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George Whitefield (2 Volume Set) Hardcover – April 1, 1980
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"I feel a permanent debt of gratitude to Dr. Dallimore. His wonderful two-volume study of Whitefield is one of the great biographies of the Christian Church. I share his hope that many more Christians will find this shorter version as enjoyable and stimulating!" -- Sinclair B. Ferguson
God's accomplishments through George Whitefield are to this day virtually unparalleled. Even during his lifetime Whitefield was considered "the most brilliant and popular preacher the modern world has ever known." In the wake of his fearless preaching, revival swept across the British Isles, and the Great Awakening transformed the American colonies.
When Whitefield died at age 55, he had preached 30,000 sermons. His hearers included not only the poor and the uneducated, but prominent English aristocrats and American statesmen such as David Hume and Benjamin Franklin.
Christians today continue to take courage from Whitefield's humility and deep spirituality. A founder of Methodism, he yielded his leadership to John Wesley rather than risk splitting the movement, thus revealing his fervent commitment to the gospel of Christ rather than to personal plans or hopes.
The previous two-volume work, receiving critical praise and popular acceptance, is here condensed into one magnificent volume. A great inspiration to the followers of Jesus Christ in today's pressured world.- - - - - - - - - -
"Perhaps the single most inspiring biography published in English in the 20th century. A masterful work." -- Sherwood Eliot Wirt, founding editor, Decision magazine
"This condensation of the author's classic two-volume edition contains 23 fast-moving chapters of highly interesting material. A powerful rendering of a life wholly consecrated to God." -- G.A. Adams, Principal, Toronto Baptist Seminary
From the Publisher
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'One of the great monumental literary achievements of the 20th century. George Whitefield has come alive for me as I have been reading the book, a few pages at a time each evening.' --Sherwood E. Wirt
'My heart was tremendously stirred as I read it more than it has been for many, many years.' --Oswald J. Smith
'The full [two volume set] makes you want to preach . . . I insist on the two-volume. It gives the heart of the man.' --Steve Lawson
About the Author
ARNOLD A. DALLIMORE(1911-1998) was born in Canada of British parents. He was pastor of the Baptist Church at Cottam, Ontario, for almost twenty-four years. During his studies at Central Baptist Seminary, Toronto, he was awakened to a life-long interest in the great evangelist George Whitefield, whose biography he was to write (2 volumes, published by the Trust). He also wrote biographies of Edward Irving, the forerunner of the charismatic movement, Susannah Wesley and C. H. Spurgeon, whose preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle was frequently attended by his maternal grandfather and his mother (as a small child).
- Publisher : Banner of Truth; Reprint edition (April 1, 1980)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 1232 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0851517307
- ISBN-13 : 978-0851517308
- Item Weight : 4 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.75 x 3.15 x 8.74 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,290,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the author
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2015
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Edwards, being dead, still speaks through reprints of his works and the veritable cottage industry of explaining and applying them to today's concerns. John Wesley lives on through numerous denominations--Methodist, Wesleyan, Holiness--that trace their origins, in one way or another, to his labors, and through Christian small groups that, wittingly or not, perpetuate aspects of his societies, bands, and classes. And we sing Charles Wesley's hymns, though not often enough--at least for my taste.
Whitefield, on the other hand, has been largely neglected. This is odd, for Whitefield arguably did more to promote trans-Atlantic evangelicalism than any of his peers, working with an ecumenical cast of Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Independents, and Presbyterians. Though a Calvinist--and for a period of time in deep dispute with the Wesleys over their Arminianism--he worked with Arminian evangelicals. He preached as often--if not more often--than John Wesley, and to larger crowds. He pioneered many of the techniques that Wesley perfected--e.g., open-air preaching, circuit riding, religious societies. Indeed, in his own time, he was often referred to as "the Founder of Methodism."
Over the course of three decades, Arnold A. Dallimore sought to rectify this neglect of Whitefield. In 1970, he published the first volume of George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century (Banner of Truth). He published the second volume in 1980. In 1990, Crossway published the one-volume abridgement of the biography under review here. It was reprinted in 2010 with a new cover. Crossway also published The Sermons of George Whitefield in 2012.
I hope to review The Sermons soon, but for now let me say something about Dallimore's abridged biography. It is a self-conscious hagiography of the great evangelist. I use the word hagiography literally, for after reviewing Whitefield's life and labors, Dallimore writes: "George Whitefield was a holy man" (p. 200). A Christian reader of George Whitefield--at least an evangelical Protestant reader--will likely come to the same conclusion. Whitefield's zeal for evangelism, concern for the poor, personal philanthropy, and courage in the face of mobs mark him out as a deeply Christian man. By outlining the course of his life and ministry, Dallimore has performed a signal service for evangelical readers.
By nature, hagiographies are not critical biographies, however. They describe a life in order to inspire emulation. But this description has an apologetic cast to it. Throughout this book, for example, Dallimore compares and contrasts Whitefield and John Wesley, often to the latter's detriment. (Charles Wesley comes out better because he was personally closer to Whitefield than his brother John.) His treatment of Whitefield is defensive, as if he mourns the spotlight historians have shown on John rather than George. He sees faults in Whitefield: emotionalism in his early ministry, not to mention a critique of Christian ministers whom he felt were not personally born again or whose ministries were insufficiently evangelical. "His chief fault," Dallimore avers, "was his condoning the practice of slavery, the one dark blot on his otherwise spotless record." A critical biography would examine these topics in more detail. If Dallimore does examine them more closely in his two-volume biography, he has chosen not to include the results of that examination here.
And there are topics that might interest modern readers. In The Divine Dramatist , Harry S. Stout explores Whitefield's self-promotion and theatricality. In The Accidental Revolutionary , Jerome Dean Mahaffey explores the political effects of Whitefield's ministry in the American colonies. How Whitefield innovated the practice of evangelism and what effect those innovations have on contemporary evangelicals is interesting to me, as a church leader. And as an American, I'm interested in the ways religion influenced the cause of revolution. But these topics go unremarked upon (at least in the abridgement).
I make these critical remarks of George Whitefield not because I didn't enjoy the book or wouldn't recommend it. I did, and I would. Rather, I make them because readers should know what to expect from Dallimore's work. It will give them a good outline of the chronology and major events in Whitefield's life. And it should inspire readers--at least if they are evangelical--to greater personal holiness, zeal for the lost, and desire to do as much good in this life as God enables one to do. If you profit from this book, by all means read the two-volume version, which explores issues in greater depth. Nonetheless, Dallimore's biography is not the whole picture. If your interest is more broadly historical, you'll need to supplement your reading with critical biographies such as the ones I've mentioned above.
P.S. Historian John Fea recommends Frank Lambert's "Pedlar in Divinity" , and Thomas Kidd's forthcoming biography of Whitefield, to be published by Yale University Press.
(John Wesley concerning George Whitefield)
O how necessary it is to read biographies! Someday, I hope to write a post on the necessity of biographies for all Christians but particularly for pastors who labour day and night, craving encouragement from the Lord.
The Life of George Whitefield
But today is not that day. This post is designed to introduce you to a well-written biography of one of my favourite figures from evangelical history: George Whitefield. I firmly believe that this biography should make its way onto the bookshelf of every pastor.
The life of George Whitefield is a source of immense encouragement to me. His endurance in suffering, humility in discord, strength in persecutions, gentleness in turbulent situations, passion in boldly preaching the word of God, zeal to win thousands for Christ, and love for God is remarkably uplifting and refreshing.
The shockwaves of his thunderous preaching were felt throughout the evangelical world. Bishop Ryle goes as far as to say that, “Whitefield was entirely chief and first among the English Reformers of the 18th century”. I think he is right. It is rightly claimed that Whitefield’s congregations were the largest ever reached by the human voice in the history of mankind. The Christ that Whitefield sweetly and passionately preached spoke to thousands through his ministry.
Dallimore’s Rich Portrait Of Whitefield
In this biography, Dallimore masterfully paints for us a rich, complex, and multi-faceted picture of Whitefield. He does so with honesty, beauty, elegance, integrity and theologically drenched eyes. But this biography is merely a ‘trailer’ of Dallimore’s mammoth two-volume work. So, for those of us who don’t yet have time to plunge into the 224-page version, this volume provides an excellent and enjoyable entry point into the life of Whitefield.
A unique feature of this biography is that it displays a slight hagiographical and apologetic edge. Hagiographical in the sense that the author presents Whitefield in a very sparkling light. His confession gives it away, “George Whitefield was a holy man” (p. 200). Apologetic in the sense that the author repeatedly defends Whitefield against unsubstantiated charges of both early and modern biographers. The author does so humbly and provides good reasons for his conclusions.
To sum up, this biography showcases Whitfield’s life with clarity and vibrancy. I would not be surprised if this became a classic introduction to the life of this evangelical giant for the next generation.
You owe it to yourself to read the full, two-volume, unabridged version of the biography. It's a fantastic read about an amazing man.
But if you don't have time for the two-volume version right now--or if you find yourself wanting to listen to a book in your free time driving or whatever--this is an audio version of the abridged version. And it is excellent in its own right. Don't skip reading the longer version, but enjoy this shorter taste of the life of the great preacher and evangelist of the First Great Awakening.
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His life wasn't always perfect but the perfect God is seen in his life and shows what God can do with a man fully dedicated to Him and ready to go anywhere for God trusting only Him.
I fully recommend this book to all.
Jim Allis www,jimallis.co.uk