Tag Archives: Church History

Review & Reflection – The Quarry Revival

The Quarry Revival by Peter and Dorothy Bennett  (40 pages, 1992)

Review:

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This little book is unusual in a number of ways.  It is a fairly obscure account, of a fairly obscure event, that took place in a fairly obscure corner of the world.  It was loaned to me by an older couple in my church who come from Llandudno in the north of Wales.  They acquired this booklet years ago because it was of special interest to them.  It recounts the story of the 1904-1905 Quarry Revival in the village just next to their own. 

The authors describe the scope and purpose of the booklet in the forward,

“This booklet is not intended as another history of the Revival of 1904, although very little coverage of the Revival in Llanfairfechan has, in fact been written.  Only one of the accounts given here has ever been published in English and that in a newspaper of 1904 and not reprinted until now.  Those essays and reports previously printed in Welsh have not been published together as a group.  Together they give the ‘feel’ of Revival, the effect the Spirit of God had on a community of ‘ordinary’ people.”

  As I read these collected essays and reports  I read stories of ordinary, working miners who were strangely moved of the Lord to give themselves to prayer.  At first men scoffed or ignored them, but in time the rooms, houses, and halls that they would meet in were filled to the breaking point with those who had previously wanted nothing to do with religion.  Voices that had sworn in anger now swelled with praise.  This little Welsh village found itself transformed by the power and proclamation of the gospel.  We read of, “Richard Thomas who had been called by God away from his glass of beer in the Llanfairfechan Hotel – he just left it undrunk” (pg. 14).  One report summarizes the result of the Revival after the course of a year saying,

“There was a new echo to be heard from the rocks from now on.  The old ‘Graig’ (rock) seemed to have learnt the tunes ‘Pen Calfaria’ and ‘Gwaed y Groes’ and ‘Diolch Iddo’ during that year, and the place that was full of unseemly language and all sorts of gambling at the start of the year had become in reality a Bethel to many of us, and I know some, even to this day, who look on that place still as holy ground, and feel they can get down on their knees in prayer any time they go through there, and count it as a place sanctified to the Lord” (pg. 17).

Reflection:

Though focusing on a narrow slice of local history, this little booklet gives us a remarkable, moving, and plain-speaking overview of an event that (as with all revivals) has eternal significance.  Many of these reports were written by uneducated Welsh villagers at the turn of the century, and sometimes the style shows it, but what they lack in polish and style they more than make up for in conviction and spirit.  Reading this little book truly accomplishes its goal of “giveing the ‘feel’ of Revival, the effect the Spirit of God had on a community of ‘ordinary’ people.”


Review & Reflection – “Charles Hodge”

Charles Hodge by S. Donald Fortson III (128 pages, 2013)

Review:

FBitesize-Biographies-Charles-Hodge-by-Don-Fortson[1]or the past few years Evangelical Press has been publishing a series of “Bitesize Biographies” designed to introduce contemporary evangelicals to some of the great figures of the past.  Drawing from both well known figures (such as Whitefield, Hodge, or Schaeffer) and names that have been forgotten by many (Savonarola, Renee of France, or Kivengere).  In this contribution, S. Donald Fortson (a church history professor at RTS Charlotte) offers a pithy survey of the life of that great American Princetonian theologian: Charles Hodge.

In keeping with the goal of the series, Fortson’s book is brief.  In a mere 128 pages he provides us with a timeline of Hodge’s life, an introduction to the book, eight chapters, and a list of recommended reading.  Fortson’s table of contents gives us a good feel for the scope of the book as he covers: 1) Family and Education, 2) The Professor, 3) The Great Schism, 4) Seminary Life, 5) The Church Question, 6) War and Reunion, 7) Legacy, & 8) The Impact of Charles Hodge’s Life.  Reading through the book leaves you with a sense of awe at the massive impact that Hodge made on his world.  During Hodge’s fifty years of teaching at Princeton seminary, “Dr. Hodge trained almost three thousand ministers, missionaries, and professors who had carried the gospel message throughout the United States and to many parts of the globe” (p. 11).  His position as a noted professor at the most notable seminary in the United States at the time gave Hodge tremendous influence; and his three volume Systematic Theology has had an abiding influence to this day.

Reflection:

Fortson writes well and has given us a worthwhile read in this little volume.  The chapters are brief, the content is clear, and Fortson does a good job of both orienting the reader to the landscape of 19th century American church life while also providing us with interesting facts about Hodges life (for example, did you know that when Hodge studied theology in Europe his German teacher was none other than George Müller (pg. 27) or that his wife was a descendant of Benjamin Franklin (pg. 23)?)  Hodge was certainly an impressive figure, and Fortson does a good job of giving us a sense of familiarity with his life without getting too bogged down in the details.  The theologian in me would have liked to have seen more of Hodge’s theology coming to the fore, but perhaps too much detail would have detracted from the flow of the narrative.  Fortson seemed to draw out the theme of Hodge’s ecumenical spirit quite strongly.  I was never quite sure whether this was a theme that was prominent in Hodge or simply if it was one that Fortson wished to emphasize.  Again, I’d be curious to dig deeper into the details of Hodge’s own thinking and theologizing on this point.  Nonetheless, this is a fine introduction and well worth a read.  If you don’t know much about Hodge, this is as good a place to start as any.

 


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