If you have ever read any book or article written by J.C. Ryle then I expect you were challenged by his writing. Eric Russell in his biography of John Charles Ryle introduces the reader to the man described as “that man of granite with the heart of a child”.
Interestingly, Ryle did not originally plan to go into the ministry but ended up following that path due to financial problems that his father encountered. An unusual start for the man who would make a huge impact on our nation through his ministry.
John Charles Ryle was the first Bishop of Liverpool after having served as a church leader for several years before that mainly in the North of England. He held the position of Bishop for twenty years.
Ryle was very committed to holiness and Christians living out their faith. He wrote a very well known and challenging book called “Holiness” which is still in print today.
Throughout his ministry Ryle was a strong man of the scriptures and was not prepared to compromise his views on the bible being God’s Word, despite the rising popularity of more liberal views of the interpretation of the scriptures.
He married three times and experienced personal tragedy with all of his wives dying whilst married to him. We sometimes may think that our church leaders do not experience the same challenges that we do but Ryle certainly did. Leaders are certainly not exempt from suffering.
One of the most surprising aspects of the book is the effect that Ryle went to understand those who came from a different background to him. Whilst a staunch evangelical, he sought to build bridges with those other Anglicans who were not evangelical. He determined as a bishop to work with all those who were faithful members of the church and not just evangelicals. This is an example that we could all learn from and seek to live out
The book has 16 chapters and is very readable. I’ve read this book a number of times and would certainly recommend it as both an encouraging and challenging read.