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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” So begins Charles Dickens’ 1859 classic A Tale of Two Cities. Much as one age can contain two very different realities, one book can hold within itself two very different perspectives. Clinical psychologist Michael Lundy’s Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life: Practical Wisdom from Richard Baxter exhibits this double nature, offering both very helpful and highly suspect material.
Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life devotes the majority of its pages to presenting two treatises written by the Puritan pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691). Lundy has done an admirable job of updating Baxter’s diction while retaining the thought and structure of his ideas. “Advice to Depressed and Anxious Christians” offers a blend of Christ-centered theology and practical wisdom for those dealing with “melancholy.” “The Resolution of Depression and Overwhelming Grief Through Faith” discusses excessive sorrow and its root causes. Both treatises are treasures of hope and help, demonstrating continuity between the advice given to downcast Christians by biblical counselors and Puritan clergy.
Pages - Depression - Anxiety - Life - Introductions
The remaining pages of Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life are devoted to introductions by Lundy and J.I. Packer. Packer’s short overview provides biographical facts and a brief introduction to Baxter’s thought. The remainder of this review will focus on Lundy’s 30-page interpretation of Baxter. Lundy finds Baxter to be a kindred spirit, given Baxter’s occupation as a pastor and ad-hoc doctor in Kidderminster.
The core of Lundy’s introduction is his interpretation of Baxter’s counseling method. He raises the apt question, “Why has Baxter’s work endured?” The answer is startling: “It is Baxter’s deeply and carefully articulated Christian theology coupled with his adaptation of Stoic moral philosophy that makes his work so enduring and compelling” (p. 51, emphasis added)....
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Measuring his life out one teaspoon at a time.