Torchbearers Of The Gospel

Men of Fire, by Walter Russell Bowie (Harper, 1961, 244 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by William Bedford Williamson, Rector, The Church of the Atonement, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Here is a book which should be read by every clergyman, indeed, by every Christian. It will encourage and gladden his heart and make him proud to be the inheritor of the faith lived and taught by such heroes, “the torch-bearers of the Gospel.” The author sets the tone of his work in his brilliant, precise, and commanding foreword with the challenge that since the first Gospel, “the Word made flesh,” was not a book but a life, so the eternal fire of the Gospel witness is transmitted as “flame leaps to flame (p. 204), from person to person.

Walter Russell Bowie is a skilled craftsman who now adds another unique work to his Story of the Bible and Story of the Church, to name only his popular productions. Men of Fire is an exciting, readable combination of biography and church history. Dr. Bowie demonstrates the art of measuring history against the stature of great men as he literally calls the roll of the “giants” in church history from St. Peter to Thomas A. Dooley, M.D. and spells out their contributions and accomplishments with such vividness that the reader accepts the warmth of their witness as a living reality.

As if to underline the sound, scholarly, and evangelical nature of his work, Dr. Bowie presents his first “man of fire,” St. Peter, with New Testament flavor and accuracy as a leader and a “most vivid and conspicuous figure …” The author observes that “it is equally plain that at the Council (of Jerusalem, Acts 15) he (Peter) was not the official head; it was James … who was presiding” (p. 7). Dr. Bowie deals with ...

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