Question: "Who was Clarence Larkin?"

Answer: Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was a Baptist minister and publisher of Bible study materials from the dispensational perspective.

Clarence Larkin was born in Chester, Pennsylvania. He came to faith in Christ at age 19 in the Episcopal Church. Although he felt called into ministry, he did not seem to have any opportunities to enter the ministry, so he took a job at a bank. Larkin went on to become a mechanical engineer, draftsman, and teacher of the blind—jobs in which he cultivated his ability for careful description. Health problems forced him out of teaching. After some recovery, he went into manufacturing, still feeling the call to ministry.

At age 32, Larkin left the Episcopalian church and became a Baptist after studying the Scripture and coming to the conclusion that the Baptist position on baptism was more biblical than the Episcopalian one. Two years later he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he left his business ventures for full-time ministry. At this point he was not a premillennialist, but later, after much study, he came to the conclusion that Christ will return prior to setting up His kingdom.

Clarence Larkin’s first pastorate was in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and his second, where he spent twenty years in ministry, was in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania. It was in Fox Chase that Larkin began teaching the Bible from a dispensational perspective. What made his teaching unique was the use of detailed, meticulous drawings and charts. (His background in engineering and drafting are evident in his drawings.) Larkin initially designed these drawings on a very large scale for his own use in the pulpit, but they became so popular that he felt compelled to publish them in book form. The book Dispensational Truth: God’s Plan and Purpose for the Ages (1918), containing over 115 charts and other illustrations, is considered a classic and continues to be reprinted today. Larkin wrote a number of other books including commentaries on Daniel and Revelation, which also contain intricate charts and drawings.

During the last few years of Larkin’s life, his works became so popular that he left the pastorate to devote all his time to writing.