Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: George Whitefield, Vol. 1

Title:  George Whitefield, Vol. 1
Author:  Arnold Dallimore
First Copy Right:  1970
Type of Book:  Hardback
General Subject:  Biographical
Price:  $29.57
ISBN:  978-0-85151-026-2

The purpose of the Dallimore in writing this biography seems to be two (2) fold. The first reason or purpose lies in the fact that a number of factors have prevented George Whitefield to be properly known. Dallimore’s second purpose is to correct the failure to recognize the true nature of the spiritual movement of which Whitefield was part. Dallimore continues to build on his purpose by stating, “…the paramount need of the twentieth century is a mighty evangelical revival such as that which was experienced two hundred years ago.”

Volume one (1) of this massive two (2) volume biography covers the years from Whitefield’ birth in 1714 to his second visit to America in 1739-1740. This volume was written to shed new light on several aspects Whitefield’s early life. Dallimore also traces in depth and simplicity the beginning of the “Great awakening.”

The theme of this biography is the life and times of the great evangelist of the 18th century revival. Dallimore’s thesis is that George Whitefield as the eighteenth century knew him and George Whitefield as he is thought of today, are two widely different persons.

Dallimore develops this theme and thesis with exquisite narration. Dallimore tells the story of this period of Whitefield’s life chronologically but in such a delightful manner that one is drawn into the story. Dallimore is an excellent story teller that makes you forget he is writing a biography.

Dallimore is a pro at using exposition to explain the reasons Whitefield is so misunderstood or unknown. He thoroughly provides information that helps the reader to understand the times and the events of this twenty-five year period that made way for Whitefield and what his involvement in the Great Awakening.

This book is 597 pages with an appendix. Yet it was not cumbersome and not once did I desire to slow down my pace of reading. I found George Whitefield to be an extremely interesting read. Dallimore was both objective and thorough. This book is of extreme value in giving us a clear picture of this often misunderstood yet famous man.

Dallimore shows us the spiritual and moral conditions in England prior to the revival that took place. Dallimore writes, “It demonstrates that true revival is the work of God – not – man – of God who is not limited by such circumstances as the extent of human sin or the degree of mankind’s unbelief.” Dallimore could not be more right. Dallimore’s arguments on Whitefield’s character and on the great awakening are extremely accurate.

I found myself in complete agreement with both his theme and thesis. The Scriptures make it clear that the Holy Spirit is sovereign and that He only moves when He sovereignly desires not because of “a white magic show” conjured up by a would-be revivalist. Dallimore is extremely gifted in drawing conclusions based logically from the evidence developed by his extensive and exhaustive research.

Dallimore raises the issue that Whitefield, prone to mistakes in his youth, matured and grew in a man whom God powerfully used. Dallimore also raises the issue that the Wesley’s whom he is so closely associated with  became his antagonists and were not responsible for the results of the great awakening.

Arnold Dallimore was the pastor of the Cottam Baptist Church in Cottam Ontario, Canada for twenty four (24) years.  Dallimore also wrote a biography on Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards.

This book is a hardcover book of 597 pages. They type is easy to read. This book contains numerous black and white illustrations.

Dallimore’s book has no end note section nor bibliography. However, it is full of footnotes which appear at the bottom of each respective page. There is no index, although as mentioned there is an appendix.

My general conclusions are as follows. I think the book is extremely well written. It was fascinating and extremely informative. Dallimore is an accomplished researcher who was rewarded by the discovery of previously unknown material. I would recommend this book to every serious student of scripture.


Eddie Eddings said...

I love these two volumes on the life of George Whitefield! I read them both years ago. One of my favorite biographies of all time. Loads of info on the Wesley's and Ben Franklin, and the letters from Whitefield speak to his grace and humility. A must read, I agree.

Petra said...

Thank you for the recommendation, Gregg!

L said...

I have been interested in Whitefield for a while, and this book sounds great. I will add it to my reading list. Thanks for the review.


Very interested what you had to write Gregg, Thanks for sharing.