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Edward Irving’s Incarnational Christology, Part 1

[10] Gordon, “Edward Irving 1792-1834”, in Wright, Fathers of the Kirk, 142-155

[11] Irving’s theology was later accused of being inadequate simply due to his part time study of divinity. For a defence to this, see Gordon, “Edward Irving 1792-1834”, in Wright, Fathers of the Kirk, 143

[12] T.C. Gordon remarks: “By 1823 the experts of eloquence in the House of Commons and the House of Lords were envious, and George Canning publically declared in Westminster that in Irving he had found the most eloquent preacher he had ever listened to.” See Gordon, “Edward Irving 1792-1834”, in Wright, Fathers of the Kirk, 145-6

[13] This church building later had to be demolished after it suffered severe damage from German bombs in World War II.

[14] Iain Murray notes the similarities of Darby’s eschatology with that of Irving’s. See I. Murray, The Puritan Hope, London: Banner of Truth, 1971: 197-202

[15] 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

[16] See B.B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 (1st Published in 1918): 125-54

[17] Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones expresses his concern over Irving as he warns his readers to test the evidence of what came from Irving’s ministry as being grounds for accepting his theology. See M. Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable: The Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1984: 189; (Further, more in-depth critique can be seen in M. Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith, 72-3; M. Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Gifts (iii), sermon on Romans 12:6 (Tape 3314) – cited in T. Sargent, The Sacred Anointing: Preaching and the Spirit’s Anointing in the Life and Thought of Martyn Lloyd Jones, London: Paternoster, 2007: note. 219)

[18] A. Haldane, The Lives of Robert Haldane of Airthrey, and his brother, James Alexander Haldane, (3rd Edition) London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., Paternoster-Row, and Edinburgh: W. Whyte & Co., 1853:567 [Italics mine]

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., 565-70

[21] M.O.W. Oliphant, The Life of Edward Irving Vol. 2, London: Hurst & Blackett Publishers, 1862:3

[22] C.G. Strachan, The Pentecostal Theology of Edward Irving, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1973:25

[23] E. Irving, Sermons, lectures, and occasional discourses, in three volumes, London: R.B. Seeley & W. Burnside, 1828

[24] E. Irving, Sermons, lectures, and occasional discourses: Vol. 1. The Doctrine of the Incarnation Opened in Six Sermons, London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1828: iii

[25] Irving had used this term in a sermon delivered to a new society for the distribution of Gospel Tracts on 10th of July 1827. Although the exact date of this event is contested, see D.W. Dorries, Edward Irving’s Incarnational Christology, Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press, 2002:30

[26] Jones, Biographical Sketch of the Rev. Edward Irving, 228-9

[27] H. Cole, A Letter to the Rev. Edward Irving, in Refutation of the Awful Doctrines of the Sinfulness, Mortality, and Corruptibility of the Body of Jesus Christ, London: J. Eedes, 1827

Irving later writes his own account of his meeting with Cole: “…I gave the stranger an invitation to come to me at leisure on the Thursday following for the further satisfying of his conscience. He did not think it worth his while to do this, and could reconcile his conscience to the betrayal of pastoral and ministerial confidence, and to the publication of a conversation without ever asking me whether it was correctly reported or not.” E. Irving, Christ’s Holiness in Flesh: The Form, Fountain Head and Assurance to Us of Holiness in Flesh, Edinburgh: John Lindsay & Co., 1831: v-vi

[28] Irving’s records his astonishment in E. Irving, Christ’s Holiness in Flesh, vi

[29] Irving temporarily withheld the publication of his sermons on the Incarnation while he added two additional sermons of a polemical nature to the original four, in response to Cole’s accusations. Further works by Irving can be found: E. Irving, The Orthodox and Catholic Doctrine of Our Lord’s Human Nature, London: Baldwin & Cradock, 1830 (This was compiled from earlier writings that Irving had submitted to ‘The Morning Watch’ newspaper for publication.); E. Irving, Opinions Circulating Concerning Our Lord’s Human Nature, Tried by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Edinburgh: John Lindsay, 1830; E. Irving, Christ’s Holiness in Flesh: The Form, Fountain Head, and Assurance to us of Holiness in Flesh, Edinburgh: John Lindsay, 1831

[30] Dorries, Edward Irving’s Incarnational Christology, 40

[31] Irving, Christ’s Holiness in Flesh, xvi-xli

[32] The doctrinal errors in Irving’s views were identified by the London Presbytery to be the proclamation of original sin in Christ and subsequent sinfulness of his person, leading to a denial of the doctrines of satisfaction, substitution and imputation regarding the atonement. Cf. London Presbytery, A Brief Statement of the Proceedings of The London Presbytery, in Communion with the Established Church of Scotland, in the Case of the Rev. Edward Irving, London: Basil Steuart, 1831:15, 23-5, 26-7, 28-9, 30-1

[33] The Kirk Session of Irving’s church refuted these accusations, declaring that Irving indeed upheld the teachings that Christ was free from original and actual sin, was holy and spotless with regard to sin and therefore satisfied God’s requirement of divine justice as he offered himself as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind. Cf. Ibid., 16-17

[34] The Trial of the Rev. Edward Irving, M.A. Before the London Presbytery, London: W. Harding, 1832: 3, 88

[35] Trial of the Rev. Edward Irving, M.A., London: E. Brain, 1833: 4, 96

[36] J. Hair, Regent Square, Eighty Years of a London Congregation, London: J. Nisbet, 1899:124

[37] W. Wilks, Edward Irving: An Ecclesiastical and Literary Biography, London: W. Freeman, 1854; E.J. Miller, The History and Doctrines of Irvingism: or of the so-called Catholic and Apostolic Church [in two volumes], London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878; P.E. Shaw, The Catholic Apostolic Church sometimes called Irvinite: A Historical Study, New York: King’s Crown, 1946; R.A. Davenport, Albury Apostles, the story of the body known as the Catholic Apostolic Church (sometimes called ‘The Irvingites), London: Free Society, 1973; C.G. Flegg, Gathered Under Apostles: A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992

[38] Known today as Tuberculosis

[39] The Church of Scotland has since recanted on their position and honoured Irving by setting his bodily remains to rest in Glasgow Cathedral. Also, a portrait of him is displayed in the current Church of Scotland building in London.

[40] A.B. Bruce, The Humiliation of Christ: in its physical, ethical and official aspects, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1889: 236-83 (especially 250-6)

[41] K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 1:2, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956: 153

[42] See T.F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983; J.B. Torrance, “The Vicarious Humanity of Christ”, in T.F. Torrance (ed.), The Incarnation, Edinburgh: Hansel Press, 1981; W. Pannenberg, Jesus: God and Man, London: SCM Press, 1968:354-64. For a summary of other influential proponents, see: H. Johnson, The Humanity of the Saviour, London: Epworth Press, 1962:167-78

[43] C.G. Strachan, The Pentecostal Theology of Edward Irving, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1973.

[44] Ibid., 21-2

[45] Ibid., 22

[46] Ibid., 23-52

[47] D. Allen, “Regent Square Revisited: Edward Irving, Precursor of the Pentecostal Movement”, in Journal of European Pentecostal Theological Association (1997) 17:47-58

[48] G.W.P. McFarlane, Christ and Spirit: The Doctrine of the Incarnation according to Edward Irving, Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster Press, 1996

[49] C. Gunton, “Two Dogmas Revisited: Edward Irving’s Christology” in Scottish Journal of Theology (1988) 41.3:365

[50] T.G. Weinandy, In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh: An Essay on the Humanity of Christ, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993

[51] Dorries, Edward Irving’s Incarnational Christology, 2002. Earlier published as D.W. Dorries, Nineteenth Century British Christological Controversy, Centring Upon Edward Irving’s Doctrine of Christ’s Human Nature, Ph.D. thesis, University of Aberdeen, 1987

[52] P.E. Davies, An Examination of the Views of Edward Irving Concerning the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1928

[53] D.M. Baillie, God was in Christ: An Essay on Incarnation and Atonement, London: Faber & Faber Limited, 1948:16 (Italics mine)

[54] D. Allen, “A Belated Bouquet: A Tribute to Edward Irving (1792-1834)” in Expository Times (1992), 103.11:328-31

[55] H.R. Mackintosh, The Doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ, (2nd Ed), Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1913:278

[56] See: D. Allen, “Regent Square Revisited: Edward Irving, Precursor of the Pentecostal Movement”, in Journal of European Pentecostal Theological Association (1997) 17:47-58; D. Vreeland, “Edward Irving: Preacher, Prophet & Charismatic Theologian”, in Pneuma Review (2002) 5.2:55-73

[57] A. Dallimore, The Life of Edward Irving: A Fore-Runner of the Charismatic Movement, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1983

[58] D. MacLeod, “The Doctrine of the Incarnation in Scottish Theology: Edward Irving” in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology (1991) 9:40-50; D. MacLeod, The Person of Christ, Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1998:221-230; D. MacLeod, From Glory to Golgotha: Controversial Issues in the Life of Christ, Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2002.

[59] This suggests that, for MacLeod at least, the strength of argument against Irving is determined and settled by Irving’s peers. This line of objection will be examined in more detail in the following section.

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Category: In Depth, Summer 2018

About the Author: Trevor W. Martindale has been involved in supporting church-planting ministries in South Africa, where he grew up, and in England and in Scotland, where he now lives. Currently, he is a graduate student at the University of Aberdeen.

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