A Life For Christ: What The Normal Christian Life Should Look Like, by Dwight L. Moody
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is the second book by the author I have read  and is part of its publisher’s Christian Classic series . My thoughts on the book are somewhat complicated because although the subtitle of the book suggests that the book deals with the way a normal Christian’s life should look like, the book as a whole as the feel that it was written by a minister for others in the ministry, or to ordinary believers about the ministry. This by no means makes it a bad book, but rather gives it a different focus than I was personally expecting when I started reading it. Given this pastoral perspective, the book is written with a greater interest in how congregations and ministers behave than what a Christian life looks like, unless by a Christian life one means the institutional life of a Christian, an area of considerable interest to many of us as believers with a certain focus on churches and congregations.
This is a short book, around 130 pages or so in length, and consists of nine chapters. The first looks at the power of regeneration through the resurrection, the second looks at issues of love, motive, and power with regards to service, the third looks at faith and courage, the fourth looks at the reward of faith, the fifth looks at enthusiasm, and the sixth looks at the power of little things. The last three chapters are extended discussions of Gospel passages dealing with doing what we can, who is our neighbor, and being the light of the world. Throughout the volume as a whole, there is a consistent mixture of personal stories, biblical exegesis, and a resort to the lives of famous leaders of the Protestant Reformation like Luther, Knox, and Wesley. Indeed, Moody seems to use the lives of these famous reformers in a sense similar to that of a Catholic view of the lives of the saints, which is a striking phenomenon to be sure, especially for his time. For those authors unfamiliar with Moody and his thinking, this book is certainly a fair introduction to the way he thinks and writes and is a worthwhile Christian classic.
In reading this book, one gets a fair idea o the concerns that Moody has as a speaker and a writer. For one, he seems to have a particular fondness for melodrama, as evidenced by one story in the book about a young boy beaten by his parents for associating with an angelic missionary girl who ended up dying when a train ran over his legs while he was begging at a railway station. Indeed, overall he seems particularly concerned with issues of missionary focus, and this is the source of much of the book’s humor. For example, in one passage the author contrasts the example of a missionary and a big game hunter, both of whom found what they were looking for in India–one of them souls to win and the other tigers to shoot. This is a book whose points are made more through rhetorical attempts at persuasive appeal than through logic, and those whose turn of mind is different than the author’s are likely to find some of his reasoning more than a little bit strange and puzzling. That is not to say, though, that this is by any means a bad book. Indeed, even for those whose perspective on the Christian life can have much to gain by becoming familiar with such works that help us see how previous generations viewed such matters. And that use of reading older books as a way of acquiring an understanding and empathy for the people of the past is part of what helps classics like this one endure and remain relevant.
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