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Reviews | Obeying God rather than man

Obeying God rather than man

Geoff Henstock

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

128 pages

Obeying God rather than man

The Christadelphian review (from April 2016)

Obeying God rather than man

The 100th anniversary of the First World War is a timely reminder of the price of conscience, and Brother Geoff Henstock’s new book has been published to coincide with this centenary.

WHEN we think about conscientious objection in an historical context we are most likely to bring to mind the experiences of our brethren and sisters in the 150 years since the Christadelphian community came into being. But the real historical context goes right back into the experiences of faithful men and women throughout the scriptures. So Brother Geoff Henstock's book provides a very helpful and thoughtful reminder of those experiences whilst drawing out from them lessons for today.

The book highlights the experiences of Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel and the early church, examining in some detail and with interesting insights what they suffered for their faith. Nor is it devoid of exposition, for example, in exploring the public nature of Jeremiah’s persecution by the last of the kings of Judah or the context of the image of gold in Daniel chapter 3. In each case the experiences of these men and women of faith are also set in the context of the persecution suffered by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Practical lessons for today

However, the most valuable aspects of the book are the many lessons drawn out of the experiences of the past for believers of the present. These start with a stark reminder that the sinfulness of a world away from God will always be opposed to the life of discipleship. As Brother Geoff observes in relation to Daniel’s three friends and their trial by fire, “Nothing infuriates the world more than our refusal to conform”.

We are also reminded of the obligation we all have to preach, as part of our standing up for the Lord Jesus:

“Our obligation to preach is very similar to that imposed upon Jeremiah …”

This sometimes means facing others with uncomfortable truths, as Jeremiah had to in his day:

“By all means we should present a balanced and positive picture of God’s plan and purpose, but we must never censor those elements that might trouble our friends and neighbours just so we can avoid unhappy consequences.”

Brother Geoff also points out that whilst some people will resent or ridicule our stand for conscience, others will respect us far more for it. In discussing Herod’s grudging respect for John the Baptist he comments:

“It has often been the case that secular authorities have had respect for the moral integrity of conscientious objectors who have made a stand for what they believe to be the will of God. This has led them to be generous in their treatment of them, even if they have been obliged to impinge upon their liberty.”

Nonetheless, John was beheaded through the scheming of Herodias, and we cannot know whether we shall be delivered when the test of conscience comes or whether we must be faithful to death as some of the brethren and sisters in Smyrna would have to be.

John Botten

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