3 out of 4 stars
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How far are you willing to go to defend your faith? When push gets to shove, will you be ready to endure persecution, deprivation, or even death for what you believe? We may not see it happen around us, but many put their lives at stake and even die because of their faith. There are countries where religious persecution occurs regularly, and the capital punishment meted out to anyone who professes a belief contrary to the dominant religion. In Stephen: A Paradigm of Triumphant Faith, MacDonald I. J. Mopho talks about practical ways to live the Christian life in the face of persecution.
Let me stop to say that I'm a Christian, and most of the things I shared in this review came from both a Christian perspective and my objective evaluation. In this book, the author talked about the faith of Stephen, the apostles, and believers in the early church. This book was an exposition on the first few chapters of the book of Acts in the Bible, which described the early church's activities and how it applied to Christians today.
The author begins the book by laying a foundation on Jesus Christ; His coming, death, and resurrection, and the relevance of these events to the believer. It further shows how the events connect to the death of the first martyr, Stephen, and the present-day believer's life. He then continued to the election of Matthias and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The author masterfully connects the dot from the 1st-century Christians to the 21st-century believer.
In this book, using Stephen's life as a case study, the author shows the importance of living a life that would draw unbelievers to Christ, even in the face of persecution. He asserts that the world needs people who would stand boldly and declare the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people believe the devil's lies through different sources because there seems to be no one to say the truth boldly the way Peter and the apostles did. And the few who speak the truth are termed insensitive.
What I like most about this book is in the third chapter, "Enemies of God and Character Destroyers." It shows how people have reacted to the gospel of Christ, especially governments of different nations, trying to subdue it. But like Stephen and Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, believers must be willing to embrace death when the need arises for the sake of the cross and the protection of the church.
I also like the way the author balances his points. For example, he talks about how fake pastors con people into emptying their treasures for greater financial harvest, thereby leading them to death or problems. He then balances it by saying that sacrificial giving is essential and has its benefits.
I like the lessons this book has for 21st-century Christians. However, some things need fixing. First, some chapter numbers are out of place, and I don't think that the chapter titles stand out just fine; they can be adjusted. To the author's credit, it may be his preference. Secondly, the title of chapter one keeps appearing in between the texts of that chapter. I suspect it's a case of the document's header gone wrong. Finally, and what I dislike most, there are a plethora of grammatical errors in this book. The book needs another round of professional editing.
Not everyone would enjoy this book because of its strong religious leaning; it contains many scriptures and prayers to Jesus Christ. So, if you are not a Christian or don't want to be preached to, you can take a pass on this one.
Holistically looking at everything I've said, Stephen: A Paradigm of Triumphant Faith can only get three out of four stars. I recommend this book to Christians who desire to live a triumphant Christian life.
Stephen: A Paradigm of Triumphant Faith
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