Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: Noel Gibbard: R.B. Jones: Gospel Ministry in Turbulent Times

R.B. Jones of Porth is probably best known as one of the leaders of the 1904-5 revival in Wales. His life work stretched over the years from 1893 to 1933, and thus he was one of the leaders of Welsh Evangelicalism in the early years of the 20th century. He also had a rather controversial reputation, as a fundamentalist, and a man who could be rather intemperate in his language. Despite this prominence, he has never had a full biography – until now. Noel Gibbard’s latest book is a carefully-researched study of this complex figure, a Welsh Baptist leader who founded a Bible college and was a leader of Keswick-style teaching. This book is not a hagiography, but at the same time it is broadly sympathetic to the subject. R.B. was a staunch defender of the faith, obnoxious to those who denied the fundamentals of that faith. Though he could be fierce in controversy, he was a friendly, pleasant man in company, and sympathetic towards those in need. This book is a well-written portrait of a man of God that seeks to portray him in all his complexities.

Of course the book deals in detail with RB’s part in the revival, but it deals with so much more. It is the portrait of a Gospel minister, and will inspire and encourage ministers. It shows that he was far from the fire-breathing fundamentalist of legend. I close with a quotation from the final assessment of RB, dealing with the question of RB’s fundamentalism. It will be seen at once that if RB was a fundamentalist, far too many fundamentalists today are a mere caricature of fundamentalism as it was. What was a mere canard with RB is sadly an accurate description of some modern fundamentalists. I fact, I dare say that many modern fundamentalists would condemn RB as a liberal! He, in turn, would have condemned them as fanatics!

“Although labelled a fundamentalist, RB was an enlightened fundamentalist.
He was criticised for accepting everything in the Bible literally, and for
believing, because of his literalism, that everything in the Bible was of equal
value. But very often the critics ignored RB’s actual statements and arguments.
One correspondent claimed that RB and other fundamentalists believed not only
that the original writers of the books of the Bible were inspired, but that
later copyists and translators were inspired too. Another correspondent
suggested that RB believed that the authors of Scripture were passive
instruments driven by some external power; that the writers placed themselves in
the path of the Spirit, and God spoke through them.

“RB however was quite clear in his doctrine of Inspiration:

‘The Bible as we have it, in its various translations and revisions, when
freed from all the errors and mistakes of translations, copyists and printers,
is the very Word of God, and consequently without error.’

“He refuted the theories of ‘intuition’, ’illumination’ and ‘dictation’,
and argued for ‘dynamic inspiration’. Commenting on the ‘dictation’ theory, he
stated that it

‘could not account for the peculiar style of each human writer. Also, much
of what they wrote needed not to dictated for they knew it already.'

“He then gave his own definition: ‘Dynamic inspiration denotes the action
of the Holy Spirit upon living men, working according to the natural laws of
their minds, and using them as active and not passive instruments.’”

In my opinion this is one of the best books of this year.

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Anonymous William Wilson said...

Hi Gervase good choice of books by R.B Jones who was a good Welsh preachers.So tell me how is your pastorate duties going down in Stoke on Trent i do remember you in prayer every night and glad to hear that you have settle in well to the Manse.So may the lord continue to bless you and give you strength to prepare for this lord's day.And good Bible bookshop on strict and particlar blog.
I know that i am a Sinner but Christ is a great Saviour. John Newton.Hear from you soon.

11:39 a.m.  
Anonymous William Wilson said...

Hi Gervase hope that you have had a good week and are preparing for this lord's day comming.I must says i see that you have bought a New Age Version Bible and our going to be speaking on the Gail Riplinger's well good for you hope that purtian does not give you a hard time with all issues.Well may the lord bless you up in Stoke on trent.Yours in his true Grace.I know that i am a Sinner and that Christ's is a Great Saviour.John Newton.

10:27 a.m.  
Anonymous William Wilson said...

Hi Gervase hope that you had a good lord's day and preached well.So what happened to Mr Puritan and his Arguements on Gail Riplinger's or does he know that he can't out do you on what you know through the Grace of our Lord.Yesterday we had chris Richard preach in the afternoon and at your home church Morning and Evening as he is here until Friday.And he was very good. Started today my Theological studies and have my time table and my Modules.Well may the lord continue to give you strength in your pastor's duties all this week.
I know that i am a Sinner and that Christ is a Great Saviour John Newton.Hear from you soon. And continue to surrport you and pray for you too.

2:32 p.m.  

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