Most CT readers, I imagine, know the name of Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, a daily devotional that has sold by the hundred thousand since first it appeared in 1927. Some will know that more than 30 other books bear Chambers’s name, most of them still in print, and all on the same theme, the supernaturalizing of natural life through a living relationship to Jesus Christ as Savior, Master, and Model. Many have acquired a taste for the distinctive flavor of Chambers’s material—cool and sharp, clinical and exuberant, pithy and searching, childlike, ardent, and profound: salt, mustard, pepper, and vinegar for the too-bland Christian life.
“The O.C.,” as the troops in Egypt called him, was a bright Scottish Baptist of wide literary, artistic, and philosophical culture. His evangelical theology was unremarkable save that he embraced the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification and saw it as verified in his own experience of “baptism in the Spirit” in 1901. From 1906 he worked without stated salary for the Pentecostal League of Prayer; this was the holiness organization under whose auspices he and his wife ran the Bible Training College from 1911 to 1915, when he left for Egypt as a YMCA chaplain.
Though appreciated by those who knew his ministry, he was never in the mainstream. In his twenties he had written: “I feel I shall be buried for a time, hidden away in obscurity; then suddenly I shall flame out, do my work, and be gone.” And so it was.
McCasland’s biography chronicles the outward life of this remarkable man. Intense devotion, selfless service to others, habitual gaiety, and a steady refusal to worry about either money or circumstances were ...1
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