The Silence of God by Sir Robert Anderson; Classic Reprint Series, 2009, 215 pages; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £7.99. (9781904064831)
The Silence of God, a further volume from Ritchies Classic Reprint Series, will be welcomed by many who have heard others mention but have never had opportunity to read this work by Sir Robert Anderson. The present reviewer is numbered among them. The immediate reaction of the reader is that the clarity of thought that marks other writings from the authors pen is evident in The Silence of God.
Clearly in Andersons day, as in ours, there were voices challenging the existence of God and the tenets of the Christianity. What is different today is that political figures of the stature of Balfour and Gladstone show no interest in reading or discussing the issues raised in a book such as The Silence of God. Andersons writing did reach the desks of Prime Ministers, both Conservative and British Liberal, both of whom may have known Anderson in his capacity as Assistant Commissioner of London Metropolitan Police!
The Silence of God deals with an issue that arises in every generation: How can God remain silent and fail to intervene in a world of insoluble difficulties? Anderson addresses such questions from a standpoint he describes: "A Silent Heaven is not the silence of callous indifference or helpless weakness; it is the silence of peace the public pledge and the very proof that the way is open for the guiltiest of mankind to draw near to God". Unbelief was in rebellion. The influence of the Scottish philosopher David Hume was still strong, as were the ranks of these sceptics. Anderson addresses their objections openly, indeed naming and challenging them. His emphasis on the blessedness of this time of gospel opportunity is unmistakable. Equally uncompromising is his stark reminder that when God does speak publicly once more and His intervention is evident across the globe, it will mean "the closing of the day of mercy and the dawning of the day of wrath". Tersely he confronts the issue: "It means the withdrawal of the amnesty" that marks the period of the silence of God.
Daniel in the Critics Den by Sir Robert Anderson; Classic Reprint Series, 2009, 186 pages; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £7.99. (9781904064893)
Daniel in the Critics Den, a further volume from Ritchies Classic Reprint Series, is Andersons response to the attacks launched against the Prophecy of Daniel by notable persons in his day. Men of repute like Dean F W Farrar and Professor S R Driver had a large following; hence Sir Robert Anderson boldly responded to their attempts to undermine the book of Daniel, a book the critics claimed was not from the pen of a Jewish prophet in exile but from one Farrar called a "holy and gifted Jew", writing perhaps as much as 300 years after Daniels time. One must admire Andersons determination not to leave the critics case unanswered.
He defines the approach of Higher Criticism, of which Farrar and Driver were avowed advocates in the late 19th/early 20th century: "Higher Criticism starts with the assumption that everything in Scripture needs to be confirmed by external evidence. It reeks of its evil origin in German infidelity". Anderson also charges them with classifying the miracles in the book of Daniel as "moral fables". He deals in some detail with their denial that there was a King Belshazzar or a Darius the Mede. Sir Roberts logic is in general robust and Scripture based. However, at times he appears to be debating on the Higher Critics ground, which to the lay reader is unhelpful.
Some of Andersons distinctions are unusual to the reviewer; for example "Servitude to Babylon" from "the Desolations of Jerusalem." A number of questions have also been raised by godly men of sound judgment in respect of his dating of the Lords presentation to Jerusalem (Mt 21.1-11, et al).
Daniel in the Critics Den is an interesting and in many ways enlightening book. However, Andersons methodology offers no model to most. Charles Spurgeons advice is safer: "Scripture is like a lion. Whoever heard of defending a lion? Just let it loose; it will defend itself!"