Subtitled America on the Edge of Revival, this is at once a scholarly, convicting, and humbling book written by a man whose credentials in Ministry, Academia and Revival would fill yet another book. Early on Brown, who has to be one of the most non-judgmental Christians I’ve ever read, says that Revival in the Church is upon us.
Is it spiritual or religious he ponders with the statement that “religion” can be a good word or a bad word. He challenges the reader with the thought that “…The same roadblocks that stand in the way of revival often bar the way to heaven…” The chapter on religious hypocrites is enough to make your hair stand on end. Not because of the shock value, but because of the truth Brown displays in it with a style that makes you think instead of becoming angry.
Yet, the most powerful paragraph in this marvelous book, which I will take the space here to quote is, “…We can talk about the sin of our nation, grieving over moral decline and racial division, agonizing over the endless abortions and unspeakable immorality, sickened by the pervasive drug abuse and ghastly murders. And still the focus is outside of us. America – not me – is in a mess…”
Throughout the book, Brown makes wonderful use of the Scriptures, quoting passage after passage to re-enforce such positions as the joy in revival as well as quoting the thoughts of other famous revivalists and scholars. And, rather than being dry and preachy, there is a life to this book that is hard to define, but most certainly there as he retells the tale of Paul and Silas and the “contagion” of their joy in some very nasty circumstances. In case you forgot, they were in jail and converted their keepers and their families.
In the chapter partially titled, “A Portrait of the Servant,” Brown offers a list of things as he has elsewhere in the book. What caught my eyes most particularly is number five on the list which says that the servant of the Lord is highly flammable. Quoting a prayer of missionary Amy Charmichael, he weaves once again a passage that draws the reader in and leaves him (more than once) breathing deeply under the weight of the Spirit and the conviction of the words bringing it to you . Toward the end of the book, Brown gives his reader a brilliant example of revival in a story he tells about a visit with his daughter to Niagara Falls.
This is a book that will take you through much of the history of revival with a depth you will not find elsewhere. There is no ego in the work, only an obvious caring which dispatches knowledge without judgment chapter after chapter . Brown has managed somehow – for me, at least – to combine scholarship, history, and an in depth overview of a very complex subject in a very readable book. I think you’ll like it.
Paul McShane of Carlsbad is an author, businessman and journalist.