Book Recommendation: No Armor for the Back

It was with great delight that I recently saw in my friend Tim Harrelson’s office a new book on a topic very near and dear to my heart. It was Keith Durso’s No Armor for the Back: Baptist Prison Writings, 1600s-1700s. The title “No Armor for the Back” is itself a challenging word to call Christians to courage in difficult days. It comes from a sermon/letter sent from prison by Thomas Hardcastle to his congregation. The book is an excellent overview of the writings produced by Baptists while imprisoned for their convictions during the long 17th century. The most famous Baptist prisoner of this era is John Bunyan. But other lesser known Baptist heroes that deserve our attention are also featured. Men such as Francis Bampfield, Hercules Collins, Thomas Delaune, Thomas Grantham, Thomas Hardcastle, Abraham Cheare, Vavasor Powell, and John Murton receive a well deserved introduction to the reader. Durso surveys the historical background of each imprisonment and then provides a helpful introduction to the prisoner and a summary of his writings. These writings include letters, tracts, books, and poems. Durso has provided both an informative and encouraging work for both students of Baptist history as well as contemporary pastors seeking to develop a Baptist theology of persecution. This latter task will become increasing important practically, I fear, in the days to come.

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