Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 04:1 (Fall 1986)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Books by the Faculty

The Forgotten Heritage, by Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1986. 251 pp. $27.95; paper, $18.95.

In an age when preachers and their hearers both fall prey to the “cult of the contemporary,” the noble lineage of great Baptist preaching set forth in this volume enables the reader to experience “a laying on of hands in a continuity of generations.” Preaching that is marked by freedom without historical perspective is easily open to whatever time and tide wash upon the shore. Outstanding names in the Baptist preaching tradition—John Clifford, Alexander Maclaren, H. Wheeler Robinson, Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Robert Hall, Richard Furman, Richard Fuller, Francis Wayland, John A. Broadus—come out of our misty recollection and take on flesh and blood in the author’s vivid and engaging portrayals. Dr. McKibbens has read Baptist history with a keen and generous eye, and the reader is given a rich harvest in vignettes, quotations, and fascinating narratives that tell an absorbing and inspiring story. True to its author, the book is lively, warm, interesting, and humorous.

Dr. McKibbens paints with deft strokes and in broad panoramic perspective as he traces Baptist preaching from its roots in England through the Colonial period and the Revolutionary era in America to the time of the distinguished John A. Broadus of Southern Baptist fame. The concluding section of the book is a remarkably astute assessment of the major contours of the Baptist preaching heritage and a “contemporizing” of those elements in the task of “making clear the gospel.”

The great tradition so ably delineated in this historical study speaks to contemporary preaching at numerous points. Over against the dogmatic, coercive, judgmental, and arrogant fulminations of some clergy today, we see in this study men of humility and modesty whose preaching is marked by graciousness and attractiveness. They did not perceive themselves as ecclesiastical “lone rangers” but saw preaching as set within the worshipping company of believers in a community of memory. The sermon thus became a living, dynamic confession of the church’s faith.

The servants of the Word described in this volume had a wide hospitality to ideas, lived under vast horizons, and preached their gospel with openness to God’s ongoing revelation. Thus they were not trapped in rigidity, fanaticism, or messianism. They had an explorative thrust in their thinking, with no resentment or suspicion of the life of the mind. They had force and earnestness and a scorn of half truth. John Clifford repudiated the notion of inerrancy as a venture in the insecure and airy world of theory ... as unwarranted as it is useless, and as mischievous as i...

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