Posted by Shelbi
I think it’s a little strange that this is the second book I’ve reviewed on this blog that contains the words “Seven Men” in the title (read about Seven Men who Rule the World from the Grave here), but I was so excited to hear that Eric Metaxas had written another book that I couldn’t resist the chance to receive a free copy from Booksneeze, in exchange for a review on our blog.
Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace. I don’t think that Seven Men really lived up to the other two books, but it was still an enjoyable read.
The seven men written about in this book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles W. Colson. The introduction on manhood, while being a little watered down, was also good. Since the book is copyright 2013, it’s recent enough that the author was able to use the July 2012 Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the behavior of some of the men involved as an example.
Here are a few excerpts from the book:
George Washington (my favorite chapter):
“More than 200 years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men…There was a consensus at the time, since confirmed for all time, that no one else could have performed these elemental tasks as well, and perhaps that no one could have performed them at all.” (pg. 28)
“Why does the world still remember and love Eric Liddell today, when other athletes from his era have been long forgotten? Lord Sands, an Edinburgh civil leader, put his finger on the answer during a dinner honoring Eric after the 1924 Olympic Games. It was not because Eric was the fastest runner in the world that the guests were gathered there that evening, he said. Instead, “it is because this young man put his whole career as a runner in the balance, and deemed it as small dust, compared to remaining true to his principles.” (pg. 86)
“Bonhoeffer shared the fate of innumerable Jews who had recently been killed as he had been…But it seems clear that for Bonhoeffer, giving his life for the Jews was an honor. The God of the Jews had called him to give his life for the Jews. Bonhoeffer really believed that obeying God–even unto death–was the only way to live…In his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” ” (pg. 112)
Although each of the men in the book are presented as committed Christians (I’m still not sure about the chapter on the pope), vague phrases like “remaining true to his principles” and “surrendering himself to a Higher Purpose” are used more often than not. The chapter on Pope John Paul II extolls mostly his attempts at moral reform, rather than any preaching of the gospel he might have done. Disappointingly, he praises Charles Colson highly for his Evangelicals and Catholics Together program (ECT), the purpose of which was the “reconciliation of theological differences between the two groups”.
However, even though Seven Men was not as good as (and more politically correct than) Bonhoeffer or Amazing Grace (both of which were very theologically sound), I would still recommend it for anyone who is interested in any or all of these godly men of the past.