Tuesday, September 11, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - VIII

David Brown was at first happy in his post at Regent Square Church. However that happiness was not to last. First Edward Irving developed an unhealthy interest in unfulfilled prophecy. Note, we do not say that ministers ought never to preach about unfulfilled prophecy. We have done so once or twice in five years of preaching. The trouble is when a minister becomes so obsessed with the topic that it consumes him so that practically every sermon concerns the question. We are commanded to preach Christ Crucified, not Daniel's 'little horn'!!! Irving was neither the first nor the last man whose usefulness was in a large measure destoryed by an obsession with prophecy.
Edward Irving had a powerful imagination, and imagination, while a useful gift in a minister, has to be kept under control, otherwise it can run away with a man. The field of unfulfilled prophecy is a very dangerous place in which to give free reign to the imagination, because the controls on the imagination are so few there. Notwithstanding the protests of some that theirs is the only truly literal interpretation of Revelation (as if everyone else is treating it as "a collection of myths" as one leading Evangelical writer of the present day has put it), every expositor of unfulfilled prophecy has used his imagination. We think for example of Hal Lindsay and the other writers during the Cold War who confidently found the Soviet Union in Ezekiel while protesting they were taking it 'literally'. Not that we would put Revelation off limits to preachers, we would just urge that Scripture should be compared with Scripture, not the latest newspaper.
So it was with Irving. While at first the novelty of the theme kept the fashionable crowds, it also attracted sensation-seekers, unstable men who looked for new things all the time. A sensational, unbiblical asnd heretical preacher of our own day has said "if we keep on giving you the same message every time, we're dead!" Irving fell into extravagant and fanciful theological novelties, particularly concerning the restoration to the Church of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Person of Christ.

These teachings drove a wedge between the pastor and his assistant. David Brown could not accept the idea that Jesus' human nature had a sinful principle in it, and there was the division. At the time Brown accepted Irving's premillenial position (although he did not think the time was as near as Irving did), and when Irving asked Brown if he thought that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit would be restored in the End Times, Brown replied that he could find no clear evidence that they had been finally withdrawn. In other words, while Irving was a Restorationist where the Gifts were concerned, Brown was a Continuationist.
Thus, when people in the congregation began to manifest what were claimed to be those gifts restored, Brown was open to their reality.

God willing, next time we shall see how Brown reacted to these manifestations.



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