Robert Anderson Picture

Sir Robert Anderson

1841-1918

The Silence of God

Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard)

Why Read This Book

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We have a review of this book on our book review page. Here's what we wrote there:

"This book is fast reading, and not because the English is smooth and well-written (which it is), but because the subject itself is so fascinating. I found I couldn't read fast enough! My enthusiasm never wavered throughout, and I can honestly say I learned much.

"Sir Robert Anderson gives insightful answers to many questions, such as: What purpose did Christ's miracles serve? What is reconciliation? What is the difference between Christendom and Christianity? Why did Satan tempt Jesus? How does Satan tempt us? What does Paul mean by 'my gospel'? Why, when we pray with faith, are our prayers not answered in the way we expect?"

Reflect carefully on the title: The Silence of God. Why is God silent, especially when we would like him to answer our prayers? As he states in his preface, Anderson in this book discusses "the key to the dual mystery of a silent heaven and the trials of the life of faith."

This is a fascinating and very helpful book that will benefit all Christians.

Sir Robert Anderson was born in Ireland, though his father was an Ulster Scot. Therefore, he humorously described himself as "an anglicized Irishman of Scottish extraction." He had a legal and secret service career before assuming the post of Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard, which he held from 1888-1901.

Anderson was close to some of the greatest Bible teachers of his day, including James M. Gray, who later became president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago from 1904-1934, C. I. Scofield, John Nelson Darby, and E. W. Bullinger. He wrote a number of theological books. Charles Spurgeon commented that Anderson's book, Human Destiny, was "the most valuable contribution on the subject" that he had seen. In Daniel In the Critic's Den he defended the authenticity of the book of Daniel in the early days of higher critical attacks against it. His book, The Coming Prince, is perhaps the most meticulous analysis of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks ever produced.

The Silence of God (1897; Kregel reprint, 1952) is considered a classic on the subject of why God has not directly intervened in the affairs of men for over two thousand years. Here's how Anderson himself puts the question he addresses:

"And to not a few this volume may be welcome as affording a clue to pressing difficulties which perplex and distress the thoughtful. Infidelity trades upon the silence of Heaven, the inaction of the Supreme. If there be a God, almighty and all-good, why does He not use His power and give proof of His goodness in the way men choose to expect of Him? The answer usually offered by the Christian apologist fails either to silence the opponent or to satisfy the believer. And rightly so, for it is lacking not only in cogency but in sympathy. The God of the Bible is infinite both in power and in compassion; and in other ages His people had public proof of this. Why, then, is He so silent?"

Prefaces

Prefaces to the ninth and second editions to the book.

Chapter 1

The problem stated, and exemplified by the Armenian atrocities and the massacre of Christian missionaries, by "the Christian persecutions" and the common experience of Christians generally.

Chapter 2

A reference to Scripture seems only to make the difficulty greater--The advent of Christ seemed to give promise of a new order of things, and the experience of the Pentecostal Church appeared to confirm the hope.

Chapter 3

As this discussion assumes the possibility of direct Divine interposition, the infidel objections to miracles are considered and refuted--But why have they ceased?--Mr. Balfour's suggestion affords no answer--Mr. Gladstone's argument criticized--The problem exemplified--Doctrinaire and practical infidels contrasted.

Chapter 4

The seeming cogency of John Stuart Mill's argument against Christianity shown to depend on the error of Paley's position--Bishop Butler's thesis that miracles were the ground of the faith of the first converts discussed and refuted--The purpose and evidential value of the miracles of Christ--His ultimate appeal was to Scripture, not to miracles--Christianity not a religion--In what sense external evidence can accredit a revelation.

Chapter 5

In confirmation of the view that it was for the Jew the miracles were given, the Acts of the Apostles gives proof that the miracles ceased when the favored nation was rejected; and the record of that rejection is shown to be the main purpose of the Book.

Chapter 6

Restatement of the difficulty of a silent Heaven--The solution must be found in Scripture, and notably in the Epistles of St. Paul--But the discussion assumes that these Epistles contain the revelation of Christianity--This thesis discussed--Christianity distinguished from the religion of Christendom.

Chapter 7

In continuation of the argument of Chap. 6, Baur's theories are shown to be but the travesty of a lost truth--Having crucified their Messiah, the Jews received a further offer of pardon--Hence the Jewish character of the Pentecostal dispensation--Their rejection of mercy, signalized by the murder of Stephen, led to the revelation of the great truth of Christianity.

Chapter 8

Review of the preceding inquiry, leading up to the position that the characteristic truth of Christianity must be sought for in the Epistles--Before turning to St. Paul's teaching, a further defense of Holy Scripture is offered, against the attacks of rationalists on the one hand and of those who make it subordinate to the Church upon the other.

Chapter 9

A digression to notice the Agnostic's view of Christian doctrine, as stated by the late W. R. Greg; and to explain from the Lord's parable of the Good Samaritan what that doctrine really is.

Chapter 10

The Apostle Paul's gospel is not to be found in the earlier Scriptures; it was a special revelation to himself--The truth of Reconciliation explained, and shown to be a distinctive "mystery" truth--Eternal salvation is thus brought within reach of all--But why do so few receive the benefit?

Chapter 11

The answer to the question which closes Chap. 10--The Satan myth contrasted with the Satan of Scripture--His temptations are aimed, not against morals, but against faith--He is "the god of this world," and influences and controls, not its vices and crimes, but its religion--Hence the neglect and rejection of Christianity.

Chapter 12

In continuation of Chap. 10--The doctrine of Christianity is further unfolded--The present controversy between God and man is shown to be altogether about Christ--The Cross has closed every other question--Grace is supreme and judgment is postponed.

Chapter 13

The silence of God is explained by the great characteristic truth of Christianity--His seeming apathy in presence of the sufferings of His own people is a part of the discipline of the life of faith--Final restatement of the main problem, and a recapitulation of the argument of the book.

Appendices

I. The alleged miracles of spiritualism and faith-healing.
II. The use and meaning of the word "religion" in this work.
III. The purpose and scope of the Acts of the Apostles.
IV. A new dispensation began when the Jews rejected the Pentecostal testimony.
V. The meaning of "mystery" in the New Testament.
VI. Examination of passages of Scripture relative to the Devil and his temptations.
VII. Further exegesis of John 8:44--The effect of Satan's influence in the world.
VIII. The Satan Myth.
IX. The gospel of Divine grace, and men's attitude towards it.
X. "Of what value, then, is prayer?"
XI. Abandonment of the critical attack on the New Testament--Mr. A. D. White and Professor Harnack.

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