We Have This Hope: Volume Two, compiled by David C. Jarnes
Having read and greatly enjoyed the previous volume in this collection , and being in general a fond reader of books from Church of God and Adventist sources , reading this book was a fairly obvious step taken immediately after finishing the first volume. And although this book had many of the same qualities as the first volume, like the consistent tone across messages because of the able editing and the introductions to the sermon speakers that often included references to their own books, there are some differences here. The book as a whole is a bit longer, but not much, but it gets this additional length by adding four sermons, none of them from the same people whose sermons were included in the first volume. And since it is generally the case in this kind of book that the best selections are in the first volume, the leftovers end up in the second volume. And, contrary to my general thoughts about leftovers, this book is still a good one even if it is not as good as the first volume of Adventist sermons.
Unlike the first volume, none of the nineteen authors in this almost 200 page book are well known outside of Adventist circles. The sermons in this collection are a bit hit and miss. Among the standouts is an essay on interplanetary invasion from Dick Barron a call on the part of women to strengthen the family from a female speaker, and some reminders about the kingdom of heaven, as well as a wonderful sermon on the subject of justification. If all of the sermons had been on this level it would have been a fantastic book. Unfortunately, the book does not manage to maintain this high level, as in addition to the expected citations of Ellen G. White’s writings in many of the messages there is a terrible sermon that conflates several biblical women named Mary into one and managed to accuse Simon the Pharisee (who is conflated as Simon the leper) of having committed an act of immense immorality with Mary the sister of Martha, who is equated with Mary Magdalene. That sermon alone, with its rank speculation approaching if not reaching the level of libel, drags down the whole weight of the collection as a whole. The fact that there are Trinitarian speculations here also drags down the whole, but there are still a lot of worthwhile messages in here ranging from the lengthy first message to some fairly short messages that one wishes there was more to read.
As was true in the first volume of this collection, this book has a pretty clear target audience for people who like reading religious material and enjoy sermon messages. I happen to be such a person, and I happen to know many others as well who feel like I do. As someone who considers the creation of a message, especially a longer one, to be an act of literary skill requiring sound knowledge of scripture as well as the ability to weave anecdote and personality along with sound research and a point worth remembering by the audience, I like to read good messages. Even bad messages, which this book does not have very many of, are worth learning from when we see why they were less successful than they could have been. So, even though I did not enjoy this volume as much as its predecessor, this is still an enjoyable read, and still worthwhile for those who enjoy reading sermon messages from a not entirely alien perspective–there is plenty of intriguing history as well as encouragement in proper Sabbath practice to be appreciated here.
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