Shadow of the Almighty: Jim Elliot

24 Aug

When we hear stories of martyrs told from others’ lips we can often think of them as superhumans on a different scale of faith that we can never attain. However, in reading their own descriptions of themselves, we see a fight against inward sin and a determination to do God’s will that we can imitate.

In Shadow of the Almighty the second is true as Elisabeth Elliot collates the diaries and letters of Jim Elliot.

The Argument of the Book

Elisabeth collates the diaries of the missionary martyr Jim Elliot in an attempt to tell the story of this man of faith, and gives some more details herself. It is an excellent description of missionary life, as well as chatering the growth of a young man towards Godliness.

Primary Audience & Purpose

Elliot doesn’t highlight an audience, but notes in the introduction that this has given an inspiration to young men in particular. She aims to give a role model to Christians, especially those thinking about the mission field.

Literary Features of the Book

The book contains mainly extracts from Jim’s diaries and letters. Jim is challenging in his single mindness towards reaching the lost.

Is it Biblical?

Jim had some unusual ideas as a Plymoth Brethren, and talks about “New Testament patterns of church” (which do not include sermons or pastors) a lot. However, overall his attitude is very sound, especially in its focus on doing the word of God not just believing it.

Does it apply truth?

As said above, Jim always puts his thoughts into action and his example challenges the reader to do the same.

Is it Christ centred?

Yes. Although this is a biography Jim’s life is single in it’s goal, to give glory to Christ. (Buy it UK)

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5 Responses to “Shadow of the Almighty: Jim Elliot”

  1. Richard at 3:16 pm #

    A good biography in a similar vein is Robert Chapman: A Biography by Robert L. Peterson.

    I enjoyed my time in the Plymouth Brethren, even with their odd ideas ;-)

  2. Bev Ghezzi at 7:08 pm #


    Interesting blog!

    Just an aside — the “Brethren” view of New Testament churches generally DOES include both pastors and sermons, really, I think, as a more or less lifetime adherent.
    I think what MAY be a little different in the pastor area is the USAGE of the term. Generally, with us, it is thought of as a gift, the pastoring, and may be the gift of one or several individuals who, in particular, excel at that type of ministry/service.

    Of course, we’d also hope that those who preach or teach or are elders would have a pastoral heart, even if it is not their chief gift. For that matter, hopefully, most Christians pastor a teensy bit, right, as in ‘look out for other Christians, especially the less mature,’ and so on.

    When I’m in other evangelical churches, I find that the term ‘pastor’ is often used to describe the person who is assigned the main preaching and so on. In some cases, it is one of his pre-eminent gifts. In other cases, although, as mentioned before, he probably has a pastoral heart, his chief gifts lie in other areas, but he’ll be expected to shoulder the burden of the pastoring, perhaps with help from others. Of course, in the larger evangelical churches, there may be several ‘pastors’ and one may deal more with pastoral concerns, right?

    So, with us, we’d look more at an individual with a pastoral gift — this person might operate in one locale, or his ministry might be shared amongst several churches, or, say, he/she might be a chaplain in a prison or hospital. Hopefully, he’d be utilized to encourage the pastoral gift of others who might have such a gift, but in a rather undeveloped and unutilized form.

    As for sermons, I think we hear a lot of them! Probably, it is just semantics — we hear more about “messages,” or “talks,” or something like that.
    Probably, it’s an attempt not to institutionalize, or something like that, so we’re trying not to assume a hierarchy.

    Anyway, I liked your summary of the Elliot accounts. Interesting sidelight: I had thought, some time ago, that Elisabeth Elliot might not be well, so I put a Google Alert with her name, into action.
    Would you believe? Every day I get, I’d say, at least TWO alerts on her name, and I don’t believe a one of them has been about her — they say that blogs are becoming old stuff, but not according to this. It’s almost, every time, a Christian woman somewhere blogging who has been inspired by something that Elisabeth has written, or who has just read one of her books. I had NO IDEA how current and how widespread was her readership.

    Anyway, nice chatting!



  3. Tim Wilson at 6:59 am #

    Thanks Bev for your clarifications! Jim just seemed to rant a lot about pastors in his diaries. That’s the difficult thing about trying to judge doctrine by diary entries.

    Elliot has been a big impact on my fiancee. She’s a really amazing lady. I think complimentarianism is having a bit of a comeback, so Elliot’s books are really making an impact on young women.

  4. Tim Wilson at 7:00 am #

    P.S. to all who read these comments, I will be away for a little while as I’m moving house and the new place doesn’t yet have the internet. As soon as it does I will return!

  5. Juwitapitoykapoyos at 3:16 pm #

    I really want to reading book shadow of almighty version indonesian language. I feel blessed for reading this book.coz in the summaries of this book,I find a new spirit for realise my every dreams to be a christian.
    I dont know where I can reading this book online.if u let me read this book i will verry thanksfull.

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