Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold is a stirring and detailed biography of the life of the Olympic Champion and missionary, Eric Liddell, who inspired the film Chariots of Fire. Written by David McCasland and published in 2001 by Discovery House Publishers, this book explores, in depth, the life and death of this extraordinary man of God.

Eric Henry Liddell was born in Tientsin, China, on January 16, 1902, to Scottish missionaries James and Mary Liddell. He lived with them there in China until he was six years old, when his parents enrolled him and his brother Robert at Eltham College of Blackheath, England, a boarding school for missionaries' children. His parents left them there and returned to China with his younger sister, Jenny.

While at Eltham, and later at Edinburgh University, where he went for a BS in Pure Science, Eric became noted for his athletic skill and sportsmanship. As Eric excelled in rugby and running, he made his way to running in the 1924 Paris Olympics, where his faith and strength of principle would be tested and where he would become a renowned British champion.

This is as much as most people know of Eric Liddell's life, mainly because of the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. However, Eric's life was much more than that of an Olympic runner. David McCasland looks deeply into Eric's life after he returned to the land of his birth, China, and into his ministry there in the Anglo-Chinese College of Tientsin, his love for his wife and daughters, and his last days in the Japanese prison camp at Weihsien during World War II. The real Eric Liddell, his love for God, his humility, his patience, his giving spirit, come to life in the pages of this book.

The author put a great deal of study into the writing of this biography. While his writing style isn't the best I have read (I've been spoiled by Courtney Anderson ;-) ), his diligence and accurate portrayal of the life of my favorite missionary hero makes this book one of the best I have read. He interviewed a great many people who knew Eric and studied and quoted many letters, personal memoirs, newspapers, and so on; he also includes, in the latter part of the book, a great many excerpts of Eric Liddell's writings which really hit home. Some of these quotes can be found here. In addition, the book contains sixteen pages of photographs of Eric Liddell, his family, and his colleagues.

Eric Liddell was truly an amazing man. Many people remember Eric for his athletic reputation. However, the young people that he taught and befriended at Weihsien remembered him for his deep love for the Lord and his godly influence. They remembered him not only teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and the Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13), but also living it out in his daily life. To read of his relationship with God causes me to ponder my own walk, and desire to be more like him, for he was like Christ. Eric ran his race through life well; his life-- and his death-- impacted so many people, and continues to impact people today-- myself included. I hope you will take the time to search this book out and read it for yourself. Let your life be impacted to by this humble man of God.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith...” Hebrews 12:1,2


Mama said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Cara said...

Amen! He was an amazing guy.