Book Review - Samuel Rutherford (Bitesize Biographies)

Samuel Rutherford is perhaps the best known Scottish Puritan. But his life and history seem not to be as widely remembered as other Puritan ministers. Rutherford’s legacy lays chiefly in collections of his profound and moving personal letters.

Richard Hannula brings renewed attention to Samuel Rutherford in his contribution to the “Bitesize Biographies” series from Evangelical Press (2014).


Rutherford had humble beginnings and even a possibly scandalous start to his ministry. He ended up resigning his post at the University of Edinburgh after some possible impropriety with his fiance. This may have been just an ill rumor, and Hannula doesn’t take pains to sort out the facts too closely, but moves on in his simple and straightforward account of Rutherford’s life.

The next chapter of Rutherford’s life finds him as a humble pastor in Anworth. And there he labored in preaching and declaring the loveliness of Christ. His life was caught up in the perils of Scotland’s church, and his Reformed stance eventually landed him in exile 200 miles to the north. And it was this exile that may have birthed his precious letters. He wrote to his flock at Anworth and encouraged them to remain true to the Reformed faith.

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Book Review - John Knox (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

The Christian Biographies for Young Readers series introduces children to key figures from church history. Author Simonetta Carr and illustrator Matt Abraxas offer a compelling and beautiful historical account of the life of each Christian figure profiled in the series. To date, the series includes volumes on John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine of HIppo, Athanasius, Anselm of Canterbury, Lady Jane Grey, and now, John Knox.

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Book Review - Christian Biographies for Young Readers

If you haven’t stumbled across Simonetta Carr’s excellent set of “Christian Biographies for Young Readers,” you and your children are missing out. Each of the six titles in the series are beautifully illustrated, historically accurate, age-appropriate biographies for upper elementary-aged children. In the last couple years I have reviewed three of the titles and wanted to share about them here for our readers.


Athansius is one of the most important early Christian leaders, perhaps the only one with a Creed named after him. But like many Christian young people, I grew up without learning much about him at all.

Simonetta Carr hopes to remedy this problem through her latest addition to the “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series from Reformation Heritage Books. In Athanasius, Carr gives young readers a vivid account of Athanasius’ life. Complete with beautiful illustrations from Matt Abraxas, the book also includes a timeline, maps and lots of background facts about the time period of Athanasius’ life.

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Book Review - Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence

For nearly three hundred  years, the most widely used and respected whole Bible commentary has been Matthew Henry’s Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. Matthew Henry teaches the Bible in simple, memorable phrases, aiming to both inform the reader and promote deeper devotion to Christ. His Christ-centered approach, clarity of thought and pastoral emphasis on applying the text have kept his work in demand these many years. Yet compared to the authors of other comparable Christian classics, we remember very little of Matthew Henry the man.

The commentaries of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the sermons of George Whitfield and Charles Spurgeon, and the writings of John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards remain as popular among Christians as ever—and these men are remembered, with numerous biographies available for each. For Matthew Henry, only one or two reprints of old biographies are available, as any search of or Google Books can verify. So it was with a mixture of curiosity and interest that I picked up Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence by Allan Harman (Christian Focus, 2012).

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Book Review - A Life of Gospel Peace: A Biography of Jeremiah Burroughs

In recent years the English Puritans have been making a comeback. Pastors and theological students, in America and elsewhere, have been looking to their writings for inspiration and guidance. Names like John Owen, Richard Baxter, Thomas Goodwin, Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, Samuel Rutherford,and Matthew Henry are exceedingly well known. Their books adorn my bookshelves and the shelves of many of today’s church leaders. What’s more, their appeal bridges both the Calvinism-Arminianism and the charismatic-cessationist gaps. Preachers of all stripes benefit from the wisdom of these men of years past.

Many of the Puritans have had a long history of well-written biographies. But some of the Puritans are known today by little more than their writings. One such Puritan preacher is Jeremiah Burroughs. His name may be familiar to some—he is perhaps best known for his attempts to encourage a unity of spirit in the Puritan party between the Presbyterian-leaning majority and the Congregationalists and other non-conformists. He was a preacher extraordinaire in his time and was invited to be one of the few Congregationalists admitted to the Westminster Assembly of Divines, which gave us the well-known and widely respected Westminster Confession of Faith. But in the centuries after Jeremiah Burroughs’ ministry, no full-length biography of the man had ever been written.

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Book Review - Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman

Author: John R. Muether
P&R Publishing, 2008

ISBN-10: 0875526659
ISBN-13: 978-0875526652

Any biographer of Cornelius Van Til needs to assume certain things. First, Van Til’s thought, though brilliant, is not always easy to divine. Second, this difficulty is made more problematic by the coming together of at least two obstacles: 1) Van Til’s sometimes awkward way of putting things, and 2) the difficulty many of us have in obeying the injunction to bring every thought into captivity to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Third, one who would write about Van Til must keep in mind that, owing in no small part to the foregoing points, the famed Westminster apologist is often not closely or sympathetically read by his opponents (many of whom have little or no acquaintance with his writings). Instead, these opponents often content themselves with the misrepresentations of Van Til which have been handed down as unquestioned truths over the years. Fourth, these characterizations help serve the agendas of conservative Christians who like to flirt with wayward evangelicals who, in turn, enjoy rubbing shoulders with non-evangelical intellectuals like Barth, Balthasar or Ricoeur.

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