One point of application I took away from Nic’s sermon yesterday came right off the bat- as he mentioned John G. Paton’s story and how reading about missionaries has encouraged and inspired him, I decided I wanted to do more of that myself. I suggested he put out a blog post with some recommendations…he responded by assigning me the work instead- well played. Here is the fruit of that discussion:
Why Read Biographies of Christians?
John Piper wrote a short chapter on why to read Christian biography in his book Brothers, We are Not Professionals. He points out that Hebrews 11, a summary of many of the greats of faith in the biblical story, is written to compel us to run the race of our faith well. If an author of Scripture sees value in sharing stories of faith lived out to spur his readers on, it makes sense for us to seek these too. Piper writes that well-chosen Christian biography provides history, theology that “bursts forth from the lives of people”, adventure, suspense, psychology and personal experience. It is “remarkably efficient reading” since it offers so much at once. Here’s his whole chapter:
A Few Books:
- To the Golden Shore: the Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson
- 30 Years Among South Sea Canibals by John G. Paton
- The Life and Letters of Henry Martin by John Sargent
A Few Talks:
These are talks John Piper has given at annual pastors conferences over the years about missionaries:
- William Wilberforce: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/peculiar-doctrines-public-morals-and-the-political-welfare
- George Whitefield: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/i-will-not-be-a-velvet-mouthed-preacher
- John G. Paton: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/you-will-be-eaten-by-cannibals-lessons-from-the-life-of-john-g-paton
- Adoniram Judson: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/how-few-there-are-who-die-so-hard
- David Brainerd: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/oh-that-i-may-never-loiter-on-my-heavenly-journey
I plan to dig into a number of these stories, and I hope you have a chance to as well!