Reviving the heart

The story of the 18th-century revival

Vigour with rigour

The story of the 18th-century revival
By Richard Turnbull
Lion Hudson. 191 pages. 9.99
ISBN 978 0 745 953 496

Richard Turnbull is a church historian and, until recently, was the Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

His new book on the Great Awakening is well informed, carefully balanced and likely to have just the effect of its title — reviving the heart. He tells with vigour the stories of the movements and people that make up the 18th-century Revival, interweaving the elements carefully. George Whitefield, the Wesley brothers and their fellow workers are all analysed, and lesser-known but equally exciting leaders described, along with the Countess of Huntingdon’s circle.

Turnbull is very careful to explain exactly what he is talking about in everyday language, not the ‘language of Zion’, and to consider the objectivity of sources with rigour. The concern to assess as well as report the Revival is extremely valuable — it will provoke thought and stimulate further reading. However his interaction with recent literature and use of quotations from modern commentators can make the book feel a little academic at times. So students will appreciate this work, and ministers, but any Christian should find their heart warmed and their prayers encouraged that we should see such things again. Church history is often given a back seat in church life, so buy it, read it, give it to your minister and others; it will do good.

David Adams,
deacon at Monmouth Baptist Church, Wales