Francine Rivers ranks near the top of most lovers of Christian fiction’s favorite authors lists. For many, her most memorable books are Redeeming Love or the Mark of the Lion series. I admit those novels vie for top billing on my list too. But The Last Sin Eater surpasses even those masterful works.
The Last Sin Eater
From the author’s website: Set in Appalachia in the 1850s, The Last Sin Eater is the story of a community committed to its myth of a human “sin eater,” who absolves the dead of their sins, and the ten-year-old child who shows them the Truth.
All that matters for young Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her, the sin that has stolen her mother’s love from her and made her wish she could flee life and its terrible injustice. But Cadi doesn’t know that the “sin eater” is seeking as well.
Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other, and the One who will demand everything from them in exchange for the answers they seek. A captivating tale of suffering, seeking, and redemption.
Why I Choose Sin Eater
The Last Sin Eater ranks at the top of my favorite Francine Rivers works for several reasons. Here are five of them:
First, the title. When I heard the term “sin eater”, I was hooked. What in the world is a sin eater?
Appalachia in the 1850s. While the rest of the world was experiencing “enlightenment” in science, philosophy, and a host of other arenas, the souls living apart in backwoods Appalachia were holding onto a flawed view of sin that affected every area of their lives. Secluded, they needed enlightenment they had never imagined.
The First Line
The last time I saw the sin eater was the night Granny Forbes was taken to her grave. The questions those eighteen words engendered drew me into the story, siren-like. And I’ve not strayed far.
Suffering. Seeking. And Redemption. All three hover around a central theme of sin, its consequences, and its solution. When separated from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, human beings revert to humanism. Surely human frailty–sin–is to be dealt with by human beings. Isn’t it?
And mustn’t the one who remedies sin’s plaguing effect be kept apart from others so as not to “reinfect” them? (Leviticus 16:10 – But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.)
No one must open the locked door that keeps the answers safe, certainly not a child. Surely . . .
The Take Away
The effect this story had on me can’t be over emphasized. I was born in a loving, devoted Christian home. So I learned God’s solution for sin early on. But I grew to adulthood with misconceptions galore and lived in a “separate from the world” mindset that crippled my knowledge of the fullness of God’s grace.
I have known a similar internal agony to Cadi’s and the sin eater’s. And I’ve sought answers to similar questions myself. So I came away from this masterpiece with tears and gratitude and a level of peace I hadn’t yet attained.
If you’ve read The Last Sin Eater, I’d love to hear your impressions. Please share with us in Comments.
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Lord, thank You for showing us what sin is and giving us free will to choose–or reject–it. Thank You for providing the answer to sin. Thank You for the enlightenment that comes from Your Word. It’s a light to our paths and a lamp to our feet. Hallelujah! Please bless every word Francine Rivers writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake