Tuesday, June 10, 2014

D. L. Moody - Kevin Belmonte


Can a biography be focused too much on its subject?  This may sound odd, but I think it can.  As Christians, we know that our faith comes from God, and we know that He has ordained whatever good works we do in our service for Him.  We are also not after the praise of men, nor do we consider it a great compliment to be praised by them.  We try to do our good works as unnoticed by people as possible, seeking the praise of God alone.   

Knowing all of this, it seems quite strange for this biography of D. L. Moody to begin with telling how Moody was praised by three U. S. Presidents, and that he, "gained an immortality only presidents can bestow: their genuine respect".  You'd think that as a Christian Moody would resent the praise of the 'great' people of the world. 

Kevin Belmonte made too much of the man. One statement in particular makes it seem as though God was dependent on him. "Consider as well how history would have been different had Moody not resolved to step away from his business career.  The Northfield schools , Moody Bible Institute, millions of conversions throughout Britain, Canada, and America - none of these things would ever have happened.  Of course, Moody knew nothing of these things.  They lay in the future.  But we may, with hindsight, see all that hinged on his decision…."    The Father is the One who gives people to the Son(John 10:29), and all of the people given to the Son will come to Him(John 6:37).  God will not lose any of His people, all of them would have been converted with or without Moody.  

I also didn't like the flow of the book very much, it moved backwards and forwards in time too much.  It didn't seem like a smooth flow, rather it seemed choppy, but that's just my opinion.   

Finally, I wasn't really encouraged by what I learned of Moody himself.  The things that stick in my head about him are not of the type that produce admiration.  For one thing, I learned that Moody didn't want to discuss disputed passages of scripture.  I don't consider that a thing to emulate. He also made the statement, "Men will listen to a story when they won't listen to Scripture" and evidentially put that statement into practice.  Stories are not the power of God unto salvation, the Gospel is, and if God's Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, I'm pretty sure its more powerful than storytelling(Heb. 4:12).  As Christians who read God's Word, we already know that the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, and we are not told to change the message to make it less foolish to them, or less convicting.  Moody was apparently ecumenical as well, and he seemed to believe that Catholicism is a saving religion.  Apparently he stated that, "Catholics have the same Savior as the Protestants - One Shepherd, one Christ".    But a true Catholic does not believe that Christ is the only savior, they also have saviors/mediators in Mary, the Apostles and other saints.  But the Scriptures say, "For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, " (1 Tim 2:5)  Moody ought to have been loving towards Catholics in correcting them, not encouraging them in a false gospel that will not save. 

Overall the biography was rather discouraging.  Yes, he did a lot of works to help people out practically and materially, but it was his reluctance to delve any deeper into God's Word that is discouraging.  I still think that Moody was probably Christian, based on his banking the salvation of his soul on Christ alone, but he didn't seem to grow spiritually as much as he could have, and seemed too unconcerned about false gospels by his not wanting to define salvation much beyond it's being a profession of faith in Christ.  I think he was leaving the door open for false professions by not being more specific about what the Bible says of the Gospel.  He wasn't fond of creeds, "God does not ask you to believe a creed, but a person, and that person is Jesus Christ.", but we need a creed, or at least a basic set of truths from the Bible beyond mere belief in someone called "Jesus Christ", as it is possible to preach about a false Christ. The Apostle Paul rebukes the Corinthians for listening to a false presentation of Jesus Christ:  "For if someone comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or should you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you are all too willing to listen. "(2Co 11:4 ISV)    And He also warns the Galatians, "To be sure, there are certain people who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel about the Messiah. "(Gal 1:7 ISV) And he goes on to state, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that person be condemned! (verse 8) 

 Sounds rather serious, doesn't it?  It is possible to preach about Christ and yet be preaching a false Gospel.  The Epistles are full of warnings about false teachers masquerading as messengers of the true Gospel, and we are to watch out for them.  How will we do that if we do not study in detail what the Bible has to say about the Gospel?

 

Thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable).

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