Friday, August 10, 2012


Yesterday's post was about the song "It Is Not Death To Die" as sung by Sovereign Grace; today's is about the book, It Is Not Death To Die, by Jim Cromarty.  Same name; two different things.
My friend Barbara had reviewed this book here on her blog, and had mentioned her friend Debbie's review sometime earlier, which is when I decided to purchase a copy of it--but did not look back at either of their reviews until after completing the book.  Mike and I have both been reading it, but I got way ahead when he went on night shift, and finished it last night.

A good missionary biography is worth the time, and is usually an inspiring read.  This biography is good to a point.  It is a very thorough treatise of Hudson Taylor's life, and a very thorough exposition of the difficulties encountered in the early days of the China Inland Mission.

It does disintegrate, particularly in the second half of the book, into somewhat of a list of "Then Hudson went back to China; then he returned to England; then he . . ."  I noticed that Barbara independently agreed with that analysis.  The author could have left out the details of some of the back and forth trips without losing the theme of the outstanding dedication and sacrifice displayed by Hudson Taylor as he opened up the interior of China for the sake of the gospel.

The following is not a fault with the book itself, but rather a disagreement with what may have been prevailing philosophy at the time: it was troubling to observe when reading that the future of the children of the missionaries did not seem to be of concern to Taylor or to the others in the mission.  They seemed to think nothing of sending the children back to England for others to rear.  They also did not appear to think that spouses being together was important.  Taylor left his second wife in England for long periods of time, partly so she could rear the children (with others), while he spent time in China or took trips to America and Australia promoting the mission.  I think that today's priorities would be different.  They probably see what they did as sacrifice for the sake of spreading the gospel.  We would see it as a wrong emphasis, that fathers should look out for their own families first, before being concerned about the salvation of others.  Maybe both are extremes.

The other thing that this English teacher reader did not care for was an apparent change in editors, or something happening, so that in the last fifth of the book the spelling of his second wife's name was oddly changed from "Jennie" to "Jenny."  Weak editing IMO, as well as in another place where the name was misspelled "Jennir." There were a few other minor errors as well, which suggests that the editing was done less carefully and more quickly than it should have been.

I was reinspired as to the difficulty of pioneer missions, the deprivations they experienced, the courage they showed in the face of huge danger, and the way their faith was their only lifeline at times.  It was a reminder of the cushy life that we American Christians experience in comparison.  If you don't mind a lot of details in a biography, this is a good read.

1 comment:

Barbara H. said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. Deb's review was so glowing, I wondered if I was being too picky. I had hoped this would be an easier-to-read version that might draw in people who wouldn't want to wade through the older books, but I think the older ones are actually a bit easier than this one.

But many factors in Hudson's life as well as other pioneer missionaries really challenge me.