Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Write-Up: Andrew Murray, Destined to Serve

Olea Nel.  Andrew Murray, Destined to Serve: A Biographical Novel.  Wamboin, Australia: Clairvaux House, 2014.  ISBN: 978-0-9925671-0-1.  See here to purchase the book.

Andrew Murray was a renowned nineteenth century preacher and Christian author.  Andrew Murray, Destined to Serve is the first book of what is to be a trilogy about Andrew Murray’s life and ministry.
Andrew Murray, Destined to Serve is about Murray’s early years of ministry in South Africa, soon after he had received his seminary education.  An older Andrew Murray is telling someone the story of these years.

The book is excellent in portraying Murray as a character with whom many could identify.  Murray in this book is a young man who is trying to find his voice and make a positive impression.  He makes mistakes and learns from them, deals with difficult people, and wants to be spiritually rejuvenated amidst the busyness of life, but cannot always find the time to do so.

The book also provides a window into some of the political and religious issues of nineteenth century South Africa.  In terms of religious issues, there is the question of whether baptism is required for salvation, the belief that the King of England was one of the ten kings of Revelation 13 (which is about the evil beast), and the attempts by some Christians to apply to themselves the story in the Book of Ezra about the returning Jewish exiles who sought to rebuild the Temple without outside help.

The book also had its share of jewels.  One of my favorites is something that the older Murray said when he was expressing hesitancy to contribute to a spiritual memoir: “That’s the trouble with memoirs of a spiritual nature. If you recall the depths of your despair, readers might hold you up as an example that provides them with an excuse to wallow in their self-pity. And if you describe your mountain-top experiences, that too might become a blueprint for some to emulate. In either case, you lay yourself open to the glorification of self.”

Most of the book is dialogue.  On the one hand, I enjoyed this because it allowed me to appreciate the personalities of the characters, and to experience life with Andrew Murray.  I particularly enjoyed reading his interactions with his family.  On the other hand, on account of the style, I had to try to figure out from people’s conversations what political issues they were discussing.  As a reader, I prefer for things to be laid out before me in clear prose, as background information, rather than for me to have to figure those things out by reading the dialogue.

I received a complimentary copy of this book (as an e-book) from BookCrash, in exchange for an honest review.

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