It was the summer of ’86 and I had just finished my sophomore year of college. That was when I first “met” William F. Buckley, Jr. One of my best friends had invited me to his home and when I arrived he called me into his family’s living room where he was watching a television program. The first thing I remember was noticing some guy I had never seen before slouched in his chair holding what looked like a notebook and interviewing some other guy I had never seen before. It wasn’t riveting entertainment for someone who was looking for something a bit more exciting to do with his time.
My friend asked me if I had ever seen this show before. I quickly said that I hadn’t and so he began to share with me who Buckley was and what the program was about. We ended up watching the rest of it together.
Going through my high school and college years with Ronald Reagan in the White House was very formative for me. Now, through Buckley, I would begin getting to know and better understand many of the foundational principles that undergirded our president’s philosophy of governing.
Of course, I don’t want to sound like it was all about being intensely serious. The truth is, Buckley was just plain fun to watch. I grew to love his masterful use of the English language, watching his cross-examinations of his
television guests, and laughing out loud at his many witticisms. I wanted more.
I eventually subscribed to National Review and then purchased my first book authored by Buckley, Right
Reason. Every summer my friend and I would not only watch Firing Line together, but would also make sure to watch the special two-hour Firing Line debates. (Yes, I realize how much a “nerd light” this casts me in, but
Lord help me, it was a good time that I treasured.)
I kept up with Buckley through seminary and after I graduated, in the Fall of 1992, I was finally able to meet my hero in person. He was speaking on behalf of a hospital here in Jacksonville. After he spoke there was a reception where I had the opportunity to introduce myself and get a picture with him.
It was sad news a couple of years ago when I learned of Buckley’s passing. Over the years I had grown to appreciate not only those things that appeal to a pompous young Republican, but those infinitely more important and lasting qualities such as his generosity, faith, and tireless efforts for all that he was committed to.
So why have I taken this walk down memory lane almost three years after his death? Because Fox News has been airing a six-part series on the history of the conservative movement in America, much of which has focused on Buckley. I’ve also been rereading Buckley’s Up From Liberalism. All of this created a desire within me to share a little about someone I consider worth remembering.
Below are a few of the better YouTube tributes to Buckley. Enjoy.
PS – Thanks E.K. I owe you.
PSS – Here’s a link to the original post that I wrote upon hearing of his death. It includes many links to articles, etc., by folk who actually knew him.
Grace and Truth,
One of the most encouraging messages I ever heard was from John Piper on the topic of the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon, from Piper’s 1995 pastors conference.
Click here to listen to or read the transcript from it.
For that matter, all of Piper’s biographical messages that he gives annually at that conference are some of the most inspiring, convicting, and rewarding sermons I’ve ever heard. Whether you’re a pastor or a lay-person, you owe it to yourself to check these messages out. You can listen online or download them for later. Whichever you do, please listen to them. You’ll be glad you did. Click here to see the selection of messages.
Piper recently preached the following message on Spurgeon at Reformed Theological Seminary.
I’m thinking about writing a tribute of sorts to C.S. Lewis in an effort to communicate my appreciation for him and my indebtedness to his life and writing. (This post is not that tribute.) I told my wife not too long ago that I really do think I could spend the rest of my days reading his books, or reading books about him and his books. He speaks to me as very few others do outside Scripture.
Of course, I’m no Lewis scholar. I’m a rank amateur at best. But I am a fan. And while I can’t cite every fact about his life or how he influenced such-and-such school of thought, I find myself returning to him time and time again… whether it is his fiction or nonfiction or letters or poetry. For that matter, I usually have a biography somewhere near my bedside table as well.
Until such time as I’m able to put together enough coherent thoughts to write a proper tribute to him, I thought I would pass along a “mega” Top Ten List that will actually include far more than the usual Ten. Below are links to websites by folks who really are Lewis scholars and who have also contributed to helping us think about how Lewis is a helpful guide in our walk with Christ. I have also included links to websites about his friends, his influences, and those who have been greatly influenced by him.
Joy and Truth,
1.) C.S. Lewis Institute - Bonanza of great resources. Check out their publications, Reflections and Knowing &
Doing. They have great curricula on two Lewis books as well as many audio messages you can listen to or download.
2.) C.S. Lewis Foundation - Another bonanza. Lots of great resources including an online journal and blog.
3.) The C.S. Lewis Review
4.) Into the Wardrobe
5.) Diana Glyer’s website
6.) Mere Lewis.org
7.) C.S. Lewis at Harper
8.) C.S. Lewis Society of California
9.) Narnia Web.com
10.) C.S. Lewis & Public Life
Websites with lots of articles about Lewis
1.) My old website (scroll to the bottom of the page)
2.) Catholic Education Resource Center
3.) Books and Culture
4.) C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Life
Inklings and Other Friends of Lewis Related Sites
1.) The Kindlings and Earl Palmer Ministries
2.) Peter Kreeft
3.) Ralph Wood
4.) American Chesterton Society
5.) The Tolkien Society
6.) The Inklings
7.) Mythopoeic Society
8.) George MacDonald Society
9.) George MacDonald Info Web
10.) The Hobbit Movie
A number of years ago, I read the most delightful biography about Oswald Chambers. It’s called Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, by David
McCasland. It was quite good as well as inspiring. I believe I’ve mentioned before, about two thousand times, that I love reading Christian biography. Of course, as with most people, I first met Chambers through the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. That devotional, like all of his books, was put together after his death from the notes his wife took (shorthand) from his many lectures, studies, sermons, etc. (She was quite a woman).
I own pretty close to all of Chambers’ books (due to the very kind and generous offerings of a widow who was giving away her departed husband’s library). I have treasured them.
Chambers only lived into his early 40s. As someone who will be 48 this year, I have been “forced” to compare my productivity with his. I’m not fairing well. But we moderns never seem to compare well with anyone who’s been dead for a hundred years or more (usually). At any rate, if you would like to learn more about Chambers’ extraordinary short life, you can check out the following links.
Grace and Truth,
Like many other folks, I was influenced early in my ministry by the books, audio messages, and video recordings of Francis Schaeffer. I never gave in to trying to grow his goatee or dress like him… but I’m certain from time to time I surely must have tried to speak like him.
I used to obsessively study philosophy, worldview-thinking, ethics, theology, culture, and apologetics through seminary and well into the first half of my
ministry. Francis Schaeffer helped me navigate much of that journey. He helped show me how those subjects were all connected as well as how understanding such things was essential for practical day-to-day life and ministry. More than that, his biblical, theological, and philosophical convictions compelled him to bear faithful Christian witness to the world in which he lived.
Reading Schaeffer’s works and learning more about him, his family, and his ministry also led me to discover others who have greatly impacted my thinking and ministry, such as Jerram Barrs, Os Guinness, and Dick
This post is late to the dance because this past Monday (January 30) was the centennial celebration of Schaeffer’s birth. I’ve read some great tributes to his life and ministry over the last few weeks and I thought I might share some of those, as well as some inspiring websites and ministries that are carrying on the work that Schaeffer helped revitalize in his day.
As is often the case with my blog, this post is not properly a “Top Ten” list, but it makes for a good title to the post.
I hope something mentioned here will bless you.
Grace and Truth,
A few articles about Schaeffer…
Remembering Francis Schaeffer by T.M. Moore (good list of links at the end of the article). In many ways Charles Colson and his various ministries (The Colson Center, BreakPoint, etc., are carrying on in the same spirit as Schaeffer.
100th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s Birth by Nathan Bingham at Ligonier Ministries
Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (a review by Hunter Baker) at Gospel Coalition
Francis Schaeffer at 100 at Credo Magazine
Covenant Theological Seminary’s magazine issue on Schaeffer
The Need to Read Francis Schaeffer by Todd Kappelman at Probe Ministries
Francis Schaeffer and a World in Desperate Need by Lane Dennis at Crossway
Francis Schaeffer at Wheaton
How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100 by Charles Colson
Some great websites/ministries serving in the “Schaeffer spirit”…
L’Abri Fellowship -This is the ministry that Schaeffer and his wife founded. It has greatly expanded and continues to do a wonderful job of ministering today. Check out their page on the history of L’Abri.
Francis A. Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. Jerram Barrs is closely connected to this. Two of his courses, on the early and later years of Schaeffer, are available (for free!!!) at the Covenant website. And HERE
Francis Schaeffer Studies.org -a new website and ministry launched to celebrate the 100th birthday of Schaeffer. Lots of great resources available.
Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation - The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation was incorporated in 1988 by Edith Schaeffer, Udo and Deborah Middelmann and several of their friends as a foundation of ideas.
The Francis Schaeffer Study Center - This is an awesome ministry to students. From their webpage… “The focus of the Study Center curriculum is on equipping high school students with basic biblical knowledge, an understanding of the Christian world-view and an integrated study of the literature, history, and art of western civilization.”
Other helpful resources…
And… what would a post on Schaeffer be without something from the man himself…
I have described Richard Baxter as a 17th century Renaissance man. More truthfully and accurately, he was an English puritan pastor and writer. But that
description doesn’t do him justice. According to Baxter scholars, J.I. Packer and Timothy Beougher,
“Baxter has been called the greatest of all English preachers, the virtual creator of popular Christian literature, and the most successful preacher and winner of souls and nurturer of won souls that England has ever had.”
They go on to point out that,
“As Puritanism’s leading writer on practical, devotional, moral, and apologetic themes, Baxter produced over 140 books marking out various aspects of the path of truth and holiness.”
I call Baxter a Renaissance man because of the wide interests about which he wrote. “Baxter penned treatises on grace and salvation, apologetics, …antinomianism, the sacraments, millenarianism, ethics, nonconformity, devotion, conversion, politics, and history, not to mention systematic theology.” In fact, Ian Murray points out that…
”Baxter was a many-faceted man. He was both an evangelist and scholar; a speaker and an author, a poet and a possessor of a keen analytical mind.”
How important was he in his day? John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester concluded, “If [Baxter] had lived in the primitive time he would have been one of the fathers of the church.” A biographer of Baxter says about him that “he came nearer the apostolical writings than any man in the age.” How important is he for today? Packer and Beougher tell us:
“As two students of Baxter who cannot be sufficiently thankful for the impact [Baxter] has made in our lives, we would say to every believer, get to know Baxter, and stay with Baxter. He will always do you good.”
Why would I choose Richard Baxter as my “patron saint?” Because he captured as well as anyone the worldview focus (or the “every sphere kingdom-mindedness”) of Christian discipleship. He understood that all of life (every sphere) must be faithfully integrated because Christ is the Lord of all of life. Packer writes,
“The sheer brilliance of Baxter’s achievement in crystallizing a proper form for the life of faith on a canvass as broad as life at a very high level of intelligent, Bible-based, theologically-integrated wisdom, and with unfailing compressed clarity, is dazzling to the mind. Baxter had a high view of “the unity of human life before the Lord.”
Packer says that there is no world-denial with Baxter. Instead, what Baxter calls for
“is the sanctification of all life through bringing all its manifold activities into the unity of a single overmastering
purpose – loving God, and laying hold of eternal life in its fullness. That can be put the other way round, by saying that what Baxter calls for is a branching out of the converted Christian’s heart’s desire, to know and love and please God, into biblically informed and situationally appropriate action in every department of life.”
Richard Baxter has shaped my faith and ministry and many ways. I give thanks to God for his faithful witness.
Grace and Truth,
by John Piper at Desiring God
Hebrews 11 is a divine mandate to read Christian biography. The unmistakable
implication of the chapter is that, if we hear about the faith of our forefathers (and mothers), we will "lay aside every weight and sin" and "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (12:1). If we asked the author, "How shall we stir one another up to love and good works?" (10:24), his answer would be: "Through encouragement from the living (10:25) and the dead" (chap. 11). Christian biography is the means by which "body life" cuts across the generations.
Why Pastors Specifically Need Christian Biography
This fellowship of the living and the dead is especially crucial for pastors. As leaders in the church we are supposed to have vision for the future. We are supposed to declare prophetically where our church should be going. We are supposed to inspire people with great possibilities.
Not that God can't give vision and direction and inspiration. But he also uses human agents to stir up his people. So the question for us pastors is: Through what human agents does God give us vision and direction and
inspiration? For me, one of the most important answers has been great men and women of faith who, though dead, are yet speaking.
Christian biography, well chosen, combines all sorts of things pastors need but have so little time to pursue. Good biography is history and guards us against chronological snobbery (as C. S. Lewis calls it). It is also theology - the most powerful kind—because it burst forth from the lives of people like us. It is also adventure and suspense, for which we have a natural hunger. It is psychology and personal experience, which deepen our understanding of human nature (especially ourselves). Good biographies of great Christians make for remarkably efficient reading.
Click here to read the whole article.