That I May Know Him by Vance Havner

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There is just something about the preaching and writing of Vance Havner that relaxes the soul. This little book is vintage Havner: low key, tranquil, thought provoking. As Havner himself admits, his ministry did not major on interpretation but on application. He was not a profound expositor of the Word; he was a simple country preacher who had a way of saying things that caused a person to reflect.

Havner was born, “before the family was let out by auto and the world let in by radio.” He advises us that, “In this day of peanut-butter-sandwich theology, what a price we have paid for passing up the moral beefsteak of books that are books indeed.” He believed that life was happier before the “Amen age gave way to the era of So What.” Yet there was a period in Havner’s life when he drifted toward liberalism beginning to see “man as more weak than wicked and needed culture rather than Calvary.” His preaching during this time of his life was of the “repent as it were and believe in a measure or you’ll be lost to some extent” variety. Fortunately the Lord brought him back to a sound doctrinal footing. Later he would preach of the power of the Holy Spirit for life and testimony, cautioning that too many preachers avoid this subject, “so afraid of ‘getting out on a limb’ that they never even get up the tree!”

Like many other servants of God, Havner was no stranger to discouragement and depression — suffering a two year round of “nervous exhaustion and depression” at about the mid-point of his life. Not long afterwards he married, and didn’t have time to be depressed anymore (just kidding).

A generation is growing up that does not know of the Vance Havners of the not so distant past, which is to their detriment. Fortunately we still have the books of these great men — if we will but read them.

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