October 24, 2017

The Life and Times of David Lipscomb (Book Review)

By Gordon J. Pennock

Reading "The Life and Times of David Lipscomb," written by brother Earl West, has been a rich and
delightful experience. In this volume of nearly 300 pages, the author has presented the life-story of this great
"Man of God" in a lucid, exciting and interesting manner. Once begun, this book will grip the attention of the
reader to the end. The faith, confidence, courage and resolution with which Lipscomb resisted-and sometimes
stemmed-the tides of innovation and digression in the church of his day will be an inspiration to every Christian
who loves the truth. We would especially commend its reading to gospel preachers in the light of the problems
and perplexities confronting the church today. Whether or not the reader shares Lipscomb's views on the many
questions with which he grappled he will be led to admire the quality of character displayed in his disposition
to stand for what be conceived to be the truth without regard for the cost or consequence to himself. Here are
a few excerpts from the book which we believe will make you want to read it.


Relative to the crisis which followed the war between the states, brother West records that Lipscomb
"raised a hundred-thousand dollars for the poor. Upon receiving money he would send it on to the elders of a
local church to be dispersed among their needy. His rule was to help the needy preacher first so he could go
and preach the gospel. Then he would assist the widows and orphans and finally help the people of the world."


When the controversy over the missionary society developed, the author notes the following objections
which were levelled against it: "(1) It was a human institution, organized by the wisdom and power of man and
guided by the spirit of man to do the work God gave the church. The implications were far reaching. First, it
is implied that the church as God gave it was and is incapable of doing the work God gave it to do. This in turn
reflects upon the wisdom of God and puts man's wisdom above God's. Second, it is implied that the Bible itself
is not an all-sufficient guide in religion. The school of thought that would tolerate the existence of a Society
unknown to the word of God would in time cast reflections upon the inspiration and authority of the
Scriptures."


With reference to the question of cooperation brother West presents Lipscomb's position as follows: "When
two persons work in harmony with the same set of laws, they necessarily cooperate, though they may do it
unconsciously and unintentionally. There is a dlifference between cooperation and organization. Two
neighboring farmers work. One has work to do that he cannot do himself. So he asks his neighbor for help.
Each, persuing his own course, cooperates."


"The church universal, he (Lipscomb) argued, had no organic existence whatsoever, and could never work
save through the local churches. The matter of the many churches working through the eldership of one church
was wrong in Lipscomb's conception because it made out of the elders of a local church a missionary society
in embryo. They were being granted a responsibility and work larger than that of one local congregation."


In offering some advice to young preachers, the author cites the following from David Lipscomb's pen:
"Young preachers need to learn how to go into the homes of the poor, eat corn bread and fat meat, sleep on
straw beds in houses with dirt floors, and be tormented at night with bedbugs." In another place brother West
observes that "He (Lipscomb) looked with disgust upon what he thought might be a professional clergy arising
among the bretbren."


Concerning Lipscomb's attitude toward those with whom he differed brother West observes: "It was part
of Lipscomb's make-up to state his own convictions positively at all times and yet allow the widest margin of
freedom to those who disagreed with him. It was difficult for him to understand why others could not do the
same. It never occurred to Lipscomb to be offended at someone's disagreeing with him or to limit the other's
freedom of expression." Later in the book he cites these words from the pen of M. C. Kurfees: "It seems
impossible to listen to him without being impressed that the controlling purpose and the only purpose of all his
preaching is to please God, and thus bring the greatest good to man."


We urge you to read the book. Order it today from TRUTH Magazine. The price is $4.00.


Truth Magazine III:4, p. 22
January 1959

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