Meet H. A. Ironside

Founded in 1864 by Dwight L. Moody, Moody Memorial Church in Chicago has one of the richest heritages of any church in the United States. A line of powerful and prominent preachers has filled her pulpit: R.A. Torrey, George Sweeting, Warren Wiersbe, and, from 1929–1948, H.A. Ironside.

Born in Toronto in 1876 to godly Plymouth Brethren parents, Ironside had read the Bible through fourteen times by his fourteenth birthday. As a young man, he joined the Salvation Army. However, after a few years he left them and returned to the Plymouth Brethren Church. His testimony to his conversion and his views on holiness and God’s grace are found in his book Holiness: The True and the False (1912).

Ironside never received much in the way of formal education but was a self-taught student. He became nationally known as a Bible teacher with a traveling ministry, which included Bible conferences and visiting faculty positions at institutions such as Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary. His only pastorate was that of Moody Church. He resigned that pulpit after 18 years to engage in a full-time writing and conference ministry.

At heart he always remained a pastor and soul-winner, communicating the gospel simply and with deep conviction. He was well-respected and his counsel greatly valued, even in the academic world. He served as a board member of at least fifteen organizations, including Wheaton College, Dallas Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, and the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (China Inland Mission).

His greatest legacy is his writing, a veritable library of over 60 books and numerous pamphlets and articles. His writing style was characterized by devotional exposition, simple outline of complicated issues, and creative wording and illustrations. His Bible commentaries cover all the New Testament books, as well as every prophetic book in the Old Testament. He turns historian in Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement (1942), highlighting the development of the movement largely responsible for spreading the dispensational theology of John Nelson Darby and C.I. Scofield, with whom Ironside agreed.

His pamphlets on end-times theological issues are designed to encourage, reassure, and enlighten believers. Not Wrath But Rapture is a brief study of the various doctrines relating to the rapture of the church, including a forthright presentation of the pretribulation view. In Eternal Security of the Believer, the often-debated subject of the Christian’s heavenly security is covered simply and comprehensively. It is remarkably current writing for our own anxious times.

Ironside died in 1951 while on a speaking tour in New Zealand.

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