Robert William Dale at Carr’s Lane Birmingham

Robert William Dale was born in London, UK, on December 11, 1829. Bobbie’s father made hat trimmings and his mother was determined that he would be a preacher. In his mid teens he engaged in philosophical discussions, being an assistant school-master at age fourteen. He came to faith in Christ through reading James’s “Anxious Enquirer” on his knees, coming to a total confidence in Christ’s atoning work.

Dale began preaching at fifteen, showing the potential of a great preacher. During his preparation for ministry he learned literary style from Henry Rogers, who wrote for the Spectator. The brilliant Birmingham preacher, George Dawson, exemplified for Dale commitment to social ideals from the pulpit.

Dr John Angel James, pastor of Birmingham’s important Carr’s Lane Congregational Church for fifty years, saw Dale as a worthy replacement. When Dale achieved his MA from London University, Dale was made assistant pastor, then co-pastor with Dr. James. When James died in 1859 Dale was made sole pastor at Carr’s Lane, holding that position for 36 years.

During that time he became a major force in English Congregationalism – and through his writings his influence circled the globe.

He threw himself behind the Moody-Sankey revival in 1875. He encouraged a young Campbell Morgan. He wrote volumes on Bible doctrine, which made him a household name in the Christian world of his day. Many key figures were greatly influenced by Dale, including a young Andrew M. Fairbairn, the future principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, who went to Birmingham to meet the author of sermons that profoundly impacted him.

Dale was Birmingham’s greatest preacher and one of the world’s most influential voices in the pulpit. He blended the theism of his Puritan roots, with deep personal experience of God, from the revivalism of Wesley. He eloquently resisted the message of the Tractarian movement, which sought to elevate the authority of the church. Dale also resisted the moral view of the work of Christ, popularised in Bushnell’s Vicarious Sacrifice, which saw Christ’s work as to influence men, not to pay the penalty demanded by God.

Dales Theology, however, had some insufficient elements, for which he is criticised, including belief that sinners are annihilated, rather than punished eternally in hell. However, he came to his thoughts from a sincere attempt to be Biblical and to create a consistent theory of salvation. He was keen to see theory developed to support what we know to be Biblical fact.

Dale was also active in civic matters, leading to his involvement in politics as well. He also did much to promote education, along with his extensive writings, which were published around the world. He travelled to Australia, America and Palestine.

He died at the age of 76 (March 13, 1895) and all Birmingham and England mourned his passing. Thousands lined the streets and stood outside his funeral service to honour this man who had lived a life of amazing energy and versatility and a life of great achievement.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Archibald Thomas Robertson the Baptist Scholar

Archibald Thomas Robertson was born in Virginia, USA, on November 6, 1863.

At the time of his birth the American Civil War was already turning against the South, and so Robertson’s family suffered the loss of most of their fortune through the war. The Reconstruction had devastating effect on the family’s fortunes, so AT’s father, who had been a country doctor and a plantation owner, took his family to work on a small farm in Statesville, North Carolina.

Robertson was a preaching scholar, enjoying both his study and his time in the pulpit.

In the early 1900’s Robertson was a founding member of the Baptist World Congress now known as The Baptist World Alliance.

This Southern Baptist scholar is remembered especially for his Harmony of the New Testament.

Altogether he wrote 45 books, each displaying a scholarly grasp of theology.

His biographer tells us that “Dr Bob”, as he was affectionately called, “wore out a dozen Greek Testaments in his lifetime” (page 125).

In 1914 his ministry was also broadened through a series of summer Bible conferences with D.L. Moody and F.B. Meyer, introducing Robertson to thousands of pastors and layman alike.

W.R. Moody – son of the famous evangelist – invited Robertson to speak at the Northfield Conference … sharing the platform with such men as Dr R.A. Torrey and Campbell Morgan.

Concerning liberal theology with its downgrading of Scripture. “his arrows were swift and deadly” against it (Baptists and the Bible, page 303).

Nevertheless, he did accept Theistic evolution (Biography, page 181), nor would he be dogmatic concerning millennial views (page 187).

On Monday, 24 September, 1934, he was lecturing in the Southern Baptist Seminary, Kentucky, when he became ill and unable to continue, due to a stroke. He was taken home, and entered the presence of his Lord before the day was through.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.