Draper hits home run with new book on LifeWay
LifeWay Legacy: A Personal History of LifeWay Christian Resources and the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention by James T. Draper Jr. (B&H Publishing Group, 2006) 464 pages, $29.99.
A few days ago I was ripping through a new book I had received when my wife came through the room and asked me what I was reading. I said, “A history of the Baptist Sunday School Board.” She laughed (“guffawed” is a better word for it) and walked away, singing a modified version of that old country tune, “Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be book nerds.”
I’ve never met a book about the history of the Southern Baptist Convention that I didn’t like. To be sure, there are many that I have disagreed with over the years, but I still find them to be enjoyable. However, when the history is written by one who shares my own perspective on the events of the last thirty years of denominational life, the joy of reading is even greater.
Such is the case with a new book by Dr. Jimmy Draper called LifeWay Legacy: A Personal History of LifeWay Christian Resources and the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Draper chronicles the story from the humble beginnings with James Marion Frost right up to the present leadership of Thom Rainer. It tells the origin of Ridgecrest, Glorietta, Vacation Bible School, the “Life and Work Series”, Experiencing God, January Bible Study, and many other SBC household names. What makes the reading so good is that Dr. Draper displays an obvious love for the institution he served. He believes in the vision and mission of LifeWay, and his passion comes through in the pages.
As with any book covering the history of an SBC institution, Draper records the facts of the convention controversies, specifically as they affected the Sunday School Board. In providing a first-hand account of the words and actions used by both sides of the battle, Draper allows us to see how history is relevant to the present. Although the doctrinal issues may be different now, some of the logic and language used in current SBC theological debates is verbatim from that of thirty years ago. As such, these sections make for good reading in formulating an answer to the question, “What best defines the Southern Baptist Convention?”
Pastors, if you are on a tight book budget, this will probably not be a top-priority for your own library. At $29.99, there are many other books to get your hands on to help you in your ministry. However, let me suggest that you consider having your church library or associational library add this to their collection. This will enable a wider audience to profit from this enjoyable book. Even if those of us who read such books run the risk of being called nerds!
(Scott Lamb pastors Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.wisdomofthepages.com.)