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review 2019-10-27 23:00
J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers
J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers - Brian Eugene Strayer

An Advent preacher when he joined the embryonic Seventh-day Adventist movement in 1852, John Norton Loughborough would spend the next 72 years as a preacher and administrator before being the last of the pioneers to pass leaving lasting legacy to the denomination only behind Joseph Bates and the Whites.  Brian E. Strayer’s J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers is the first major biography of influential preacher, missionary, and Church historian that was a little man who cast a long shadow.

 

Strayer begins with an impressive family history that gives background not only to Loughborough but how he was raised, including the influence his grandfather had on his spiritual life, and how in his youth he was influenced by the Millerite message.  Loughborough’s resulting spiritual wandering in the years after the Disappointment before deciding to become a “boy preacher” at age 17 among the Advent Christians then his introduction to Seventh-day movement and later conversion to Sabbath were give significant time as well.  Yet 85% of the book took up Loughborough’s 72 years among the Seventh-day Adventist movement covering his time as a preacher, president of numerous conferences, missionary to fields both domestic and foreign, and finally Church historian who was the last link to the “early days” for 3rd- and 4th-generation Adventists in the late 1910s and 1920s.  Throughout Loughborough’s relationships with other important and influential denominational leaders was examined including Ellen White whose admonishments were welcomed by Loughborough in contrast to other Adventist leaders some of whom would later leave and attack not only the denomination and White.  Strayer covered in detail Loughborough’s fight against apostacy and his role as the first Church “historian” as well has the lasting influence he had in both areas among Adventists.

 

Given the place in denominational history that Loughborough, Strayer used a wide range of sources to give a thorough look at his subject including what surviving letters he could find (Loughborough burned his own) and Loughborough’s own diaries (that was saved by a nurse instead of destroyed upon his death).  Unlike the only other biography of Loughborough that followed the subject’s own apologetic look at Adventist history, Strayer brought a critical eye to his subject including Loughborough’s Church history books that influenced Adventist historiography for half a century.

 

  1. J. N. Loughborough is a well-written, well-researched look at the last pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Brian Strayer showed the large footprint and long shadow this “little man” had had until this very day. This is a highly recommended biography for anyone interested in Adventist history.
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review 2019-09-03 00:08
Redemption in Genesis: The Crossroads of Faith and Reason
Redemption in Genesis: the Crossroads of Faith and Reason - John S. Nixon

The Bible is all about Jesus, he is pointed to or followed in every book, but Scripture begins in Genesis and within its well-known stories John S. Nixon reveals Christ and the plan of Redemption.  Although many might say that eight passages covered by Nixon—Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, and three events from the life of Abraham—show Jesus or aspects of the plan of Redemption, Nixon doesn’t touch the surface but truly goes deeper.  As a part of this depth, Nixon begins his book by explaining that a 21st Century believe must use both reason and faith but only if the latter comes first.  With this approach the reader must be ready for a very thought-provoking study, however Nixon doesn’t overwhelm the reader with overly theological prose but presents his in-depth study in very reader-friendly wording.  Though deceptively short at around 160 pages, this book will take time to read but it is worth it.

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review 2019-08-05 00:32
A.T. Jones: Point Man on Adventism's Charismatic Frontier
A.T. Jones: Point Man on Adventism's Charismatic Frontier - George R. Knight

One of the pivotal figures during the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference session on the debate about the Adventist view of righteousness by faith, he become one of the most influential leaders of the church for a decade before his extreme leanings lead him into apostasy.  George R. Knight’s A.T. Jones: Point Man on Adventism’s Charismatic Frontier follows the life and career of one of Adventism’s most important figures for both good and ill as well as how he went from almost being General Conference President to be disfellowship in less than a decade.

 

Bringing decades worth of research and materials, Knight essentially begins his biography on Jones with his conversion to Seventh-day Adventism and the beginning of his ministerial career months later.  He talent and ability got him noticed by the Whites and other denomination leaders allowing him to go to California to begin teaching at and editing denomination periodicals, including those focused on religious liberty.  While in California, Jones met and studied with E.J. Waggoner forming a partnership that would last the rest of their lives during which they would oppose “the establishment” in the denomination beginning in the lead up to Minneapolis in 1888 and continuing even as they got General Conference leadership positions.  After following the ramifications of the Minneapolis, Knight continued chronicling Jones’ life and career including his need to go to the extreme in his logic, arguments, and beliefs which would eventually lead to his battle against the denomination’s organizational structure that would force him against A.G. Daniells and joining the side of John Harvey Kellogg that would see both disfellowshipped from the church.

 

Given Jones controversial place in Adventist history, Knight was clear on which positions and theological developments that Jones championed are still with Adventists and which were too extreme officially but still have an influential strain even today.  A part of this divide is how Ellen G. White reacted and corresponded with Jones on his thoughts and beliefs as well as the relationship between the two over the course of two decades.  Unlike his colleague Waggoner, Jones’ family life was unfortunately not covered much but as Knight pointed out he late in his biography it was because he was never home to be a real father and husband or lived in the same state as his family during important periods in his life.

 

A.T. Jones gives a detailed view into the life, teachings, and career of one of the most important individuals in Adventism at the turn of the century.  George R. Knight covers the ups and downs of Jones’ life as well as explaining his positions and how he developed them, but in a very readable and understandable way for lay readers without getting too technical.  A highly recommended book for those interested in Adventist history.

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review 2019-06-17 00:24
Rebellion and Redemption
Rebellion and Redemption - David Tasker

The Great Controversy began before Creation and will be finished at the end of the millennium, the conflict between God and Satan permeates throughout the Bible from beginning to end.  In David Tasker’s Rebellion and Redemption shows throughout 128 pages how God used fallible human begins, who had fallen into rebellion, to push forward His plan of redemption that lead to the birth of Christ.  Following Christ’s ministry on Earth sealed the fate of Satan, His Apostles then did their part to establish the Church so it could spread throughout the world so all could have a chance before God brings about the end of the Controversy and reestablishes the perfect Earth of Creation.  This short book gives the reader a overview of the Great Controversy through the lens of scripture that will want to make you explore it more in-depth.

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review 2019-06-05 03:16
Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America
Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America - Douglas Morgan

One of the most effective evangelists in Adventist history was totally forgotten for over a century, let alone that he was a black man who found an audience no matter skin color.  Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America by Douglas Morgan not only reveals the life of one of the first black pastors in denomination history, how Adventism navigated the rising segregation in the Southern U.S., and why Sheafe was forgotten until rediscovered by historians within the last quarter century.

 

Born to two former slaves in Maryland, Lewis C. Sheafe was raised in abolitionist dominated Massachusetts with a very spiritual-minded mother.  After his conversion at 15, Sheafe began searching for a denomination to join but during his search he felt the call to become a preacher.  Though not as well-schooled as his eventual classmates at Wayland Seminary, Sheafe worked hard at the Washington D.C. school to graduate with honors and along the way meet is future wife Anne.  The newlyweds would first go to a Baptist church in Minneapolis where they healed the recently divided congregation as well as become a major part of Black community in the city, something that would happen everywhere Sheafe would go.  Sheafe and his growing family would then pastor at several Ohio churches before his health brought him to Battle Creek Sanitarium where he learned about the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.  Within months Sheafe and his family had joined the denomination, which found Sheafe to not only be only their second black preacher but obviously the best educated minister.  For around five years, Sheafe worked in Ohio, Kentucky, and various cities in the Southern States before the denomination asked him to come to Washington D.C. to help found a black only congregation as they attempted to “accommodate” the segregation of the city so as to spread the word.  However, Sheafe upset the plan from the beginning by bringing in both black and white converts to the church meant only for black members.  Later Sheafe began a new church that only had black member which as time progressed would eventually be a thorn in the side of the denomination with and without Sheafe for the next two decades.  It was while he was at this church that Sheafe left the denomination for the first time only to return with said church before taking a position in Los Angeles where he would eventually break with the denomination again to start the Free Seventh-day Adventist denomination.  But eventually Sheafe would return to the Washington church he began and spend the rest of his ministry there before his death, but never turn away from Adventist beliefs even though he had left the denomination.

 

The sources on Sheafe’s life were few and far between but Morgan was able to find them to bring his life to the fore.  Yet Morgan also examined how the General Conference handled spreading the messaged to African-Americans just as Segregation and Jim Crow began taking hold in the Southern United States, which resulted in causing friction between the GC officials and Sheafe that only grew when many black Adventists felt they weren’t being given equal treatment with educational and health institutions constructed for their use.  In fact, Morgan gives an in-depth view of the early beginnings of the Negro Department which would eventually lead to Black/African-American Conferences within the structure of the North American Division.  And Morgan brings in the controversy of John Harvey Kellogg and A.T. Jones’ criticism and break away to give greater context to how the General Conference viewed Sheafe’s first break and how the situation was completely different during his second break.

 

Lewis C. Sheafe was until recently not a well-known name in the greater Adventist community, however Douglas Morgan found his influence strong not only with prominent black Adventists but also in denominational history for the changes his breaks resulted in making.  Mixing not only Adventist history with wider American history at the time, Morgan places Sheafe in context with his times and helps explain his actions.  This is a highly recommended biographical and historical book that history-minded Adventists should read.

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