The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin & Mark Tabb

Stephen BaldwinToday I’m introducing a book that will come out in November called The Life and Death of Gabriel Phillips written by Stephen Baldwin and Mark Tabb. Yes, it’s the same Stephen Baldwin that’s the youngest of the Baldwin brothers and who starred in The Young Riders and The Usual Suspects.

Now you may notice that Stephen is wearing a Jesus ball cap in this photo. That’s because he became a Christian and now works with Breakthrough Ministry in addition to starring in movies, TV shows, etc.Mark Tabb

He and Mark Tabb co-authored Stephen’s conversion bio called, the Unusual Suspect. These two have teamed up again and written the somewhat controversial novel that I’m introducing today. Here’s a brief summary of that book:

When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he’d respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son’s body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God’s will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.

Now why is this controversial? Because it evidently has some adult language in it. The publisher has recently come under fire for it’s decision to run this book and here is their response:

Normally, it is not the policy of FaithWords to include foul language in our fiction titles. The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips has dialogue which reflects the heart of the main character. His transformation and ultimate conversion to Christ throughout the book is key to the story and the author’s intention was to make that transformation clear. We apologize if this inclusion offends our readers. We are committed to publishing fiction that depicts the power of Christ’s love in even the darkest life and situation.

Harry Helm, Associate Publisher, FaithWords

I haven’t read the book yet, but I plan to. Why? Not because I usually read or use offensive language, but because I believe that God accepts us just as we are – warts and all. It is not our choice or even within our power to “clean ourselves up” before we come to Christ. He loves us – period.

So, what’s your opinion? Should a Christian novel steer away from offensive scenes and language or should it show Christians in the real world? Post your comments and keep it nice, please.

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15 thoughts on “The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin & Mark Tabb

  1. Mountain Woman says:

    I would read this book because it sounds as if the language in it is integral to the character and his transformation.

  2. Page McManus says:

    Thanks, Mountain Woman. I agree.

    I understand that some would be offended by the language, but there’s not a lot of difference between the euphemisms used in mainstream Christian novels and adult language used in secular ones. The meaning is more coarse, but it’s basically still swearing.

  3. Karen & Gerard Zemek says:

    I read other books which had offensive language and certainly hear it on TV and all around me so if it’s part of the story and integral to showing what the character is all about, then I don’t really have a problem with it. One thing that bugs me about Christian fiction is that it’s usually so predictable and phoney. This one sounds like it may be different.

  4. Amy Deardon says:

    Hi Page, while I agree that a LOT of Christian fiction is predictable and phony, I don’t think obscenities make it more *real* — the story stands on its own. I personally won’t read a book with a string of obscenities throughout, because I find it jarring and disturbing. I don’t object to a (very) rare expletive. Surely the English language is versatile and rich enough not to have to resort to *shock words* to make a point!

  5. Page McManus says:

    I’ve felt that way about a lot of movies I’ve seen, too. But personally, I’m hoping that those who read this book will be those who are accustomed to this language (or worse). Maybe this will be an evagelistic tool?

    Perhaps we need to pray for the readers to see past the language and into the real message of the book.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  6. Gigi says:

    First time reader – really like your blog!

    I guess I have mixed feelings about the book…sure, we’ve all heard the words before. Phillipians 4:8 comes to mind…

  7. Page McManus says:

    Gigi,

    Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like it. Come back anytime!

    I know what you mean. Phil. 4:8 is one of my favorite verses. I even made up a little mnemonic to help me remember all the qualities that Paul says were to use to filter our thoughts: TuRNiP LEAP. (I know it sounds funny, but it helps.)

  8. Page McManus says:

    Argh! Technical issues!

    ANYWAY, here’s my memory helper:
    T – True
    R – Right
    N – Noble
    P – Pure

    L – Lovely
    E – Excellent
    A – Admirable
    P – Pure

    These are the “thought filters” that Paul tells us to use. But I just can’t get past the evangelistic possibilities that this book offers.

    Could it be possible to consider this book a “true” representation of some non-Christian? I’m not sure if this is what Paul had in mind.

    A matter for much prayer …

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  9. Page McManus says:

    Vintage Gent,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree. I’m afraid that to some real life is much different than most who have been raised in Christian households.

    Breeni Books,

    He is, but keep in mind that he had a co-author, Mark Tabb. Now the book wasn’t ghost-written, so Stephen did actually do some (maybe most) of the writing.

    Thanks so much for traveling with me!

    Page

  10. Pamela J says:

    I have a hard time dealing with reading words that might be bleeped on the TV. I know I do hear some of it around in real life but am not where a lot of that is going on. Maybe I am too sheltered? My closest friends know what words bother me and try to help me out by not saying them. Quite a few years ago, my Mom who didn’t approve of the bad language suggested us see a movie that does just what you said the book does. She assured us it was important to see the progress of the characters in the movie so I understand what is being said here about the book. Though that is what it is, I am not sure I would put myself through reading the words. I can see the point in bringing others that don’t know Christ to that saving grace because that could be where they are and to show them where they need to grow toward.
    Pam Williams

  11. Page McManus says:

    Pam,

    Thanks so much. You’ve brought up a very important point: audience.

    One of the things I learned at writing conferences is to write to your audience. I don’t think that we, as Christians, are Stephen’s audience. I think he had in mind those who aren’t offended by these words when he wrote this book – those who need, as you said, Christ’s saving grace.

    I always appreciate your opinion, Pam. Thanks so much for the comment!

    Page

  12. Carole says:

    Page, I agree with Mountain Woman’s comment and also yours. While there’s a line I don’t want to cross as a reader, the world of the non-believer is not pretty and G-rated just doesn’t always ring true. If language, etc., is an integral part of the story and handled wisely by the author, then yes, I have no problem reading it. And I would like to read Baldwin’s book.

  13. Page McManus says:

    Thank you so much, Carole, for your comment. Unfortunately, we're not in Heaven (yet) and adult language is part of our sinful world.

    I hope Baldwin & Tabb have handled this subject wisely. I'll be sure and let you know when I read it!

    Thanks so much for traveling with me.

    Page

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