I’d like to thank EP Books for giving me a copy of Thomas Chalmers by Sandy Finlayson in return for my honest review, as well as a copy for the giveaway.
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was an interesting figure. A preacher in the Church of Scotland, he played an influential role during the Disruption and became the first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland’s General Assembly. Chalmers cared deeply for himself and his own career, yet he later came to care deeply for the poor, unevangelized, and cast aside. Even if he had not played such an important role in the history of Scotland and the wider world through his prolific writings and the missionary work he inspired, Chalmers would be a fascinating character study.
Sandy Finlayson has written a biography on Thomas Chalmers (EP Books, 2015) that is a great fit for middle and high school students. The book is a part of EP Books’ Bitesize Biographies series. Mr. Finlayson is the Library Director and Professor of Theological Bibliography at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He is also the author of Unity and Diversity: The Founders of the Free Church (Biography) (Christian Focus, 2010). Incidentally, Linda Finlayson, Sandy Finlayson’s wife, is the author of a number of fabulous books for kids, a few of which have been reviewed here at Thinking Kids: Guarding the Treasure: How God’s People Preserve God’s Word (Biography), Wielding the Sword: Preachers and Teachers of God’s Word (Biography), and Mary of Orange: At the Mercy of Kings (Trailblazers) (all Christian Focus and all excellent)…..
I really appreciate that Thomas Chalmers opens with a chapter on Scotland from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. Even for students of history, it’s nice to have a presentation of the issues and culture in which the biographical subject lived.
Thomas Chalmers entered the ministry with what appears (to me) to have been little concern for those in his care, or for the glory of God. Rather, he seemed to be very concerned with his own career goals and path. Through Chalmers’ work with his first parish in Kilmany, Chalmers came to care about evangelism, the needs of others, theology, and the manner in which science points to God.
Chalmers became an advocate for reform within the system of the church and for social justice. He was gifted as an administrator, and an engaging preacher. He carried these concerns and abilities with him through appointments to parishes at Tron, St. John’s, and his role as Professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrew’s University. He was a prolific author as well.
Even so, Thomas Chalmers was unyielding in his pursuit of the administrative and philosophical reforms he felt were correct. In advocating for financial and structural reform within the church, Chalmers was often harsh toward anyone who opposed him, regardless of any friendship that may have existed.
I think the story of Thomas Chalmers is an interesting cog in the wheel of Church history, but I also think his life makes a great character study. Sandy Finlayson’s book will be beneficial to anyone wishing to have a conversation with older students about grace, unity, personal ambition, progressive sanctification, and social justice.
Enter to win a copy of Thomas Chalmers. Giveaway ends on 6/19/2015 at 10am PST.
Thomas Chalmers by Sandy Finlayson
Thomas Chalmers would coordinate well with studies involving
- The 18th and 19th Centuries
- Social Justice
- Unity and Grace
- Personal Ambition vs. God’s Glory
You can find Thomas Chalmers 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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~ 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.