Monday 12 December 2011

Timeless Stories

This book took me by surprise. I had pigeonholed it in my mind as a collection of short biographies, along the lines of Faith Cook's recent 'Out of the Shadows.' In fact I was interested to see how this new kid on the block, author Vance Christie, compared to her. The first surprise was in the arrangement of the book. Story follows story, but biography doesn't follow biography. It is thematically arranged, with brief, almost 'bedtime story' type pieces. This is fresh, and makes a comfortable reading length. It therefore suits Christmas schedules(!) as well as commuters, or the elderly, or just those who want meditations prompted by lessons from the past. Indeed, preachers might find stories here to illustrate sermons. However the downside is that those who are not familiar with the individual lives of the likes of George Muller, C H Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, Corrie ten Boom, Billy Graham and others, will find it a bit chaotic. Christie does compare well with Faith Cook in my opinion in terms of historical research and attention to detail. His writing also holds the interest of the reader (always a help!) But, and this was my second surprise, he apparently finds no difficulty in lumping these very different famous Christian men and women together. There is no discussion of doctrinal differences, no critical analysis in that sense, although there is evaluation as well as appreciation of the experiences of the characters involved. This falls short of Faith Cook - whether you agree with her judgment or not.
'Timeless Stories. God's incredible work in the lives of inspiring Christians' is published by Christian Focus Publications (CFP) for £8.99. It is written by Vance Christie, who is an evangelical pastor from Nebraska, USA.
CFP have also published 'Women of Faith and Courage' by him, which costs the same but has a more conventional arrangement. It contains fascinating mini-biographies of Susanna Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor and Corrie ten Boom. (Susanna was my favourite). Again, the same absence of biblical assessment of their spiritual experience and ministry was a problem for me. It is as though as long as the broad banner of 'evangelical' can be draped around them all is well.

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