Spiritual Heir

When, in 1792, William Carey drew up his epochal work, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, he gave a sketch of the history of missions. At one point, he distinguished between those missions that sought to expand the dominion of “popery,” usually “by force of arms,” and those that genuinely extended the kingdom of Christ. Among the former he listed the Roman mission of Augustine of Canterbury and Paulinus; among the latter it is the name of Patrick that receives the most attention: “The next year (435) Patrick was sent from Scotland to preach to the Irish, who before his time were totally uncivilized, and, some say, cannibals; he however, was useful, and laid the foundations of several churches in Ireland.”

This statement would appear to indicate that the evangelistic success of Patrick, and his spiritual heirs in the Celtic Church, was a source of encouragement to Carey. How much more Carey knew about the historical Patrick is not clear; but he would certainly have been thrilled and inspired by Patrick’s evangelistic zeal and God-centered spirituality.

Patrick’s World and Mission

Patrick was born around 390 AD in a place that was a part of the Roman Empire. With the way Patrick is linked to all things Irish, it is hard to believe that Patrick was not born in Ireland, but he wasn’t! He was born into a Christian home in what is now Wales, or southern Scotland, or possibly even England (to the horror of every loyal Irish patriot). When he was sixteen years of age he was taken captive by Irish pirates and, as a slave, lived in Ireland for the next six years or so. It was there in Ireland that he was converted with, in his words, “all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance.”

When Patrick was in his twenties, he escaped from captivity in Ireland and went back to his home in what had been the Roman province of Britannia. Here he would have stayed, glad as he was to get back to his family and friends. But not long after he got back, he had a dream in which he saw the Irish coming to him, asking him to return to Ireland to presumably share with them the good news about Jesus Christ.

Patrick returned to the north of Ireland in the early 430s, where he stayed for the rest of his life. As he wrote: “I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, bearing the reproach of my going abroad and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others.”

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By Brooke Conrad

Dietrich Bonhoeffer should be added to the Liberty Walk| Wikimedia Commons

Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 bewitched the German Evangelical Church. They covered their altars with swastika flags and sang Nazi songs in their services. Their new doctrine, in the words of Pastor Julius Leutheuser, was “Christ has come to us through Adolf Hitler.”

There were a few who resisted the development. Of the 18,000 Protestant pastors in Nazi Germany, about 3,000 joined the Confessing Church. This church opposed the compromised doctrine of the national “Reich Church” in 1934 by signing the Barmen Declaration, which asserted that they “repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God.” The Declaration signees included Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who would eventually give his life for the liberty of the Christian faith in Germany.

Hillsdale’s Liberty Walk has no obvious advocate for religious liberty. None of the statesmen on the walk contemplated and wrote about religious liberty to the extent that Bonhoeffer did, nor did they pay for that liberty with their lives. Bonhoeffer belongs on our Liberty Walk because liberty defined his thoughts and actions in both life and death, and because his addition to campus would appropriately reflect the college’s mission statement, in that the college considers itself a “trustee” of its theological inheritance.

Bonhoeffer died to preserve this theological inheritance in Germany. Yet, like the rest of the figures on the Liberty Walk, he was also a sort of statesman; the Barmen Declaration, which he signed, was akin to an Emancipation Proclamation for German Protestants. Through this document, Bonhoeffer helped establish the Confessing Church, and for two years afterward, he taught at a Confessing Church seminary, Finkenwalde, which the Nazis eventually shut down.

In June of 1939, Bonhoeffer left Germany after being informed that war was imminent. But he returned to Germany only a month later. “I have made a mistake in coming to America,” he said. “I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”

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“The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is, as one for whom Christ became man, died, and rose again, for whom Christ brought forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”

Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together36.

“Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it. Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love’s sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love.”

Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together, 35.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been criticized by people from many angles. Some criticize him for being too liberal; others, for not being liberal enough. Yet it is interesting to read what the man himself had to say, and indeed his words make it clear that he was, in fact, in that rather lonely area in the […]

via Bonhoeffer on American Christianity — J.W. Wartick -“Always Have a Reason”

Her name was Sabine. They were born on February 4, 1906.   

Eberhard BethgeDietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 18.

— February 21, 2018

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., reflects on the life of Billy Graham who died today at the age of 99. The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Seminary is the only graduate school the famed evangelist granted permission to use his name. Establishment of the Billy Graham School was announced in 1993 at the inauguration of Mohler, at which Graham spoke.

“An epic era of evangelical history has come to an end. Billy Graham was not only a titanic figure in evangelicalism, but in world history and perhaps represents the last of a kind. He dominated 20th century American evangelicalism and remained a major figure on the world stage throughout most of the 20th century in a way that we can envision no evangelical leader in our times.

“Billy Graham was a supremely gifted man. He was a man of deep conviction whose passionate heartbeat was for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an evangelist, and was unashamed to be called an evangelist.

Billy Graham sitting with Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during his inauguration ceremonies on Oct. 14, 1993.

“In many ways, Billy Graham did not pioneer mass evangelism and crusade evangelism; he perfected it. What others had done on a smaller scale and infrequent regularity, he began to do in a way I do not think can be replicated or equaled. He was one of the first to recognize the importance of the media – first in radio and in print media, then with television and even film. By the end of his life, his organization was pioneering new ways to reach people with the gospel by digital and social media.

“In addition to his role as an evangelist, Billy Graham was also the organizing center of evangelicalism in the 20th century, having played a dominant role in the formation of key evangelical institutions. Along with his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, an entire constellation of assorted evangelical ministries were founded by Graham, perhaps most notably, Christianity Today magazine. Surveying the list of major evangelical organizations, it’s difficult to imagine what many of them would be today — if indeed they would exist today — without the human agency of Billy Graham.

“Long maintaining his Southern Baptist identity, he was for many years a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and counted W.A. Criswell as his friend and pastor.

“Billy Graham had a long, close relationship with Southern Seminary dating back to the 1950’s. He was a close friend of Dr. Duke McCall, who was the institution’s seventh president. During the McCall years, he was frequently a speaker in Southern Seminary chapel. In 1960, the seminary established the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and in 1965 the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism was established and held successively to this day by faculty members who have taught in honor of Dr. Graham.

“In 1993 when I was elected president, Dr. Graham eagerly encouraged me and the vision that brought me to Southern Seminary by speaking at my inauguration, and by allowing us to establish the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, as it was then known. Dr. Graham was very directly involved in helping me to begin my presidency, and throughout my presidency he was an active encourager and always a partner in prayer in this task. In 2001, I was privileged to serve as chairman of the Billy Graham Crusade held in Louisville.

“I’m so thankful that on Oct. 29, 2013, I was able to introduce Dr. Graham to Adam Greenway as the new dean of the Billy Graham School and to bring a report to him on the progress of the school.

“During that meeting at his home in Montreat, N.C., I’m so glad I asked him what message he would want to give to our students. His advice on the importance of their devotional life and to ‘study more and speak less’ takes on incredible new poignancy these days. I had the very strong awareness that would be the last time I saw Dr. Graham on this earth. Over and over again he said, ‘I’m ready to be with Jesus.’ He missed his wife, Ruth, horribly, and knew he had run his race. It was a marvelous thing to see a man who knew he had finished his task. He was not eager to die, but was eager to see his Lord. He knew, even as he was dependent on oxygen at that time, at nearly 95, he was near his earthly end.

“Billy Graham also has to go down in history as a man who protected the moral integrity of his ministry from the beginning to the end. A man against whom there was never any hint of moral scandal. And thus, he needs to be recognized for having finished the race and having run a course in a manner that should serve as an inspiration to us all.

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Jon Ward

Senior Political Correspondent,
Yahoo News
Eric Metaxas speaks during the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 27, 2017. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Image

The case of Eric Metaxas still remains a puzzling one to many of his fellow evangelicals.

How could the man who wrote an admiring, bestselling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer — the German pastor martyred for his opposition to the Nazis — become one of the most prominent evangelical supporters of Donald Trump, the most authoritarian, least churchly president in recent American history?

The answers to this question go to the heart of the cultural fears that motivated a large majority of white evangelical Christians to vote for Trump, opening an enduring split among evangelical elites.

“There are not many people … who truly surprised me in the 2016 campaign,” said David French, a conservative writer for National Review who was briefly mentioned as a possible third-party presidential candidate. “Of the publicly prominent Christians [who backed Trump], the two most surprising to me were William Bennett, author of ‘The Book of Virtues,’ and Eric Metaxas, author of ‘Bonhoeffer’.”

But it wasn’t just his credentials as an intellectual that made the Yale-educated Metaxas, on the surface, an unlikely Trump backer. It was his magnetic personality, the immaculate suits, the sharp-tongued humor and his public profile in New York City, where he hosted high-minded conversations with authors and public intellectuals at the Yale Club. Malcolm Gladwell made an appearance in January 2015.

Metaxas, the son of a Greek immigrant, began his career as a writer for the successful Christian children’s TV show “VeggieTales.” His wife, Susanne, is deeply active in the antiabortion movement as president and CEO of a pregnancy support center in Manhattan. And while Metaxas’ flamboyance has crossed over into excessive self-promotion at times, he is so talented, funny and sincere that his friends just laughed it off.

You can get a sense of his quirky, dry humor from his “Socrates in the City” events, like his 2014 conversation with former talk show host Dick Cavett, including an extended riff about how the gathering is really a “UFO cult.”

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Billy Graham (BGEA)

Evangelist Billy Graham lived 99 years, wrote 30 books, met with 12 sitting American presidents and preached the gospel to millions. But when he is buried this Friday, March 2, in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he will be remembered not only as a world-changing hero of faith but as a humble preacher whose personal integrity set the gold standard for every minister in this country.

Why was this man so respected? How was he able to keep his ministry free from scandal for more than 75 years?

In 1948, when Graham was just 30 years old, he and his small ministry team met for Bible study and prayer at a tiny motel in Modesto, California. The other men in that meeting including assistant evangelist Grady Wilson, singer George Beverly Shea and song leader Cliff Barrows. Graham challenged them to pray about what codes of behavior they needed to adopt in order to keep the ministry clean.

The results of that meeting were profoundly prophetic. The men outlined what would become “the Modesto Manifesto”—a list of core ministry values that became the guiding principles of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The BGEA was founded two years later, in 1950, just one year after media coverage of Graham’s eight-week gospel campaign in Los Angeles made him a household word.

Here are the four key components of the Modesto Manifesto, along with notes that Cliff Barrows jotted down in their meeting:

  1. Honesty: “It was resolved that all communications to media and to the church would not be inflated or exaggerated. The size of crowds and the number of inquirers would not be embellished for the sake of making BGEA look better.”
  1. Integrity: “It was resolved that financial matters would be submitted to a board of directors for review and facilitation of expenditures. Every local crusade would maintain a policy of ‘open books’ and publish a record of where and how monies were spent.”
  1. Purity: “It was resolved that members of the team would pay close attention to avoiding temptation—never being alone with another woman, remaining accountable to one another, etc. A practice of keeping wives informed of their activities on the road and helping them feel a part of any and all crusades they undertook would be encouraged.”
  1. Humility: “It was resolved that members of the team were never to speak badly of another Christian minister, regardless of his denominational affiliation or differing theological views and practices. The mission of evangelism includes strengthening the body of Christ as well as building it!”

Graham has always been a spiritual hero to me for this reason. Early in his ministry—in fact, before he ever became famous—he realized that his ministry was a stewardship from God and that he could not run it any way he wanted. He had to manage it according to clear biblical principles.

Graham never forgot his humble roots, and he never let popularity change him into an egotistical monster.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the test of a society's moral character.

March 2018
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