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Bitesize Biography – Charles Hodge

By S Donald Fortson III
January 2014 | Review by Michael Bentley
  • Publisher: Evangelical Press
  • ISBN: 978-0-85234-927-4
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: 5.99
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Book Review

Bitesize Biography — Charles Hodge
S. Donald Fortson III
EP Books, 128 pages, £5.99
ISBN: 978-0-85234-927-4
Star Rating : 4

I knew the name ‘Charles Hodge’ from the three, green, cloth-covered volumes of his systematic theology that have been in my library for almost 50 years. However, I knew little about the man or his work.

His father was a Scottish Presbyterian who emigrated to America via Northern Ireland and his mother came from French Huguenot stock. Sadly, his father died when he was a baby and so his godly mother cared for both Charles and his brother. 

Converted during a revival when he was 17 years old, he came under the influence of Archibald Alexander, who established Princeton Seminary in 1812. Alexander encouraged godliness, daily meditation on Scripture and the reading of Christian biographies.

Although Hodge spent some time in Germany as a student, all of his working life was lived in America. There he was devoted to seminary teaching and writing. He married in 1822 and his first child was given the name ‘Archibald Alexander’, after his beloved teacher.

He lived through the turmoil of most of the nineteenth century. He witnessed the uproar around the abolition of slavery, mourned over the murder of Abraham Lincoln and grieved over the bloody civil war between north and south, and followed the reconstruction that ensued. 

He endured the pain of division within his own Presbyterian Church, but showed a gracious and generous spirit to those with whom he disagreed. However, although he was a peacemaker, he understood that there was also a time to take a stand. This he did, battling against a rising tide of teaching that sought to undermine the historic, orthodox Christian faith.

Those who have a great interest in the United States, and particularly Presbyterian history, will find this a helpful and fascinating book.

Michael Bentley

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