‘Pleading for a Reformation Vision’ – A Review by Stephen Westcott
This interesting volume, Pleading for a Reformation Vision: The Life and Selected Writings of William Childs Robinson (1897-1982),1 is what a Christian biography should be; not just a laudatory ‘life’ (for we should guard against the tendency to a ‘Protestant hagiography’) but a work in two halves: firstly a detailed life of the subject, and then extracts from his writings, allowing the reader to both judge the man for himself, and benefit from his teaching. This is a difficult balance but one that David Calhoun achieves excellently, leaving the reader feeling that he has met William C. Robinson – and been blessed by the contact!
Robinson is little known in Britain, but his influence for good was widespread. Born into a Christian family in North Carolina in 1897 Robinson was converted early, and after training at Columbia Theological Seminary entered the ministry of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1920. His pastoral experience was short, as his gifts as an inspiring teacher were recognised and he was called to a Professorship at Columbia Seminary in 1926: a position he held until his home-call in 1982! In this situation Robinson may be seen as the last in a distinguished line of famous Southern pastor-professors including J. H. Thornwell, B. M. Palmer, J. L. Girardeau and R. L. Dabney.
Robinson, however, was called to teach and train men to preach the everlasting gospel in a time and situation of ever increasing apostasy, as higher criticism, evolutionism, and ecumenicalism made their inroads, finally impacting the conservative ‘Bible Belt’ the US South and its theological Seminaries. Over the years Robinson became increasingly isolated from younger and more liberal colleagues and modernist students, although others made great sacrifices to sit under his teaching. It was these who Robinson saw as the real fruit of his calling – men who would go on to preach an uncompromised gospel to a needy world.
The second half of this book presents fine essays on the fundamentals of the faith and its practical application including: ‘The Trinity’, ‘The Meaning of Grace’, ‘The Saviour of Sinners’, ‘The Blessings of Worshipping Jesus’ ‘Predestination’, ‘God Incarnate for Suffering Men’, ‘The Joy of the Lord’, ‘Under His Wings’, ‘The Lamb in the Midst of the Throne’, plus extracts from ‘The Christian Faith According to the Shorter Catechism’, and others of more Southern Presbyterian interest, twenty-three in total (pps. 129-308). All are rich in content, relevant to contemporary issues, and of lasting value. In our present situation we are left wishing that the Lord had granted more W. C. Robinsons to his church!
As the book is published by ‘Banner’ it goes without saying that it is excellently produced and presented.
The Life and Selected Writings of William Childs Robinson
This interesting volume, Pleading for a Reformation Vision: The Life and Selected Writings of William Childs Robinson (1897-1982),1 is what a Christian biography should be; not just a laudatory ‘life’ (for we should guard against the tendency to a ‘Protestant hagiography’) but a work in two halves: firstly a detailed life of the subject, and […]
From the British Church Newspaper, March 2014.
How to Use and Apply Doctrines September 20, 2019
The following is an excerpt of Chapter 7 of The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins, the early Cambridge Puritan. The language has been modernized to some extent. * * * Application is that aspect of preaching in which the doctrine, rightly drawn from the text, is diversely fitted as place, time and person require […]
The Pastor is Ill September 13, 2019
The man in the pulpit is much more likely to be ill than the man in the pew. As an ordinary mortal and private Christian he is as susceptible to illness as the next man. But a few minutes’ reflection on his work and calling will reveal that what is a possibility in most people […]