Heroes of the faith
BOOKS | Authors offer short bios of great evangelicals
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Evangelical Heroes (Reformation Heritage Books 2023), a two-volume set, beckons to two kinds of readers. The biography lover will want to know whom to read about next. (These volumes offer 27 choices.) The aspiring reader, on the other hand, who might be intimidated by 500-page biographies, will find in these short surveys an accessible introduction to many Christian heroes.
Both kinds of readers will find treasure in these new books by Joel Beeke and Doug Bond. Beeke is a pastor, historian, and president of the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. Bond is an author of first-rate historical fiction stories for young readers. He also leads tours of historical sites.
They team up well to write about these heroes of the 18th to 21st centuries in Great Britain and America. Some of these are well known—Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and R.C. Sproul.
The authors offer refreshing insights. George Whitefield, for example, providentially served in his mother’s English pub and learned how to relate to ordinary working-class people as a young man. Later he would connect well with them during open-air preaching.
The biographies are short at about 10 pages each, and their assumption of heroism is rare in this age of cynicism. Beeke and Bond don’t dwell compulsively on weaknesses but see true heroism as emerging from a close walk with God.
They make an interesting selection by including Charles Wesley instead of his more famous brother John, but offer good life lessons from both. The authors also do not waste words. For example, in a single excellent paragraph about the spiritual condition of England when Whitefield started open-air preaching in the late 1730s, Beeke and Bond do justice to a topic that has filled many books.
Beeke is adding to his library of similar projects, such as Reformation Heroes with Diana Kleyn (2007) and Puritan Heroes with Glenda Mathes (2018). The books seem aimed at teens and young adults, yet are excellent for even well-read history lovers. He who walks with the wise will grow wiser through these volumes.
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