EP Books, 176 pages, £7.99
Star rating: 4
Prior to reading this Bitesize Biography, Adolphe Monod had been merely a name to me, just a French-speaking theological figure. However, Constance Walker’s labour of love brings to life a man of considerable importance.
Monod has been described as ‘the voice of the 19th century awakening’. He was born into a religious family that moved between Denmark, Switzerland and France. I struggled with the early chapters dealing with Monod’s works-based religion and intellectual pride. This was due more to the subject matter than the author. Monod was already an ordained minister when he came into gospel freedom in his mid-twenties.
What lessons can we learn from his life? Conversion is always a miracle of grace. He had been a typical Enlightenment thinker, critiquing the Bible as he would any other book. Nonetheless, believing relatives and friends prayed and God showed him the necessity of coming as a little child to Christ.
The gospel became his life-long theme. How many ‘good, Reformed’ preachers need to recapture the necessity of regularly preaching Christ crucified!
Monod’s pointed preaching angered some members of his mixed-denomination church in Lyon and led to his dismissal. He bore this trial without bitterness and went on to form an independent, evangelical congregation for those longing for the truth.
He later trained pastors and ended up leading a church in Paris, albeit of the denomination that had earlier wronged him. He sought to please God, but was sensitive to his providential dealings.
Another lesson can be seen in his emphasis on the sweet attractions of Christ as opposed to his earlier pre-occupation with the law and judgement.
Finally, he ‘died well’. He was only in his early fifties when liver cancer caused him lingering suffering before his death. Throughout this time he was patient and uncomplaining. Indeed, he dictated his famous Farewells — Christ-like reflections on the Christian life — from what would be his deathbed.
This book would be read profitably by a wide range of Christians, particularly all who delight in true-hearted religion.