Tag Archives: Joseph Parker (1830-1902)

My Calvinist Brothers and the Left Foot of Fellowship

“The Charismatic movement is . . . a work of Satan.”
John MacArthur

“[Arminianism] is not damnable heresy per se.”
Phil Johnson, Grace to You

Why are so many Calvinists heresy hunters?

Calvinists are everywhere. I have served Christ alongside many Calvinists, some of whom I respect greatly and love dearly. But I have encountered numerous times my Calvinist friends—who I consider my Christian brothers—going out of their way to create division between themselves and anyone who rejects their yoke. I am not just talking about heresy hunting, which I also deem unbiblical, but about Christians attacking Christians. This article is my own rough attempt to understand why Calvinists are so often the hunters, and so seldom the prey. A few systematically-minded neo-Arminians like Jesse Morrell or Greg Boyd do return the favor and call Calvinism “heresy.” (I believe John Wesley did the same.) But far more often this unsubstantiated insult is hurled in the other direction. By and large, Calvinists hate Christian liberty.

My own position is one that I have gleaned partly by necessity, from living in multiple countries, where culture colors Christianity differently, and I am forced to exercise patience and forbearance if I want any Christian fellowship at all: being “in Christ” is a spiritual position, not an intellectual one. F. W. Boreham and Joseph Parker remind me that a plurality of voices enriches the church. A. W. Tozer and Richard Foster remind me that our unity is spiritual, not doctrinal, and it is found in Christ, not in any human organization. With these facts in mind, we must allow some latitude in the theology and practice of our Christian brothers.

Calvinists against Christian Liberty

When Calvinists speak of the “doctrines of grace,” this evidently does not necessitate the practice of grace. Where they are gracious to fellow believers, it seems to be the exception. Throughout my Christian life, I have encountered Calvinists who heap insults on those that disagree with them. Arminians do this, too; but they are not usually put on a pedestal for it. The most prominent Calvinist teachers in the world regularly speak of Arminians as “barely Christian”, and no feathers are ruffled in the congregations of their megachurches—rather, they are celebrated for their firmness of conviction. I’ll give some examples, and then discuss why I think this happens.

MacArthur vs. Charismatic Christians

I have study Bibles of various theological orientations, but I have gotten the most use out of my MacArthur Study Bible. In spite of this, I would not hesitate to say, John MacArthur is an outright enemy of Christian liberty. He has unabashedly dubbed the entire Charismatic/Pentecostal movement—which today is just about a majority of worldwide believers—”a work of Satan.” He has written three books on the topic, culminating in his 2013 book Strange Fire, which was pompously launched at a conference, hosted at his church, titled after the book. Thousands attended. Strange Fire was a self-serving and, frankly, depressing display of how Calvinists attack Christian liberty, and celebrate each other while doing so.

Wade Burleson wrote:

John MacArthur would do well to imitate Gamaliel and stop his war against Charismatics. [1]

Calvinist Christians vs. Arminian Christians

If MacArthur sees Charismatics as agents of Satan, he and his colleagues are slightly more tolerant of Arminianism. Phil Johnson, editor of MacArthur’s books and director of Grace to You, magnanimously calls Arminianism “not quite damnable”, referencing the words of revered Calvinist Charles Spurgeon.

Spurgeon did not regard Arminians as hell bound heretics. He regarded them as brethren. Did he think they were in error? Yes. Were they guilty of gross inconsistency in their own theology? He would have answered emphatically, yes. Was their main error significant? Spurgeon did not shrink from referring to it as “heresy”—meaning unorthodox doctrine, heterodoxy, serious error. But he was very careful to make clear that he did not regard Arminianism per se as damnable heresy or utter apostasy from essential Christianity. [2]

Insults aside, in the New Testament, all heresy is damnable (Gal. 5:19-21). I think the use of that word here is culturally informed, not biblically informed, and it shows that their Christian community tests its legitimacy on doctrinal, intellectual grounds.

MacArthur and Johnson put great stock in the words of Spurgeon, but they do not imitate him in the practice of Christian liberty. Charles Spurgeon exchanged pulpits with Arminians. His chosen successor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Arthur T. Pierson, was a Presbyterian, and had not received adult baptism—and Spurgeon was a Baptist. Spurgeon understood something that MacArthur does not: we can trust each other without agreeing—even on major points of doctrine—because doctrine is not the sole grounds for our unity. Christ is.

To be clear, doctrine may limit our Christian unity; but it does not define it.

R. C. Sproul is a little more gracious: in the same breath that he refers to Arminians as “barely Christian”, he goes on to state that he sees such theological debates as occurring “intramurally”—that is, within the confines of the church of God, not equivalent to dealing with unbelievers. It hardly mitigates the force of his “othering” of Arminians!

John Piper vs. Universalism

John Piper, like John MacArthur, is a Calvinist. Unlike MacArthur, Piper believes that spiritual gifts are still legitimate today. When it comes to doctrine, though, Piper doesn’t exhibit any more Christian liberty than MacArthur does. When Rob Bell published a book in which universal salvation was (undogmatically) stated as one possibility on a spectrum of Christian ideas on the afterlife, John Piper famously tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” The implication was that Bell had committed the sin of heresy, irreversibly exiting Christian fellowship. I find the idea of universalism as repulsive as the next guy—but I find no warrant in Scripture for considering someone reprobate for entertaining it. Piper treats our Christianity as a matter of intellectual assent; but the Bible says “he who has the Son has life.”

A Case Study: Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker

Another case is Calvinist treatment of Joseph Parker, prolific writer and preacher. Joseph Parker was a close friend to Charles Spurgeon, though Spurgeon was an adamant Calvinist and Parker a confident Arminian. Spurgeon wrote:

There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. [3]

In today’s terms, Parker and Spurgeon would be megachurch pastors. Both preached to congregations of thousands, even multiple times a week, year after year. A. Cunningham Burley, the author of Spurgeon and His Friendships, fittingly described them as “two great lamps”:

It is really difficult today to explain the significance of Spurgeon and Parker, or to make credible the enthusiasm of those who listened to them years ago. Yet there they stood, like two great lamps, burning on each side of the River—Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and Parker at the City Temple.

There were striking similarities between these two men. They both began as boy preachers in remote country villages . . . They eventually gravitated to London and became the pastors of ‘downtown’ churches. Both men gained the ear of the crowd. Spurgeon’s audience varied from five to seven thousand. Parker was in the habit of addressing three to four thousand hearers a week. They were prodigious workers who put their own church first. When they were able to preach at all, they were always in their place when Sunday came round.

They learned (surely in the school of Christ) to praise each other’s genius and to rejoice in each other’s success. [4]

In spite of all this, I have several times encountered Calvinist writers going out of their way to discredit Joseph Parker. [5]

Even when Spurgeon was alive, a member of his congregation sought to discredit Parker, accusing him of insulting their orphanages. In fact, Parker was working to take up an offering for Spurgeon’s orphanages, and the man had overheard Parker saying that the children needed better clothing and food. On Sunday, as the story goes, Spurgeon blasted Parker from the pulpit, outraged that his friend would insult helpless orphans. Since sermons were reported in the newspapers, all London knew that Spurgeon had done this. At Parker’s next pulpit appearance, thousands flocked to his church, waiting with bated breath for his response. Parker merely took up an offering on behalf of Spurgeon and his orphanage, as he had planned before. Spurgeon had to apologize in person, and they were reconciled. [6]

Why Calvin’s Followers Belittle Christ’s Followers

As an outsider, I cannot truly understand why followers of Calvin belittle followers of Christ. But I can name here some incorrect premises that may drive these ungodly insults against Christ’s followers, who will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).

1. “Calvinism is the Gospel!”

Calvinism is received differently from Arminianism. Arminianism and Calvinism surely predate Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin, respectively, but within Protestant theology, the former was delineated as an “ism” in response to the latter. Calvinism is treated by many as a kind of gnostic “special knowledge” required for salvation (“the doctrines of grace”). The native language of Calvinism is both dogmatic and exclusive. Calvinists frequently make it clear: if you do not hold these Calvinist doctrines, you are not in Christ; if you are in Christ, you must hold them at least unknowingly. A litany of quotations from Calvinist theologians show how common this sentiment is:

Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.
Charles H. Spurgeon [3]

Calvinism is pure biblical Christianity in its clearest and purest expression.
Leonard J. Coppes [7]

Calvinism is the Gospel and to teach Calvinism is in fact to preach the Gospel. It is questionable whether a dogmatic theology which is not Calvinistic is truly Christian.
Arthur C. Custance [8]

Arminians deny the efficacy of the merit of the death of Christ.
John Owen [9]

Arminianism is the plague of the church and the scourge of sound doctrine. . . . Arminians do not understand the Bible.
Gordon H. Clark [10]

Salvation as the Arminians describe it is uncertain, precarious and doubtful.
Gordon H. Clark [11]

An Arminian may be a truly regenerate Christian; in fact, if he is truly an Arminian and not a Pelagian who happens to belong to an Arminian church, he must be a saved man. But he is not usually . . .
Gordon H. Clark [12]

I believe that some Arminians may be born-again Christians.
Edwin H. Palmer [13]

They’ll say, “Do you believe that Arminians are Christians?” I’ll usually say, “Yes, I do—barely.”
R. C. Sproul [14]

Is the Arminian Jesus the same Lord and Savior as the Biblical Jesus? Not even a little. . . . If you believe and serve the Christ of Arminianism, you must recognize the fact that you do not serve the Christ of the Bible.
Steven Houck [15]

A religion of conditions, contingencies, and uncertainties is not Christianity—its technical name is Arminianism, and Arminianism is a daughter of Rome. It is that God dishonoring, Scripture-repudiating, soul-destroying system of Popery—whose father is the Devil.
Arthur W. Pink [16]

. . . rank Arminians, preaching another gospel.
Arthur W. Pink [17]

Satanic malice and the natural darkness of the human mind are, no doubt, contributory causes of Arminianism in its various forms.
J. I. Packer [18]

There is a stereotype in North American Calvinist circles that someone who becomes enlightened by “the doctrines of grace”—in their view, Calvinism—often becomes a rabid defender of those doctrines, unable to deal kindly with opposing viewpoints, condemning of non-Calvinist believers. It has been called “cage stage Calvinism”. But in the section above, I’ve quoted many similar reflections written soberly by the greatest sages of Calvinism. The reason that Calvinists old and new think this way is because it is part and parcel of the theological system. It is a system that is transmitted in such a way that prejudice against other Christians is somehow transmitted with it. It is conflated with the gospel in such a wholesale way, that it leaves its adherents with no alternatives.

2. “Calvinism Is Biblical!”

Calvinism and Arminianism tend to correlate with two different approaches to Scripture. In my own experience, Calvinism tends to thrive in an environment of systematic theology, and Arminianism tends to thrive in an environment of biblical/narrative theology. These are two different but complementary approaches to forming theology from Scripture. Systematic theology looks for specific inter-related propositions in the biblical text, unifying them into a coherent theological system. Biblical theology makes context king, over against any overriding need for theological coherence. Systematic theology compares logically-related propositions; biblical theology compares historically-related texts. Both approaches can produce good theology and bad theology. An illustration of this that I frequently come back to is Psalm 139.

In Psalm 139, David is profoundly affected by God’s omniscience. God knows his thoughts (v. 1-6); God sees him no matter where he is (v. 7-12); God knew him even before he was born (v. 13-18); God knows how he is grieved by his enemies (v. 19-24).

A line in Psalm 139:16 is somewhat puzzling for translators. The NIV reads: “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The KJV fits the context better, substituting “all my members” for “all the days ordained for me”. A Jewish translation, The Israel Bible, sounds more like the KJV: “Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they were all recorded in Your book.”

For many Calvinist/systematic theologians, this line proves that God has ordained every event of our lives. For many Arminian/biblical theologians, it is affirming the same thing as the surrounding context in verses 13 to 18: God was active in David’s life before he was born.

The proof-text approach, employed, for instance, in the outlines of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology, can lead to a dogmatic and staunch confidence that your theology is found uncontroversially in Scripture, and anyone who contradicts you is contradicting the Word of God! You could use Psalm 139:16 in the NIV, ESV, or NLT to dogmatically affirm that God foreknows and foreordains every event of our lives, even sin and evil; but looking at the Hebrew Psalm in detail may lead to a completely different understanding of this verse.

3. “Calvinism Is Logical!”

Calvinism is touted as “logically consistent” by its proponents, and as a philosophical system it truly is. But—like Arminianism—some of its logical presuppositions are arrived at and defended somewhat mystically—through intuition, not through the biblical narrative.

Such a premise is found in Calvinism’s philosophy of time. There is no direct, biblical grounding for believing in a timeless eternity, even if there is indirect, philosophical grounding for doing so. There is also no direct, biblical grounding for denying the same doctrine—it is simply not a question that the Bible answers, no matter how fiercely we believe one way or the other.

As I explained above, I believe a systematic approach to Scripture lends itself to intolerance (healthy and unhealthy), but a biblical approach to Scripture lends itself to a plurality and diversity of voices (healthy and unhealthy). Both approaches have their extremes. A biblical approach helps me to gather inspired words about the afterlife, and see what ideas come of them; but a systematic approach teaches that these ideas are not created equal, and some are dangerous!

If I overextend the systematic approach, though, I may discourage or even destroy Christian liberty through my teaching, as MacArthur, Piper, Packer, Morrell, and so many others have done. A systematic approach to Scripture can lend itself to seeing heresy where there is none, because we become trapped by the premises we used to formulate our systematic theology.

A biblical/narrative approach allows me to accept opposing viewpoints with different premises—again, for good or for ill. Joseph Parker states this view repeatedly in his sermons:

Each man has his own view of God . . . The mischief is that we expect every man to speak in the same tone, to deliver the same words, and to subject himself to the same literary yoke or spiritual discipline. The Bible sets itself against all this monotony. Every man must speak the word that God has given to him through the instrumentality of his own characteristics.
Joseph Parker [19]

These words were preached and printed in 1892. They still resonate today. It’s obvious, though, that this way of speaking could easily lend itself to a post-modern viewpoint, in which the Scripture authors themselves may not have even agreed on any basic doctrine. Biblical theology frequently fails to produce a coherent ontology for those with sincere questions about reality. A single biblical theologian can entertain the contradictory theological frameworks of the Reformed, Arminian, open theist, and process theist, exploiting each framework in turn, without any statement about which, if any, is really true!

To live by the laws of reality, we must state that of two contradicting alternatives, only one (at most) is true. Likewise, if both alternatives are part of historic Christian doctrine, as Calvinism and Arminianism are, then we do not dismiss or condemn adherents of either doctrine.

End the Heresy Hunt

The Roman Catholic church in medieval times militated against aberrant theology and practice, ordering the execution of thousands, including great ministers like John Hus, Jerome of Prague, and William Tyndale. After the Protestant Reformation, it was Calvin and his friends, such as Zwingli, who kept up this legacy of intolerance in Europe, drowning numerous believers in Switzerland for rejecting infant baptism. Anabaptists were tortured and killed by both Catholics and Protestants. In the Donatist controversy, Augustine had written in favor of using force against heretics (i.e., murdering them); Luther held the same stance against Anabaptists; Calvin himself was directly responsible for the execution of Michael Servetus, who denied the Trinity.

There is nothing in the New Testament to motivate, justify, or excuse a Christian condemning to death those with aberrant and even dangerous theology. But John reminds us that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). Those who are still on the heresy hunt may not be killing others, but they are reliving the cycle that began before Martin Luther, of seeking to quench opposing viewpoints. Like Job’s friends, they have a corner on the truth (Job 12:2). This kind of intolerance is not found in Christ or his apostles, and was directly rebuked by Jesus (Luke 9:49-55).

Jesus sought to correct the Sadducees on the resurrection (Mark 12:24-27). He did not hesitate to call the Pharisees “evil”, “a brood of vipers”, “a wicked and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12). Many theologians of our day, prone to post-modern thinking, need to learn to call a spade a spade when future generations are on the line. Others—and many of them are Calvinists—need to learn to show grace to those they disagree with, because they are insulting Christ’s body and bringing dishonor to his precious church. They would do well to consider the words of Herman Bavinck:

Arminianism [is] undeniably present in American Christendom. There is much humbug in it. But I think we do better to incorporate and imitate the good things, than to condemn it all. . . . After all, Calvinism is not the only truth. [20]

By the foreordination of God, Jesus himself was killed as a blasphemer, as also were most of the apostles in time. Let us take care that we identify with Christ and the apostles more than we identify with their murderers.


References

[1] Wade Burleson, Gamaliel’s Wisdom and MacArthur’s War: Fighting Strange Fires Can Also Be a Fight Against God. Accessed April 20 2021.

[2] Phil Johnson, “Why I Am a Calvinist (Part 2)”. Accessed April 20 2021.

[3] Spurgeon’s Sermons, p. 129. This passage is also quoted in Spurgeon’s Autobiography.

[4] A. Cunningham Burley, Spurgeon and His Friendships. 1933.

[5] On the Wikipedia page on Joseph Parker, someone wrote that because Spurgeon had a “stricter theological framework” he “tended to distrust” Joseph Parker. Here was cited a short encyclopedia article, which said no such thing. Some Calvinist went out of their way to propagate a lie that Spurgeon distrusted Parker, when they were in fact friends who praised each other’s work and exchanged pulpits. Spurgeon even invited Parker to speak at his fiftieth birthday.

[6] The story is narrated here and is found in many compilations, but I cannot find any primary source for the story. If you have a primary source, please comment!

[7] Leonard J. Coppes, Are Five Points Enough? The Ten Points of Calvinism (Denver: by the author, 1980), p. xi.

[8] Arthur C. Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), p. 302.

[9] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), Vol. 10: 13.

[10] Gordon H. Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man (Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1984), p. 74.

[11] Gordon H. Clark, Predestination (Phillipsburg. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1987), p. 133.

[12] Gordon H. Clark, What Presbyterians Believe (1956), p. 74.

[13] Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), p 26.

[14] Sproul is more winsome here than Owen, Pink, MacArthur, Custance, or Piper in the full explanation of how he sees Arminians, but I still wouldn’t call him if I got a flat tire. R. C. Sproul, “Are Arminians Christians?” Clip from footage filmed for Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism. Accessed April 20, 2021.

[15] Stephen Houck, “The ‘christ’ of Arminianism.” Accessed April 21 2021.

[16] Arthur W. Pink, “Comfort for Christians.” Accessed April 21 2021.

[17] Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in the Godhead.  Accessed April 21 2021.

[18] J. I. Packer, “Arminianisms.” Chapter in Through Christ’s word : a festschrift for Dr. Philip E. Hughes. 1985.

[19] Joseph Parker, “Prophet of Judgment.” The Minor Prophets, The People’s Bible Book 20. Pioneer Library. Kindle edition.

[20] Quoted in George Harinck, “Calvinism Isn’t the Only Truth: Herman Bavinck’s Impressions of the USA.” Accessed April 21, 2021.

Review: Job (People’s Bible, Book 12)

Rating: ★★★★

Author: Joseph Parker was a famed Congregationalist preacher of late nineteenth-century London. His People’s Bible is a monumental series of over 1000 sermons from the perspective of biblical (or narrative) theology.

Overview:

Joseph Parker’s preaching style is especially suited to Old Testament wisdom, and had already published a volume on Job (Job’s Comforters: Scientific Sympathy, 1874) more than a decade before his magnum opus, The People’s Bible, was begun.

As usual, almost every sermon in this volume includes generalizations about the book as a whole, relating it to New Testament truth. However, unlike many books written about Job (e.g., Morgan’s The Answers of Jesus to Job), he doesn’t skip over the dialogues of Job’s friends. Parker goes chapter by chapter, following the dialogue in narrative chunks, but usually not verse by verse.

Meat:

Job’s friends are a topic that Parker pays special attention to, as he did in his previous book on Job. In the course of his sermons, he points out two key errors that can be made about Job’s comforters:

  1. We may cite them as Scripture, without differentiating them from Job himself, or paying due notice to the narrative.
  2. We may pay them no notice because of the divine verdict rendered against their words (in Job 42:7).

Parker steers away from both, treating Job’s friends (and Elihu) as serious debaters and theologians, with mostly correct—but incomplete—view of God’s providence.

History is not a succession of accidents, but the outworking of a sublime philosophy, the end of which is the coronation of righteousness, the enthronement of purity and nobleness. Such comforters are sent to us as from the very presence of God.

Paul Anleitner’s Deep Talks podcast on Job treats Job’s friends in much the same way; they are correct in observing that, in general, the righteous prosper and the wicked perish (Prov. 11:10, 29:2, etc.); this, however, is simply not the whole picture.

The general doctrine is founded in truth; its fallacy lies is in its application to Job’s peculiar case.

I should add, Chesterton’s wonderful 1902 article on Robert Louis Stevenson rather turns this topic on its head.

Bones:

The shortcomings of this book are not different from the shortcomings of The People’s Bible as a whole; namely, Parker is a “big picture” preacher and doesn’t often answer detail-oriented questions about the text. This book should not be read at a study desk. Rather, his sermons need to be approached in armchair with a large cup of tea.

Quotes:

“Good behaviour founded upon a philosophy of fear is only vice in a fit of dejection.”

“No man could see himself and live.”

“May we not have argued about providences when we ought to have prayed respecting them?”

“If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is able to lay a wounded hand upon God, and a wounded hand upon man, and to bring God and man together in righteous and eternal reconciliation.”

“How if it should turn out at last that our very punishment has been meted to us in mercy? What if at the end it should be found that adversity was a veiled evangel sent from heaven to bring us home?”

On meaningless suffering:

“We must often suffer, and not know the reason why: we must often rise from our knees to fight a battle, when we intended to enjoy a long repose: things must slip out of our hands unaccountably, and loss must befall our estate after we have well tended all that belongs to it, after we have securely locked every gate, and done the utmost that lies within the range of human sagacity and strength to protect our property. These are the trials that we must accept. If everything were plain and straightforward, everything would be proportionately easy and proportionately worthless.”

On immortality:

“God, who has made so much out of nothing, means to make more out of so much: the very creation means the redemption and salvation and coronation of the thing that was created in the divine image and likeness. Creation does not end in itself: it is a pledge, a token, a sign—yea, a sure symbol, equal in moral value to an oath, that God’s meaning is progress unto the measure of perfection. This is how we discover the grand doctrine of the immortality of the soul, even in the Old Testament—even in the Book of Genesis and in the Book of Job. What was it that lay so heavily upon Adam and upon Job? It was the limitation of their existence; it was the possible thought that they could see finalities, that they could touch the mean boundary of their heart’s throb and vital palpitation. When men can take up the whole theatre of being and opportunity and destiny, and say, This is the shape of it, and this is the weight, this is the measure, this is the beginning, and this is the end, then do they weary of life, and they come to despise it with bitterness; but when they cannot do these things, but, contrariwise, when they begin to see that there is a Beyond, something farther on, voices other than human, mystic appearances and revelations, then they say, This life as we see it is not all; it is an alphabet which has to be shaped into a literature, and a literature which has to end in music. The conscious immortality of the soul, as that soul was fashioned in the purpose of God, has kept the race from despair.”

A Bibliography of Joseph Parker (Chronological)

The following is a chronological list of publications by Joseph Parker, D.D., preacher of City Temple, London, with links to PDF copies where available.

Joseph Parker was one of the most prolific writers of the century. His output is certainly comparable to that of his friend, Charles Spurgeon. Nearly all of these books are above 300 pages, and there is no way of guaranteeing that this is all that he published, since some of them are very rare.

Almost all of these are out of print, but we have worked tirelessly to make his crowning work, The People’s Bible, widely available in digital format.

Our collection of links below is undoubtedly the most complete list of Joseph Parker books on the Internet, compiled mainly from worldcat.org, which aggregates library data, and The Online Books Page.

  1. Six Chapters on Secularism. 66 pages. 1854.
  2. Helps to Truth-Seekers. 279 pages. 1857.
  3. The Working Church: An Argument for Liberality and Labour. 94 pages. 1857.
  4. Congregational Economist. 1858.
  5. Emmanuel. 161 pages. 1859.
  6. Selected Psalms and Hymns. 1861.
  7. Church Questions. 361 pages. 1862.
  8. Hidden Springs. 413 pages. 1864.
  9. The Chastening of Love: Words of Consolation for the Christian Mourner. 179 pages. c. 1864.
  10. The Cavendish Hymnal, Compiled for Use in Homes and Churches. [Compiler.] 1864.
  11. Wednesday Evenings in Cavendish Chapel: Homiletic Hints. 133 pages. 1865.
  12. Pulpit Analyst. 1866-1870.
  13. Ecce Deus: Essays on the Life and Doctrine of Jesus Christ. 338 pages. 1867.
  14. Springdale Abbey: Extracts from the Diaries and Letters of an English Preacher. 517 pages. 1868.
  15. Ad Clerum. 266 pages. 1869.
  16. The City Temple: Sermons. 798 pages. 1870.
  17. A Homiletic Analysis of the Gospel of Matthew. 358 pages. 1870.
  18. Pulpit Notes: With an Introductory Essay on the Preaching of Jesus Christ. 340 pages. 1873.
  19. Job’s Comforters: Scientific Sympathy. 49 pages. 1874.
  20. The Paraclete: An Essay on the Personality and Ministry of the Holy Ghost. 438 pages. 1874.
  21. The Priesthood of Christ: A Restatement of Vital Truth. 327 pages. 1876.
  22. The Ark of God: The Transient Symbol of an Eternal Truth. 355 pages. 1877.
  23. Tyne Chylde: My Life and Teaching. 352 pages. 1880.
  24. Ingersoll Answered: “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”. 44 pages. 1881.
  25. Adam, Noah, and Abraham: Expository Readings on the Book of Genesis. 1882.
  26. The Inner Life of Christ as Revealed in the Gospel of Matthew. 1881-1882. (Also included in The People’s Bible.)
    vol 1: “These Sayings of Mine”;
    vol 2: “The Servant of All”;
    vol 3: “Things Concerning Himself.”
  27. Apostolic Life, As Revealed in the Acts of the Apostles. 1883.vol 1: [Acts 1-12] From the Ascension of Christ to the Withdrawal of Peter;
    vol 2: [Acts 13-19];
    vol 3: [Acts 20-28].
  28. The People’s Bible. 1885-1895.vol 1: Genesis;
    vol 2: Exodus;
    vol 3: Leviticus to Numbers 26;
    vol 4: Numbers 27 to Deuteronomy;
    vol 5: Joshua to Judges 5;
    vol 6: Judges 6 to 1 Samuel 18;
    vol 7: 1 Samuel 18 to 1 Kings 13;
    vol 8: 1 Kings 15 to 1 Chronicles 9;
    vol 9: 1 Chronicles 10 to 2 Chronicles 20;
    vol 10: 2 Chronicles 21 to Esther;
    vol 11: Job;
    vol 12: Psalms;
    vol 13: Proverbs;
    vol 14: Ecclesiastes to Isaiah 26;
    vol 15: Isaiah 27 to Jeremiah 19;
    vol 16: Jeremiah 20 to Daniel;
    vol 17: Hosea to Malachi;
    vol 18: Matthew (The Inner Life of Christ vol. 1, “These Sayings of Mine”);
    vol 19: Matthew (The Inner Life of Christ vol. 2, “Servant of All”);
    vol 20: Matthew (The Inner Life of Christ vol. 3, “Things Concerning Himself”);
    vol 21: Mark and Luke;
    vol 22: John;
    vol 23: Acts [1-12] (Apostolic Life Revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, part 1);
    vol 24: Acts [13-19] (Apostolic Life Revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, part 2);
    vol 25: Acts [20-28] (Apostolic Life Revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, part 3);
    vol 26: Romans to Galatians;
    vol 27: Ephesians to Revelation.
  29. Every Morning: First Thoughts for First Hours. 1889.
  30. The People’s Family Prayer Book. 390 pages. 1889.
  31. Weaver Stephen: Odds and Evens in English Religion. Novel. 331 pages. 1889.
  32. Someone: Notes for Inquirers Concerning Christ and His Truth. 1890. (Scarce.)
  33. Well Begun. 1893. (Scarce.)
  34. None Like It: A Plea for the Old Sword. 284 pages. 1894.
  35. Today’s Bible. 160 pages. 1894. (link is search only)
  36. Today’s Christ. 1895.
  37. Walden Stanyer, Boy and Man. [Under pseudonym Hugh Kolson.] Novel. 312 pages. 1895.
  38. Wilmot’s Child. [Under pseudonym Atey Nyne.] 194 pages. 1895.
  39. Christian Profiles in a Pagan Mirror. 305 pages. 1896.
  40. Tyne Folk: Masks, Faces, and Shadows. 232 pages. 1896.
  41. Might Have Been: Some Life Notes. 309 pages. 1896.
  42. Studies in Texts (vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4, vol 5, vol 6). 1898.
  43. Paterson’s Parish: A Lifetime amongst the Dissenters. Novel. 291 pages. 1898.
  44. Preacher’s Life: An Autobiography and an Album. 464 pages. 1899.
  45. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. 1903. (posthumous.)

In addition to the above, many of Parker’s sermons and speeches were published in pamphlets, tracts or very small volumes:

  1. Peacemaking: A Sermon for the Times. 1860.
  2. Sunday-School Reform. 1860.
  3. The Operative College. 1860.
  4. The Testimony of an Enemy: A Sermon to the Young. 29 pages. 1861.
  5. American War and American Slavery: A Speech. 9 pages. June 3, 1863.
  6. John Stuart Mill on Liberty: A Critique. 38 pages. 1865.
  7. The City Temple. (Numbers 1 to 45.) 1869-1870.
  8. The Larger Ministry: An Address. 1884.
  9. Orthodoxy of Heart: An Address. 1884.
  10. Memorial of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. 1887.
  11. The Religious Outlook: An Address. 1890.
  12. Gambling in Various Aspects. (A Speech.) 1897.
  13. An Address Delivered from the Chair of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. 1901.
  14. A Word for the Present Crisis. 8 pages. n.d, c. 1902. (search only.)

Compilation:

  1. Detached Links: Extracts from the Writings and Discourses of Joseph Parker. Compiled by Joseph Lucas. 503 pages. 1884.

Biographical:

  1. Marsh. Memorials of the City Temple, 1877.
  2. Men and Women of the Time, 1899.
  3. Dawson, Albert. Joseph Parker, D.D.: His Life and Ministry. 184 pages. London: S. W. Partridge & Co., 1901.
  4. Adamson, William. The Life of Joseph Parker, Pastor of City Temple, London. 447 pages. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1902.
  5. The Times, 29 Nov., 1 and 5 Dec. 1902.
  6. G. J. Holyoake. Two Great Preachers, 1903. 15 pages.
  7. J. Morgan Richards. Life of John Oliver Hobbes, 1911.
  8. Geofrey Holden Pike. Dr. Parker and his Friends, 1904.

On Preaching a Dead Christ

Tell me that Christ died some nineteen centuries ago, and I will say it was a pathetic incident, but it does not fill me with inspiration and confidence, and a determination to preach something to every creature; tell me that he died and rose again, and is alive, and is alive for evermore, and with me unto the end of the world: then you feed me, stir me, impassion me, until every faculty of my nature burns with new life, feels upon it the touch of eternity. You have lost the resurrection, and therefore any competitor can overthrow Christ’s claims to your confidence. There are men outside who are laughing at you because you are preaching a dead Christ. The men are right. The laughter may be a divine rebuke. If we can affirm that Christ is alive, why, not a council in any county, not a parliament in any country, can for a moment compare with our message.

Joseph Parker, “The Living Christ.” Studies in Texts, vol. 1. Available for Kindle.

The Latest: Joseph Parker’s Studies in Texts

The latest from Pioneer Library is Joseph Parker’s Studies in Texts, a collection of 76 sermons, originally published in six volumes, now available in one edition. Parker treats some theological topics that were outside of the scope of The People’s Bible series, which is his magnum opus. In Studies in Texts, Dr. Parker includes advice for preachers and a biographical introduction in which he comments on his calling as a preacher.

From the front matter:

A new work in six volumes, containing new sermons, outlines, and a great variety of suggestions, etc. This work will be of the greatest value to active preachers, Bible students, and teachers. The contents will also be exceedingly useful for home and family readings. The work is acknowledged to be the most brilliant and useful of all that Dr. Parker has ever written. A deeply interesting account of how the author preached his first sermon fifty years ago, and also many valuable hints on pulpit preparation and methods of preaching are contained in the preface.

“They are varied in subject and length of treatment; they are such as to stir the reader’s soul; they abound in points which are strong in the author.”
Local Preachers’ Magazine

“They are strenuous and stimulating, marked by all the vigor, eloquence, and formidable candor characteristic of Dr. Parker.”
Newcastle Chronicle

Who Is Joseph Parker?

Who is Joseph Parker?

Joseph Parker was a London preacher who attracted thousands before the days of microphones. He was a friend of Charles Spurgeon, and the two even exchanged pulpits, although their style and focus in preaching were quite different. Parker exhausted his work week in preparing to preach. When asked what his hobbies were, he would surprise his questioner by thundering, “Preaching!”

His authored works number at least 45 volumes, most of which are over 400 pages. The chief of them is The People’s Bible series, which was first published from 1885 to 1895 in 25 volumes, and later republished as Preaching through the Bible.

About The People’s Bible

Joseph Parker’s method in preaching was not a cold verse-by-verse analysis. Instead, he would meditate all the week on a Bible book as a whole, trying to crystallize the most important themes and messages in Scripture as a whole. The resulting sermons are dynamic, meditative, rich in both language and conviction.

One who observed his process of preparation wrote the following:

“He is an extempore preacher, but not an extempore thinker…the subject…being considered for days. His topics are ruminated over, looked at on every side, and through and through until they become part of his spiritual self.”

One preaching magazine wrote: “The People’s Bible is not a commentary; it is rather a pastoral exposition, seeking out and applying the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures.”

Praise for Joseph Parker’s People’s Bible: Discourses upon Holy Scripture

“Dr. Parker has begun a stupendous work in this People’s Bible. He condenses wonderfully, and throws a splendor of diction over all that he pours forth. His track is his own, and the jewels which he lets fall in his progress are from his own caskets; this will give a permanent value to his works, when the productions of copyists will be forgotten.”
Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

“The sermons are very wonderful, but when he prays, he lifts you to heaven.”
Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries

“He is by far the ablest man now standing in the English-speaking pulpit.”
Alexander Whyte, author of Bible Characters

“Dr. Parker occupies a lonely place among the preachers of our day. His position among preachers is the same as that of a poet among ordinary men of letters.”
Ian MacLaren, author of The Mind of the Master

“Dr. Parker is the foremost preacher in Europe.”
Joseph Cook, D.D., author and preacher

“The most outstanding preacher of his time.”
Margaret Bywater

“Sermons rich in life and power, pungent, practical, faithful and fearless.”
The Christian Union, New York

“Most preachers’ texts are nails and their sermons tack-hammers. With Dr. Parker, his text is a bolt and his sermon a sledge-hammer.”
The Literary World, London

The Inventiveness of Reluctance

Joseph Parker, The People’s Bible, vol. II: Exodus. Available for Kindle.

“But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’ ”
Exodus 4:13 (ESV)

Man excusing himself from duty is a familiar picture. It is not a picture indeed; it is a personal experience. How inventive we are in finding excuses for not doing the will of God! How falsely modest we can become! depreciating ourselves, and putting ourselves before God in a light in which we could never consent to be put before society by the criticism of others. Is not this a revelation of the human heart to itself? We only want to walk in paths that are made beautiful with flowers, and to wander by streams that lull us by their own tranquillity. Nerve, and pluck, and force we seem to have lost. In place of the inventiveness of love we have the inventiveness of reluctance or distaste. It should be our supreme delight to find reasons for co-operating with God, and to fortify ourselves by such interpretations of circumstances as will plainly show us that we are in the right battle, fighting on the right side, and wielding the right weapon. The possibility of self-deception is one of the most solemn of all subjects. I cannot question the sincerity of Moses in enumerating and massing all the difficulties of his side of the case. He meant every word that he said. It is not enough to be sincere; we must have intelligence and conscience enlightened and enlarged. Mistakes are made about this matter of sincerity; the thing forgotten being that sincerity is nothing in itself, everything depending upon the motive by which it is actuated and the object towards which it is directed. The Church is today afflicted with the spirit of self-excusing—it cannot give, because of the depression of the times; it cannot go upon its mighty errands, because of its dainty delicateness; it cannot engage in active beneficence, because its charity should begin at home; it cannot enter into ardent controversy, because it prefers the comfort of inaction. Churches should not tell lies to themselves. The first great thing to be done is for a man to be faithful to his own heart, to look himself boldly in the face, and speak the clear truth emphatically to his own consciousness.

The People’s Bible

I recently finished publishing (in Kindle format) a sermon set called The People’s Bible by Joseph Parker, also published in 1970s as Preaching Through the Bible. Joseph Parker was a contemporary and friend of Spurgeon and, like Spurgeon, gathered thousands of Londoners in the late 19th century. His published sermons number well over 1000. The People’s Bible is a homiletic journey through the entire Bible, comprising about 1200 sermons, preached over the course of seven years.

Spurgeon called The People’s Biblea work of genius” and said that its innovative method would outlast the many copycats of his day.

What is unique about Joseph Parker’s sermons are their dynamic nature, their ability to surprise. He meditated on Scripture during the week, and his preaching was the outflow of that meditation. He gave his messages with few notes, and the man who copied them down said that Parker was at his best when he strayed farthest from his notes.

Alexander Whyte—himself among the most famous British preachers—after hearing Spurgeon and Dean Stanley in London, later heard Joseph Parker on another visit. After hearing him twice he wrote:

“He is by far the ablest man now standing in the English-speaking pulpit. He stands in the pulpit of Thomas Goodwin, the pulpit genius of all the Puritans, and a theologian to whom I owe more than I can ever acknowledge of spiritual light and life. And Dr. Parker is a true and worthy successor to this great Apostolic Puritan.”

Another prominent preacher and writer, Ian MacLaren, wrote the following:

“Dr. Parker occupies a lonely place among the preachers of our day. His position among preachers is the same as that of a poet among ordinary men of letters. … The power of his preaching lies in the contact of a mind of perpetual and amazing originality with the sublime truths of the Gospel, and the faculty which Dr. Parker possesses with all men of intellectual genius of discovering the principles which lie behind what seems the poorest detail, and which resolve all things into a unity.”

His biographer, Margaret Bywater, called him “the most outstanding preacher of his time.”

Below are the links for the new Kindle editions of The People’s Bible. These include active table of contents and linked footnotes.

Genesis
Exodus – sample
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges & Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah & Lamentations
Ezekiel & Daniel
The Minor Prophets – sample
Matthew (3 vol.)
Mark & Luke
John
Acts (3 vol.)
Romans to Galatians
Ephesians to Revelation