Rev. Clarence Larkin
Dan R. Smedra
Larkin (1850-1924) is best known for his copious
dispensational diagrams and charts on a host of biblical and theological
subjects. His The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World
sits on bookshelves far and wide. Much truth is contained therein.
In the quote below, the "some books that fell into his hands" were books written
by the original Plymouth Brethren.
Mr. Larkin's dispensational theology was expressed through
both his writings and charts and can best be described as Pauline.
For example, he held to the distinction between: The Two Adams (Chart
#145), The Two Natures (Chart #124), Old Nature vs. New Nature
(Chart #160), Standing [position] & State [condition]
(Chart #147), The Church vs. The Kingdom (Chart #44), many charts
displaying Premillennalism, The Rapture, the Mystery Nature of the Church, as
well as in his teaching and chart on The Covenants (Chart #53), he linked
the fulfillment of Israel's New Covenant strictly to the Millennial Kingdom and
the New Heavens and New Earth (Perfect Dispensation).
This Covenant [New] has not yet been made. It is to
be made with Israel after they get back to their own land. It is
promised in Jer.31:31-37. It is unconditional, and will cover the
Millennium and the New Heaven and New Earth. It is based on the
finished work of Christ. Matt. 26:28. It has
do with the Church..." GBDTW, page 151. [Underline
Unfortunately, like C. I. Scofield (a contemporary), he
postulated seven separate dispensations--the current being "Dispensation of
Grace," "Church Dispensation," "Ecclesiastical Dispensation," "Parenthetical
Dispensation," etc. As such, the Body of Christ's heavenly position of
privilege generally went unrecognized and Christ's Body was brought down from
heaven to earth.
The following "short biographical sketch" is from the
Rev. Clarence Larkin
American Baptist pastor, Bible teacher, and
writer, Clarence Larkin was born October 28, 1850, in Chester,
Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He was converted to Christ at the
age of 19 and then felt called to the Gospel ministry, but the
doors of opportunity for study and ministry did not open
immediately. He then got a job in a bank.
When he was 21 years old, he left the bank and went to
college, graduating as a mechanical engineer. He continued as a
professional draftsman for a while, then he became a teacher of
the blind. This last endeavor cultivated his descriptive
faculties -- something God would later use in him to produce a
monumental work on dispensational theology. Later, failing
health compelled him to give up his teaching career. After a
prolonged rest, he became a manufacturer.
But he was not happy. He felt that God wanted him in the
Gospel ministry. When he was converted he had become a member of
the Episcopal Church, but in 1882, at the age of 32, he became a
Baptist and was ordained as a Baptist minister two years later.
He went directly from business into the ministry.
His first charge was at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; his
second pastorate was at Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, where he
remained for 20 years. He was not a premillennialist at the time
of his ordination, but his study of the Scriptures, with the
help of some books that fell into his hands, led him to adopt
the premillennialist position. He began to make large wall
charts, which he titled, "Prophetic Truth," for use in the
pulpit. These led to his being invited to teach, in connection
with his pastoral work, in two Bible institutes. During this
time he published a number of prophetical charts, which were
When World War I broke out in 1914, he was called on for
addresses on The War and Prophecy. Then God laid it on his heart
to prepare a work on Dispensational Truth (or God's Plan and
Purpose in the Ages), containing a number of charts with
descriptive matter. He spent three years of his life designing
and drawing the charts and preparing the text. The favorable
reception it has had since it was first published in 1918 seems
to indicate that the world was waiting for such a book.
Because it had a large and wide circulation in this and other
lands, the first edition was soon exhausted. It was followed by
a second edition, and then, realizing that the book was of
permanent value, Larkin revised it and expanded it, printing it
in its present form. Larkin followed this masterpiece with other
books: Rightly Dividing the Word, The Book of Daniel, Spirit
World, Second Coming of Christ, and A Medicine Chest for
Christian Practitioners, a handbook on evangelism.
Larkin, a kind and gentle man, deplored the tendency of
writers to say uncharitable things about each other, so he
earnestly sought to avoid criticisms and to satisfy himself with
simply presenting his understanding of the Scriptures. Though he
did not intend to publish his own works, the Lord led in that
direction. During the last five years of his life, the demand
for Larkin's books made it necessary for him to give up the
pastorate and devote his full time to writing. He went to be
with the Lord on January 24, 1924.
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