This is the first installment of a five-part series called, “5 Great Sermons from Church History.” This is not meant to indicate that these are the greatest or the best sermons, or even the five most important in the history of the church. However, these sermons were selected based on historical significance, content, accessibility (both good translations and comprehensibility), and each as exemplary of the particular era in which it occurred. Given the scope, the five sermons stretch over the entirety of church history. Extreme redaction is unavoidable with such a project. Each of the entries will take a similar approach, namely: Brief background on speaker and sermon, redacted block quote to capture the heart of sermon, and brief commentary on whole sermon. Continue reading “5 Great Sermons from Church History – #1 Gregory the Theologian on the Grandeur of 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”
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.”
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”
On July 10, 1909, the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, B.B. Warfield declared Calvin as, “pre-eminently the theologian of the Holy Spirit.” How could Calvin, a theologian and pastor whose commitment to Scripture was as precise as a surgeon’s knife, be the preeminent example of a theologian of the untamable Spirit God? Was Warfield being far-fetched on a day of fanfare? If not, how did Calvin maintain unfettered commitment to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in his writing, teaching, and preaching? Continue reading “John Calvin on God’s Spirit and God’s Word”