Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim

Guest Post by John Morrison

While “a young man, almost a beardless boy,” Patrick (c. 389-c.461) was abducted from his father’s villa in Britain by a band of Irish raiders who would sell him as a slave in their native land. While enslaved, Patrick would come to faith in Christ, and he would eventually escape back to his home in Britain. However, he would not stay home. He returned to the land of his captivity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through his missionary efforts, the gospel would gain a foothold in Ireland. Continue reading “Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim”

Lesslie Newbigin on the Mission of the Triune God

James Edward Lesslie Newbigin (1909–98), born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, was converted to Christianity during his university years at Cambridge, ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1936, commissioned as a missionary (with wife Helen) to India the same year, and spent nearly 40 years on the mission field, where he served as bishop of Madurai, India for over a decade. Newbigin returned to England at the age of 66 to teach at Selly Oaks College in Birmingham, and then took a pastorate five years later at in small congregation of the United Reformed Church (UK).

Lesslie Newbigin was a missionary, theologian, author, and pastor. He was an endearing man with a gregarious personality. Newbigin loved to tell jokes, “Did you hear the one about John Baillie and Karl Barth?” his friend Rev. Dan Beeby recalled. He also had an adventurous spirit. When Newbigin left the mission field, he made his return journey with wife Helen from Madurai to Bromely (through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey) toting only two suitcases and a rucksack, hitchhiking and bussing their way from south-central India to southeast London. Continue reading “Lesslie Newbigin on the Mission of the Triune God”

When You Don’t Feel Like Going to Church: The Puritans on Worshipping Together

In highschool, Sundays were my favorite days. If I had to miss school or a hangout with friends, I would be disappointed, but if I had to miss church, I felt off for the whole week. I loved hearing the message, singing our songs, eating a big lunch, and laying around in someone’s living room talking about anything. And when Sunday was over, I couldn’t wait until the next one.

Years later in university, Sundays became my least favorite day. I started taking medication that made me sick from Saturday to Monday, and going to church became the time I had to pretend to be happy when all I felt was depressed. On Saturday nights I dreaded the next morning, and on Sunday nights I fell asleep happy. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to get back to where I was.

Continue reading “When You Don’t Feel Like Going to Church: The Puritans on Worshipping Together”

Pascal, Anselm, and the State of Communicating Deep Ideas to an Unsuspecting Public

It has happened to all of us. We read the writings of a famously deep thinker and are forced to reread the words repeatedly to decipher their meaning. For the modern communicator it is vital to combine brilliance with eloquence. What good is a profound observation if no one can understand its meaning? Some of the most brilliant scholars struggle to communicate to young students because they cannot distill and simplify their thoughts well. As you might assume, this is not a new difficulty. Continue reading “Pascal, Anselm, and the State of Communicating Deep Ideas to an Unsuspecting Public”

Four Lessons from John Knox on Local Church Reform

John Knox, champion of the Scottish Reformation, fearless preacher, uncompromising prophet… defeated by a church business meeting?

Knox’s legend began early. Converted under the preaching of the early Scottish reformer George Wishart, he became his sword-bearer, carrying a claymore to Wishart’s preaching engagements (29).[1] After Wishart’s martyrdom, Knox became a preacher himself and his plain, fiery preaching with “ruide boldness… unto your faces” (59) won the hearts of both English and Scottish alike. Standing up to the Queen and royal authorities, he constantly called Protestant leaders to resist any compromise, not even when faced with persecution or exile (both which he himself experienced).

Soon after becoming a preacher, Knox was captured by French Catholic forces and enslaved in French galleys for 19 months. One story captures Knox’s spirit:  Continue reading “Four Lessons from John Knox on Local Church Reform”

Augustine the Pastor

Augustine, perhaps church history’s most towering figure, didn’t think his work would be remembered. In his widely read and celebrated autobiographical Confessions, he wondered: “But to whom am I telling this story? Not to you my God; rather in your presence I am relating these events to my own kin, the human race, however few of them may chance upon these writings of mine.”[1] Continue reading “Augustine the Pastor”

Jonathan Edwards on the Necessity of Good Preaching

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) had a brilliant mind, an abiding love for hot chocolate, a less-than-booming voice, was kicked out of his church (only to be asked to guest preach until a replacement could be appointed), went on mission to the Indian tribes in Stockbridge, and succeeded his son-in-law as president of Princeton University (then, the College of New Jersey). He is most well know for his 1741 sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God—an American literary classic—which is, as biographer George Marsden explained, “the most famous episode in Edwards’ career.”[1]

Edwards is also commonly associated with the First Great Awakening, in which he was an undeniably integral figure. Nevertheless, even in the midst of such evangelistic fervor, Edwards longed for the hearts of people to be everlastingly set on God. Still in the shadows of the awakening that seemed to involve nearly every person in the Connecticut-valley region, Edwards looked on disconcertingly as the people reverted to old ways. He wondered whether the awakenings had truly impacted the people. Continue reading “Jonathan Edwards on the Necessity of Good Preaching”