Review of The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg


Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction/Action & Adventure

Series: Book Two of the Twelfth Imam Series


I love eschatology and the Middle East, so this fictitious rendition of end time events was especially fun for me to read. The Tehran Initiative is the second in a series of three (I recommend reading them in order as The Twelfth Imam really sets up the story and characters).

The story begins as the Twelfth Imam (the Islamic Messiah) is coming into power and setting up his caliphate, and each nation must decide how to respond. Meanwhile, CIA agent David Shirazi, is working undercover in Iran to find Iran’s nuclear warheads so they can be destroyed before the next Holocaust begins.

The Tehran Initiative has more Christianity, more romance, and an even stronger emphasis on world politics than the first book. It keeps the momentum from The Twelfth Imam, but feels slower because it focuses on character development and introspection more than physical action and suspense (but don’t worry: it is still plenty suspenseful!). Although I enjoyed reading it just as much or more than the first book, it may not be as enticing to non-Christians or those expecting intense action plots. There is also a lot of supernatural action and emphasis, which I personally love (and experience) but which may also be a turn off for some readers.

For those who enjoy thinking about the end times, the political conflicts in the Middle East, or how Christian and Muslim eschatology fit together, I’d highly recommend this series. I love how Rosenberg realistically develops and captures one possible end time scenario, while staying true to scripture, and giving his audience so much (politically, spiritually, introspectively) to consider. I was personally encouraged and strengthened in my faith to go on this adventure with the characters. I look forward to the final book in the series: The Damascus Countdown, to be released in fall of 2012.

For more on this book and the author, check out Joel Rosenberg’s blog and the Joshua Fund, which was founded by him and his wife to “mobilize Christians and bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus”. I’d also encourage you to watch this short video of the author introducing the book:

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network.


Review of Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill


Recommended: A thorough autobiography of the author’s former Muslim perspective and re-birth through Jesus Christ.

Saada’s story stretches from silly childhood episodes, to his involvement as a sniper and personal chauffeur to his long time hero Yasser Arafat, and to the supernatural way God pursued him in the midst of it all.  Written in casual story-telling language, it’s easy to follow Saada’s personal transgression from hating the Jews and fearing Allah to recognizing Jesus as God and finding love and grace (even for the Jews).  As his faith progresses, he is amazed to find Arabs prominently placed in the Bible–not with the same mission, inheritance, and responsibility as the Jews, but with equal love from God (who loves all nations), and with their own unique blessings and promises.

Now the founder of Christian humanitarian organization Hope for Ishmael, Saada has a strong passion for Arab-Jewish reconciliation in the Middle East as each people group discovers Jesus as God and understands their individual role in His kingdom.  The final chapters express amazing optimism that peace is fully achievable as every person recognizes and follows Jesus.

This view of peace and reconciliation, while understandable in the context of Saada’s message, wrongfully exaggerates the message of the Bible and leaves out a great deal of God’s story.  I don’t see this as making his personal testimony and insight less valuable, but I’d like to counterbalance his argument by reminding readers that while followers of Jesus are called to live peacefully whenever possible, we should not expect peace or reconciliation contrary to Biblical prophecies or to allegiance to our Lord.  The Bible is very explicit that at some point all nations will be against Israel (yet to be fulfilled in fullness) and also that a world-wide religious, economic and political system is coming which will superficially be about peace and tolerance, then lead into the violent regime of the Antichrist.  So while I appreciate Saada’s idealism that the Middle East can be fully reconciled, we also have to remember that Jesus came to bring a division (Luke 12:49-51), and that many will choose to reject Jesus and the peace He brings.  Christians should never attempt to fabricate peace outside of Jesus or without Him, so we should be prudent that Jesus always remain the central focus of evangelism.

I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Tyndale Blog Network.