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Something must be known and felt (a missing note in today’s Christianity)

By Stuart Olyott
May 2015 | Review by Jeremy Walker
  • Publisher: Bryntirion Press
  • ISBN: 978-1783970674
  • Pages: 150
  • Price: 6.99
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Book Review

Those who know Stuart Olyott as a preacher or author will know that he is not given to reckless flights of fancy. This should be kept in mind while reading this book, which addresses the place of feeling in the life of the believer.

His contention is that biblical Christianity is a holy compound of doctrine, ethics and experience. The last of these three is often perverted or neglected in today’s churches. To correct this, he gives a survey of emotion from the Scriptures and then overviews the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. He applies these two matters in the spheres of assurance, Christ’s felt presence, guidance from God, asking and receiving, and waiting on the Lord. In each case, Olyott discharges both barrels against the arid wastes of barren intellectualism and dry expanses
of mindless enthusiasm.

Each chapter is a blend of scriptural evidences and personal and historical experiences. There is a deliberate resistance to mysticism and an unembarrassed affirmation of supernaturalism. The book’s brevity prevents every point being fully explored. There are bold assertions, which need to be set in the context of Stuart’s wider ministry. This is not the writing of a man going soft, but of a man pressing on. He wishes to open our eyes and hearts to elements of Christian experience of which we are ignorant, and ignorance here cannot be bliss.

On more debatable points, the author is especially careful to cite scriptural arguments as well as trustworthy witnesses, including incidents from his own life.

I struggled with some of his statements, especially regarding God’s ways of offering guidance or answering prayer. This may be because of my own paucity of experience at this point. Those who would back away from the book’s more striking assertions should take pains not to dismiss casually any part of the argument.

There is much here to which I would add a hearty ‘Amen!’ At some points, I should be happy to find my minor concerns proved unfounded. In a small number of cases, I should need more compelling evidence to embrace fully what is written.

This is at once an exciting and unsettling book. It is necessarily uncomfortable, contentious and even potentially dangerous in places. The fact that the untaught and unstable might abuse some of these things does not mean they should not be addressed. Neither should our reactions against various abuses blind us to what we ourselves might be missing.

It is still a good book. I agree with its primary thrust, even if I am cautious about one or two of its details. Read it carefully and prayerfully; wrestle with it humbly and scripturally; respond to it righteously and earnestly.

Jeremy Walker

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