Book Review of In His Steps
The story of In His Steps takes place in the railroad town of Raymond. It begins on a Friday morning when a man out of work appears at the front door of Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church of Raymond, while the latter is preparing for that Sunday’s upcoming sermon. Maxwell listens to the man’s helpless plea for a job briefly, then expresses his sympathy and brushes the drifter away. The same man appears in church at the end of the Sunday sermon, walks up to “the open space in front of the pulpit,” and faces the people. No one stops him. He quietly but frankly confronts the congregation—“I’m not complaining; just stating facts.”—about their compassion, or apathetic lack thereof, for the jobless like him in Raymond. Upon finishing his address to the congregation, he collapses, and dies a few days later. That next Sunday, Henry Maxwell, deeply moved by the events of the past week, presents a challenge to his congregation: “Do not do anything without first asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’” Then he invited people presented to pledge for one year to obey the principle. Several persons join in. And the decision changes their life. Charles doesn’t mention everyone’s change, but mainly focus on Henry Maxwell. He also mentioned a little about Mr. Norman, Rachel Winslow, and Virginia Page etc. Those key characters struggle to make their choices to follow Jesus’ step. I just have read the first ten chapters, in consequence, I don’t know the ending of story. But I think it must a happy ending. Maybe there are much more citizens join in. In my opinion, the idea of follow Jesus’ step seems quiet utopian. Looking back history, however, the book is quiet representative of late 19th century liberal theology and the Social Gospel movement. Needless to say, the spirits of the plot is positive. It also conveys such a message: people draw unanimously as what Jesus would do if he were in their position, or perhaps more...
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