HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Pioneering Adventures of Parson John: A Historical Novel
Author and Cover Illustrator: Earl Kimbrough
Publisher: Faith and Facts, 2015
SKU No.: 10133
Related website: http://www.faith-facts.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kimbrough, Earl. The Pioneering Adventures of Parson John: A Historical Novel (published in 2015 by Faith and Facts Press, 6530 N. Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46268). This is a historical novel based on the life and times of John Taylor (1807-1885) who was very involved in the Restoration movement in northwest Alabama during the nineteenth century. John Taylor was born on February 20, 1807, in South Carolina. His people were members of the Baptist Church, and young Taylor was trained in the Baptist faith. After marrying his wife Polly, he moved to North Alabama in 1827, when he was twenty years of age. He had no formal education but began to preach soon after he joined the Baptist Church. However, as his wife taught him to read using the Bible, he and read that the Holy Spirit, through Peter, said to the people on the day of Pentecost, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” Rightly concluding that God had not pardoned his sins before he was baptized, he found a Baptist preacher who baptized him without the consent of the Baptist Church. John Taylor did not preach long for the Baptists before he caused them trouble. He did not try to follow “Baptist usage,” but he sincerely tried to follow the New Testament, including preaching baptism for the remission of sins, so he was drummed out of the Baptist Church as a “Campbellite” heretic, even though he had never read anything by or even at that time heard of Alexander Campbell.
Thus, Taylor decided to continue to preach what he found revealed in the New Testament and baptize believing penitents upon a simple confession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without the sanction of the Baptist Church or any other human organization.. His work resulted in the establishment of many independent churches striving for non-denominational, New Testament Christianity throughout northwest Alabama. He died on February 19, 1885. Author Earl Kimbrough, a gospel preacher, is a student of what is called “Restoration history,” especially of his beloved home state of Alabama. Kimbrough has also written an actual biography entitled John Taylor: The Life and Times of A Backwoods Preacher (1807-1885), but for some reason its publication has been delayed—at least I cannot find it in print, so this historical novel with a slightly fictionalized account of Taylor’s life was produced, based on several articles in the Gospel Advocate written by Filo Bunyan Srygley wrote in the 1930s relating from memory what John Taylor had told him, and later wrote for him, about his conversion and first preaching. There are some references to the use of tobacco by both Taylor and his wife which are undoubtedly accurate from a historical standpoint. It is especially interesting to see how Taylor dealt with such issues as slavery and the Civil War.
Kimbrough summarized Taylor’s life, saying, “Parson John, by his determined will and the encouragement he received from his good wife, rose above the roughhewn pioneer society in which he lived. He bore the unsophisticated shell of a backwoodsman among a coarse, uneducated, and often violent people. Yet, he had the courage, faith, and common sense to cope with his environment successfully. He clearly belonged to the times and culture in which he lived. However, in a very special sense, he manifested an unusual and remarkable character. He could bravely resist and defeat the worst bully, but inwardly beat a heart as tender as that of a child” (p. 384). The only criticism that I have seen of the book is an objection to the term “parson” as not being a Bible word. But according to the dictionary, “parson” means “minister” or preacher. That’s exactly what John Taylor was, and so all his friends and neighbors called him “Parson John.” The take away lesson from his life is that Taylor had never heard of Alexander Campbell when he began preaching the gospel, so we can know that he did not learn what he preached from Mr. Campbell or from any other man, but from the New Testament. This book will be especially appreciated by those with an interest in Restoration history.