Sunday, April 28, 2013

Polycarp of Smyrna

by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson wants to point young people to heroes, rather than idols. As the back cover asks, “what’s the difference?” Well, our idols are people we admire and want to be like because of their looks, their money, their power, or their abilities, but heroes – true heroes – are people who pursue the Lord with everything they have, willing to live and die for Him.

Polycarp was just such a hero. He lived during the time of the Roman Empire, and had been taught by the Apostle John himself. As an old man he was presented with a choice: deny the Lord, or be burned to death. His accusers didn’t really want to burn him, and they pleaded with him to renounce his faith. But Polycarp would have none of it, declaring: “For 86 years I have served Christ. He has done me no harm! How can I deny Jesus who is my Savior?” He was burned but his courage and steadfastness encouraged the believers who saw him die.

Colorful illustrations are sprinkled throughout, with only the strange, seemingly random, enlargement of the first letter of the first word of one third of the paragraphs distracting me a bit, but causing no problems for children. Overall evaluation: a superior church history title for children. It would make a good gift for those in Grade two and up.

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