Under His Wings
Author: Ole Hallesby
Publisher: Augsburg Publishing House, paperback, 177 pages
Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Dr. Ole Hallesby was one of Norway's leading authors of best-selling, popular books such as Prayer, and Why I Am a Christian. He was a seminary professor until his death in 1961.
This volume consists of a Preface, and eleven chapters, entitled: Be Still Before The LORD, Under The Blessing Of God, The Meek, Under His Wings, In The Day Of Trouble, Our Earthly Calling, The Fear Of God, Faith And Assurance, Martha And Mary, When The Blind See, Closing Words. Each chapter begins with a biblical passage, followed by a meditation on it.
Dr. Hallesby first published this book in 1932, it was renewed in 1960, and this paperback edition came out in 1978. He states the book's purpose and intended audience in the Preface: "This book has been written for the many believing Christians who from time to time are filled with dismay at the Word of the Lord, and who almost continually feel weary and discouraged in their struggle against sin." In short, he had a pastoral concern for the spiritual well-being of his readers.
In his first chapter, based on Psalm 37:7, Hallesby sees stillness as a blessing in that it connects us with eternity, which, in turn, through grace, makes us more aware of our sin, which drives us to Jesus for forgiveness.
Professor Hallesby has some interesting insights in his chapter on The Meek, based on Matthew 5:5 and Philippians 4:5. He states: "The word for meek in the Norwegian tongue signifies slow courage, calm courage, gentle and mild courage." (p. 36) He goes on to discuss how little courage human beings have regarding: the confession of wrongs, giving generously, being humble, and suffering. He then cites several examples of Jesus' "meek courage," which involves love, faith, humility, and servanthood.
I appreciated Dr. Hallesby's short chapter In The Day Of Trouble, based on Psalm 27:5. Perhaps he is speaking from his own experience--I know it has been my experience as a pastor--when he states: "Believers, too, can be exceedingly mean to each other, both in thought, word, and deed. Moreover, nothing hurts us as much as when Christian people are unkind toward us." (pp. 78-79) Tragically, the lack of unity and love has caused way too many serious, unresolved conflicts and divisions in the church--moreover, it has scandalized non-Christians and turned them off of the Christian faith.
In his Closing Words, Dr. Hallesby speaks of the paradoxical and scandalous nature of the Cross: "The Cross, the most incomprehensible thing of all in connection with the God of the Bible, became the dearest and most indispensable of all to my broken and contrite heart." (p. 172)
Readers who are struggling and discouraged in the faith would likely find some counsel and encouragement in this volume.
Temperament & the Christian Faith
Author: Ole Hallesby
Publisher: Augsburg Publishing House, paperback, x plus 106 pages
Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
This little volume contains: a Foreword To The American Edition by Dr. Hallesby, A Tribute written by O.G. Malmin, and seven chapters, entitled: Temperament, The Sanguine Temperament, The Melancholic Temperament, The Choleric Temperament, The Phlegmatic Temperament, The Significance of the Temperaments. The Foreword To The American Edition was written, may possibly have been one of the last things Dr. Hallesby wrote on August 5, 1961, since he died on November 22, 1961.
In each of the four classic temperament chapters, the author includes their characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, hints for Pastors and Spiritual Counsellors, and self-discipline.
This little volume was first published in Norwegian as Temperamentene i kristelig lys in 1940, four years before the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published, which changed its title to the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” in 1956; and the “Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis,” originally developed by Dr. Roswell H. Johnson in 1941, and later revised by Robert M. Taylor and Lucile P. Morrison.
Dr. Hallesby provides readers with the origins of the words temperament, sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic. “The term comes from the Latin temperamentum, which means the right blending—in this case, of the bodily fluids. ...the sanguine (blood) being rich-blooded, warm, lively; the melancholic (from the Greek melaina chole, black bile), dark and gloomy; the choleric (from the Greek chole, yellow bile), hot-tempered and violent; and the phlegmatic (from the Greek phlegma,phlegm or mucus), cool, slow, and sluggish.” (p. 8)
The sanguine person is an extrovert, tends to: live in the present, is bubbly, lively, happy, a social butterfly, in touch with the feelings and thoughts of others, superficial and unreliable—unintentionally forgetting promises and obligations. They are ultimately people of hope.
The melancholic person is an introvert, and tends to be: deep and thorough, depressed, sceptical, dislikes the superficial, aware of their limitations, sensitive, faithful, dependable, too self-absorbed, uncompromising, hard to get along with, proud, impractical. Melancholic people are often intellectuals, artists and philosophers.
The choleric person tends to be: quick-tempered, practical, active and emphasizes doing, strong-willed, self-reliant, intuitive, energetic, insightful into human nature, responds quickly and boldly in emergencies, lacks compassion, is too self-confident and domineering, revengeful, and can become violent. Choleric people are active, practical and hard-working, and can motivate others in their work.
The phlegmatic person tends to be: calm and has a well-balanced temperament, is stoic, good-natured and easy to get along with, peace-loving, dependable, practical-minded, emulates stability, can be slow and lazy, self-righteous, and indifferent or blasé, as a leader can deal well with all kinds of people, and excel in administration.
Dr. Hallesby emphasises that as complex human beings, we all have a combination of the temperaments, with one usually more predominant than the others. It is Hallesby’s hope that becoming more aware of one’s temperament will enhance one’s relationships with both God and other human beings; as well as understanding the temperaments of others better with a view to becoming less judgemental of them.
This little volume is helpful in identifying one’s temperament(s). However, it is most likely best read along with other resources like the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.