Friday, December 21, 2007

Book Reviews: "Through Sunshine & Shadows", "The History of PBBC"

Obscure books? Admittedly so. Neither one ever had a massive publication total, but both of them contain topics familiar to me.

Through Sunshine and Shadows is the autobiography of Dr. Monroe Parker. Dr. Parker was born in 1909 (he was 77 years old when the book was published) in Alabama. His childhood is interesting, and his conversion to Christ at age 19 is the key to the book. After his freshman year, he transferred to Bob Jones College, then a new school in Florida, and was called into preaching and evangelism.

He entered evangelism near the start of the Great Depression. Most of his early ministry was in the Deep South, and it is almost shocking (to modern sensibilities) to consider today some of the things he did: Hitchhike long distances; travel with little or no money, relying on faith; and the conversion of large numbers of souls in multi-week evangelistic services. In fact, the large numbers of souls saved in his meetings are, sad to say, a phenomenon not seen much in the United States anymore.

His later ministries included a number of years at Bob Jones College (later University), serving as pastor of an Alabama church, president of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, and president of Baptist World Mission. God used this man in many ways—ways that each of us should pray to be used in.

The book itself has an "anecdotal" style to it, sounding more conversational than literary. It will win no stylistic contests. But it tells of a man who allowed himself to be mightily used of God during times that would discourage most of us today, if we faced them.

Interesting tidbit: Dr. Parker was preceded in death by two wives, and married a third time at age 73.

I would recommend that Christians everywhere read this book...if they can get their hands on it (Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1987; ISBN 0-87398-844-2).

The History of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, written by Larry Dean Pettigrew and printed by the school's Pillsbury Press, is perhaps even more obscure. I worked at PBBC for three years and was given a copy, but never completed it until after reading the Dr. Parker book. The school known today as Pillsbury Baptist Bible College has a very long history. The school was originally chartered in 1854 (before Minnesota was granted statehood) and existed in various forms until it became a Baptist Bible College in 1957. This book was written on the occasion of the college's 25th anniversary.

This is not the most readable book. Its strengths lie elsewhere, particularly in detailing how the school fluctuated between theological liberalism and conservatism over the years. It also tells a story nearly unheard of in the annals of American religious history: How a school that at one time was controlled by theological liberals was "reclaimed" and restored by Bible-believing conservatives.

If you are unacquainted with the school (and don't want to be) or have no interest in Baptist history, particularly in Minnesota, you will find this book highly boring. But if the opposite is true, this slice of history will probably appeal to you.

Interesting tidbit: The name comes from George Pillsbury, who was very generous financially to the school in the late 19th century...and, yes, he had a tie-in with a still-existing company with the same name.

If you want a copy of the book, your best bet is to contact the college directly at (507) 451-2710.

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