Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Review of Training Disciplined Soldiers of Christ

Training Disciplined Soldiers of Christ
by Tim W. Callaway
Published by West Bow Press (2013)
Cost:  $25 (Approx)

Reviewed by Mike Jones

As a student of Canadian history I find myself reading and discovering a number of surprising things about our nation's past.  Perhaps one of the biggest surprises I've experienced in recent years has been the place of Prairie Bible Institute in world affairs.  Since the 1920's Prairie Bible Institute (Or P.B.I.) has graduated missionaries who have touched the lives of countless people in many nations around the world.  For the longest time when people in places near and far heard that a visitor was from Canada their first thoughts were of P.B.I.  They would ask how things were in Three Hills. 

In writing Training Disciplined Soldiers for Christ Tim Callaway describes how things have been in Three Hills.  He offers a detailed account of P.B.I.'s history and its influence on the people who went to the distant corners of the planet in an effort to live out God's calling upon their lives.  Callaway writes about the overall vision of P.B.I. and the people who helped fulfill this vision.  He also describes how American fundamentalism inspired and influenced much of P.B.I.'s work. 

Even though he spent much of his early life at P.B.I. and qualifies as somewhat of an "insider" Callaway doesn't pull any punches and this is perhaps one of the main strengths of Training Disciplined Soldiers for Christ.  Whether it's evaluating the work of Leslie Maxwell or critiquing the scholarly efforts of folks such as John Stackhouse Callaway is structured, thorough and clear.  His material is grounded in extensive research and this is evident in the extensive footnotes on almost each and every page. 

While we may be tempted to skip the footnotes I would encourage readers to check out each and every one.  If I have one concern about the book it's that much of the most important material Callaway has to offer is in the footnotes.  There are some insightful quotes and observations at the bottom of each page and well worth the read in and of themselves.   

In terms of Training Disciplined Soldiers for Christ's overall structure Callaway was wise to include chapters offering definitions to important terms such as evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  He introduces us to the key players and leaders behind the creation of P.B.I. and it's life throughout the better part of this past century.  He reviews the literature that fed and inspired both the leadership at P.B.I. and the Christian community that supported them.  He also introduces us to the key theological ideas that helped form the message graduates would take to their mission stations. 

This is a thoughtful and accessible book that will be enjoyed by a wide variety of readers.  Students and instructors will find Training Disciplined Soldiers for Christ and important contribution to the history of Canada.  Church leaders and lay people will all find the material an informative, inspiring and challenging to church history here in western Canada.  Readers will also discover how people affected by one small Bible college in a remote prairie town could have such an influence over much of a planet.

I commend it to each and every one.

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