Herbert Henry Farmer was born in Highbury, London, the youngest of four sons. Herbert's early academic proclivities at Owen's School in Islington earned him a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read for the moral sciences tripos and graduated first class in 1914. Farmer chose to work at a farm at Histon, near Cambridge, rather than entering the armed services during the First World War. In 1916 he decided to pursue ministry with the Presbyterian Church of England and was chosen as the Burney Student in the Philosophy of Religion at Westminster College, Cambridge. Following the completion of his studies in 1919, he took a pastorate at Stafford and three years later moved to a parish in New Barnet where he remained until 1931.
In 1931 Farmer left parish ministry to pursue an academic career. After a four-year post with the Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut, he returned to Westminster College, Cambridge, where he succeeded his friend John Oman as Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics. In 1936 Farmer was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the University of Glasgow, followed in 1937 by his appointment as the Stanton Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge.
Farmer retired from the college in 1960 and continued to preach and write into his twilight years. He died on 13 January 1981 in Birkenhead.
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"And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" (Matt. 26:40)
There is always that danger in religion,--the danger of regarding God as a servant, rather than as One utterly to be served. Of course, we do not put it to ourselves in those terms; we speak of a God of lo ...read
Receiving the Reward
"They have received their reward" (Matt. 6:2).
By demanding that worldliness should not be allowed even worldly success, we land ourselves with an insoluble problem: directly we discover that life does not work like that at all. The prosperity and success of the wicked have been a source of trouble to pious people in all ages. You find the Psal ...read
Sympathizing With Others
"Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven" (Matt. 9:2).
I do not find for one moment that my sinfulness makes it easier for me to fathom and to sympathize with the moral need of others. Quite the contrary I find that my own harsh judgments of myself continually make me pass harsh judgments on other people. I find that my own easy judgments ...read
Testing our Weakness
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water" (Matt. 14:28).
None of us knows what his weaknesses and his powers are, nor how exactly life will test them; but it is quite certain that we shall never know what they are, nor will life's tests teach us anything, unless we aspire to the highest that we k ...read
The Nature of the Heart
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6:28-29).
The beauty of the flowers reveals something about the nature of God.
You remember that Jesus used to set great store by the chance words of men. "Ev ...read
The Tragedy of Success
"Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24).
To Jesus the terrible thing about having wrong values in life and pursuing wrong things, is not that you are doomed to bitter disappointment, but that you are not; not that you do not achieve what you want, but that you do. The way of these people, He says, is to b ...read
"Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?...They say unto him, We are able" (Matt. 20:22).
There is always a certain obliquity, a certain element of cross-purpose, a certain displacement of perspective and vision, between a leader and his followers. That is what makes leadership the most difficult and sometimes the most heart-brea ...read