Category Archives: Books

Dispensation of the Mystery

Charles F. BakerIf Charles F. Baker represented an extreme form of dispensational theology, his credentials were impeccable. Born of English immigrant parents in Dallas, Texas, in 1905, he attended Scofield Memorial Church, founded by C.I. Scofield, editor of the Scofield Reference Bible. Baker’s pastor was Lewis Sperry Chafer, who also founded the Evangelical Theological College, which later became Dallas Theological Seminary. Here Baker attended, a highly motivated student, again sitting under Chafer’s ministry. Graduating, Baker entered Wheaton College, accompanied by a letter from DTS registrar Rollin Chafer to Wheaton College registrar Enoch Dyrness. It stated: “Charlie is one of the best students we have ever had in the college and it gives me great pleasure to commend him to your faculty. Not only has his class work been of the highest grade, but he is one of the most spiritual men we have in the institution.” After successful studies at Wheaton Baker moved in 1932 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he ministered for 23 years as pastor of Fundamental Bible Church. He also assisted J.C. O’Hair, pastor of North Shore Church on Wilson Street, Chicago, as chief engineer for broadcasting at station WPCC (We Preach Christ Crucified). In 1939 Baker founded Milwaukee Bible College; and in 1961 moved the school to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it was called Grace Bible College. Retiring in 1967 he was named President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Theology. In 1971 Baker published his 688-page masterwork, A Dispensational Theology. In its preface he wrote: “Very few attempts have been made to produce a work on Theology which is dispensationally oriented. A survey of some two dozen standard works on the subject revealed the fact that more than half of them make no reference whatsoever to the subject of the dispensations. Most of those that do make mention of the Scriptural expression devote only the briefest reference to the subject, and their treatment of it is mainly from the viewpoint of Covenant Theology, which fails completely to recognize the distinctive character of the present dispensation, called by Paul the dispensation of the mystery, a plan and program of God which was kept secret from all former ages and generations (Colossians 1:26). Only one major work on Theology was found which recognized the dispensational principle in the interpretation of Scripture.” After his wife, Teresa, died in 1982, Baker moved to Escondido, California, and was married to a long-time friend, Ruth Lohman Smith, in 1985. Baker’s other books include Understanding the Book of Acts, Dispensational Relationships, and Understanding the Gospels. In addition, he was instrumental in the formation of Grace Gospel Fellowship, Grace Mission and Grace Publications as well as editing two periodicals, the Biblegram and Truth Magazine. He died in 1994.

Normative, mainstream dispensationalism, as espoused by Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute or Philadelphia Biblical University, might agree with aspects of Baker’s research, but it would vehemently object to many of his assertions. For instance, Baker believed that since Paul does not seemingly mention baptism by immersion after Acts 13, it is not valid for the current dispensation, though the Lord’s Supper should continue to be observed. Others, such as E.W. Bullinger and Oscar Baker, held that both baptism and the Lord’s Supper fall outside of the current, post-Acts dispensation, and are not valid church ordinances. Dr. H.A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church, trustee of Wheaton College and part-time DTS faculty, utters hard words against ultradispensational doctrine in his 1938 apologetic, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: Ultradispensationalism Examined in the Light of Holy Scripture: “I send forth this edition praying that the Lord will use it to deliver many more from the unscriptural and positively harmful teachings of the ultra-dispensationalists who, under the guise of setting forth high truth, are deliberately attempting to rob Christians of the greater part of their Bible.” Despite the controversy attached to his theological stance, Baker was known as a gracious, kindhearted man.

Other prominent ultradispensationalists were Harry Bultema, pastor of Berean Bible Church, and Cornelius Stam, president of the Berean Bible Society and brother of missionary martyr John Stam.

Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

Over fifteen years ago, noted historian, former Wheaton College professor, and current Francis McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, Mark A. Noll published his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” In the intervening years, numerous responses, symposiums, conferences, and even his own reflections have resulted from this work. Some of his earlier thoughts about this topic were recorded when Dr. Noll was installed as the Carolyn and Fred McManis Chair of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. His inaugural lecture also entitled “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” was given in Barrows Auditorium on February 9, 1993..

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Angel Fall

It was the stillness. That’s what they remembered most about the beginning. A stillness that hung like ancient mold in the trees. But who could forget anything about Wind Sunday? The sharp acrylic memories painted themselves on their hearts and refused to dry. And ever after, touching the canvas brought tears…

An airliner crashes into the ocean and only three young people survive. For the Lancaster siblings, the strangest storm in history becomes a portal to an ancient world ruled by seven evil creatures of immense power. As the children descend into the terror and temptation of Boreth, every choice takes them closer to endless night. With dark, glistening strands from Lewis, Lovecraft, and Tolkien, the cloth of Angel Fall has been woven. But the journey it weaves is not just for Alex, Amanda, and Tori…it is for all those who cannot find their way home.


Hollywood screenwriter, executive producer, and Special Collections author, Coleman Luck recently finished the above novel after twenty-five years of labor. Preliminary drafts of his work entitled Wind Sunday are available in the Coleman Luck Papers. “Early in his Hollywood career, Coleman began writing a novel to entertain himself and his family. Over the years whenever he had a few months free he would take it out and work on it. Sadly there were many busy years in which he wasn’t able to work on it at all. Consequently his children grew up with a half-finished story stuck in their memories. The new century arrived and some close friends came to visit. Coleman read the unfinished manuscript to them and their children. The children encouraged him to finish writing it promising that if he didn’t they would grow up, come back and kill him. With his own children and a new set of children goading him on, the novel was finished and became Angel Fall.” *

* Excerpted from Coleman Luck’s biography.

Change of Heart

Doris Menzies“Although I am an older person,” begins Doris Dresselhaus Menzies in her memoir, Young At Heart (2007), “I have a much younger heart.” She explains her cryptic remark as the story unfolds.

Born in Decorah, Iowa, in 1932, Doris lived peacefully with her family and worked hard on the farm. At age nine she fully committed to Christ at the local Assemblies of God church. She was baptized in a lake, and shortly thereafter during an evening service received her baptism in the Holy Spirit. In 1951 she enrolled at Wheaton College where she studied elementary education. Because there were no Pentecostal churches in Wheaton at that time, an Assemblies of God campus fellowship provided a venue where Doris could meet students of similar conviction, including her future husband, William Menzies. “Neither of us could imagine the adventures in faith that would be ours when we met at Wheaton College,” he reflects. Later Bill would pen Anointed to Serve (1984), the definitive history of the Assemblies of God.

After their marriage in 1955, Bill and Doris served in various midwestern churches until he was called to teach at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. From there he moved to other teaching positions at home and abroad, until he and Doris were called to be regular missionaries for the Assemblies of God. In 1989 they relocated to the Philippines, where Bill served as president of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. As he taught and lectured at the school, Doris quietly mingled with the people of Baguio City, personally leading many hungry hearts to Christ. Their lives proceeded busily until one day Doris suffered sharp chest pains, indicating severe cardiac arrest. Transferred to Salt Lake City for specialized care, it was concluded that she required a heart transplant. With that stunning report came the additional bad news that she would need to await a donor. And so for fourteen months she and Bill patiently waited in Salt Lake, until at last it was announced that a heart had been located, belonging to a young man from Oregon who requested that his organs be donated should anything happen to him. Doris MenziesTo the delight of all, the operation was a smashing success. As she writes, “There was thanksgiving and joy in my new heart.”

But Doris was not entirely free of physical affliction. In 2003 she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. After an onerous series of chemo and radiation treatments, she lost her strength, appetite and all her hair, but the disease was finally controlled. Her hair has since regrown, and she has regained the weight.

Summing up her eventful life, Doris Menzies expresses her joy: “I have appointments to see my oncology doctor, and also blood tests to send to my heart transplant doctor…I also see my internist, my neurologist, and my foot doctor on a regular basis. But my Great Physician continues to be God Almighty, my Creator and Redeemer. To Him I give all glory for each day!”

The Serialized Adventures of Roy J. Snell

Certain writers are famous for one book, such as Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird or Margaret Mitchell and Gone with the Wind. Others generate saleable wordage as easily as sneezing. For instance, Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of unbeatable lawyer Perry Mason, positioned multiple typewriters around his office and simply switched from one manuscript to another. His colleague, English crime novelist John Creasey, wrote 562 novels; and Barbara Cartland published an astonishing 723 Regency romances, aside from several non-fiction titles.

In the world of juvenile fiction, Roy J. Snell wrote somewhat less but lived as large, trekking as hazardously as Ernest Hemingway or Jack London. “Did you ever eat walrus meat?” asked advertisements for Snell’s books. “Did you ever drive a dog team, travel in a boat made of skins, or sleep in a bag?” Gosh, no! replied generations of wide-eyed boys and girls starved for vicarious thrills. But Snell did all this and more, tackling perilous frontiers – deserts, seas and tropics – with gusto and humor. Born in 1880 at Laddonia, Missouri, he moved with his family to northern Illinois where he worked his way through Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College. Graduating in 1906, he enrolled for one year at Harvard Divinity School, then matriculated to Chicago Theological seminary, leaving with his degree in 1916. He received his MA from the University of Chicago in 1917. Moving south he served first as pastor of a small church in rural Illinois, then as principal of the Black Mountain Academy in Evarts, Kentucky, living among the feuding families of the hills. As a missionary he relocated to the Behring Straits, Alaska, where heSnell book cover rode herd, directing 350 Eskimos and 1500 Wales reindeer. At one point he sailed the Arctic Ocean in a boat made of skins. Desiring to write the Great American Novel, Snell settled for adventure and mystery tales, drawing from his vast storehouse of experience. His work began rolling from the presses at breakneck speed as he often composed 2000 words per hour without an outline. He sold his first manuscript, Little White Fox and His Arctic Friends, in 1916. Many of his novels were first serialized in Boy’s Life, American Boy and The Youth’s Companion. During WW I he spent six months in France with the YMCA, serving as a mechanic. Here he met missionary Lucille Ziegler, whom he married in 1920. During their honeymoon he wrote a book. After the war Snell returned to Wheaton, residing with his family at 705 N. Wheaton Ave. For 20 years during the holidays he worked incognito at Marshall Field’s and Carson’s in Chicago, hand-selling his own titles over-the-counter to unsuspecting customers. Further bolstering book and magazine sales, he lectured annually in Detroit schools about Eskimo ways, struggling into a deerskin parka while demonstrating how to throw harpoons, or how to catch a tame monkey gone wild. “A pan of glue is substituted for water,” he explained. “Mr. Monk washes his face with glue. His eyes are stuck fast together and he is easily caught.”

By the end of his life Snell had published 82 novels, with over two million sold. “I also wrote something like a thousand Sunday School stories for the David C. Cook Pub. Co. of Elgin,” he matter-of-factly informs the Wheaton College Alumni Association in a 1959 update. Later that year he suffered chest pains and was taken to DuPage Memorial Hospital in Elmhurst. Four days later his earthly odyssey ended. “I’ve had my day,” Snell once told a reporter, “and got out of it exactly what I wanted.” He was survived by his wife and three sons.

Frank Dyrness

On March 22, 2010, Dr. Nicholas Perrin, Associate Professor of New Testament, gave his inaugural lecture as holder of the Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies entitled “The Bible from Westminster to Muenster: The Interface between Theological Confession and Free Historical Inquiry.” Dr. Perrin holds degrees from The Johns Hopkins University (B.A. 1986), Covenant Theological Seminary (M.Div. 1994), and Marquette University (Ph.D. 2001). His dissertation was “Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron.”

Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement HomeThe history of the Franklin Dyrness Chair dates back nearly a quarter-century to 1987 when the Class of ’27 alumnus and founder of the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community contributed funds toward an endowed chair of biblical studies. C. Hassell Bullock was named the first distinguished chair until his retirement in 2009 after thirty-six years as Professor of Old Testament.

Franklin Seth Dyrness was born May 16, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois to Norwegian-born parents who immigrated to the United States. He attended Wheaton College was president of the Beltionian Literary Society, junior class president and played football; he graduated in 1927. He briefly taught science at the Wheaton Academy and was married to fellow classmate, Dorothy Rasmussen in 1931. They would eventually raise five children. Dyrness also graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1931 and pastored the Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, PA through 1936. He was then installed as the first pastor of an independent Presbyterian Church in later to become Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and then as Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church. He served as pastor for twenty-six years until 1963. Under this pastorate the church helped organize the Quarryville Bible Conference Association for the purpose of organizing summer camps and conferences for all ages. Dyrness served as its president for five years, and executive director for thirty-seven years. In 1948, he and a group of associates founded the Quarryville Presbyterian Home. Franklin held the position of president from 1948 until he retired in December 1985 at eighty-one years old. His honors include election to the Wheaton College Honor Society and the conferring of the degree Doctor of Divinity by Wheaton in its centennial year of 1960. On the 60th anniversary of his graduation from Wheaton, the Home and the College contributed funds to establish the Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College.

Surrounded by his family members, Franklin S. Dyrness ’27, D.D. ’60 died June 16, 1990, at the Presbyterian Home he founded in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In a letter to the Wheaton College Alumni Association, his son F. Seth, Jr. wrote…

We gathered around his bed and sang some of his favorite hymns for him. As we sang the final verse of ‘Rock of Ages,’ he closed his eyes and went to he with the Lord, It was beautiful and deeply comforting for us as a family. The funeral was a very uplifting time of celebrating God’s abundant faithfulness. Dr. Armerding preached an excellent message challenging us to faithfulness to Christ with eternity’s values in view. We are deeply grateful to God for giving us a father who taught us to put God first in our lives. Together with Mother and Dad, we thank God for the profound impact Wheaton has had on us in nurturing our souls and challenging us to follow Christ.

The Franklin S. Dyrness Papers reside in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Historical Center Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

Raymond P. Fischer and the American Institution

Raymond P. Fischer possessed a mind both meticulous and imaginative. Born the youngest of twelve in the same house in which his grandfather, Jonathan Blanchard, died, he attended Wheaton College (1918-20) and Pomona College (1922) in California, before matriculating to Harvard law school, graduating in 1924. Undoubtedly he was quite proud of his degree, which equipped him for a fifteen-year practice with Campbell, Clithero and Fischer, located on La Salle St. in Chicago. Ending his legal career in 1941 he then served variously as executive vice-president of the Cuneo Press, president of Combined Paper Mills, director of the National Tea Company, and sat on the Chicago advisory board for the Salvation Army. Retiring from the paper and printing business, he established Associated Consultants of Wheaton, Illinois. Away from board rooms he was a licensed lay leader in the Episcopal Church, and belonged to the Chicago Golf and Union League clubs. But aside from responsible positions and high honors, Fischer was likely rather pleased with a quieter achievement, not in law or business, but now the world of letters.

While still in prep school Fischer mailed a submission to Harriet Monroe (1860-1936), the formidable founder and editor of Poetry magazine. Shortly thereafter, ever scouting for fresh talent, she generously invited him to visit her at the old offices on Erie Street, Chicago, there to discuss improvements. Monroe, pivotal in publicizing the revolutionary work of Carl Sandburg, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens and Ezra Pound, also first printed “The Love Song of J. Alfred Pufrock” by T.S. Eliot, who later called Poetry “an American Institution.” Fischer’s corrections were deemed acceptable and his first publication, “A Year,” appeared in May, 1922. Though he saw his name in print, he did miss a few perks. “A regret regarding Poetry,” he recalls, “is that I was unable to attend a white tie dinner which the magazine gave for William Butler Yeats to which I was invited but did not go, because the dress suit of an older brother was several sizes too large for me.” His disappointment probably lightened when Poetry again accepted his work in 1924, then 1929, and again, fifty-five years later, in 1984.

His verse collection, An Aged Man Remembers April (1985), is dedicated to Monroe, “who showed me that both inspiration and revision are essential.” Dr. Jill P. Baumgaertner, now Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College, lauds its “…melodic echoes of Frost, Wordsworth, Keats, scripture…It is a stunning combination of sound and form, metaphor and story that lingers long after you’ve closed the book. This is poetry rooted in a real tradition of living and writing. This is poetry that will last.” In 1987 Fischer assembled four decades of research and published Four Hazardous Journeys of Jonathan Blanchard, chronicling his grandfather’s antislavery travels and fundraising adventures during the Montana Territory gold rush. Theologian Carl F.H. Henry, writing the foreword, commends “…its graphic picture window on frontier life a century as a reminder of the dedication of abolitionists in a time of social crisis.” Fischer and his wife, Marita, had one daughter. The aged poet-lawyer-businessman was the last surviving grandson of Blanchard when he lay down his pen forever at age 89 in 1990.

Zane C. Hodges

Zane HodgesWheaton College has provided intellectual incubation for many prominent theologians, professors and pastors. Surely one of the most brilliant was Zane Clark Hodges. Born in Washington, DC, but raised primarily in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Hodges attended a Plymouth Brethren assembly with his parents and younger brother because there were no Baptist churches in town. Blessed with a sturdy intellect, he completed fifth and sixth grades in one year. During his high school junior year he became editor-in-chief of the student newspaper while participating in the Debating and Latin clubs. Reading widely, he also enjoyed comic books, which he collected, and played baseball. Hodges accepted Christ’s gift of eternal life at a meeting on the Greenwood Hills Bible Conference grounds in 1946. “Since that time,” he writes in his 1949 Wheaton College application, “I not only embrace the Lord Jesus as my Saviour, but also as the Son of God and the one who keeps me and is coming back, perhaps soon.” During this period he desired to enter the mission field as his life’s work. At college Hodges studied Greek, French and German, and further honed his analytical and oratorial skills with the Beltionian Literary society. The administration noted his poised, modest aspect, along with his industry and efficiency. As a result of his academic prowess he was inducted into the Honor Society. He was graduated in 1954, receiving his BA in Greek. Dr. Clarence Hale, Chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages, prophetically observes on Hodges’s placement form: “[He] is a young man of thoroughly reliable character and very high scholarship. He presents a neat appearance and meets people easily. He gives the promise of becoming a well-trained Bible teacher.” From Wheaton Hodges matriculated to Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) where he acquired his Th.M. before joining its faculty as professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, remaining for 27 years until departing to pursue speaking and writing. Hodges produced commentaries on Hebrews, 1-3 John and James, in addition to writing articles for Bibliotheca Sacra, the scholarly journal for DTS. With Arthur Farstad he co-edited The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text.

Hodges’s position on “free grace” generated considerable agitation after Dr. John F. MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, published The Gospel According to Jesus (1988). MacArthur advocates the traditional Reformed view that biblical salvation inevitably produces works as the result of submitting to Christ’s lordship. The ongoing practice of goods works indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian. Conversely, the absence of good works demonstrates a false profession. Two years later Hodges countered MacArthur’s thesis with Absolutely Free!, declaring that Christ’s gift of eternal life is contingent upon nothing beyond believing. According to Hodges, “lordship salvation” unnecessarily distorts the otherwise simple faith message by subtly introducing the contribution of human effort into Christ’s finished atonement. In brief, good works are the evidence, not the result, of salvation.

As a founding member of Grace Evangelical Society (GES), Hodges continued promoting the doctrine of free grace through newsletters, conferences and the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, for which he occasionally wrote. The organization is currently headed by Dr. Bob Wilkin, whose Master’s and Doctoral dissertations were overseen by Hodges at DTS. Aside from seminary teaching, he preached widely in churches and for nearly 50 years pastored Victor Street Bible Chapel in Dallas. In addition to exegesis, theology and textual criticism, he continued his expansive reading with particular fondness for mysteries, biography, ancient history and science fiction. Hodges had written a few chapters for commentaries on Romans and the Gospel of John before he died at 76 on November 23, 2008. He never married. His funeral was preached by his friend and pastor, Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.

Some biographical material is provided by Dr. Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society and Dr. John Hannah’s Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism (2009).

Pioneer mathematician, Fanny Boyce

Pioneering WomenIn the recently published volume from the History of Mathematics series, Pioneering women in American mathematics: the pre-1940 PhD’s, Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke tell the story of Fanny Boyce, one of the few pre-1940s female PhDs in mathematics.

Fannie W. Boyce was born March 16, 1897 near Lentner, Missouri (Shelby County). As a child she moved with her parents, George Wesley and Mary Virginia Boyce, and siblings to Colorado. Boyce attended grade school while in Colorado Springs before the family moved to University Park, Iowa where she attended high school and began college. She attended Central Holiness College (later named John Fletcher College and then owned by Vennard College).

After college she began her teaching career, initially in Iowa high schools. Maintaining her connection to the Quakers, Boyce ceased teaching to obtain a second bachelor’s degree from Penn College. When finished she restarted her teaching career by teaching at Olivet University and Marion College, Nazarene and Wesleyan Methodist schools respectively. She taught mathematics and Greek. She continued her studies and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1928. While teaching at Wheaton College she obtained a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1938

Boyce had begun teaching in 1930 and rose through the ranks to full professor. She retired in 1962. She then returned to Olivet (now Olivet Nazarene University) and taught mathematics for seven years. In 1970 she taught another year at Owosso College in Michigan. She retired to Wheaton, Illinois. She died in February 13, 1986 at a health care center in nearby Lombard.

For Your Gift of God the Spirit

On February 21, 2010 an announcement was made to the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia that their Senior Minister, Dr. Philip G. Ryken had accepted the presidency of Wheaton College. During Pastor Ryken’s remarks, he read these words: “Father, grant your Holy Spirit in our hearts may rule today, grieved not, quenched not, but unhindered, work in us his sovereign way.” This quote is part of the fifth verse of the hymn ‘For Your Gift Of God The Spirit‘, written by Margaret Clarkson. According to, an online hymn and worship music database created as a collaboration between the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship,

Margaret ClarksonMargaret Clarkson wrote this text about the work of the Holy Spirit during the summer of 1959 at the Severn River, Ontario, Canada upon request by Stacey Woods, General Secretary of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada and the United States. “For Your Gift” is the best teaching text on the Holy Spirit. Inspired by biblical passages about the work of the Spirit in creation, the church, and our personal lives, this text reads like a study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It is a splendid example of sung theology, which brings our heart’s confession onto our lips. In liturgical settings it is appropriate for Pentecost and many other services (Psalter Hymnal Handbook).

The papers, library, and assorted materials of E. Margaret Clarkson, teacher, author and hymnwriter, are held in the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections. The collection contains personal papers, articles, manuscripts, hymns, books reviews, and correspondence, as well as her personal library of over 600 books on theology, poetry, hymnody, and many other subjects. The full lyrics of the hymn are as follows.