The title, 1o Christians Everyone Should Know, immediately caught my eye. I enjoy biographies so I figured a book highlighting ten important Christians would be right up my alley. With a good knowledge of church history, I thought I could guess at least a few of the persons who would be included: probably Athanasius or Augustine from the early church, Francis of Assisi or Thomas Aquinas from the medieval era, a few Reformers and some modern people to round it out. Right?
The list of figures in this book is surprising. A few of the people are well-known for their contribution to the Christian church, such as St. Patrick, John Bunyan and the composer Bach. Many of the others are well-known, but not because they were Christians. I especially enjoyed glimpses into the lives of people like Jane Austen and George Washington Carver. The best chapter in the book is on Galileo, whose inclusion may surprise people who just assume the church hated him and he hated the church. But the fact is, he was a faithful Christian. The final two chapters in the book were the most curious, to me. Sargent York, a hero of WWI, and William Buckley, a renowned conservative columnist. It was here more than anywhere else that I asked, could they not have found anyone else in the 20th century, any other “Christians I should know?”
I enjoyed learning both of their stories, but this reveals the flaw in any sort of book like this. The reader will always wonder why certain people were included and others were not. If the purpose of the book is to shine light on Christians who have made large contributions to the world, contributions not specifically “Christian”, then the inclusion of people like Buckley and Austen makes sense. On the other hand, if we’re looking for Christians who have made an impact in explicitly Christian ways, such as Bunyan and St. Patrick, why include Buckley and Austen?
The reason appears to be that these ten were selected because the authors of the chapters on each of them has also written a longer biography. So if you like the Anne Hutchinson chapter, pick up the full-length bio on her! Or any of the other nine!
Overall, any questions or qualms I may have over who was included and why, the fact is that they are ten interesting people who had faith in Christ, expressed differently in each of their own times and contexts. Each chapter is a good story. This would be a good book for anyone who may be a fan of one of these people and would be interested in learning about others. In other words, if you liked Pride and Prejudice, learn about Jane Austen here…and as a bonus, you will also meet nine other intriguing people.
I do question the usefulness of books like this in the year 2012. If I really want to learn about Jane Austen quickly, that is, if I do not want to read a full-length bio but just want a brief on her life, why buy this book when I can go to Wikipedia? In the face of the vast amount of information on the internet, such books as this may not have a future.
At the same time, I did read it. My interest in St. Patrick or Galileo brought me here and I benefited by learning about the rest. Bringing these ten stories together introduces the reader to the diversity of people who have been faithful to Christ over the centuries. So check this book out to learn, and be inspired, by ten great Christian saints.
Note: BookSneeze provided me with a copy of this book to review.