George Whitefield Biography
by Arnold A. Dallimore
1. How do you think Whitefield’s upbringing in the inn affect his personality?
2. Whitefield obviously took his spirituality seriously. Why did he feel drawn to the “Holy Club”?
3. Read Charles Wesley’s poem about George Whitefield on page 15. Do you have friends that you think of like that?
4. How did God use Henry Scougal’s book “The Life of God in the Soul of Man” in Whitefield’s life?
1. On page 22 Dallimore describes Whitefield’s Bible reading practice. What do you think about it? And how did it prepare him for his future preaching ministry?
2. Many historians believe that one of the reasons Whitefield was so effective in his preaching was because of his acting prowess, his ability to convey emotion in his words. Do you agree? How much does a dynamic style matter in preaching the Word?
3. On Page 27 Whitefield says he was preaching 9 times a week. Why such a jam packed schedule? Why did he feel it necessary to preach so much?
4. Lady Huntingdon was one of Whitefield’s benefactors who supported his ministry. Whitefield would not have been able to be so successful without people like her. Do we feel it is necessary to personally support missionaries with our money?
1. Whitefield had much success in evangelizing the sailors on his vessel to America, and many of them were converted. Why don’t we see things like this very often anymore?
2. Why did Whitefield stay with his broken ship on the way back to England?
1. What was the cause of Whitefield’s remarkable open air success?
2. Do you think this could ever happen today?
1. Read the account on page 43 of the prayer meeting. Are our prayer meetings like this? If not, why not?
2. Why do you think the churches did not want Whitefield to preach in them?
3. Howell Harris gave Whitefield the idea to go into the open air. How did this make Whitefield more effective than if he pursued preaching only in churches?
1. What was your impression of Whitefield’s journal entries?
2. On the bottom of page 53, Whitefield says his “discourse was about 2 hours long”. And yet 20,000 people stayed standing to hear it. How have times changed today? Could/would people persevere under that? Why?
3. Notice how many pounds were gathered from the vast multitude. It seems like a small amount, but what does it say that so much of it was in half-pence?
4. On page 56, it says that Whitefield was only 24 years old at this point! What were you doing at age 24?
1. John Wesley made many of his decisions by casting lots, even for the smallest occasion. Is this a wise thing to do?
2. 2. Wesley was ambitious. How can ambition be good, and how can it be bad?
3. What does it say about Whitefield that he put Wesley in charge of his ministry in England while he went to America, knowing that Wesley had attacked him and his doctrine?
4. When is it right to separate, and when is it wrong?
1. On page 69 the author says that “Whitefield’s beliefs...were not mere intellectual theories. Rather, they were the basic truths that molded his thought and governed is daily life...” Then Whitefield himself writes, “...I embrace the Calvinistic scheme, not because of Calvin, but Jesus Christ has taught it to me.” Many have accused Calvinists of being the “frozen chosen” but this was not true of Whitefield. Why do you think this is?
2. How important is it to have strong doctrinal convictions? It seems like modern American Christianity does not usually have many. Is this good or bad?
1. Whitefield had a strong desire to take care of the poor and orphaned. How can we do the same in our context?
2. Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian, he was a Deist, but he was very moved by Whitefield’s sermons even to the point of giving his money to the ministry and becoming Whitefield’s chief publisher! Why would he do this? What is the difference between being “moved” and having saving faith?
3. What do you think about the way Whitefield responds to Wesley? How is this a model of how we should respond to conflict?
4. Whitefield was a friend to African Americans. It is remarkable that the “Negro Spiritual” developed from Whitefield’s ministry. Where does Dallimore believe that Whitefield unfortunately fell short?
1. Whitefield was strongly opposed by some Anglicans in America. What was their main complaint?
2. What do you think about Whitefield’s proposal? Why didn’t Elizabeth Delmotte want to marry George?
3. What was Jonathan Edwards’ reaction to Whitefield’s preaching? What does this say about him as opposed to the Anglican Garden?
4. Do you think the Lord sent the storm during Whitefield’s sermon?
5. How big was Whitefield’s role in the Great Awakening?
1. What were Wesley’s motives in slandering Whitefield?
2. Whitefield’s congregations dwindled down to two or three hundred only, and yet Whitefield was very reluctant to criticize the Wesleys. Why is this? And was he right in not doing so?
3. Why did people trust Wesley’s Introduction as proof that his teaching came from God?
4. How is Whitefield’s response to this terrible situation an example for us?
1. Why didn’t Whitefield agree to only preach to the Evangelical Associate Presbytery?
2. How can we foster Biblical ecumenism?
3. On page 107, Whitefield was very bod in calling out Lord Leven. How can we speak truth to power today?
1. Would Whitefield have been better off staying single? Did you feel sorry for Elizabeth?
2. Why did Howell Harris “give” Elizabeth to George?
3. How have times changed regarding marriage today?
4. Was George cold hearted for leaving his wife to mourn for their baby alone? Why did he do that? What about giving away his wife’s furniture?
5. What are some good things you can take away from the brief account of George Whitefield’s marriage?
1. How was the Revival at Cambuslang different from what was occurring in other places like London?
2. What does it show about Whitefield that he was willing to set up platforms for other preachers? How does this prove that the Revival was from God and not men?
3. Why was it determined that true Regeneration was accompanied by sorrow over offense done to Jesus, rather than simple fear of hell? (Read the bottom of pages 120-121)
4. Why were the Erskines suddenly so virulent against Whitefield? How can we prevent that kind of attitude in our context?
1. Our book club is a sort of “Religious Society.” Why is it important to have things like this in addition to regular church attendance?
2. Why do you think that Wesleyan Methodism is alive today, but “Calvinistic Methodism” is no longer found?
3. Whitefield was a good administrator, even though he was not known for that. Is that part of the reason he was successful?
1. The attacks that happened during the Revivals seem to be straight out of the Book of Acts. Were you impressed by the bravery of the ministers?
2. Read the bottom of page 135. Why did the attackers run away when Whitefield leaped down the stairs?
3. Was it right for Whitefield to take the mob to court?
4. Can we expect the same sort of treatment from unbelievers today?
1. How did the “ministry” of James Davenport hurt the revival? Why should we avoid that sort of behavior?
2. What did you make of the “Reading Rooms” that were set up to read Whitefield’s sermons? How did they show that the revival was not about one person?
3. What is your reaction to Whitefield’s ownership of slaves? Do his cultural surrounding give him any leeway?
1. Why couldn’t Arminian Methodism and Calvinistic Methodism be united?
2. Whitefield determined not to enter into conflict again with the Wesley’s. Was this a wise decision?
3. What were the reasons that Whitefield relinquished his position as the head of the Calvinistic Methodists? And do you think he should have done so?
4. Read the bottom of page 154. How are Whitefield’s word an example to us?
1. How was Lady Huntingdon an encouragement to George Whitefield?
2. What are some of the factors that made it harder to preach to the Aristocracy in England than the commoners?
3. What does it say that Lord Bolingbroke and the Earl of Chesterfield both commented on Whitefield’s eloquence rather than anything spiritual?
4. How was Whitefield able to reach both the lowest classes and the highest classes with effectiveness?
1. Do you think Charles Wesley was right in what he did to his brother John concerning Grace Murray?
2. Whitefield was a peacemaker in the above situation. How is he an example to us? And are there situations that we could be peacemakers in right now?
3. How was Whitefield an example of true, Biblical ecumenism? Read the middle of page 171.
1. Why didn’t Whitefield allow Charles Wesley to “throw in his lot with him”?
2. Charles wrote almost 9,000 poems! Do you know any off the top of your head?
3. Dallimore seems to think that Howell Harris’ problem was that he “overworked himself in seeking to serve the Lord.” Do you agree with that assessment? How might his attachment to Madame Griffith have hurt him? Or his knock on the head?
4. How could Benjamin Franklin have been so close to Whitefield and not had a change of heart? (trick question)
1. Whitefield built chapels, but do you think he should have just concentrated on open air preaching?
2. Why did he want to be buried next to the Wesleys?
3. The “American Church in London” is now extremely liberal. Why do you think this is?
1. Whitefield said, “I had rather wear out than rust out!” How was this exemplified in his life? Do you think it would have been wiser to have taken more rest?
2. Why was Whitefield compelled to keep preaching despite his ailments?
3. Why was his last outdoor sermon so powerful?
4. Why do you think Whitefield died at age 56? What sickness do you think he had?
1. Why did Whitefield want John Wesley to preach at his funeral?
2. What was the secret of George Whitefield’s tremendous ministry?
3. What can we learn from Whitefield and apply to our own lives?
4. How has this book impacted you?
5. Will you ever read the 2 volume work on Whitefield by Dallimore?
George Whitefield’s sermon “The Method of Grace”
1. What most impressed you in this sermon?
2. Why do false preachers preach “peace, peace” when there is no peace?
3. What is needed for true peace to enter into our lives?
4. Why does Whitefield say, “God may damn you for the best prayer you have ever put up”?
5. What is Whitefield’s point in this sermon?