Film / Book Reviews

Unique volume of new Wesleyan sermons

Dec 2007    

Two new books about the thoughts of two Johns – highly recommended to the people called Methodists, and indeed, other Christians as well – have just been published. One is a collection of themes and biblical texts of Methodism founder John Wesley’s 44 sermons adapted and reinterpreted by today’s leading Methodist scholars, and the other is a compilation of extracts from the diary of John Sung, one of Asia’s most respected Methodist evangelists.

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44 Sermons to Serve the Present Age
Editors: Angela Shier-Jones and
Kimberly D. Reisman
Publisher: Epworth. 274 pp. £19.99

THIS book, 44 Sermons to Serve the Present Age, which has just been released by Epworth, is a unique collection of new, original and contextual sermons by leading Methodist scholars from around the world.

With contributions from Methodist preachers and leaders, the collection engages readers to see how the great themes and texts of John Wesley’s 44 sermons are being adapted and reinterpreted to speak to the global context of Methodism’s expanding world parish.

John Wesley’s 44 sermons are part of the Methodist doctrinal standard and are said to contain the heart of his theology and to represent the extent of his commitment to the evangelical faith.

At a time when PowerPoint presentations seem to be calling the art of preaching into question, the book demonstrates the value of a well-crafted sermon.

The two editors, Angela Shier- Jones and Kimberly Reisman, have put together a very readable volume of sermons written by the Methodists of today.

Their sermons stay close to the doctrines which Wesley held and taught nearly 250 years ago.

The Rev Dr Shier-Jones and the Rev Kimberly Reisman have also contributed to the book – the former on the topic “Christian Perfection” and the latter on “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount Discourse 2”.

Shier-Jones is Director of Academic Studies and Research at Wesley College, Bristol, and serves as a consultant to the European Council of Churches Council for Theological Education. Reisman is the Executive Director of Next Step Evangelism Ministries in West Lafayette, Indiana, and an author of several books.

The other contributors include the Rev Dr George Freeman, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council; the Rev Dr Richard P. Heitzenrater, Professor of Church History and Wesley Studies at Duke University; Dr Walter Klaiber, a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church; the Rev Dr H. Mvume Dandala, General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches; the Rev Dr Karen Westerfi eld Tucker, Professor of Worship at the Boston University School of Theology; the Rev David Deeks, General Secretary of the British Methodist Church; Dr Rudiger R. Minor, Bishop of The United Methodist Church; and the Rev Dr Frances Young, a retired theology professor.

Among the Asian contributors are Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, whose contribution is on “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount Discourse 13”.

Other Asian contributions are from the Rev Dr J. C. Park, Professor at the Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul; the Rev Jeong Ae-seong of the Korean Methodist Church; the Rev Dr Israel Selvanayagam of the Church of South India; and the Rev Prof Lo Lungkwong, President of The Methodist Church, Hong Kong, and Director of Divinity School of Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Of one man who gave his whole life to the Lord

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The Journal Once Lost:
Extracts from the Dairy of John Sung Compiled by: Levi Sung
Publisher: Genesis, an Imprint of Armour Publishing. 551 pp
$35, available at all major Christian and retail bookshops.

WELL-KNOWN evangelist Dr John Sung had fought valiantly for the Lord during the first half of the 20th century, covering vast areas within mainland China and Southeast Asia, bringing revival to the Chinese Church as no one had ever done before. His influence is felt even to this day.

The Journal Once Lost contains extracts from more than 40 copies of his diaries, which were recovered after they had gone missing for more than 18 years. The valuable insights, testimonies and old photographs bring us back to the days of one who had dedicated his entire life to the Lord – short as it was.

His call from the Lord in the dead of the night, his stay in a mental institution, his decision to cast his worldly achievements into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, how he had led countless revival meetings, his journeys as he crossed a motherland deeply ravaged by the cataclysms of war, the terrible illnesses and endless frustrations he suffered … his joys and sufferings, strengths and weaknesses, failures and successes – all these are laid bare before readers.

The loud cries of this Servant of God during his lifetime had caused thousands to repent and to be born again. With this book, he is still calling out for total repentance to achieve holiness.

Re-live the spiritual journey of one who:

• Being unflinching and steadfast, was filled with the Holy Spirit;

• Had cast aside his status and worldly possessions;

• Went on to spread the Word (no obstacle was too high for him);

• Rebuked the evil spirits and gave sermons that turned the multitudes to God;

• Healed the sick and drove out evil spirits; and

• Rekindled the hearts of believers.

In his Foreword to the book, Bishop Hwa Yung of The Methodist Church in Malaysia, wrote: “May God use this book to fan the flames in the hearts of many people in the Asian Church so that a mighty movement of God will take place … I most warmly commend it to your reading and prayerful reflection.”

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