Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 3:2 (Spring 1986) p. 83
Books by the Faculty
The Forgotten Heritage, by Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986. 288 pp. $18.95.
Tom McKibbens has done a good thing for all of us. The Forgotten Heritage identifies “a particular kind” of Baptist preaching, aptly described as “a forgotten heritage among many Baptists,” preaching that is characterized by intellectual rigor and evangelistic warmth, “the union of both head and heart in the pulpit.”
The book is divided into three parts, each of which examines a different aspect of this tradition in Baptist preaching: part one describes its origins in British Baptist preaching; part two, its development in America; and part three suggests implications from this study for our preaching today.
There are several things about this work that intrigue me. First of all, it is a book about the history of preaching that is readable. That in itself is remarkable, if not unique. Through the use of descriptive narrative, McKibbens breathes life into characters who previously have been embalmed by historians and wrapped in layers of respectful facts. Occasionally this device does not work, but generally it succeeds in its efforts to humanize and liven the text.
Second, The Forgotten Heritage is about major figures in the development of our preaching who are virtually unknown to us today. Alexander MacLaren and John A. Broadus are, to some degree, exceptions to this rule, but who really knows how John Clifford, Henry Wheeler Robinson, or even John Bunyan preached, or what they contributed to our tradition, much less Hanserd Knollys, Thomas Helwys, Benjamin Keach, John Gill, or Robert Robinson? Or who has studied, along with their great mission influence, the preaching contributions of William Carey, Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, and Robert Hall?
In our own history as Baptists in America, most of us do not know John Gano, a Baptist chaplain in the Revolutionary War, who, when asked flippantly by a ferryman in South Carolina what was “the best and shortest way to heaven,” replied that Christ was the best way, but the shortest way he knew was to “place himself in front of some army, in an engagement.” Nor do we know Samuel Stillmen, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boston from 1764 to 1807, in whose church John Adams often worshipped; and while we know Isaac Backus as a key figure in the disestablishment of religion in the U.S. Constitution, his preaching gifts have gone unnoticed. Later figures, such as Richard Furman, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charleston, and Richard Fuller, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Baltimore, are better known, but The Forgotten Heritage illumines their contributions to th...
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