Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Peter Mahnenschmidt

In doing some genealogical research I have found that my great, great, great, great, great (that’s 5) grandpa on my mom’s side, John Mannasmith (c.1770-1826) had a cousin who was a pastor. He was the first known German Reformed Pastor to minister in Ohio. Anyhow here are a few passages about his conversion, life, and death from The Fathers of the German Reformed Church in Europe and America by Rev. H. Harbaugh, D.D.:
“As early as his sixteenth year, he was instructed in the doctrines of God’s word, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, by a colleague of Mr. Otterbein. This proved the means of great and decided blessing to him, moving him earnestly to turn to God in heart and life. He sought and found the Lord to the comfort and satisfaction of his spirit; and the grace which he experienced in his own heart powerfully moved him to exhort others to seek reconciliation with God. Repentance and conversion were the themes on which he dwelt in all his exhortations, and his honest efforts were owned of the Lord to the good of many.” (pg. 207-8)

“The following notice of his demise we take from a religious paper, without knowing the name of the writer. Coming from a stranger, a member of another Church, it is the more valuable. He says: ‘The Rev. John Peter Mahnenschmidt has gone to his blessed reward. He died July 11th, 1857, in Canfield, Mahoning Co., Ohio, aged 74 years. He entered the ministry of the German Reformed Church when but eighteen years of age, and labored until within a few months of his death. He was very successful in winning souls to Christ – was evangelic in his views and preaching. He was a pioneer of the German Reformed Church in the West, having established the first church of his denomination this side of the Alleghanies, and the first in this region of Ohio. He died as he lived – firm in the faith, and with an assurance of a glorious immortality.’ So dies the faithful servant of Christ, falling asleep in jesus, with the sweet and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. ‘They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.’” (Pg. 219)

Harbaugh, Rev. H. The Fathers of the German Reformed Church in Europe and America, Vol. III (Lancaster: J. M. Westhaeffer, 1872)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: Boomtown by Nowen N. Particular

BOOMTOWN by Nowen N. Particular

Quick synopsis:
A pastor and his family move to a new town and become acclimated with the community. Boomtown is filled with lots of diverse people who all seem to get along in spite of their differences - and they love fireworks. The pastor is pushed out of his comfort zone as he gets to know his new community.

Things I liked about this book:
- It had a really fun and engaging story line with lots of interesting characters and entertaining events

- It had a good emphasis on getting along with people who are not like you and learning to appreciate one another's differences

Things I didn't like about this book:
- The father was consistently a poor leader of his family. His children were disobedient and disrespectful throughout the entire book without consequence. He frequently "caved" into doing what his kids wanted to do and was portrayed as being very out of touch.

- While unity was a big theme, there was no genuine Christian unity displayed. What people thought about God seemed to be pretty irrelevant.

- The teaching about the church was really unclear at best. The church wasn't distinct at all - it functioned similarly to a school or a library, as just another institution to serve the community at large.

- There was a real lack of any sort of justice - or even pursuing worthy goals. If people did something wrong, or failed in some way, it was overlooked, and usually even celebrated.

My overall thoughts:
I would not recommend this book. While it's a fun story, you'd get more edifying teaching from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my opinion. I think that at best, this book shows that disobeying parents is okay. Even worse, it paints a false picture of Christian unity and confuses the importance of the church. In a town where it doesn't really matter what you think or do, there isn't a basis for truth, justice, forgiveness, or reconciliation - and hence, while it seeks to paint a beautiful picture of unity, it really leaves out the gospel.