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Graham Scroggie

October 25, 2008

William Graham Scroggie (1877- 1958) was preaching minus the frills. For example, while possessing a vibrant sense of humor outwith the pulpit, his sharp wit was usually restrained within its vicinity. Instead words like ‘dignified’, ‘forceful’ and ‘intense’ are the adjectives more often reserved to the great Keswick expositor.

Two brief quotes help capture what it would have been like to sit under Scroggie’s preaching. The first comes from a visitor from South Carolina in the United States:

But great as these preliminary experiences had been we soon found that the climax was yet to come. The highest point reached was the powerful message delivered by the scholarly pastor, Dr W. Graham Scroggie. He is one of our greatest preachers. He is dignified, calm, and forceful in his delivery, combining all the powers of the orator with an intense earnestness and a firm conviction that he had come to deliver God’s message to that congregation. We knew that he came to us from God. His heart seemed to be fired with a passion for the lost. He knew they were lost. He realized something of the true nature of sin. He knew that the power of Christ could make men alive again. He compelled us to believe and know it for ourselves as he continued his pleading with us. It was a powerful challenge to Christians to join with Christ in the greatest work in the world. It was God’s call to our hearts. After the benediction every person sat quietly in the seat for a moment before going out into the busy street. As we left our seats the choir sang those familiar words that seemed to be echoing in our hearts:–We have heard the joyful sound: [full verse quoted] Jesus saves! Jesus saves! As we came to the ground floor and plunged out into the rains and gloom, the words of the fourth stanza came as a shout of victory:–Give the winds a mighty voice, [full verse quoted] Jesus saves! Jesus saves! It was a real worship hour that means much to our hearts as we face the week of work.

A second description comes from a Presbyterian minister visiting from Glasgow:

The sermon was the climax. The subject was ‘Faith Without Works’, a hackneyed theme. The treatment was an extraordinary blend of the Bible expositor, the cold logician, the man who knows the world he lives in, and the irresistible evangelist. He disposed of apparent contradiction between Paul and James (as I knew he would), but in his own way, and in the Bible way – taking the passage as it stood and illuminating it with many revealing remarks. There were moments of humour as when he said that ‘God did not turn us all out like Morris cars’, but each with our own individuality. Through all, the intensity grew until at last in the preacher’s plea for practical Christianity, we were caught up in the sweep of a spiritual passion which was more than any mere eloquence. It was great preaching – the only worth-while preaching – Bible truth, careful thinking, and illuminating expounding linked to the needs of the hour in a passionate final appeal.

(Both quotations come from the chapter “Sunday’s with Graham Scroggie” found in the new book “Revival in Rose Street” by Ian Balfour)

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