R. B. Jones – Gospel Ministry in Turbulent Times N. Gibbard. Paperback, 232pp. Published by Bryntirion Press, Bridgend, CF31 4DX, Wales. ISBN 978 1 85049 231 3.
In the first part of this book the author gives an extremely well researched and fairly detailed account of Jones’ life. He focuses on: his time as a Baptist minister in four churches, all in the Baptist Union, in South Wales; the establishing and running of a Bible Training School; his editing of a Welsh magazine The Evangelist for many years; his involvement in the Welsh Revival of 1904-5; his support for a Gospel van in South Wales (called ‘The Evangelist’s Chariot’); his involvement in the Keswick-in-Wales convention; and his journeys elsewhere, including North America and Latvia, in the cause of the gospel. The writer deals with problems which occurred at times resulting from his occupying a ministerial position, the churches belonging to a religious organization, the founding of a Bible School, etc. Some aspects may cause us to ponder: in an age when education was limited, his messages lasted an hour or more. The writer’s thoughts here are few.
In the second part, 40% of the book, the biographer seeks to evaluate Jones’ service. We need to remember that biographers are not infallible. He defends Jones from criticisms by Murray, written in 1982, claiming he misunderstood some of his teaching. However, he himself criticizes Jones for his too detailed teaching of, and emphasis upon, the Second Advent. His pre-millennial views, such as may be found in the pages of this magazine, are not defended. Gibbard criticizes Jones for being dogmatic in this area. Yet he states, ‘all the blessings of David are to be applied to the church, in Christ’; ‘there is no justification for separating the church and Israel, as RB does’; his literal interpretation of the 1,000 years is “doubtful"’. He does not appear to support Jones’ uncompromising insistence on the baptism of believers by immersion and that ‘sprinkling is a sin because it sets aside the ordinances of Christ’.
It is ironic that what the writer praises and criticizes Jones for would, at times, produce the opposite response for some readers. The reviewer’s overall impression is of a man who was an indefatigable worker, to whom principles were vital, and being a follower of Christ a serious business.
[Our thanks to Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, UK, for this review]
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