Arthur T. Pierson's Illustrious Heritage

Dan Graves, MSL

Arthur T. Pierson's Illustrious Heritage

In 1639, a non-conformist preacher named Abraham Pierson landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. One hundred and ninety eight years later, on this day, March 6, 1837, one of Abraham's most illustrious descendants, Arthur T. Pierson, was born in New York City. He was the ninth of ten children. Like his forefather Abraham, he became a powerful preacher.

At 23, with his formal studies behind him, Arthur (A. T.) was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. His pastorates took him from New York to Detroit and to Philadelphia. What brought him to world attention was his call for reinvigorating world missions. Beginning in the 1870s, he challenged Christians to shake off their apathy and evangelize the world in a generation. In a pamphlet written in 1881, he said the job could be done by 1900. He followed with a book called The Crisis of Missions, in which he reminded his readers of the vast opportunity that lay before them. In 1891, he was in England on a mission tour. When the famous Baptist minister Charles Spurgeon died, the Metropolitan Tabernacle asked Pierson to fill their pulpit. For two years he did. Ironically, he had not yet been baptized by immersion, a Baptist requirement.

Missions were not his only interest. Altogether, A. T. wrote over fifty books and preached over 13,000 sermons. These covered a broad range of topics, including prophecy and his deepest concern, union with Christ.

Writing about Romans chapters six, seven and eight, A. T. said, "One great thought runs like a thread of gold through the whole of this process of [Paul's] reasoning, namely: that the disciple's security for non-continuance in sinning is found in his Union with the Lord Jesus Christ. This, which in previous chapters is presented as the sole ground of Justification, is now presented also as the sole basis and hope of Sanctification: as Christ does away with the penalty for sin by His death, so by His life He puts an end to its power over the true believer."

A. T.'s full life included lecturing at Moody Bible Institute. He became a Baptist in 1896. He continued to lecture on missions in prominent evangelical colleges in England and Scotland. He also wrote a biography of George Muller, the prayer-warrior who trusted God to feed thousands of orphans. A. T.'s interest in missions continued, and he helped found the mission movement known as the Student Volunteer Movement.

When C. I. Scofield published his well-known reference Bible, he used A.T. as a consulting editor. A.T. was also editor of Missionary Review of the World.. He died in 1911.


  1. "A. T. Pierson."
  2. Douglas, J. D., editor. Who's Who in Church History. Tyndale House.
  3. Johnson, Todd. "A. T. Pierson and the Year 1900: A Challenge for our Day."
  4. Kenaston, Denny. "A.T. Pierson, Gifted Warrior." theremnant/2002/march/theremnant- march2002-homehistory-pierson.cfm
  5. Pierson, A. T. "Union With Christ" Shall we continue in sin? articles/pierson/union00.shtml

Last updated June, 2007

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