War on the Saints
Yesterday, I enjoyed listening to Tim Farron interviewing my long time, standing up for the helpless, hero, Baroness Caroline Cox, on his Premier Christian Radio show (see here). I did not enjoy, in fact I was somewhat miffed, at Farron and Premier, who I have looked up to in the past, for his rant over we selfish, anti-truth, deceived Christians, who do not wear a mask or take the jab in the light of the current (Omicron) moronic variant scare, especially given I am not the selfish, anti-truth, deceived one here (imho).
Yesterday, if you can excuse some skim reading, I also completed reading “War on the Saints” by Jessie Penn-Lewis (see here for bio), in collaboration with Evan Roberts (see here for bio), which was published in 1916, although revised and reset in 1973 (which I will get to later). (In fairness to Wikipedia, who often reveal an anti-Christian bias, their summaries of Lewis and Roberts lives and ministries etc. provides very good background to understanding this book that I am about to review.) The connecting factor between the two is the Welsh Revival (1904-1905), which many, including myself, see as playing a significant part in getting people to turn to and be fired up for God. As for these two fascinating characters, who did much in advancing the Kingdom, much can be said about them, but this blog is about the book, not about them.
It was over forty years ago when I first became aware of War on the Saints and it was by someone who had had his fingers burnt by the Charismatic / Pentecostal movement at that time. For him, it was vindication of his antipathy to some of the dubious goings on he had witnessed. For those who might identify with my spiritual journey, matters like the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Speaking in Tongues were among the main big issues where Christians fell out over, just as today it might be on whether or not to take the jab against a deadly virus or as consent to our enslavement, depending on which camp we belong to – and to make the waters murkier, camps are a lot different then and now. Regarding matters “charismatic”, and for the record, I am neither pro nor anti, but that is not why I write concerning a book that was triggered in part by the deceptions seen in the wake of the Welsh revival but could easily apply to any of the deceptions I identify in my recent blog: “Are most Christians deceived?”, when I conclude the answer is Yes and those who aren’t are in grave danger of being deceived.
Shortly after blogging, I happened to be browsing in my local Christian bookshop and my attention was arrested by this book I was still aware of but hadn’t looked at since I was first introduced to it. Mindful of the wise old maxim: “there is nothing new under the sun”, what I had written in my recent blog and my concerns that Christians, left, right and centre are being deceived, I decided I needed to acquire and read the book as particularly pertinent – so I did. I was not disappointed – it was full of good stuff that is just as relevant now as it was 100 years ago and extending far beyond the obvious – spiritual warfare and demonic oppression. To analyse the main points is beyond the scope of this blog, which is more about setting the scene concerning how the Devil has a heyday deceiving the people of God and what said people could and should do to prevent it happening or how to recover when it does, and a recommendation it is worth the read. My biggest surprise was both pleasant and challenging – a lot of it applied to me personally! My gripe is the decision by the modern editorial board to make small changes since while agreeing with much the lady wrote took issue with some of it and felt they should protect the readers and edit out some of what in their view was questionable and erroneous. Getting it right is something many of us who are passionate for truth have a tendency of wanting to do (and our insistence in doing so is one reason why we see so many avoidable impasses that sometimes outweigh the benefit of bringing those with wrong ideas to task). Editors (imho) would have done better if they had registered their concerns and let the readers make up their own minds.
To rewind the proverbial gramophone record, we live in heady days, and it includes the Lord’s people being deceived, just as the Bible said would happen over two thousand years ago, even though the examples of deception are ever changing. I agree with Mr Farron and no doubt what I once thought was the bastion for Christian values etc., Premier Christian Radio, that truth is very important, while mindful that on the issue of Corona vaccines our analysis of what is true and what isn’t is seemingly poles apart. In concluding, I would rather not be insisting I am right and those who disagree aren’t but instead to urge us all to seek to know the truth, which after all is that which sets us free, and to read this book that points to all sorts of areas, some of which we are aware of and some we may not have considered. The title War on the Saints is an apt one and is what the Devil has been waging ever since he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. The wonderful mystery is that said “saints” are the very instruments the Lord uses to defeat the enemy and why we should be alert to the Devil’s wiles and be encouraging one another so that we keep on that straight and narrow path.