religions are one” (as the Universal Life Church that Fields is ordained in believes) and that all one needs is to kindle the spark of the “Christ consciousness.”
The pastor endorsing this book believes that it “points to Jesus.” I would say there are some very mixed signals.
(I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)