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Gottschalk: Servant of God – A Story of Courage, Faith, and Love for the Truth Review by Erica BeyeaConnie L. Meyer
Reformed Free Publishing Association
1894 Georgetown Center Dr.
Jenison, Michigan 49428
Set in Europe during the early Middle Ages, Gottschalk: Servant of God tells the story of a fervent monk who stood strong for his convictions in the face of incredible religious and political opposition. Though not much has been written about this time in history, this lovely, hardcover book seeks to tell the story of one man whose faith led him to study, witness, and devote his life to the cause in which he believed.
Gottschalk was born in the year 806. As a young child, his parents entrusted his life and his inheritance to the monastery, to be devoted to a life of service in the Catholic Church. As he grew and traveled to various locations to study, he became a very devout and learned monk, preaching and teaching as he traveled. He embraced the teachings of Augustine, one of the early church fathers. Gottschalk specifically expounded on the doctrine of predestination, which was greatly at odds with the teachings of the church leaders of his day. Threatened by his intelligent delivery, boldness, and popularity with several key nobles, the church authorities persecuted Gottschalk with flogging and imprisonment. Though they offered liberty if only he would recant his writings and teachings, Gottschalk refused and died in solitary confinement in the year 868.
A fundamental motive of this book is to inspire young readers to know and stand for what they believe, using the life of an early reformer as an example. Gottschalk studied and taught doctrines that were not fully embraced until many centuries later, during the Reformation years of John Calvin and Martin Luther.
While the publisher states that this book is intended for younger readers, I feel that it’s emphasis on doctrine places it at a higher reading level, possibly high school or even college age students. This book is as much a doctrinal primer as it is a biography. It is well written and clearly educates the reader on the life of an obscure man who is an important part of church history, but it also meticulously investigates complicated doctrinal nuances that could confuse younger readers.
I enjoyed broadening my knowledge of middle age religion and politics through reading this book. While I feel that an understanding of reformed theology is important to realizing the difficulties that Gottschalk faced, I felt this book overemphasized the defense of the doctrine itself over the inspirational story of the man who devoted his life to establishing that doctrine’s place in church history.
If used in a homeschool setting, the book should be carefully read by parents to ensure that the doctrine aligns with their own personal beliefs and the teachings they wish to convey to their children, and not just assign it to their child to read independently. The doctrines clearly laid out in this book could be a major source of discussion for parents to have with their children, studying the Scriptures together and working to understand the context of the story of Gottschalk. There are many lessons to be learned here.
-Product review by Erica Beyea, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2018