Le Roy Froom
|Le Roy E. Froom|
|Occupation||Protestant, Seventh-day Adventist historian|
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Froom was the first associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association from 1926 to 1950. He was also the founding editor of Ministry Magazine. From 1950 until his retirement in 1958 he was a field secretary of the General Conference assigned to research and writing. He was considered to be the leading historian and apologist of the church at the time. He was part of the developments in the ministerial institutes during the 1920s, emphasizing the Holy Spirit as a person, rather than a divine influence, and authoring the first book in the church on the Holy Spirit as the Comforter.
Froom is best known for his apologetic writings and his attempts to help non-Adventists understand his own denomination. The most famous resulted in the publication of Questions on Doctrine in 1957.
The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers
His best known work was the Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers consists of four volumes published from 1948 to 1953, and covers the Christian Era, are the result of more than sixteen years of intensive research including three extensive trips to Europe as well as in America. This work analyzes the understanding of Bible Prophecy by Christian theologians and scholars beginning in the 1st century AD to the late 19th century.
Critical reception to The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers
In this work Froom argued that the "historicist" interpretation of Bible prophecy had been the earliest and most extensively used throughout history, and that other schemes were not only novelties in comparison but had emerged as the result of attempts to deflect the condemnation of the Roman Catholic Church which typically accompanied historicist exposition. Froom spent over 20 years compiling a collection of documentation which numbered over 1,000 works. Each volume of Froom’s work has a bibliography which typically runs to over 30 pages and cites hundreds of sources.
Although largely substantiating the Adventist understanding of prophecy (which is historicist in nature), the work received some favorable reviews from non-Adventist scholars. When published, the first volume was praised for its value for money, the scope of its research, and its documentation. Another contemporary review of the first volume noted 'An astounding amount of reading, traveling, compilation, and patient research has gone into the preparation of this book', characterizing it as 'a rich summary of an enormous lot of materials'.
An early review of the second volume described it as 'a quarry of information on the subject which will be useful to scholars in many fields', though it was noted that 'The historical picture is curiously distorted' due to the Adventist focus on specific prophetic interpretations. This limited focus is a commonly found criticism of the work. A 1952 review of the first two volumes complimented their breadth of research, but lamented 'The scope of the work is seriously delimited, however'.
Despite criticism of the work's limited focus, the reviewer also noted 'Specialists can find here a wealth of material', and praised the care with which the research had been undertaken and presented. In a review of the first volume, the same author spoke highly of the work's contribution to scholarship, though again criticizing its narrow focus.
Early reviews noted Froom's skill as a historian, and predicted that the work would become recognized as a standard reference on the subject. In recent years Froom's work is still praised for its extensive review and analysis of the history of prophetic interpretation, and is referred to as the classic work on the subject by theological scholars (as well as by secular scholars).
- The Coming of the Comforter
- Prophetic Faith of Our FathersDjVu and PDF (4 volumes)
- Movement of DestinyDjVu
- The Conditionalist Faith of Our FathersDjVu (2 volumes, 1965–66). Described as "a classic defense of conditionalism" by Clark Pinnock
- Knight, George R. A search for identity: the development of Seventh-Day Adventist. p. 143. "Another important event connected with the ministerial institutes was the conversion of Le Roy E. Froom to the centrality of Christ and His righteousness. "Christianity," he subsequently reported, is "basically a personal relationship"."
- Morgan, Douglas (2001). Adventism and the American republic: the public involvement of a ... p. 22. "Le Roy E. Froom, the twentieth-century Adventist historian who devoted four large volumes to tracing the roots of the Adventist method of interpreting prophecy, enumerated eighty-eight other nineteenth-century authors."
- Renfer, R .A. (1953). "Review of the first volume of ‘The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers’". Bibliotheca Sacra 110: 366–367. "For sheer number of pages the price of this volume 1 is a good investment. Its merits, however, transcend literary economics. ... The approach is strongly biographical, and the exceedingly great amount of research and documentary collection evidenced in this first volume suggest the tremendous contribution the completed work will constitute. ... The first volume takes the reader through the millennialism of Joachim of Floris, Eberhard and the Waldenses. It gathers together a veritable mine of material from every conceivable source of millennial interpretation, and the material is carefully handled. It is most advantageously documented with footnotes. ... Irrespective of the author’s viewpoint and millennial position, there is vast knowledge here which the well-informed dispensational premillennialist will want to secure."
- Cabaniss, Allen (Jan 1953). "Book Reviews". The Journal of Religion 33 (1): p. 80. doi:10.1086/484389.
- Harbison, E. Harris (Sep 1948). "Book Review". Church History 17 (3): 257.
- Harbison 1948, p. 257.
- Handy, Robert T. (Oct 1952). "Book Review". Speculum 27 (4): 551. "An immense amount of extensive and arduous research has gone into the project, and a vast amount of material is reviewed in these weighty volumes."
- Handy 1952, p. 551.
- Handy 1952, p. 553.
- Handy 1952, p. 553, 'These volumes are carefully prepared, profusely illustrated, elaborately indexed, and equipped with exhaustive bibliographies and useful charts.'.
- Handy, Robert T. (Jun 1952). "Book Review". Church History 21 (2): 155. "The author has surveyed and summarized a vast amount of material and has made it readily available - a valuable service to scholarship indeed"
- Handy 1952, p. 155, 'Dr. Froom has so strained his material through the fine screen of his own particular viewpoint and restricted research interests that a well-rounded treatment of prophetism does not emerge.'.
- Aldrich, Roy (1958). "‘Can the End of the Age Be Computed by the Year-Day Theory?’". Bibliotheca Sacra (458): 165. "Froom is recognized as the outstanding historian of the Seventh-Day Adventists."
- Aldrich 1958, p. 165, 'All the material is carefully documented and should prove interesting and helpful to both the student of church history and prophecy.’.
- Couch, Mal (2000). "review of ‘The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers’". Conservative Theological Journal 4: 227. "Scholar and researcher Froom brought together dozens of scholars, librarians, historians, and linguists who labored for decades in putting together this amazing study on the history of the teaching and the beliefs about prophecy. For years his team labored in the libraries of Europe and America scanning thousands of documents and theological writings about prophetic truth. ... ‘For the sake of Covenant theologians and amillennialists, Froom clearly traces and points out the development of allegorical interpretation through Origen, Augustine, and others.' ... ‘This set is a must buy for all teachers interested in church history and prophetic studies.’"
- One review is "Apologetics as History" by Ingemar Linden. Spectrum 3:4 (Autumn 1971), p89–91
- Clark Pinnock, "The Conditional View", p147 footnote 21; in William Crockett, ed., Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992
See also #Books above