Robert Elliott Speer

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For other persons with the surname of Speer, see Speer.

Robert Elliott Speer (born Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, 10 September 1867 - 23 November 1947[1]) was an American religious leader and authority on missions.


He was born at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on 10 September 1867. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1886 and from Princeton in 1889, and studied at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1890-91.

In 1891 he was appointed secretary of the American Presbyterian Mission. He visited missions in Persia, India, China, Korea, and Japan in 1896-97, and in South America in 1909 and later made similar tours. In Princeton he was greatly influenced by Arthur Tappan Pierson. Under his leadership the foreign missions of the Presbyterian church became remarkably successful. Although he published two articles in The Fundamentals,[2] he is often considered a liberal because he sided with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and opposed John Gresham Machen during the anti-liberal/modernist controversies of the 1930s.[3][4]

He died on 3 November 1947.


  • The Man Christ Jesus (1896)
  • A Memorial of a True Life: Biography of H. M. Beaver (1898)
  • The Man Paul (1900)
  • Presbyterian Foreign Missions (1901)
  • Missionary Principles and Practice (1902)
  • The Principles of Jesus (1902)
  • A Memorial of Horace Tracy Pitkin (1903)
  • Young Man's Questions (1903)
  • Missions and Modern History (two volumes, 1904)
  • The Marks of a Man (1907)
  • Christianity and the Nations (1910)
  • The Light of the World (1911)
  • South American Problems (1912)
  • Studies of Missionary Leadership (1914)
  • John's Gospel (1915)
  • The Stuff of Manhood (1917)
  • The Christian Man the Church and the War (1918)
  • The Gospel and the New World (1919)
  • A Missionary Pioneer in the Far East (1922)
  • Seeking the Mind of Christ (1926)
  • The Unity of the Americas (1926)
  • Some Living Issues (1930)
  • The Finality of Jesus Christ (1933)
  • Five Minutes a Day (1943)
  • George Bowen of Bombay (1938)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lefferts A. Loetscher (1974). "Speer, Robert Elliott". Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement Four 1946-1950. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  2. ^ Chapter 28 "God in Christ the Only Revelation of the Fatherhood of God" (originally, Chapter III Volume III, pp.61-75) and Chapter 54 "Foreign Missions, or World-Wide Evangelism" (originally, Chapter IV Volume ?, pp.64-84)
  3. ^ 1933 Book review
  4. ^ Machen-Speer Debate–Historic Event in Presbyterian Church Christianity Today 3.12 (Mid-April 1933): 19-2


Religious titles
Preceded by
The Rev. William Oxley Thompson
Moderator of the 139th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Succeeded by
The Rev. Hugh Kelso Walker