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review 2020-07-22 17:01
S.N. Haskell: Adventist Pioneer, Evangelist, and Editor
S.N. Haskell: Adventist Pioneer, Evangelist, Missionary, and Editor - Gerald Wheeler

A scion of New England culture who join a new faith born from the same location, his influence upon the Seventh-day Adventist church has been profoundly positive though in his zeal to defend it has had some negative consequences.  S.N. Haskell: Adventist Pioneer, Evangelist, Missionary, and Editor is Gerald Wheeler’s second book of the Adventist Pioneer series as he follows the life of Ellen White’s most ardent defender and the impact he had on the church as well as how the times he grew up and lived in influenced him.

 

Wheeler begins his biography of Haskell by how he married his first wife Mary who was over two decades older than he was before describing the upbringing in the small New England town that made Haskell agree to this marriage even though he was about to become a preacher.  After beginning preaching, Haskell interacted with Seventh-day Adventists and investigated the Sabbath then began keeping it though it was a visit by Joseph Bates that truly converted he and his wife.  Once an Adventist, Haskell through himself into everything he could within the denomination from preacher to eventually administration—serving as president of three conferences at the same time across the country at one point—as well as writing articles from various publications.  Though at first opposed to the Whites, because of his own dictatorial attitude but once confronted by Ellen through of her testimonies to him that opposition changed to become Ellen’s greatest defender.  Wheeler relates Haskell’s career and its impact his first marriage in which his wife stayed at home and how things changed during his second marriage to Hetty who traveled with him around the world.  Wheeler also goes into Haskell’s writing, marketing, organizational, and missionary endeavors throughout the book in which like many Adventist pioneers they were jacks-of-all-trades for the denomination.  Throughout the last third of the book, Wheeler relates Haskell’s defending of Ellen White’s ministry in various ways but most particularly with the “daily” controversy and W.W. Prescott whom he did not trust, but his arguments in defense of White’s ministry injected elements of Fundamentalism into the denomination that would causes issues within the denomination at the end of this life and long afterwards.

 

Throughout the book Wheeler emphasizes the cultural background of various regions of the United States as well as the historical events happening in the nation and other nations that Haskell did missionary service in that influenced his time there.  In the chapter end notes Wheeler would list numerous books that would further inform the reader about the cultural and historical trends that not only influenced Haskell but the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole.  While Wheeler does discuss Haskell’s distrust of W.W. Prescott and his role in the “daily” controversy as well as the implications of his arguments in opposing Prescott because he believed Prescott was undermining Ellen White, but Wheeler seemed to avoid Haskell’s character assassination of Prescott to Ellen White as written seen in Gilbert M. Valentine’s biography of Prescott.

 

S.N. Haskell: Adventist Pioneer, Evangelist, Missionary, and Editor not only follows a pioneer of the Adventist denomination but also the times he lived in and the social trends before and during his life that affected him and the denomination.  Gerald Wheeler’s scholarship and writing style makes this another great biography in the Adventist Pioneer series that anyone interested in the history of the denomination would want to read.

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review 2020-03-11 23:08
A.G. Daniells: Shaper of Twentieth Century Adventism
A. G. Daniells: Shaper of Twentieth-Century Adventism - Benjamin McArthur

The man tasked with heading the implementation of a new administrative structure of a growing world-wide church and later to lead that church after the death of its prophet.  A.G. Daniells: Shaper of Twentieth Century Adventism by Benjamin McArthur follows the life of the longest-serving General Conference President in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church which simultaneously corresponded with a rapidly changing world and church in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

 

McArthur efficiently covers Daniells early life in Iowa and his humble beginning in service of the denomination as a minister in the Iowa Conference and a missionary in Texas before being called to be a missionary in New Zealand.  Then beginning with Daniells time in New Zealand and then Australia, McArthur details not only how Daniells time in the Southern Hemisphere made him a strong supporter of world missions but also brought forth his administrative skill as this faraway branch of the growing worldwide church innovated in bureaucracy to compensate for the distance away from world headquarters in the United States.  Daniells return to the United States was the precursor to his election at the 1901 General Conference session to be President and the much-needed administrative overhaul of the church using the model Daniells had helped shape while overseas.  McArthur’s attention to detail examples how this overhaul not only shaped the overall church, but Daniells presidency which was early dominated with the controversy with John Harvey Kellogg and the medical establishment of the church then the resulting fallout and need to reestablish the medical wing of the denomination.  Among the biggest struggles McArthur’s book brought out was the budgetary reform to get the denomination out of debt, which played into the controversy with Kellogg, when building new institutions.  But one thing was always in the forefront of McArthur’s analysis of Daniells’ presidency—and before—his relationship to Ellen G. White, whose opinion mattered not only to church officials but regular church members.  And it would be his relationship with White and her prophetic gift that would end his presidency due to the rise of fundamentalism that crept into denomination and Daniells perceived lack of belief in her gift.  McArthur closes out Daniells life with how he became an advisor to his two successors as well as his authorship of two important Adventist books including defending White’s prophetic gift.

 

Given the significance of Daniells time as General Conference president, McArthur focused the bulk of his biography on the 21 years he served in that office with extensive scholarship as seen in the citations at the end of each chapter.  Though covering many topics over Daniells life, McArthur’s prose was engaging and allowing the reader to understand the interconnectedness of numerous issues Daniells had to deal without overwhelming them.  One of the interesting things McArthur did early in the book to give context to Daniells and his time was comparing him important non-denominational figures who had a similar impact in their professions as he did with the General Conference, one of which was Theodore Roosevelt.  But the most important facet of the biography was Daniells’ relationship with Ellen White and the gift of prophecy which McArthur’s scholarship is shown at its best.

 

A.G. Daniells: Shaper of Twentieth Century Adventism is not only the biography of one man but shows how the Seventh-day Adventist church’s administrative structure was reset to accomplish its mission to the world.  Benjamin McArthur’s excellent scholarship and engaging writing gives the reader an insight into how significant this time in the church’s history is important for today and how one individual was able to use his skills to help move the denomination forward.

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review 2019-12-31 00:17
Western Civilization since 1500
Western Civilization Since 1500 - Walther Kirchner

Covering over 450 years of history in a little over 300 pages seems a daunting task, even more so when it begins in Europe and slowly spreads across the globe.  Western Civilization since 1500 by Walther Kirchner is a survey of the rise of European global dominance from the beginnings of “modern times” to the generation after World War II when the periphery powers of the United States and Soviet Union rose to dominance.

 

Kirchner spends the first 20 pages doing a quick recap of Western Civilization from its Sumerian beginnings to 1500.  Then over the course of the next 300 pages, Kirchner divides the approximately 450+ years of history into 20 chapters of specific “eras” whether political and/or cultural developments and happenings.  Unlike Kirchner’s previous survey, there was no real “highlight” for the general reader though the significance of some cultural individuals—writers, painters, composers, etc.—that in my own Western Civ and World History classes in high school and college were never mentioned or those that were mentioned that Kirchner didn’t thus showing the difference 30-35 years makes in historical studies.  Kirchner obvious adherence to the Marxist theory of history was on full display, but it did not necessarily mean a favorable view of Communist regimes or leaders.  As study aid for college students in the mid-1960s there were some interesting miscues (the misdating of the Battle of Yorktown stands out), omissions (the genocidal famine caused by the First Five Year Plan), and downright lies (that the U.S. citizens were sympathetic to the British from the beginning of WWII).  Given that this book is over 50 years old there is dated terminology that wouldn’t be used today, not all for politically correct reasons, that would make the reader do a double take if they didn’t know when this book was published.

 

Though this small volume is meant as a study aid to college students and a quick reference for general readers, to which is essentially succeeds, it is pretty old and should be used by astute history readers to learn how the study of history has changed over time.

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review 2019-12-13 00:54
Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator
Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator - Gary Land Ph.D.

The man who came to personify the Review and Herald over 50 years of working on it going from one of the young pioneers to elder statesmen of the Second Advent movement.  Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator by Gary Land chronicles the life of this indispensable yet very opinionated man who was influential with Adventist readers around the United States.

 

Land quickly covers Smith’s early life in New Hampshire including the two biggest events of that time, the loss of his leg at age 12 and his conversion to Millerism.  This latter event eventually led to Smith’s joining the then small Sabbath-keeping Adventists led by Joseph Bates and the Whites, the latter Smith would impress when he submitted a 3,000-line blank verse poem about the foundation, rise, and progress of the Adventist movement leading to James White offering Smith a position at the Review and Herald.  Smith did everything for the magazine from typesetting to editorials during his early years before James White took a backseat, letting the younger Smith take the lead.  Throughout his tenure Smith would constantly cover Adventist doctrines and how present-day events had prophetic implications especially when it came to other Christians attempting to get through Sunday legislation on various levels of government.  Yet Smith flirted with controversy throughout his time at the magazine and in denominational work from Battle Creek College to the 1888 Minneapolis meeting to confrontations with the General Conference leadership and getting admonished by Ellen White.

 

With a text of almost 250 pages, Land is quick and concise in his writing but not in his research as seen in his chapter endnotes.  While the reader does get a very informative look at Smith’s life, there seems to be a rushed feeling with the biography.  Unfortunately, this seems to be a consequence of Land working between cancer treatments to complete this and two other historical works that he finished just before his death.

 

Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator is the first biography of its kind in over 35 years through with a different perspective than previous books.  Gary Land’s informative and concise wording gives the reader a better look at the man whose name is known in Adventist circles but his life is not.

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review 2019-10-27 23:00
J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers
J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers - Brian Eugene Strayer

An Advent preacher when he joined the embryonic Seventh-day Adventist movement in 1852, John Norton Loughborough would spend the next 72 years as a preacher and administrator before being the last of the pioneers to pass leaving lasting legacy to the denomination only behind Joseph Bates and the Whites.  Brian E. Strayer’s J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers is the first major biography of influential preacher, missionary, and Church historian that was a little man who cast a long shadow.

 

Strayer begins with an impressive family history that gives background not only to Loughborough but how he was raised, including the influence his grandfather had on his spiritual life, and how in his youth he was influenced by the Millerite message.  Loughborough’s resulting spiritual wandering in the years after the Disappointment before deciding to become a “boy preacher” at age 17 among the Advent Christians then his introduction to Seventh-day movement and later conversion to Sabbath were give significant time as well.  Yet 85% of the book took up Loughborough’s 72 years among the Seventh-day Adventist movement covering his time as a preacher, president of numerous conferences, missionary to fields both domestic and foreign, and finally Church historian who was the last link to the “early days” for 3rd- and 4th-generation Adventists in the late 1910s and 1920s.  Throughout Loughborough’s relationships with other important and influential denominational leaders was examined including Ellen White whose admonishments were welcomed by Loughborough in contrast to other Adventist leaders some of whom would later leave and attack not only the denomination and White.  Strayer covered in detail Loughborough’s fight against apostacy and his role as the first Church “historian” as well has the lasting influence he had in both areas among Adventists.

 

Given the place in denominational history that Loughborough, Strayer used a wide range of sources to give a thorough look at his subject including what surviving letters he could find (Loughborough burned his own) and Loughborough’s own diaries (that was saved by a nurse instead of destroyed upon his death).  Unlike the only other biography of Loughborough that followed the subject’s own apologetic look at Adventist history, Strayer brought a critical eye to his subject including Loughborough’s Church history books that influenced Adventist historiography for half a century.

 

  1. J. N. Loughborough is a well-written, well-researched look at the last pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Brian Strayer showed the large footprint and long shadow this “little man” had had until this very day. This is a highly recommended biography for anyone interested in Adventist history.
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