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.

McNeill the Scottish Spurgeon

This is the day that … John McNeill was born in Scotland, in 1854.

(Now this John McNeill is not to be confused with the Canadian John T. McNeill who became leading Presbyterian professor and author; or with John MacNeill who was also born in Scotland in 1854, but spent much of his life as a Presbyterian evangelist in Australia.)

This John McNeill is he who was sometimes called the “Scottish Spurgeon”.

Whilst working for the railways as a lad he had a narrow escape as he was “engaged in coupling the carriages together … the finger the buffer nipped is ever before him” (Christian Portrait Gallery, page 227).

At the age of 19 he came to know the Saviour as his own, “and at once stood up and testified to being on the Lord’s side”.

He threw himself into YMCA work, a strongly evangelical organisation at that time.

By 1886 he was pastoring a Free Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh. The small congregation soon grew to over 3000.

Warren Wiersbe points out that McNeill “had a wonderful sense of humour that helped to keep his hearers alert and his sermons alive”. For example, speaking of the fierce cannibals in the South Seas he commented, “I have some elders I would like to send out there. I can assure you that if the cannibals got a taste of these elders, they would never touch a missionary again!”

In 1889 he accepted a call to Regent Square Church, London (where Edward Irving’s controversial ministry had taken place), then he resigned to help in the Moody/Sankey meetings.

During this time he married Margaret Miller, his first wife having died about 10 years earlier, leaving him with four small children.

In 1908 he followed F.B. Meyer into the pastorate of Christ Church, London; but he was more an evangelist than a pastor and found himself unable to stay in one church for a long period. “He pastored 10 different churches in 25 years!” (Back to the Bible magazine, August, 1985).

Then there were 16 years as an itinerant evangelist – preaching over 300 times a year.

In 1933 – 19 April – he went to be with his Lord, and Dr Graham Scroggie conducted the funeral service.

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.