James H Brookes 1830

Rev. James H. Brookes, the minister of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, is known as 'The Father of American Dispensationalism'82. Brookes was instrumental in bringing D. L. Moody to St Louis for the 1879-1880 campaign, and introduced Scofield, and probably also Darby to Moody.

Brookes not only sympathised with J. N. Darby's dispensational views of a failing Church, corrupt and beyond hope, but it is known they met during five visits Darby made to St Louis between 1864-186583 and again between 1872-1877 when Darby preached from Brookes' pulpit.84

Brookes became the most influential exponent of Dispensationalism by three chief means. The first of these was his own Bible study and his habit of gathering young protégés around him for such study. By far the best known of these students was C. I. Scofield. The second means was his literary work. He published many books and pamphlets and he edited The Truth, a Christian magazine, from 1874 until his death. The third means was his leadership in the Niagara Bible Conference and the various prophetic conferences of his day.85

In the summer of 1872, Darby wrote a letter describing the fruitfulness of his initial visit to St. Louis which had included, '...good opportunities and I am in pretty full intercourse with those exercised, among whom are more than one official minister.'86 Mindful perhaps of the disapprobation held within traditional denominational circles for the Brethren and in particular for Darby's controversial views, with which he now identified, Brookes,

...gave no credit for them to Darby or any of the Brethren. This may be due to the fact that there were associations with the name Darby which Brookes wished to avoid. 87

This nevertheless explains how the premillennial dispensational views associated with the Albury and Powerscourt Conferences in England and Ireland had taken root in Middle America.

Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)

John Nelson Darby's influence over D. L. Moody came about through one of Darby's disciples, a young evangelist Henry Moorehouse who impressed Moody with his 'extraordinary' preaching. According to his son, Moody's message and style were revolutionised, 'Mr Moorehouse taught Moody to draw his sword full length, to fling the scabbard away, and to enter the battle with the naked blade.'88

Albert Newman, a contemporary American historian confirmed the strong influence Darby and his colleagues had over Moody,

The large class of evangelists, of whom Dwight L. Moody was the most eminent, have drawn their inspiration and their Scripture interpretation largely from the writings and the personal influence of the Brethren.89

Arno Gaebelein, Scofield's biographer, notes how Scofield kept Moody conformed to a dispensational prophetic framework, 'Moody himself needed at times a better knowledge of prophecy, and Scofield was the man to lead him into it.'90

Moody's greatest service to Darby and dispensationalism has come through the Bible institute which still bears his name and which became a model for many others. By 1956 it is known that at least 41 Bible schools were identified as dispensational, training some 10,000 pastors and missionaries annually, six of the largest accounting for half the student numbers.91

Moody's Institute in Chicago, although not the first of such schools, became the prototype; and since Moody had imbibed a fair dose of dispensationalism in a rather typical unstructured form, and his colleague and successor R. A. Torrey in a more systematic way, it was natural that the burgeoning Bible school movement, with a few exceptions, should follow this line of thought. And as the Bible schools unintentionally became training centres for evangelical ministers as many of the theological seminaries opted for divergent views, Darby's prophetic teaching became more widely accepted than ever.92

Moody's name is also associated with the popular Northfield Conferences which he founded in 188093 Sandeen makes a further significant observation.

No historian of Moody's amazing career has noted, however, that his Northfield Conferences were virtually dominated by dispensationalists, particularly from 1880 through 1887 and again from 1894-1902.94

William E. Blackstone (1841-1935)

Another of John Nelson Darby's disciples was William E. Blackstone, an influential evangelist, financier and benefactor95. In 1887 he wrote a book, Jesus is Coming which by 1916 had already been translated into 25 languages,96 eventually selling over 1 million copies in 48 languages including Hebrew. In 1908 a presentation edition was sent to several hundred thousand ministers and Christian workers97 and apparently the book is still in print. According to W. M. Smith, this best-seller was,

Probably the most wide-read book in this century on our Lord's return... More Christian leaders had their interest in the second advent awakened by this book than any other volume that had been published for decades.98

Blackstone also helped to found the Chicago Hebrew Mission, which later became the American Messianic Fellowship. In 1890, he headed the first conference between Jews and Christians in Chicago. The following year in March 1891 he lobbied the US President Benjamin Harrison and his Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, with a petition signed by 413 Jewish and Christian leaders including John & William Rockefeller, calling for an international conference on the Jews and Palestine. The petition offered this solution,

Why not give Palestine back to them [the Jews] again? According to God's distribution of nations it is their home, an inalienable possession from which they were expelled by force. Under their cultivation it was a remarkably fruitful land, sustaining millions of Israelites, who industriously tilled its hillsides and valleys. They were agriculturalists and producers as well as a nation of great commercial importance - the centre of civilization and religion. Why shall not the powers which under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Servia to the Servians now give Palestine back to the Jews?99

Although President Harrison did not act upon the petition, the event was commemorated in Israel in 1965 with a memorial and a forest dedicated in Blackstone's name.100

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