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Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life Book Review

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It can be easy to mix up authors when they have the same name. In Scottish Church history there are three pastor-theologians that bear the same name – John Brown. To distinguish between them, the usual thing to do is to identify them by the place they are most associated with. This month, I am looking at a book by John Brown of Wamphray.

John Brown of Wamphray was born about 1610 in Kirkcudbright and became the minister in Wamphray, Dumfriesshire. In 1662, Charles II attempted to force upon the Church of Scotland an episcopal form of church government. When Brown spoke out against several neighboring ministers for acknowledging the newly consecrated archbishop of Glasgow, he was imprisoned in Edinburgh. With his health in decline, he was released from prison in 1663 upon condition of banishment from Scotland, with the certainty of death should he ever return. John Brown went into exile in the Netherlands, ministering to the Scots Church in Rotterdam and writing until his death in 1679.

John Brown of Wamphray is one of the most important theologians in the Scottish Church in the seventeenth century. He was blessed with the gift of combining deep doctrinal truth with godly piety and warm Christ-centered zeal. Samuel Rutherford would say of John Brown, “…I thought I saw Christ in him more than in his brethren.”

Perhaps the book that most clearly displays Brown’s blending of Christ-centered piety and doctrinal truth is Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Originally published in Rotterdam in 1677, it has been reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria.

In this book Brown shows how the Christian is to make use of Christ for justification and especially for sanctification. Do you desire to put to death the Old Man of sin and corruption? Brown will show you how Christ is the Way to do so. Do you wish to grow in grace? Again, Brown will show how Christ is the Way to do so. Do you need your guilt and pollution of daily sin taken away? Brown will show you how Christ is the Way to have this done. Do you wish to grow in knowledge? Brown will direct you to Christ the Truth. Are you in need of comfort and steadfastness when truth is oppressed, or when error prevails? Brown will show you how to use Christ the Truth. Are you discouraged, feeling dead to Christian duties, or feeling that God has hidden his face? Brown will show you how Christ is the Life.

In this book, Brown demonstrates that he is a true D.S. – a Doctor of Souls. He mines the Scriptures to find food for the soul, and balm to heal it. He comforts wounded hearts, and warns those who would ignore the Only Way to the Father. What we have is a wonderfully insightful guide on living the Christian life the way it is supposed to be lived -mortifying sin, growing in grace, loving the souls of others, glorifying God, all centered on Christ Jesus.