11/12/2007

The Taste of New Wine (by Keith Miller)

I didn't know anything about Keith Miller when I plucked this book off our shelves to read. We seem to have collected quite an eclectic muddle of Christian books over the years; we've bought a few new, been given several as gifts, 'inherited' even more from people who have moved away, and picked up yet more at second-hand shops and charity shops. I have no idea which category this book falls into, but I'd never read it.

I'm glad I didn't know anything about the author until I searched for him online to include the above link. This book was the first he wrote, and it shot him to fame. He continued to write, but apparently the pressure became too much - he turned to alcohol, his marriage broke up, and it took him years to sort himself out. So very sad - and perhaps a danger to anyone in a ministry like this.

The reason I'm glad I didn't know about his problems in later life is that this is a very honest book, much of it autobiographical, about living a life of freedom in Christ. It was written in the mid-1960s, at a time when church-going was still fairly popular, and many Christians were rather nominal. Few seemed Spirit-filled - or so Keith Miller suggests - and many didn't even understand what they were doing, or why, when they went to church each week.

The book looks at a breakthrough in the author's own life when he discovered real freedom in the Christian life, then he looks at new ways of relating to people, how to live the Christian life without annoying others, how to be a witness without being a pain, and (ironically) how to be a dynamic Christian within marriage.

The writing is good; it engages the attention and is full of good suggestions. It's rather dated in places, and uses some words and phrases which we wouldn't necessarily use these days, but I still found it interesting and often thought-provoking. It's still in print in both the UK and USA, so evidently others have found it helpful too.

I should add that in no way do I pass judgement on Keith Miller for the mistakes he made after he became famous. I just found it sad that someone so clued-in to the realities of following Christ could have fallen so badly. I'm glad to hear that he's now back in Christian ministry.

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