Hey everyone! I’m back with my review for my October read, the Ramparts of Heaven by Gilbert Morris! This is the sequel to the book I read last month, so if you’re curious about that, you can check out that post here!
The Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads)
Two families—the Wakefields of nobility and the lower-class Morgans—are the focus of this sweeping generational saga, joined by intriguing personalities such as Elizabeth I, William Tyndale, and John Bunyan. Linking the people and events through the ages is the struggle of men and women who sought God as the answer to their difficulties.
Follow the quest of Andrew Wakefield, a ministerial student at Oxford University, as he joins these shakers and movers in their attempts to advance the Methodist movement—and bring the realities of the gospel of Christ to a needy world.
Positive Messages: The main character, Andrew, embodies a lot of the story’s qualities, both positive and negative ones. For one, he is content to do as his mother wishes and become a preacher. He is thankful for the opportunity to go to school and enjoys it, unlike his ungrateful older brother. He helps debtors in prison by starting a fund for them, and getting them books and medicine.
Andrew’s great aunt, Hope, is also a good influence on him. He loves her even more than his own mother because of her kindness and gentleness, and when she requests that he help out two distant relatives of hers, Gareth and Dorcas, he agrees because of his love for her. She had also been sending them money. When she meets Dorcas, she treats her warmly and makes her feel at home.
When Andrew sees the poverty Gareth and Dorcas live in, without hesitation, he goes to help them, bringing Gareth to school with him and taking Dorcas to help with his aunt, securing both of their futures for the time being. He is worried for Dorcas’ future after his aunt dies, however, and, hearing she doesn’t want to marry, respects her wishes and decides that, when he marries, if she would like to come and keep house for them, she can.
Gareth, for his part, his hard working and truly cares for his sister. Dorcas has a deformed hand, but despite that, she works hard as well and truly loves to serve, often doing more than enough to make up for her handicap.
There are more positive messages below in the spiritual content.
Spiritual Content: This book has a LOT of spiritual content, since it focuses on two characters who become preachers and on the Methodist movement.
A man prepares to be a minister and wants to serve God the best he can. At school, he joins the “Holy Club” hosted by John and Charles Wesley, and thinks there’s no better company he can be in while he’s trying to “earn” his way to heaven. He says nothing is too hard for God. Later, when he meets some Moravian missionaries, they confront his belief system by being unafraid of death, because they know Jesus died and saved them, and they aren’t saved by anything they do.
A woman prays that her great nephew will find the right wife, and that he will follow God. She also tells him salvation is a free gift and can’t be wrestled from God. When she hears of a distant relative’s salvation, she says her mother must be rejoicing in heaven because of it.
People talk about going to church and taking sacraments. A man believes that if he does that and takes communion, he will be saved. His friend points out that it’s only through faith in Christ that he can be saved. He later cries out to Jesus and experiences the “new birth”.
A character talks about seeking God and having all these things added unto them. The book talks about George Whitefield’s ministry, with a few passages of his sermons in it. Another chapter is dedicated to John and Charles Wesley’s salvation experiences. The doctrines of predetermination, free will, and perfectionism, as well as Whitefield and Wesley’s theological differences are noted.
A woman encourages a man to keep doing devotions with God despite his ministry. She says the ministry is good, but he can’t let it take away from a personal relationship with God. The same man cries out to God, but doesn’t feel like He’s answering
People pray to find their way when they’re lost. There is talk of people falling out in the Spirit when a man preaches. A woman cries out to God when she has no other hope. When a man finds God, he tells his wife, who he had been neglecting, and says his love for God has given him a new love for her.
After a man gets saved, the Bible becomes “alive” to him. A man tells a woman he believes God puts marriages together in heaven. The woman later tells him the “new birth” he experienced is “too mystical” for her and asks him to leave.
A minister doesn’t approve of preaching outside of the church and tells his brother-in-law not to accompany an open air preacher. He then goes to his wife to ask her to talk to him, and she says she will not interfere with what God has told him to do. She tells her husband a personal relationship with God is worth more than anything. His brother-in-law ends up still going.
A man wants to “lock up” Methodists and sends a man to “spy” on them.
Romantic Content: Almost all, if not all, the previous Gilbert Morris books I have read, have ended with the main two characters either getting together, or proposing or whatnot. It’s not the case in this book, at least with the main romance. It actually tells about the married life of the main couple, up until the time of the birth of their first two children. That being said, there is… more suggestive content in this book than any Gilbert Morris books I’ve read before, so I’d recommend this book for 13 and up, maybe even older. There’s nothing inappropriate about it and nothing shown or stated, but some things are strongly suggested, which I will get into more below.
A girl goes to a ball and dances with some men who ask to call on her. She remarks on how low cut her dress is. One man asks the girl to write to him and kisses her hand. The same woman’s parents pressure her to marry for money.
Couples dance at a ball, and two who have just met kiss, though afterwards the man apologizes and the woman wonders why she let a stranger kiss her. It’s mentioned she’d been kissed before. Later, after meeting the girl only twice more, the man can’t stop thinking about her. Thankfully one character brings some reality to the scene and thinks the man is being ridiculous.
An older man looking for his third wife forces a kiss on a younger lady and mentions needing a woman to “warm his blood”. Needless to say, the woman’s brother teaches the man a lesson.
A woman leads a man on, then marries his brother. It causes the man to become bitter and swear never to marry. The same man later sees a man’s ministry ruined through romance, and decides he will marry logically, finding a woman who doesn’t want to be married so that the arrangement will be purely business-like. He makes it clear when he proposes to her that he wants no romance, and will only be with her enough to fulfill the Biblical command to be fruitful and multiply.
A man kisses a woman, even though he doesn’t want to get involved with her, and spends so much time with her that her uncle practically gives her to him if he wants to marry her. They continue spending time together despite the bad appearance it is giving and against the warnings of other family and friends. The couple ends up not marrying.
A woman talks about “sleeping with” the man she marries. Another young wife tries to help a bride-to-be learn about preparing for marriage since the bride has no family. The same young wife gives her a sheer nightgown, saying her husband will like it.
Specifically at the end of the book, when the main romantic leads marry, is where much of the suggestive content is, including talk of a wedding night, and of a man using his wife “like a tool” with no love or gentleness. A woman wants her husband to love her, and “gives” herself to her husband. Elsewhere, a husband pulls his wife onto his lap and kisses her.
Violent Content: For some reason, I felt like there was less violent content in this book than most, but maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know. Still, there were a few instances of violent content, but all done appropriately and with minimal details.
A man nearly strangles a man for insulting his sister, and afterward remarks he should have broken his nose too. A ship goes into a terrible storm, convincing people they’re going to die (they don’t). A man throws a rock at a wild dog who is threatening him and a woman he is with.
A man in the military says if the men aren’t disciplined, they’re beaten until they are, or shot if they refuse to fix their ways. There is also talk of being shot and killed or wounded.
A mob attacks some preachers. One man’s arm cracks, while another is punched and knocked unconscious with a rock.
A doctor doesn’t believe a woman will survive her childbirth.
Language: No language to be seen here!
Other Negative Content: There’s not too much negative content in this book, but there are a few things. One man lies about his identity, just so he can dance with a certain woman. Another man calls his schooling a “waste of time”.
One woman calls a man as dull as dishwater and says she doesn’t want to marry him because he’s too “fat”. As mentioned before, she proceeds to lead his brother on, but ultimately marries the man she made fun of just because he’s rich and has a title. She also behaves condescendingly towards a servant girl.
A separate girl plays with a man’s emotions and flirts with him for fun. However, in her defense, she does later apologize to the man for it, and they end up marrying.
Total Content Rating: 4.34/5 Stars
This was a different Gilbert Morris book than what I’m used to reading, but I liked the uniqueness of it. The characters were all entertaining, and of course, as a huge fan of the King Arthur legends, the name “Gareth” especially stuck out to me thanks to Gareth of Orkney. Subsequently, Gareth and Dorcas became my favorite characters pretty quickly, though I did get a little annoyed with Gareth’s romance; I wish they’d just left him single as I felt the romance didn’t do much for the book. Plus the girl was kinda flighty in my opinion.
The romance was a little heavier than I’m used to, which I guess was fine, since I liked how they showed at the end how a love for God can affect one’s love for their spouse. I guess I could put up with more romance than usual for that message.
In all, I’d give this book 3.5-4 stars, and would recommend it for ages 13+ because of the suggestive elements in it.
Personal Rating: 3.75/5 Stars
Thanks for reading my post! I hope you enjoyed it! Have you read this book? Do you think you will read this book? Let me know in the comments below! God bless! ~ Kay Leigh