"The Printer and the Preacher", by Randy Petersen (book review)

This is a thoroughly researched and meticulously written dual biography of two influential forefathers: George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin.

Whitefield was a principal catalyst of the Great Awakening of the 18th century who traveled the globe preaching the message of Jesus Christ.  His religious contemporaries included Jonathan Edwards and Charles & John Wesley.

Benjamin Franklin was one of our nation's founding fathers who was passionate about writing and science. But he was also instrumental, as we know, in orchestrating the original documents and framework upon which our country was founded.  He believed in God, but was an avid deist who thought God is worthy of worship, but that Jesus's divinity is questionable. Yet he also believed people and society should be upright, moral creatures who do good because that is what's good for society. He believed we should treat each other right -- not for Christ's sake, with some eternal reward in mind, but because we see value in being friends here and now. Could Been have been suggesting, "Stop trying to convert me...just friend me" (p.187)?

Although Whitefield and Franklin were not close friends, their life work brought them together as partners. Whitefield wanted to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and relied on the trustworthiness of Franklin to be his printer.  Franklin, on the other hand, saw that there was money to be made by printing for Whitefield due to his enormous popularity.

While Whitefield made every attempt to encourage Franklin to trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sin, Franklin was resistant. Despite their religious differences, the two never really lost touch with each other.


I happened to read this book at a time when a health issue afflicted me. Randy Petersen wrote that Whitefield was cut to the heart by the writing of William Law in "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life".  His message was this: "Get serious about what's most important" (p.88).  When I read those words, I placed the book on my lap and began to reflect in my own life. Have I made my life count? Is my Lord pleased? Do I have regrets, and if so, what will I do from here forward to live without regrets? Am I ready to meet my Maker?

Another quote on p.108 inspired me: "If we are truly converted, we shall not only be turned and converted from sinful self, but we shall be converted from righteous self."  So often, it seems we followers of Christ can find great ease in condemning and judging the unconverted world, but neglect the sins that remain in our own lives. The Apostle Paul addressed this very topic in 1 Corinthians 6.  Somehow, we grow self-righteous and forget that we are saved by God's grace, and not because we deserved it for having done any good works to earn it.

Petersen's conclusion is wonderfully written, tying in the lives of Whitefield and Franklin to show how we owe thanks to each. They teach us to continue talking and listening, even when we don't agree; they teach us the prized value of good character, including integrity, honor, and honesty; their lives remind us to be creative in communication and in not allowing our minds to sit idle; and they teach us that loving actions -- not just nice words -- are crucial to human interaction.

RATING: I give "The Printer and the Preacher" 5 stars for its depth of research and it's impact through the messages conveyed.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my unbiased review of it.  All opinions are mine, and the thoughts expressed in this review were not forced upon me.

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