Review Of “Nine Minutes Past Midnight” in the May 2012 edition of The Melbourne Anglican

I am most grateful to Dr Goodwin for this review. I have always believed that this was God’s book not my book. The more I hear people’s responses the more convinced I am that this is the case.

Nine Minutes Past Midnight, by Ernest Crocker (Authentic Media, 2011, $16.95)

Reviewed by Colin Goodwin

Rarely does a reviewer get to write about a book as remarkable as Ernest Crocker’s Nine Minutes Past Midnight.  To situate this book it is important to note two things about the author.  First, Ernest Crocker is a person of special eminence in the medical profession.  His almost forty years of clinical practice and teaching in nuclear medicine and ultrasound, coupled with some seventy-five published scientific papers in these fields, have given him both national and international leadership in the fields mentioned.  Second, Ernest Crocker is an Australian every part of whose professional and personal life is directed and energized by a Christian faith ever seeking strength and practical wisdom from the Scriptures and prayer.  As Crocker sees it, “When we accept Christ into our lives, God gives us a measure of faith, sufficient to move on from a life of nomadic wandering and into the wonderful plan and presence that he has for our lives.”

Nine Minutes Past Midnight is essentially a compilation of interviews, conversations, and anecdotes, involving both doctors and patients.  The many doctors concerned  –  university professors, city specialists, country GPs  –  were all committed Christians, whilst a number of the events involving some of these doctors were located in African and Asian countries.  The purpose of Crocker’s assembled interviews, conversations, and anecdotes, was to set out “factual evidence”  –  sometimes quite startling factual evidence  –  entrusted to him by “prominent medical practitioners of sound mind and undisputed word” (thereby confirming Crocker’s own relevant experiences)  regarding “the manner in which a ‘personal’ God interacts and intervenes in the lives of doctors, their patients, families and friends.”  This factual evidence related to God’s intervening in the healing process today, not simply in the past.  Put differently, the central theme of Nine Minutes Past Midnight is the experience by doctors and patients of God’s presence now in day-to-day medical practice as the “third person involved in patient care and in the healing process…that unseen person or ‘silent partner’.”

The whole book is an extended argument for what might well be called ‘Christian spiritual empiricism’.  Formal theology is absent, the experiential impact of Bible-based belief is underlined, healing ministries are generously endorsed, e.g. those at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, and virtually everything that is said rests on Christian doctors’ immediate and direct ‘working’ experience of “the presence of Almighty God, sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, sometimes as the Holy Spirit.”

Nine Minutes Past Midnight is a courageous book. It lucidly, compellingly, records an immediacy of experience and emotion arising out of circumstances of great medical urgency, and often of great human tragedy as well.  In it the problem of evil is faced repeatedly.  Typically:  “Last week they brought him into hospital…dead!  We wrestled with God.  Why did it happen?”  Again:  “How could a loving God allow something so dreadful to occur?  Not only had they lost their beautiful little girl but Rosie herself had been given no chance of survival.”  Sceptical opposition is taken into account:  “What if [Christian belief] is all a hoax?  What if it’s all a façade?  What if Philip Adams is right after all?”

John Boyages, Professor of Radiation Oncology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, said that Nine Minutes Past Midnight was “An inspirational, must-read, book which I couldn’t put down.”  This reviewer couldn’t put it down either.

Dr Colin Goodwin lives in semi-retirement on the Mornington Peninsula.