The Book Corner

The Book Corner

Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985, 1237 pp. Cloth, $29.95.

Originally published as The Annotated Bible in 1922 by Our Hope Press, and again in four volumes in 1970 by Loizeaux Brothers in conjunction with Moody Press, Loizeaux Brothers has now published this classic work in a one-volume format edited and prepared for this generation’s readers.

In his era Arno C. Gaebelein was one of America’s truly great Bible teachers. He was one of the consulting editors of the original Scoffield Reference Bible, and the editor of an excellent Bible study magazine entitled Our Hope.

As a young servant of Christ, I acquired the original volumes in the late 1950s, and for me The Annotated Bible has been an extremely valuable study tool. There is a personal touch as well. At the age of ten I recall A. C. Gaebelein leading in prayer at the commencement exercises of The Stony Brook School, and during a segment of my high school years at Stony Brook I served as the office boy of Dr. Frank E. Gaebelein, A. C. Gaebelein’s distinguished son.

This new, updated work has the following outstanding features for each book of the Bible:

· General introductory notes

· Destructive criticism answered

· Traditional authorship defended

· A thorough outline of the text

· Practical exposition

· Emphasis on the premillennial, dispensational, typological and prophetic aspects of the text

—The Editor

Exploring the Psalms, Volume One: Psalms 1-41. By John Phillips. Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985. 319 pp. Cloth, $14.95.

In keeping with his previous “Exploring” books, this is the first of five volumes on the Psalms. For each Psalm there is:

· A detailed alliterative outline

· Comments about the authorship

· Straightforward interpretation of the text

· Practical application

Written in a narrative style, this first volume is Christ-exalting, devotional, inspirational, theological, homoletical, and garnished with many illustrations.

If the reader is looking for certain fine points of exposition, he will generally be disappointed. For instance, I looked in vain for a comment or two on “the great transgression” phrase of Psalm 19:13. Nevertheless, this is a splendid work and of great value, help and illumination to those who will take the time to read and digest the material which is so ably presented.

We look forward to the volumes to come.

—The Editor

Forerunner of the Charismatic Movement: The Life of Edward Irving. By Arnold Dallimore. Chicago: Moody Press, 1983. 200 pp.

This is the fascinating biography of a tragic figure. Edward Irving was born the same year as was Charles Finney (1792), one year after the death of John Wesley. He was a close friend of Thomas Carlyle and a contemporary of such men as George Muller in England, F. C. Bauer in Germany, and Charles Hodge and William Miller in the United States. Irving was a curious mixture of greatness and weakness; possessing remarkable talents and abilities, he at the same time suffered from a lack of emotional stability and his premature death at age 42 (1834) was the result of an unrelated physical weakness (tuberculosis).

Having been trained for the Presbyterian ministry, Irving at age 27 became assistant to the famous Thomas Chalmers of St. John’s in Glasgow, Scotland, and very quickly immersed himself in a very effective and sensitive pastoral ministry. Irving’s great ambition during this period was to be able to preach to his own congregation and after three years, in 1822, the opportunity arrived; he received a call to the Caledonian Chapel in London. The Caledonian church was in a shabby part of the great city and the congregation, having been without a minister for the past year, had dwindled to a mere 50 persons.

Less than a year later, the modest Caledonian building which seated only 500 was regularly beseiged by crowds of 1,000-1,500 thronging to hear the man who has come to be known as the greatest orator of his day. Plans soon began to be made for a much larger edifice (completed in 1827) to seat 1800. Irving was popular with every class and was heard by such notables as Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, and William Gladstone.

Unfortunately, Irving’s decline was about as swift as his ascendancy. By 1832 Irving had been found guilty of heresy, dismissed from his church and deposed from the ministry in the Presbyterian denomination. The charge of heresy concerned the practice of speaking in tongues which Irving had allowed to become a regular part of his Sunday services. Dallimore gives the full story of the outbreak of tongues and revelations, the religious excitement that preceded it, and Irving’s acceptance of and submission to what he considered to be the voice of God.

Dallimore focuses primarily on the tongues issue, perhaps because of the recent renewed interest in Irving on the part of many Charismatics. But Irving was involved in other controversial issues as well. A year before his being deposed from the Presbyterian ministry, he had been tried for heresy regarding his peculiar teachings concerning the sinful nature of Christ. Although Irving’s writings on this issue are vague and ambiguous, he seems to have believed that while Christ never actually sinned, He did have a sinful nature that had to be resisted and overcome. Irving often used the expression, “Christ’s sinful flesh,” and the error was perhaps due to a lack of differentiation between the more literal usage of the word flesh (as in John 1:14 where the incarnation is in view) and the theological meaning that it often takes in Paul’s letters when he is speaking of fallen man’s sinful nature (e.g. Gal. 5:16-19, 24).

Another issue that Dallimore touches on only briefly was Irving’s involvement in prophetic speculation. For a number of years (1825-1828), Irving was almost totally preoccupied with the thought that the end times had arrived, that a time of great judgment was at hand, and that the return of Christ was only a few years away. Irving’s great sermons on the books of Daniel and Revelation attracted great crowds and did much to fuel the flame of prophetic enthusiasm. Margaret Oliphant, the 19th century biographer of Irving, relates a remarkable incident that should be included in any biography of him (cited by lain Murray in The Puritan Hope, p. 192):

His text was taken from the 24th chapter of Matthew, regarding the coming of the Son of Man. I remember nothing of the sermon, save its general subject; but one thing I can never forget. While he was engaged in unfolding his subject, from out of a dark cloud, which obscured the church, there came forth a bright blaze of lightning and a crash of thunder. There was deep stillness in the audience. The preacher paused; and from the stillness and the gloom his powerful voice, clothed with increased solemnity, pronounced these words: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” You can imagine the effect.

Irving’s view of eschatology was derived primarily from Hatley Frere but was later reinforced by a premillenial book written in Spanish by a Jesuit Priest named Manuel Lacunza. Irving was so taken by this work that he learned Spanish for the sole purpose of translating Lacunza’s book which was given the now well known English title of The Coming of Christ in Glory and Majesty. It was Irving’s preaching on prophecy that inspired Henry Drummond to hold the Albury Park prophetic conferences (in the late 20s) and Lady Powerscourt to hold the now famous Powerscourt Conferences (in the early 30s) attended by John Nelson Darby.

After being deposed from the Presbyterian ministry, Irving was involved in the formation of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Irving took a secondary and very submissive role, allowing himself to be guided by the apostles and prophets of this movement who received frequent revelations.

Irving held to a form of baptismal regeneration and came to accept the new teaching that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a second experience distinct from regeneration and accompanied by speaking in tongues. The last two years of his life were marked by a quickly declining physical condition and an increasing emotional instability. To the end he hoped for a miraculous healing and a full granting of the whole array of charismatic gifts that would once again thrust him into national prominence.

This 200 page book could have been twice as long and still held the interest of this reviewer. Footnotes are used to document quotations and a short Bibliography is supplied, but there are no indexes.

—Stan F. Vaninger