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Gottschalk: Servant of God, A Story of Courage, Faith, and Love for the Truth Review by Lori HootenConnie L. Meyer
Reformed Free Publishing Association
1894 Georgetown Center Drive
Jenison, MI 49428
Connie L. Meyer has written a biography for middle grades titled Gottschalk: Servant of God - A Story of Courage, Faith, and Love for the Truth. This biography is interesting, though it is one that parents would be wise to preview in order to ensure that your child’s understanding of your personal faith views are strong prior to undertaking this story.
This is a biography of Gottschalk of Orbais, a monk who was persecuted in his own times for speaking about doctrine he read in the Bible and the writings of Roman Catholic Church fathers. These doctrine that he spoke about were different than what the Roman Catholic Church was teaching at the time and thus, he made many enemies among both the church and the rulers.
Set in the Middle Ages, the little boy Gottschalk was given to the Roman Catholic Church, along with his sizeable inheritance, at a very young age. He had no voice in how he was going to live his life or serve God. The church placed him in a monastery in Fulda. He lived there, learned there, and grew up there. He spent sometimes in other monasteries to be further educated. This was both a blessing, and later, a detriment, for Gottschalk. His knowledge of the traditions and writings of the men of the church grew tremendously. Along with his growth of knowledge, he gained much self-confidence.
Eventually, Gottschalk became a monk who travelled around and taught others. During this time, he began to teach about his beliefs, some of which differed from the standard Roman Catholic Church teachings. This proved to be problematic for him and he was to have to stand before a synod, to defend what he was teaching more than once. Even before these powerful men and facing horrific punishment, Gottschalk did not recant his beliefs or his understandings.
In the end, Gottschalk was ridiculed, beaten, and thrown in prison for teaching what he believed was the truth. In speaking against the traditions and long-standing teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, he was speaking against men and they did not like it. Even though Gottschalk would die in a prison cell, his voice continued to project loudly from that cell through his writings, those who knew him, and those who heard of the doctrines he taught.
Biographies, in general, are wonderful teaching tools. Gottschalk: Servant of God follows right along with that, though there are a couple of points to note prior to handing it to a student.
This biography of Gottschalk is a difficult book to read if you do not thoroughly understand the doctrines that Gottschalk was speaking about and speaking against. Those doctrines form a large part of the action of the book and an understanding of them will allow the reader to better comprehend why Gottschalk was persecuted for his teachings. The book would significantly benefit from a clear statement of what the doctrine of predestination is meant to be, as well as the doctrines of double predestination, doctrine of the elect, doctrine of the reprobate, and other teachings of the church that are part of the synods he faced.
Due to the discussion of theology that occurs in this book, it would be prudent for the parents to ensure that any readers are strong in their own understanding of the truths presented in God’s word and what that means for salvation before beginning this book. The discussions could easily cause someone who is young in their own faith to become confused or misunderstand something.
Although written at a middle grades level, this book contains a much more mature topic and should be approached as such. It includes a significant amount of theology and doctrine, as well as a large amount of material that is presumed or assumed based on what probably would have happened. Knowing that the historic record is fairly quiet on this man, these statements are understandable but the implications of them on the story may be difficult for an 11 or 12-year-old to grasp.
Overall, this is an interesting biography to read about a man who taught things that became center to the religious discussion several hundred years later. Gottschalk: Servant of God by Connie L. Meyer is a challenging biography that will force you to think carefully about what this man taught and what you believe.
-Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2018