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Edward Irving: Preacher, Prophet and Charismatic Theologian


6 Drummond, 59. Drummond argues that Irving was not grounded in systematic theology, because he was a part-time student. He notes, “No doubt a regular Divinity course would have given him a far more satisfactory grounding in systematic theology than was possible for a ‘partial student’, reading theology in his spare time.” (Drummond, 59.) That has been disputed by historian David Dorries who argues that Irving’s Christology is grounded in historical and biblical orthodoxy. See David Dorries, “19th Century British Christological Controversy, Centering upon Edward Irving’s Doctrine of Christ’s Human Nature,” Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, 1988.

7 Drummond, 59.

8 Ibid, 59-60.

9 Ibid, 61.

10 See Drummond, 102 ff. Irving was actually approached in March 1822 about supporting the project, but declined because he was still working as Dr. Chalmers’ assistant. Irving felt that he could not take time away from his work in Glasgow to promote the project. However, in May 1823, when Irving was leading the growing Caledonian congregation, He gave his full support to the project.

11 C. Gordon Strachan, The Pentecostal Theology of Edward Irving, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988), 26. Originally published in 1973 by Darton, Longman & Todd (London).

12 Edward Irving, Sermons, Lectures and Occasional Discourses: The Doctrine of the Incarnation Opened in Six Sermons (Preface), 1828. As quoted by Strachan, 30.

13 Carlyle, The Collected Writings of Edward Irving, Vol. 5, 170. As quoted by Colin Gunton, “Two dogmas revisited: Edward Irving’s Christology,” Scottish Journal of Theology Vol. 41, No. 3, 363.

14 The theological issue has not been settled. It still remains somewhat controversial. David Dorries defended both Irving and the issue of the “fallen flesh” of Christ sinful nature in his 1988 dissertation. See also Graham McFarlane, Christ and the Spirit—The Doctrine of the Incarnation according to Edward Irving, Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1996. The key biblical texts in defense of Irving’s Christology are Romans 5:14-18; Romans 8:3, cf. Romans 1:3; Philippians 2:6-8; and I Timothy 3:1. In the scholastic world the doctrine has been disputed by F.F. Bruce & C.H. Dodd, but has been defended by Karl Barth, C.K. Barrett, C.E.B. Cranfield, James Dunn, & Colin Gunton. Cranfield noted, “…the Son of God truly assumed fallen human nature, He never became fallen human nature and nothing more,…but always remained Himself.” C.E.B. Cranfield, Romans: A Shorter Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 177.

15 Strachan, 28-29.

16 Ibid., 55.

17 Edward Irving, “The Sealing Virtue of Baptism,” The Collected Writings of Edward Irving Vol. 2, G. Carlyle ed., (London: Alexander Strahan, 1865). As quoted by Strachan, 56. In his footnote, Strachan quotes Paul Ewing Davies, An Examination of the Views of Edward Irving concerning the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, 1928, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, New College, Edinburgh. Concerning the power of the Spirit in Irving’s pneumatology, Davis writes, “There is no gulf, he (Irving) declared, between the times of Christ and the Apostles and our days. The same Spirit worked in Christ as works in us, and the evidences must be the same.” (Davis, 206. As quoted by Strachan, 214. )

18 David Dorries, “Chronology of a Revival (1826 to the Present): First Phase (1826-33) – West of Scotland,” (unpublished paper, 1996), 1.

19 David Dorries, “Edward Irving and the ‘Standing Sign’ of Spirit Baptism,” in Initial Evidence, Gary McGee ed., (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 42.

20 Dorries, “Chronology of a Revival,” 1.

21 Drummond quotes Thomas Erskine who later wrote that although the MacDonalds were considered Irvingites, there is no record that they read any of Irving’s sermons, tracts or books. Erskine argues that the subject of spiritual gifts did not enter into their thinking before the manifestations of tongues and healing took place. They were simply praying for an outpouring of the Spirit. See Drummond, 139-140. There is room for speculation that Irving had some influence on the MacDonalds, however, because both Strachan and Dorries have noted that Irving’s teaching had become well known following his preaching tours in the Port Glasgow area.

22 Ibid., 140.

23 Ibid., 140.

24 As documented by A. Robertson of Greenock in A Vindication of the Religion of the Land. As quoted by Drummond, 141.

25 Dorries, “Standing Sign” in Initial Evidence, 42.

26 Strachan, 43-44.

27 Dorries, “Standing Sign,” 43.

28 Strachan, 109.

29 Ibid., 110.

30 Mrs. Oliphant, The Life of Edward Irving, 1862 ed., 324-325. As quoted by Strachan, 111-112.

31 Dorries, “Standing Sign,” 45.

32 1 Corinthians 12:28 NIV “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”

33 Edward Irving, “The Church, with her Endowment of Holiness and Power,” Collected Writings, Vol. 5, 464.

34 As quoted by Drummond, 215. The Morning Watch was a quarterly theological journal produced by Henry Drummond and others to discuss prophecy and the gifts of the Spirit. It was published from 1829 to 1833 and featured articles by Edward Irving.

35 As quoted by Drummond, 219.

36 Ibid, 223.

37 Ibid. 227

38 Dorries, “Standing Sign,” 46.

39 Ibid, 49.

40 Ibid.

41 Larry Christenson, “Pentecostalism’s Forgotten Forerunner,” Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, Vinson Synan, ed., (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1975), 25.

42 I am stretching the definition of Pentecostalism to include the holiness movement. The line of demarcation between the Holiness Movement and Pentecostalism is blurry, which gives me the liberty to stretch Pentecostalism’s definition.

43 Leaves of Healing, Vol. XV, 433. As quoted by Paul Chappel, The Divine Healing Movement in America, (Ph.D. dissertation. Drew University, 1983), 187-188.

44 A. J. Gordon, “The Ministry of Healing,” Healing: The Three Great Classics on Divine Healing, (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, 1992), 185.

45 Ibid. 187.

46 Charles Parham, Kol Kare Bomidbar: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, (Joplin, Missouri: Joplin Printing Co., 1902), 27.


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Category: Church History, Spring 2002

About the Author: Derek Vreeland, MDiv (Oral Roberts University), DMin (Asbury Theological Seminary), is the Discipleship Pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the author of Shape Shifters: How God Changes the Human Heart: A Trinitarian Vision of Spiritual Transformation (Word & Spirit Press, 2008), Primal Credo: Your Entrance into the Apostles' Creed (Doctrina Press, 2011), and Through the Eyes of N.T. Wright: A Reader's Guide to Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Doctrina Press, 2015). Twitter: @DerekVreeland

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