Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Shadow of the Almighty, Book review
I recently finished, just this morning in fact, "The Shadow of the Almighty," a biography of Jim Elliot, written by his wife, Elisabeth Elliot. This is one of those books that you put on your shelf, to be read again in a year.
Elliot was born in 1927 to a conservative Christian family. He died in 1956, killed by Auca Indians who he was trying to reach in order to preach the gospel to. He was a Christian.
There are very few people in Christianity who you can properly identify as simply being Christians. You associate them with a certain cause like civil rights, helping the poor, education, preaching and what not. With Jim Elliot, it can very simply be described that he was a Christian who dedicated himself to following the will of God in an absolute way.
I would describe Elliot as a fundamentalist. he did not vote, was a dedicated pacifist, he owned little and though he went to college, thought that much of what he learned was "worldly" and prohibited him from spending time with His Lord. Elliot is a prime example of what it means to not be of this world. During his early years, I think it would be an accurate describe that he was Pharisaical, meaning he lived with a lot of voluntary rules which he believed would lead him to right living and a Godly lifestyle.
When I first started to read Shadow of the Almighty, I was repelled by his attitude about Christian living. Most of my feeling stemmed from his dogmatism, he wouldn't just budge from his position on what it means to be a Christian but would go further and was less willing to adjust to his environment on secondary issues. As he grew older, as he matured in his faith, I noticed that this changed. He wasn't so blunt or obvious about his faith, it was more nuanced and fine. I also noticed that he became more respectful of people who he saw as not fully following the faith or were not Christians and not glorifying God. It was interesting to watch this transformation.
Also, even though he had a very close relationship with God, there were times of struggle. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “Sometimes one is conscious of spiritual life only because he is still struggling to maintain it, not at all because he is purposefully living it.” It is a comfort and assuring to know that life sucks for everyone, even if one is God or is very close to God.
So, for anyone who wants to read this book, it is worth your time. I was impressed by the way he honestly and fully followed Christ, dedicating himself to even death in order to fulfill his calling as a Christian.