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Letters from the Front: J. Gresham Machen's Correspondence from World War 1 Paperback – May 11, 2012
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"Doughboy accounts of their experiences in World War I are fairly common, but it is unusual to find the stories of those who offered assistance behind the trenches. Whether helping the wounded or working in the canteen, [J. Gresham Machen] ministered to the men as best he could. Machen's compassion is truly amazing, and his letters home offer a wonderful glimpse of the service of one YMCA official." --David Snead, Chair, Department of History, Liberty University; Editor of George Browne: An American Soldier in World War I
"From these rare letters, the reader can see a fresh side of the great scholar. On the battlefields of France, he was simply known as a compassionate soul who brought solace to scores of suffering soldiers. For those who only know Machen the polemicist, this volume will showcase Machen the caregiver." --William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
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It's a struggle for me to review Letters from the Front in a lot of ways. J. Gresham Machen is a hero of mine, and as a theologian I have the highest regard for him. When I came to this book, I had decided that in some ways, all he was was a theologian, and so my expectations for this book were skewed from the very beginning. Instead of a mere theologian, what I found in these pages was a more robust picture of a man, and I felt chided for seeing my heroes as being so two-dimensional.
First of all, it must be acknowledge that what Barry Waugh has done in giving us this book is nothing short of a feat. This book is the result of literally years of Dr. Waugh sitting down one letter at a time and copying them from the correspondence which Machen had saved for posterity's sake. As is explained in the introduction, it was not always the easiest thing for Waugh to do this, in terms of transcription of difficult words and the complexities of the whole process. In terms of the work put into this, we should all be grateful. These documents indeed provide a fuller picture of the life of Machen during World War I when he served in France as part of the YMCA. Readers will find much of interest in these letters. There are also interesting photographs of Machen, his family, and YMCA facilities similar to those Machen would have been living in and around during the penning of these letters.
Readers may perceive that there is a "but" coming. And indeed it is true.Read more ›