Thursday, 27 December 2012
Ernest Kevan by Paul E. Brown
Leader in the Twentieth Century British Evangelicalism
Paul E, Brown
Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2012
294+xvii; pbk; £8.00
ISBN 978 1 84871 156 3
In his introduction Paul Brown, former pastor of Bethel Chapel, Stoke-on-Trent, comments that if you look up Dr Ernest F. Kevan on the internet you are likely to think that he is only known for writing book entitled The Grace of Law. But, no longer, Brown has changed that - a search for Ernest Kevan now leads to several reviews of Brown's book. Brown knew Kevan while he was a student at London Bible College (1957-1960) when Kevan was principal.
Kevan was perhaps best-known as the principal of London Bible College (now called the London School of Theology) (1946-1965) and for his joint editorship of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship's one volume commentary of the Bible. Several chapters are devoted to Kevan's role as principal of the LBC, but only a few paragraphs on the influential commentary.
Kevan's upbringing was Strict Baptist, but of the more open kind. He pastored three Strict Baptist congregations. The first, at Church Hill Baptist, Walthamstow, when he was only 21. Here he found his wife, Jennie several years his senior, engaged in church planting and wrote his first book: London's Oldest Baptist Church. In 1934 he became the pastor of Zion, New Cross. From there he took up the pastorate for a short time at Trinity Road Chapel, Tooting (1944), while being involved with the establishing of the interdenominational London Bible College.
A good third of the book deals with his time at LBC. Two chapters deal with his 'wider ministry'. Unusually for a Strict Baptist (SB) Kevan had been involved with the Keswick movement. He had even encouraged other SB's to attend. It was in 1953 that he was asked to deliver the Bible readings. He chose to preach on Romans 7-8, key Keswick verses. Graham Scroggie had the previous year preached on the same passages, expounding the traditional Keswick view of holiness and sanctification. It could not have been a coincidence that Kevan took up the same verses to expound a traditional Calvinistic view of sanctification. Obviously Kevan was able to go where no other SB had gone before!
This biography is very readable and Brown has made good use of his sources notably Kirby's short biography - Kirby was Kevan's successor as principal of LBC - and the two histories of LBC by Harold Rowden and Ian Randall. He has also made good use of Kevan's written works and this book has numerous extracts from them at key points, allowing Kevan to 'speak for himself'.
One appendix provides a helpful summary of Kevan's doctorate published as The Grace of Law, which is still available; another appendix provides extracts from his other works; and yet another copies of some important documents including letters to Dr Martryn Lloyd-Jones. Several photographs serve to add value to the book.
This book is a worthy tribute to an unassuming, often overlooked, but highly influential Calvinist evangelical of the twentieth century.
Available from ICM Books Direct