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21 December 2017

Convinced By Scripture

“It would be hard to overstate the significance of Christian biography in the spiritual development of believers – certainly, that’s been true in my case. Reading Dallimore’s Whitefield in my early 20s was absolutely foundational for so much of what I understand about the gospel and there have been other biographies that have made a similar impact. The disappointing reality though is that so many Christian biographies (like so many Christian books, period) are poorly written.

It got to the point where I largely stopped reading Christian biography and switched to the well–written secular kind – while highlighting the good ones here on Think: such as this one on Kierkegaard, and this terrific one on Cotton Mather.

Refreshingly, Convinced by Scripture fits in the ‘strongly recommend’ category.

Full disclosure: Andy Johnston is a friend and gave me a copy of his little book on Luther while we were in Germany together the other week. But it is not on the basis of a friendly freebie that I’m recommending it. Andy has done an exceptional job of writing something that is concise, informative and without the all too typical bugbears that have me hurling Christian paperbacks across the room.

Firstly, it is concise. I read it on the plane from Southampton to Glasgow last week (where I was scouting things out for a church plant we have in the pipeline – get in touch if you’d like to know more). This is a good thing in an age when many people don’t read books at all – Convinced by Scripture is the kind of book you could give to a non–reading friend and have confidence they will actually be able to digest it.

Secondly, it is informative. I’ve read longer, denser biographies of Luther, but in twelve short chapters (The boy, The monk, The theologian, The justified sinner, The reformer, The heretic, The Bible translator, Against the fanatics, The Church builder, The family man, the flawed character, The legacy) Andy provides plenty of meat to chew on. Anyone new to Luther will gain a good sense of the man from this book while those who are more familiar will find it helpful to have all the key points in one location.

Convinced by Scripture is warts and all in its appraisal of Luther. He is certainly a great hero of the faith but this is no hagiography: “His views [on the Jews] are thoroughly shameful in every respect.” Written for the October anniversary of the 500 years since Luther nailed the ninety–five theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door it would be a shame if Andy’s book was seen as something only for that anniversary. It’s the kind of ‘core curriculum’ I’d like everyone in my church to read. You should get it!

Kudos must also be given to the publisher, 10ofThose, who are doing us a terrific service in producing high quality, low cost, resources. You can buy a carton of 100 of these at a unit price of £3.89. Amazing value.”

– This review was originally posted on www.thinktheology.co.uk by Matthew Hosier.

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