Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: Let God Arise

CS Lewis once coined the phrase chronological snobbery, meaning that we assume that our generation is the most advanced and superior generation, so that we can't possibly learn anything from the generations that have gone before. For some, it's a way of life, but for others, we accidentally fall into it through simply not knowing about the rich heritage of saints in church history.

If you ask most Christians, they'll be able to stammer through a potted history of some notables from the past two thousand years of Christianity - perhaps Paul, Constantine, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, and one or two others. But how much we know about the leaders of the church in ages past is debatable.

Sir Marcus Loane's little volume, Let God Arise, is a great antidote to this chronological snobbery and ignorance. Taking some key figures from English church history, Loane presents a portrait of each, noting their motivations, actions, achievements, and impact on the world church scene. Within the book there were some people I had never really heard of, and some that I should have known better. Aidan of Lindisfarne (the true founder of the English Church, with roots from Columba's mission to Iona, originating in this land); John Wycliffe; Little Bilney, the key figure in the English Reformation with a huge impact on so many other reformers; the Wesleys and Whitefield; William Wiberforce; and Elizabeth Clephane, the hymnwriter.

Perhaps the reason this volume is so good is because it doesn't make much of the characters without making much of their Saviour. Jesus Christ is exalted in each of the chapters, so the read is encouraging and challenging (to see what these men and women of God have done in previous generations, when things were far from as easy as we have them now), but also edifying in reminding the reader of the gospel which is at the heart of each of the players.

This book will be useful for anyone seeking to grow in their understanding of church history, and to discover more about the particular people featured. The book will even be a launchpad for people wanting to go further into church history and learn from the church triumphant.

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