I’d like to thank EP Books for giving me a copy of Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula in return for my honest review, as well as a copy for the giveaway.
Samuel Rutherford (c.1600-1661) was a Reformed Presbyterian minister in 17th century Scotland during a time of religious persecution. Rutherford was one of the original Scottish Covenanters, an integral part of the writing of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Westminster Catechisms. During his lifetime, he was exiled from his pulpit and town, spoke and wrote vehemently regarding civil wars and church governance, and was charged with high treason. Rutherford was a prolific writer and faithful pastor. His life was a painful one — eight of his nine children died in childhood. His first wife died young, and he stood trial for his faith twice. Had Rutherford not been on his deathbed at the time of the charge of treason, he would have faced the gallows for his faith.
Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula (EP Books, 2014) is another great addition to the Bitesize Biographies series and is a great choice for older students studying the Reformation era of church history. Richard Hannula is the principal of Covenant High School in Washington State and an elder in a Presbyterian Church of America congregation. I appreciate that this biography is written in a narrative format, and it is thus easy for students to follow the events of Rutherford’s life…..
Mr. Hannula gives a brief overview of the Scottish Reformation and of the political situation of the late 15th and early 16th centuries in the first chapter of the book, as well as an account of Rutherford’s time at the University of Edinburgh, his salvation, and marriage.
The second chapter covers Rutherford’s time as a minister at Anwoth. There is a lot of wonderful information in this chapter about his character, habits, and service. I love that he met James Ussher. One of my boys loves Ussher’s chronology and will be quite excited to read about Rutherford’s encounter with him.
Chapter three opens with a ramping up of Charles I’s assertion of Anglican authority over the Scottish church. The English king both injured the resistant and gifted the compliant. Samuel Rutherford loudly objected. He also wrote against the teachings of Jacobus Arminius. For his resistance, Rutherford was exiled to Aberdeen, 200 miles north, and forbidden to preach.
The fourth chapter covers Rutherford’s two years in Aberdeen. He was a prolific letter writer and Mr. Hannula liberally shares excerpts of these letters. I loved this chapter; reading it was a little like getting to know Rutherford personally.
Rutherford returned home to Anwoth to preach, only to be summoned to teach theology, Church history, and Hebrew at St. Andrews. Charles I of England and the Scottish Covenanters took up arms against each other in chapter five. Rutherford married his second wife (the first had died) and lost more children.
In chapter six, Rutherford met with the Westminster Assembly to write the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Catechisms. He worked writing books over that time, and lost several children. The political situation was contentious and Rutherford was loudly involved. After all, Charles I was involved in the church governance.
Chapter seven discusses the ongoing political mess. Charles I was executed. Oliver Cromwell continued to manipulate the church, and Charles II worked to gain the approval of the Scottish Church. Rutherford at this point appeared to confuse the purpose of the church, taking political causes to be religious mandates. There were years of contention and division, and Rutherford’s health suffered. Even so, he wrote and ministered.
The eighth chapter marks the reign of Charles II and the beginning of the martyrdom of thousands of Scottish Covenanters. Rutherford was summoned to appear on charges of treason, but was upon his deathbed.
In the last chapter, Richard Hannula sums up Samuel Rutherford’s extensive legacy in church history.
Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula is an excellent, well-written biography suitable for older middle school and high school students. I highly recommend it as a part of your Reformation studies.
Enter to win a copy of Samuel Rutherford. Giveaway ends on 3/13/2015 at 10am PST.
Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula
Samuel Rutherford would coordinate well with studies involving
Scotland and England
- The 17th Century
- Charles I and Charles II
- Oliver Cromwell
- The Westminster Confession of Faith
- The Covenanters
You can find Samuel Rutherford at
Bitesize Biographies from EP Books
Additional Bitesize Biographies reviewed at Thinking Kids:
Other books for older students reviewed on Thinking Kids:
- God’s Story: A Student’s Guide to Church History by Brian Cosby
- Water the Earth: A Student’s Guide to Missions by Aaron Little
- Rebels Rescued: A Student’s Guide to Reformed Theology by Brian Cosby
- Bitesize Theology: An ABC of Christian Faith by Peter Jeffrey
- Questions God Asks by Israel Wayne
- Grace Works! (And Ways We Think It Doesn’t) by Douglas Bond
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- Christian Books for Preschoolers
- Christian Books for 4-7 Year Olds
- Christian Books for the Middle Grades
- Christian Books for Middle School
- Christian Books for High School
- Christian Books for Kids’ Devotions
- Christian Books about Parenting
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.