Book Review: Baptist History

Baptist HistoryBaptist History by John Mockett Cramp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall a good history. The last few chapters were a little more encyclopedic, with numerous short biographical sketches. Otherwise, it is an easily readable book. I appreciated the fact that Cramp was open about the scarcity of historical records and he wasn’t quick to just assume what filled the gaps. Many today could learn a valuable lesson from his example here.

This isn’t exactly a history of churches as much as it is a history of preachers and leaders. It was interesting to read about about a number of oddities and variances between churches. Among churches in the past can be found such things as naked baptisms, trine baptisms, temporarily abandoning baptizing at all, the laying on of hands after baptism, and times of women preachers and elders. There were quite a bit of differences between churches, but some things were more consistent.

They were unified around Gospel issues such as rejecting baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. They held the Scripture as the all-sufficient and final rule of authority for all matters of faith and practice. These churches were promoters of Bible translations, so the Bible was in the common language of the people and in their hands. They were proponents of educated and trained preachers for the ministry. They held to liberty of conscience in religion and opposed state churches.

If we’re being honest, history isn’t quite as pretty as we might like it to be, or as many men would lead us to believe it is. I guess when you’re facing constant persecution and harassment, you just don’t have as much time to criticize and harangue your brothers, and split and fracture over little narrow point until you’ll hardly fellowship with yourself. I’m thankful for our goodly heritage and do think we should learn from history.

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Book Review: The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics

The Golden RatioThe Golden Ratio by Gary B. Meisner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is an interesting look at math history with intersections in art, architecture, engineering, natural science, biology, chemistry, astrophysics, etc. Meisner looks at the natural occurrence of phi as well as the human use of the irrational number in history.

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Book Review: Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to FreedomSteal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book focuses on Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson. Spurgeon was the well known pastor in London and Johnson was an African-American born into slavery in Virginia and lived as a slave for 28 years until finding freedom at the end of the Civil War. Johnson was saved when Jesus found him on the plantation. He went on to become a preacher and pastor. He longed to go to Africa as a missionary and ended up studying at Spurgeon’s Pastors College before he went to Cameroon.

The book focuses on these two men leading up to their eventual meeting and the friendship between them thereafter. Johnson was a friend and counselor whose experience as a slave helped Spurgeon in facing his own bondage of physical sickness and paralyzing depression. It’s a side of Spurgeon you probably knew existed, but it’s not typically the focus of any treatment of his life.

I found the book fascinating and appreciated the authors’ work in producing it. It is a work of narrative non-fiction. The authors took the various pieces of history of these two men and put them together in a narrative rather than an academic listing of names, places, and dates. Such an approach requires creativity to connect the dots at times. Every small detail may not be exactly right, but the work produced is readable and informative.

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Book Review: The Time Between the Old and New Testament

The Time Between the Old and New Testament: A Zondervan Digital ShortThe Time Between the Old and New Testament: A Zondervan Digital Short by Henry H. Halley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a concise overview of the intertestamental period. It is an excellent summary to bridge the gap between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Many things changed during those four centuries and understanding that helps understand the setting of the Gospels and the land of Israel during the life of Jesus.

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Book Review: The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English DictionaryThe Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, focusing somewhat on the editor, James Murray, and focusing primarily on one of the major volunteer contributors, Dr. William Minor. The tale of Minor’s life is fascinating, tragic, sad, and highly disturbing. The author does not sensationalize, but the truth of Minor’s life is unsettling. I cannot recommend the book unqualified, but with a little investigation you can discern what you’re in for.

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