Early American Dispensationalist: The Reverend F. L. Chapell -- By: George W. Dollar

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:478 (Apr 1963)
Article: Early American Dispensationalist: The Reverend F. L. Chapell
Author: George W. Dollar


Early American Dispensationalist:
The Reverend F. L. Chapell

George W. Dollar

[George W. Dollar, Chairman, Department of Historical Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

President Nathan R. Wood, D.D., was for thirty-four years dean and president of Gordon College of Theology and Missions in Boston, Massachusetts. As one of the inner circle of this school which had begun in 1889 by Dr. A. J. Gordon as the Boston Missionary Training School, Wood knew very intimately the early founders and pioneers who braved many adverse winds in setting into motion this school, one of the earliest Bible colleges of this country. Very carefully and charitably he has written the story of this school and it is for all to read.1

When Wood joined the faculty of the school in 1910, there took place very quietly but definitely a change in the doctrinal stand and influence of the budding institution. In his own words it was “the change from a dispensational to a Christocentric point of view as the doctrinal policy of the school.”2 This points up one of the unique incidents in American Christian education, namely, the shift of a school from a dispensational to what Wood called a Christo-centric emphasis. Two men had been responsible for the dispensational doctrines of Gordon College. One was A. J. Gordon, of Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston, after whom the school was named, and Dr. F. L. Chapell who was the first resident professor, the first professor of theology, and the first dean of the school. Wood characterized Chapell as “a devout, deeply evangelical, warm-hearted, scholarly, tireless, selfless man.”3 A somewhat confused picture of Gordon’s dispensationalism has been our lot thus far, but there is no confusion regarding that of Chapell. However, Wood admitted that Gordon saw the “Lord’s

return in glowing millennial dispensational light.”4 Chapell taught at Gordon for ten years prior to his death in 1901, but in that period he had so stamped his dispensational teaching and personal influence on the school that for the first chapter of Gordon’s history at least there was no question as to doctrinal foundation and views of the school.

The lectures which Professor Chapell gave at Gordon for that decade were collected soon after his death and published with the aid of interested friends and former students. The series of lectures is probably not complete, but does constitute a sound volume and was entitled Biblical and Practical Theology in its published...

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