Book Review: Hamilton shows readers Methodism’s back story

Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It Adam Hamilton Abingdon Press, 2014

Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It
Adam Hamilton
Abingdon Press, 2014

By Russell Powell
Special Contributor

When we hear the word “revival,” we may associate it with images of big tents, hot weather, fire-and-brimstone preachers baptizing people in a river or pond and everything seemingly thrown back into the 1800s. But in Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton encourages us to see a different picture.

“Revival” is derived from a Latin word which means to restore or reinvigorate; and, as Hamilton writes, “to become healthy after a long period of decline…” which is exactly what this book has the potential to do for United Methodists.

Our beliefs have to start somewhere. Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., takes us on a trip through Methodist history for the sake of knowledge and understanding. He follows in the footsteps of John Wesley so we can learn exactly what shaped this religion we call Methodism. We learn what kind of influences Wesley had growing up with his parents and siblings. And we also learn about one of the most meaningful experiences he ever had: when he felt the love and grace of our Creator move in his own life.

Revival fires up readers by transporting them back in time for a look at John Wesley’s life. Hamilton took a sabbatical leave from his church to retrace Wesley’s upbringing, travels and ministry around England.

Wesley grew up in a Christian home. His father was a minister at the local church, where Wesley first got to hear and learn about the gospel. His path continues to Oxford University, the place where Wesley gathered with others to create a new method to being a Christian and showing the love of Christ to the world. Hamilton gives us a view into some of the mission services that Wesley and his other fellows at Oxford provided to the local population. He also includes a few excerpts from Wesley’s sermons.

Accompanying the sermon snippets are photographs that Hamilton and his film crew took during their travels. These images give readers a look at the buildings, locations and relevant events as John Wesley built the foundation for Methodism. They provide a look inside the home, churches and other places where he spent time studying the Word and preaching, and even where he took his last breaths.

This book is a must-read for Methodists at any faith level—it can benefit anyone seeking to understand this denomination, whether they have been part of it since birth, have just joined or perhaps are thinking about joining. The information in Revival is difficult to find elsewhere in such an organized, concise form. By following Wesley’s path with Hamilton as your guide, you just may “feel your heart strangely warmed.”

Powell serves as co-director of youth and children’s ministry at Salem United Methodist Church Benton.