Of Intense Brightness
The Spirituality of Uncommon Christian James Brainerd Taylor
Edited and introduced by Dr. I. Francis Kyle III
Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, June 2008
168 pages, paper ~ 41 photos ~ Index ~ Map
Select bibliography ~ Buy here
Click here to view abbreviated endorsements on the publisher's web site.
Spirituality Authors & Professors
"Kyle has done the church a great favor by resurrecting the dynamic faith of an earnest young man whose devotion can still breathe life into a sometimes complacent church."
Gary L. Thomas
Author and Founding Director, Center for Evangelical Spirituality
"For the student of church history willing to spend the time and energy, there are vast territories yet to explore in the history of God's people, especially in that history since the close of the seventeenth century. Francis Kyle has spent that time and devoted considerable energy to unearthing the life of a remarkable man. James Brainerd Taylor's life, like his distant relative David Brainerd, reveals a man who packed into a few short years a full lifetime of holiness. The result of Kyle's research and study is thus an inspiring book, one that takes us to the heart of what it means to give one's all for Christ, his glory and his Church."
Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Church History
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ky.)
University Students & Campus Ministers
"'Religion can be enjoyed in college.' James Brainerd Taylor inspires and encourages me as I sit in the same Nassau Hall where he lived and wrote. Now, more than ever, it is uncommon for Christians to openly enjoy religion during their college experience amidst intellectual, emotional, and spiritual persecution and ridicule. Taylor, however, seemingly breathed God's word, which was his daily bread. In Of Intense Brightness, Kyle illuminates Taylor, a truly uncommon Christian and one to whom I and my fellow Princetonians are indebted for helping to establish an historical stronghold for Christ."
Jonathan M. Keller
Student (Class of 2009), Princeton University (N.J.)
& President (2007), Princeton Evangelical Fellowship (est. 1931, successor to the Philadelphian Society of Nassau Hall [1825–1930], J. B. Taylor, primary founder)
"Francis Kyle has brought together a collection of writings from a thought provoking and very 'uncommon Christian.' As a student myself, Taylor's writings together with Kyle's commentary provide a great challenge and a dose of encouragement to my own spiritual life. The book's message hits especially close to home while I am studying in New York City where the teenaged Taylor became a Christian, taught Sunday school, received a call to the ministry, and was active in a spiritual revival. To read about such an intensely spiritual and eternally conscious man and his passion for the gospel affords us all the opportunity to consider what God can do in and through those who truly make their lives 'living sacrifices.'"
James S. Berneking
Graduate (A.A., Class of 2007), Peninsula College (Port Angeles, Wash.)
& Student (Class of 2009), The King's College (Manhattan, New York City, Campus Crusade for Christ affiliate)
"Thank you, Francis Kyle, for introducing me to James Brainerd Taylor. I am inspired and challenged by J. B. Taylor's love for scripture, holiness, evangelism, and cross-cultural ministry. I would love to take him to campus with me! May God raise up more James Brainerd Taylors among this generation of students."
National Director of Evangelism, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"This work is not only insightful and inspiring, it is impacting! Here we have the rare opportunity to read about James Brainerd Taylor in his own words. I hope that every student and campus ministry leader will read this volume carefully and seek God wholeheartedly until he or she enters into a new level of love for God and passionate kingdom service."
"To know where we are headed in the future it is vital to look into the past. By looking into the lives of past leaders we gain perspective and conviction upon our lives in the present. Of Intense Brightness is a valuable aid in this process. Francis Kyle's in depth research on J. B. Taylor will help current leaders know better how to advance the cause of Christ into the future and increase our vision of what it means to be a follower of Jesus."
Founder and President, Campus Renewal Ministries
& Co-Founder, Campus Transformation Network
Evangelists & Pastors
"How grateful I am to Francis Kyle for sharing with us the life and ministry of James Brainerd Taylor, a man whom God used so powerfully during his short life. This is a book that will touch both the heart and mind of every reader. I pray that our Lord will use it in my life and yours to be more committed to be used of God in every way He desires for revival and spiritual awakening in our day."
"As the Palau ministry pursues a path of 'innovative evangelism,' it is inspiring—and humbling—to read the words of a young James Brainerd Taylor as presented by Francis Kyle. Innovation was a vital part of Taylor's writing, and his 'uncommon Christianity' crosses two hundred years of history with relevance and clarity. Evangelicals can definitely learn and benefit from this comprehensive work."
Executive Vice President, Luis Palau Evangelistic Association
"When I minister the Office of Burial in the local graveyards in Middle Haddam I see numerous Brainerd and Taylor stones throughout the centuries. A window in the church I serve is dedicated to James's father, Col. Jeremiah Taylor. Indeed, James and his ten siblings were baptized and nurtured in the knowledge and love of the Lord here. Ah, but those moments of ignition, and re-ignition, that we pastors pray for in the lives of our people! Like many young people before and after him, J. B. Taylor's ignition in Christ occurred away from village and family—and this only after 'falling in with' Presbyterians in New York City! It was no great matter with or through whom God called, anointed, and sent Taylor into fruitful, but very short, ministry of evangelism and discipleship. As his minister then, so with me now here—one never knows when we baptize who will be called to such a life 'of intense brightness.'"
Mark E. Given
Former Rector, Christ Episcopal Church (est. 1785), Middle Haddam, Connecticut
Church History Scholars
"Many thanks to Francis Kyle for this most edifying anthology. It is sad but true: James Brainerd Taylor was an 'uncommon Christian.' My hope and prayer is that these selections from his grace-filled spiritual writings will be used by God to change this situation."
Douglas A. Sweeney
Chair of the Department of Church History and Christian Thought
& Director, Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Ill.)
"James Brainerd Taylor was what the Puritans of old would have called a 'hot-gospel Christian.' His life was marked by a zeal for holiness and a desire to serve the cause of Christ in every area of his life. This collection of his writings explores both his evangelical activism and his intense Protestant piety. In doing so, it gives us access to the spirituality of an important shaper of American Christianity."
"The inner life of the 'uncommon Christian' James Brainerd Taylor opens a window onto the spirituality of young evangelicals caught up in the revivals associated with America's Second Great Awakening. Francis Kyle edits, annotates, and introduces a fine selection of journal entries, letters, and other personal writings from his days as a young adult in New York City, a student, and an evangelist. What shines in these writings is a faith simultaneously brimming with the vitality of the New Republic and deeply rooted in the piety of Puritanism and Jonathan Edwards. Dying of tuberculosis in 1829 and before his twenty-eighth birthday, Taylor's writings bring to life an old exemplar who is—strikingly—forever young."
Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe
Author & Senior Minister, First Congregational Church, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Outside of USA
"A fascinating nightlight of the spirituality of a lesser known member of the Second Great Awakening. So-called postmodernity could do well to retrace the steps of the little known James Brainerd Taylor. I congratulate Francis Kyle for putting the spotlight on a worthy luminary."
Principal, International Christian College
"Anything that illuminates the revival spirit is to be welcomed, but these spiritually rich letters and journal articles of James Brainerd Taylor are especially welcome. They reveal how the one who had to be 'up and doing' was anything but a superficial activist. His activism was fueled by the sweet 'communion with heaven' that characterized his spirituality. Francis Kyle's work in making the brief and inner life of someone who sadly is unknown today has much value."
"Nothing affords a brighter, clearer glimpse into the recesses of a person's heart than his writings. Francis Kyle well serves the twenty-first century Christian community by publishing forty-five representative writings from the pen and heart of early nineteenth-century evangelist James Brainerd Taylor. The life of this extraordinary young man has been rescued from the dim shadows of the past to be currently spotlighted in an hour when 'uncommon Christians' have become an endangered species. May Taylor's literary reappearance challenge our entire contemporary generation to make the Lord Jesus Christ their all in all."
Richard L. Mayhue
Executive Vice President, The Master's College and Seminary (Calif.)
"The letters and journal entries of James Brainerd Taylor, compiled and annotated with biblical references by I. Francis Kyle III, demonstrate the intense spiritual passion with which Taylor served his God while still a full-time student. The remarkable account of his daily efforts at evangelism as well as his inner thoughts towards that end clearly reveal why his short life exerted such a profound influence on fellow Evangelicals for many decades following his early death. It is a pleasure to see one of the earliest graduates of Lawrenceville remembered once again in the Christian community for his uniquely devout character."
Archivist, The Lawrenceville School (N.J.)