It's not just that we need godly role models—we need to see the hand of God at work throughout history. As G.K. Chesterton once said, the striking thing about the human characters in the Old Testament is how the same they are; the important thing is that God uses man's propensity for weakness and sin to bring His own ends and His own glory to fruition.
Having men and women to look up to is good, too. Past saints wouldn't want us worshipping them (not that anyone intends to, but again, the human capacity for sin can lead us into some strange behaviour at times), and the Bible itself strictly warns against undue honor to any but the Lord of Hosts, yet a healthy respect for the faithfulness and piety of Christians throughout history is good for encouraging and fostering our own righteousness.
But (to return to Chesterton) there is also no one who does good. The holiness evidenced by even the kindest and most pure of Christ's servants is only the holiness given him or her by the Spirit which indwells them. It's not human history or greatness we're after when we read about John Hus or Augustine of Hippo or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it's the working of the Trinitarian God among His people and throughout the world.
Another caution: don't suppose biographies of people like these are somehow addendums to Scripture. The Bible is canonical and complete as it stands, each book within it God-inspired and ordained by Him to communicate truths about Himself. His story, however, is far from over, and we read about His faithful ones with all the gratitude and awe children ought to show their Father.
We've excluded no one based on denomination or sect (unless, of course, that denomination or sect is unorthodox or cultic). As long as the subject held to the basic tenets of the Apostles' Creed, we count them brother or sister, and welcome their activities in the name of Christ as advancements of His Kingdom. Enjoy these biographies, be uplifted, and attribute to God aloneall glory, praise and honor.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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