Book Review -- By: Richard T. Zuelch
CTSJ 2:2 (Fall 1996) p. 13
Professor in Systematic Theology
[*Editor's note: Richard Zuelch received a B.A. from Grace Bible Institute; and an M.Div_ from Talbot School of Theology. He teaches systematic theology at Chafer Theological Seminary and has contributed articles to The Banner of Truth magazine.]
The Origins of Dispensationalism: The Darby Factor, by Larry V. Crutchfield (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992).
This book began life as the author’s 1985 doctoral dissertation at Drew University. Crutchfield is currently a mentor with Faraston Theological Seminary and a freelance writer. He lives in Colorado.
John Nelson Darby (18001882), born in London of Irish parents, trained to be an attorney, but abandoned his law career after his conversion. He became a priest in the Church of England in 1826, but left that communion shortly thereafter, disillusioned with the cold intellectualism he found there. In time, he joined an already existing group of like-minded individuals, which eventually evolved into the Plymouth Brethren. Darby became their first spokesman and most prolific writer.
Due to space considerations, I have simplified Crutchfield’s discussions of each of Darby’s dispensations. While Crutchfield’s writing is clear throughout, his discussions in the book are highly nuanced in places, which I have not been able to reflect in this review. Crutchfield also discusses Darby’s essential eschatological scheme comparing it with Scofield. He includes a short discussion of the origins of Darby’s dispensational views, linking them primarily with the Powerscourt prophetic conferences of the 1830s, in which Darby participated.
It is important to note that, although many church historians and theologians have assumed an unbroken line of dispensational development from Darby to Scofield to Chafer, there is no direct historical evidence that Scofield knew or even met Darby personally, although Darby made three trips to the United States between 1870 and 1874. Rather, Darby’s ideas were mediated to Scofield by evangelist D. L. Moody (1837–1899), who did know Darby, and whom Scofield greatly admired (Moody also knew C. H. Mackintosh [1820-1896], the man originally responsible for popularizing Darby’s views in America). A second mediating influence was Plymouth Brethren Bible teacher James Hall Brookes (1830–1897), who became Scofield’s personal theological tutor upon the latter’s conversion in 1879. A third influence was Arno C. Gaebelein (1861–1945), who served as a consulting editor for the original Scofield Reference Bible, which was published in 1909.
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