Book Review: Life In Christ

Life In Christ:  Lessons From Our Lord’s Miracles And Parables:  Volume 1, by Charles H. Spurgeon

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As part of the Christian classic series of reprinted books, I have had the chance to read a few books from the “Prince of Preachers [1]” before.  This was a disappointing read.  Admittedly, I would have liked this book a lot more had I been a Calvinist [2] who believed that it was wrong to drink alcohol even in moderation.  I expected to read a great deal about the Bible, and what this book provides is the author starting from a small verse or a couple of verses in the parables and miracle passages of the Gospels and then going all over the place, not always staying remotely close to the point of the passage.  This is a great book if you want to read Calvinist polemics, but even for a reader as critical of the author’s approach as I am, there is still a great deal of value in the author’s commitment to preaching unpopular truths, even if at times what the author considers to be the truth isn’t necessarily the truth.

In terms of its contents, this book consists of fifteen chapters that total about 250 pages or so that look at a few passages of the Gospels.  Sometimes there are multiple sermons on the same passages, and many of the messages seem to be a bit meandering.  It can be safely said, though, that all of the messages do have some sort of “come to Jesus” moment and some sort of practical application, although many of these messages come off as highly polemical and sometimes deeply unpleasant, even if at other times one wants to give the author an attaboy for taking on the fashionable sins of his own time and our own.  At times the author can be a bit repetitive, as when he is talking about the waterpots at Cana, and how we are to bring Christ the waterpots so that He may turn them into wine–for the author, definitely metaphorical wine and not literal wine.  One wonders whether to look at the author’s comments about the supposed wordliness of the wedding’s manager as being a striking and original insight or a possibly libelous speculation, but this book definitely manages to exist on that blurred line between the two, where the author’s vivid imagination and colorful use of language can be judged as being insightful and clever and memorable or as being speculative and manipulative depending on whether one is favorable or unfavorable to the author’s worldview and perspective.

Ultimately, this book was less pleasant than it would have been had I been in a place that was more congruent with the author’s.  This book, more than most books, depends on how sympathetic one is with the author’s perspective.  I tend to abstain from alcohol because of personal reasons and family history, but am a moderationist in terms of my beliefs on drinking, and this book appeared far too often for my tastes to hew closely to Colossians 2:23:  “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  This is a book where the author claims to be humble but where it is easy to see in him the sort of attitude that the Pharisees had.  Perhaps I am being uncharitable, though this book is not exactly filled with charity towards Arminians or Catholics, to name a few groups.  Even so, this is a book that provokes the reader with a strong view about God’s word and an uncompromising insistence that it be honored regardless of the whims and fashions of the times.  Even if one doesn’t always like what the author has to say, or one doesn’t always think that the author understands the Bible as well as he thinks he does, that point is enough to make this a worthwhile book and one worthy of reflecting on even with the way it offends.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/16/book-review-jesus-came-to-save-sinners/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/02/book-review-the-soul-winner/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/11/08/calvinisms-cold-comfort/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/10/book-review-the-gospel-according-to-paul/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/08/24/the-rhetoric-of-religious-dissent/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/10/30/book-review-if-god-is-good/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/10/25/all-things-work-together-for-the-good-the-political-implications-of-predestination/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: Life In Christ

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this book. I have not read that particular book, but I can see how a person could have that impression about some of his sermons. I have read sermons of his that I liked, since they have a folksy sort of demeanor, if that makes sense. But I did not particularly care for a book of his that I read years ago, entitled The Saint and His Savior.

    • I have read other materials by him before and I generally like a folksy demeanor, for the most part. That said, as you may note, I tend to be fairly sensitive about particular implications.

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