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The Normal Christian Life Mass Market Paperback – November 4, 1977
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In the 1970s, audiobooks (also called "talking books") were virtually unheard of unless you were blind. Thank God sighted people can have them today and there now exists the recording I longed for. There are even two editions; I own both for variety, rotating a copy between my house and my car. The readings are clear and generally rightly nuanced, and the narrators' voices can be listened to repeatedly without becoming annoying (at least to me). They are doing a narration, not preaching a sermon. A slight thing I noticed is that although Nee was Chinese, both he and his editors spoke and wrote in a British style of English. Yet the narrators sound American, like me; to hear them speak of "shillings and sixpence" with an American accent is a little amusing but certainly not distracting. The message is so wonderful that focusing on THAT will be rewarding forever!
The audiobooks encouraged me to meditate again on the printed version, which includes helpful footnotes by editor Angus I. Kinnear who prepared the book for its first publication in Mumbai, India in 1957. There's also a study guide by Harry Foster published separately in England in 1976 available on Amazon. Both Kinnear and Foster heard Watchman Nee deliver the original late 1930s spoken addresses on which the book is based.
Watchman Nee has been criticized in some circles because of the doctrines and practices of some of his disciples and colleagues - "guilt by association". It is no more legitimate than criticizing the apostle Paul for Hymenaeus, Alexander, Phygellus, Hermogenes, Philetus, Demas and "all who are in Asia" who had been Paul's associates and followers but decided to "distance themselves from him" (I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 1:15; 2:17; 4:10). Some of them became proto-Gnostic heretics who claimed Paul as their hero while totally perverting what he actually said. Unlike them, Watchman Nee sometimes extrapolates beyond the Scriptures in a few of his other books but not in what we would think of as outright heresy. "The Normal Christian Life" has only one prominent mistake I've noticed: he applies Luke 17:26-37 ("one shall be taken, the other left behind") to the doctrine of the Rapture found in I Thessalonians 4:13-18; but the context of Luke's passage actually refers to the flood of Noah and the judgment on Sodom "taking away" the sinners, not the saved. Nee is not alone in this traditional misapplication. Just ignore his mistake here and don't let it rob you of the wonderful benefits of everything else he has to say.
The message of "The Normal Christian Life" is not just for a few Christians who might enjoy it as their own particular interest or emphasis. Rather, it is the core of what it means to be a Christian. This is far different from what the average person thinks, or even the average Christian thinks. Had I read this book when I first believed in Jesus it would have put me on the right track and helped to save me from the will-power moralism of average Christianity. Nee's message may seem radical or strange, but that's only an indication of how far we've drifted from the Gospel of the Grace of God as it was revealed through Paul by the ascended Lord, Christ Jesus. The late Francis L. Patton, godly and able president of Princeton University (as quoted by William R. Newell in "Romans: Verse-By-Verse," 1938) said, "The only hope of Christianity is in the rehabilitating of the Pauline theology. It is back, back, back, to an incarnate Christ and the atoning blood, or it is on, on, on, to atheism and despair". I have found this to be true in my own life. May Watchman Nee's "The Normal Christian Life" help you as it has helped me, to deeply experience faith, hope, and the love of God!
It may be a little "deep", especially for the newer believer who has not done a lot of reading, but do not let that scare you! It will give you much to think on - and learning to think and meditate on God's Word is a must!
I highly recommend this for any believer who truly wants to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord.