Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who is George Müller?


Throughout this month, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of George Müller, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

Why should you care about the life and ministry of George Müller?

    1.    He lived a raunchy, drunken and immoral life before his conversion to
                    Christianity.

    2. His conversion to Christ was a process, with occasional setbacks.

    3. He committed himself (and his wife) to voluntary poverty at 25 years old.

    4. He endured a lifetime of bodily struggles and ailments.

    5. He built five orphanages and brought into his family over 10,000 orphans.

    6. He never told anyone of the needs of the orphanages or the orphans themselves 
        expect asking God through prayer.

    7. He spent over 7 million dollars in money given to his work  (in the 1800's)
        and died virtually penniless.

    8. His life of faithful prayer and absolute trust in God is legendary.


George Müller (1805—1897) 

George Müller was born in Germany on September 27, 1805. In his early life he was not an honest person. From the time he was ten years old he was stealing money from his father. As time passed he also stole from his friends. He finally was arrested and locked up with other thieves such as he, and even with murderers. In these dire circumstances he began to take stock of his life, but it was still not enough to make him change his ways.
He attended the University of Halle and had a friend named Beta who invited him to a Bible study. They talked of a loving God and knelt when they prayed. Müller's heart was touched and it was the start of a new life for him.

He had an opportunity to teach German to some Americans at the University. This paid for his college expenses. He continued to study the Bible and began to preach. He dreamed of becoming a missionary.

He was spared from going into military service because of his poor health. In 1829 he went to London and met Henry Craik, a man who would have a huge impact on him. Henry talked with him about people who sold their possessions and gave to the poor. Müller was intrigued by the teaching. He talked with the members of the missions board who were supporting him about this idea of living by faith and depending on God to provide when you pray. They said they would not support him on this basis.

He next went to preach at Ebenezer Chapel at Teignmouth, a small congregation of 18 members. During that year he was rebaptized as a believer.

He fell in love with Mary Groves who also shared his convictions. Within three months they were married. They sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor. They determined to only depend on God for their needs.

After two years Henry Craik asked Müller to move to Bristol to work with him. In the 1800's orphans had no one to care for them and had to beg for or steal food in order to survive. People did not have pity on them, and the government put the children in work houses where they worked long hours under the harshest of conditions.

Charles Dickens' story of Oliver Twist brought the plight of these unfortunate children to light.

In 1835 there were only a dozen orphan homes in all of England and Wales, but they charged fees to care for the children. Poor children who became orphans had to move in with relatives or were sent to work in the workhouses.

Müller began to pray about starting an orphan house. Money began to come in even though he didn't solicit money from people. His vision was for the orphan home to be for children who were truly orphaned, having lost both parents. None would be turned away due to poverty or race. The children would be educated and trained for a trade.

"God will provide", he said. He talked with people about the need for caring for these waifs. Gifts of furniture, money, dishes etc. began to come in. Müller kept a detailed record of every gift. People showed up offering to teach and work in the orphanage. He found a place to rent.

Everything was ready, but they had no orphans to care for. He had forgotten to ask God for the orphans. He prayed again and they started coming. The first house he opened was for 30 girls, then he opened a second and a third house. The first two years went well, but the next seven years were hard. Sometimes mealtime arrived, but there was no food. They would pray and at the last minute food would be brought for the children.

During Müller's lifetime he gave away $700,000 that had been given to him for his personal needs. He spent hours every day studying the Bible and praying. He felt that God was calling him to care for even more orphans. After five weeks of prayer he determined that God wanted him to build a large facility. It would be expensive, $18,000. That's the equivalent to $1,000,000 in today's money.

He found seven acres at Ashley Down that seemed to be the perfect place. The landowner reduced the price for him. Müller would not go into debt to build. He had to have the money in hand before he would start building. Economic times were hard, but after 2 1/2 years he had the funding. Two years later in 1849 the first building was completed to house 300 children. Over the next 21 years four more homes were built in which over 2,000 children would be cared for.

Charles Dickens heard a rumor that the children in Müller's care were starving, so he went to Ashely Down to see for himself. He was so impressed with the good care they were getting he wrote articles for the newspapers telling about the work.

James Wright became Müller's helper and the older man trained him to be his successor. Müller's daughter and James were married. Müller's wife Mary died and he later remarried. Susannah Sangar was 16 years younger than George. She, just as Mary had been, was an excellent helpmate to him.

With his son-in-law James to run the orphanges, Susannah arranged speaking tours for her husband, who was now 70 years old. She said he needed to tell others his message of depending on God for everything. The couple traveled all over the world.

On one voyage off the coast of Newfoundland the fog was so thick the ship could not travel. Müller had a speaking engagement to attend in Quebec. He and the captain prayed for the fog to lift. The fog lifted and Müller was on time for his appointment. Later when they visited Washington D.C. they met with President Rutherford Hayes at the White House. They told him about their work in Bristol. Müller spoke in many places in America.

In 17 years they traveled 200,000 miles, visiting 42 countries urging people to read their Bibles, pray, and rely on God.

Susannah died when she was 73 years old. George Müller passed away on March 10, 1898 at the age of 92. Thousands of people lined the streets to honor him. Two thousand orphans were in attendance.

In addition to caring for over 10,000 orphans George Müller also paid for the printing of Bibles and tracts. He gave away more than 250,000 Bibles. He paid tuition for hundreds of children to go to school. During his lifetime he raised the equivalent of $7,000,000 which he gave away, and when he died he had only a little money left.

***The facts in this story were found and adapted from many public online sources.

Friday, October 28, 2011

J.I. Packer—A man whose convictions cost him a “dear friend”.

There is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). This applies to the unfortunate conflict and subsequently separation of two “redwoods of the Christian faith”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J.I. Packer. The issue that ignited the separation was important; this was NOT two Christians arguing about the “color of the carpet”.

Yet the question I want to ask and answer in this blog post is: “Was this conflict avoidable?” The excerpt below will set the historical context and the issue of contention.

“Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones had become increasingly concerned over the theological liberalism of the World Council of Churches. By 1965, he was convinced that it was impossible for an evangelical to belong to a denomination which was affiliated to the WCC. Evangelicals who were members of such churches would be contaminated by others within the denominations who openly denied or challenged key tenets of the Christian faith. Evangelicals who remained within doctrinally mixed churches—such as the Church of England (which J.I. Packer did)—were therefore ‘guilty by association’, in that they failed to maintain loyalty to their evangelical convictions through their association with such people. At a meeting of the Westminster Fellowship on June 16th, 1965, Lloyd-Jones argued that theologically orthodox Anglicans (such as J.I. Packer) should consider ‘coming out of their denominations’. Instead of believing that they could ‘infiltrate the various bodies to which they belong and win them over’, evangelicals should stand together. For Lloyd-Jones, it was inevitable that 1966 would see ‘a crisis on what is to me the fundamental issue, namely, do we believe in a territorial church or a gathered community of saints’”? (p. 120).  
 Now some will read this excerpt, agree with the position of Lloyd-Jones, and quickly condemned Packer. But to be fair to Packer, the reader must understand his bilateral approach to the gospel ministry, an approach that HE CONSISTENTLY LIVED OUT THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. Here is a taste of it:

‘While some have argued that Packer was a bold reformer who somehow lost his nerve over the period of 1966-1971 (a view especially associated with the circle around Lloyd-Jones), it is quite clear that Packer was following his own consistent reforming agenda, using writers such as George Whitefield, Charles Simeon and J.C. Ryle as models. This approach pointed to a “bilateral agenda”, rather than the unilateral agenda which was increasingly associated with the Lloyd-Jones faction. On the one hand, Packer would thus work with evangelicals across denominational divides, believing that the nature of their fellowship transcended those denominational loyalties. Packer regularly spoke at interdenominational preaching meetings throughout the nation, in pursuance of this goal. On the other hand, he would work for the establishment of orthodoxy and renewal within his own church (the Church of England), on the basis of what Packer would later refer to as ‘an ideology of a constructive reforming agenda’”. (p. 128)
For many readers, the approach of Packer is not convincing. Some will conclude that he prioritized ‘unity over doctrine’.

To be clear, I don’t believe that is fair assessment of Packer. Yet, would I embrace his “bilateral agenda”? No, I couldn’t. Furthermore, I am more sympathetic to the convictions of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, regarding the doctrinal purity of the local church.

The bigger question for me is, “Should Lloyd-Jones have separated from Packer?”

First, it is a matter of conviction.

Unless you could assert that J.I. Packer was unbiblical for trying to reform the Church of England, is it right to stamp him as a non-evangelical?

Packer has absorbed these attacks for 40 years now. His response has always been the same: He doesn’t leave because 1) the Church of England still submits to the orthodox creeds of church history and 2) history is filled with examples of certain Christians that are called to stay and fight for orthodoxy within these denominations (i.e. the role of Thomas Crammer (1489-1556), who is responsible for the present day “reformed thread” within the Church of England.

Furthermore, scripture does not give explicit instruments of how and when to leave the local church (or state church). If this is true, shouldn’t we use some “sanctified hesitation” before we shun the name and approach of J.I. Packer?

Second, it is the gospel that matters most.

I will go on record saying that I would have J.I. Packer preach at my church. Though I am uncomfortable with his connections to ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) and Essentials 94 (a Canadian version of ECT), this connection would not prevent me from having “the preeminent 20th century theologian” come and expound God’s word. Why? Because in my estimation, Packer still upholds the “unadjusted gospel”. Some might challenge me on this, especially in light of these words from Packer:
“Evangelicalism was ‘Christianity at its purest’; this did not, however, preclude collaboration, dialogue or debate with ‘other mutations of Christianity….which seem less close to the spirit, belief and thrust of the New Testament’”.
Isn’t the gospel......either the gospel or not? Does the New Testament allow for “mutations” of the gospel? Of course not (Gal. 1:8-9). But in defense of Packer, he is not arguing to allow mutations of the gospel, but simply giving his defense on why he believes he can dialogue with those who have embraced mutations of it.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t hold hands with those who Packer does, but his conviction does not mean he embraces an “adjusted gospel”. Therefore, my convictions would allow me to have him preach at my church.

Third, we must be careful of the “guilt by association” mentality.

This “smacks” of the “Bob Jones type” of fundamentalism. Separation, in those circles, is assumed and encouraged. Here is a typical example: “I saw you have lunch with someone….who attends a church…that has a pastor who is a neo-evangelical, therefore, you must be a neo-evangelical!” What is the main problem here? No context, no heart assessment, no Christian love.

Now was J.I. Packer unwise to stay and try to reform the Church of England? Maybe. But, honestly, if I were to pick one Christian to stay and battle, wouldn’t you want the guy that wrote Knowing God and Fundamentalism and the Word of God

Again, I am not advocating giving an ear (or a platform) to someone who has embrace a false gospel or has rejected some of the key tenets of the Christian faith (2 John 1:10-11). THIS IS WHY I WILL NOT ATTEND THE ELEPHANT ROOM THIS YEAR http://www.theelephantroom.com/, because of the invitation of T.D. Jakes, who has (in my opinion) a distorted view of the Trinity, which put him outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. I am simply saying that I will not ignorantly condemn Packer just because someone places the ‘guilt by association’ label on him.

Both men (Lloyd-Jones and Packer) will always be held in high regard by informed Christians and the pages of church history. Could division have been avoided? Probably not….since the gospel was at stake (at least in the minds of Lloyd-Jones and his followers). Nevertheless, it should make us take a second look when we are willing to break fellowship for a possible case of “guilt by association”.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

J.I. Packer—A man who helped Christians reconcile the sovereignty of God, prayer and evangelism

Packer was a man of the times. He seemed to always have his thumb on the issues of the day. This is one of the reasons why he was profoundly influential in the 20th century.

This quote gives the reader some insight into Packer’s “thumbprint”.
“Packer’s views on predestination and election were strongly Reformed, stressing the sovereignty of God in creation and redemption. Not all students at Tyndale Hall were entirely sympathetic to Packer’s views in this area, particularly in relation to predestination. One issue which emerged as particularly important in the late 1950’s concerned a tension between the sovereignty of God and the need to evangelize. If God was sovereign, why bother to evangelize? It was an issue which had emerged as important at several points in church history. For example, when the Baptist missionary William Carey announced his intention to found a Mission Society, he met with the following response from one of those whose advice he asked, ‘When God is pleased to convert the heathen, He will do so without your aid or mine’” (p. 90).
 Here are a few things J.I. Packer helped us with:

Prayer makes sense if God is sovereign.

Why do we pray? Well, for a lot of reasons. But the main reason is this: To ask God to bend our will to His will. Scripture is clear that God’s way is the best way, because He is good and sovereign.

James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Packer is helpful here. He states:
“When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts; every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands.”
Maybe the question you want to ask is this: ‘Why pray if everything is ordained and known by God?” Admittedly, I struggled with this early in my Christian walk. It seemed to me that God couldn’t truly respond to my request because everything was “etched in stone”. Yet as I studied God’s word more, I realized that He promises that He will respond to prayer. James says:

James 5:17-18 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

The narrative is clear that God responded to the prayers of Elijah. He does act. He does care for His creation.

So what are we to conclude? This simple fact: God is sovereign and God responds to prayer. In other words, this is a mystery. The funny thing is humans don’t like mystery. It assumes something beyond us, something we can’t understand. Also, it attacks our thirst for autonomy and self-sufficiency. This verse below has always been a help to me.

Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.


Evangelism is NOT incompatible with the sovereignty of God.

The bible is very clear about what Christians are supposed to be doing while Jesus is away: We are to share the good news of salvation with everyone (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Yet many Christians, as they grow in their understanding of scripture, find it difficult to reconcile evangelism and the sovereignty of God in salvation. Notice how these verses show both elements.

Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people."

In Acts 16, Paul is preaching the good news to a group of ladies at the river. Then God opens the eyes of Lydia and she responded to the gospel. Clearly, Paul spoke and God opens her eyes. Is this synergism? No, it is NOT. Only God can breathe life into a dead heart (John 3:7-8; Eph. 2:8-9).

In Acts 18, God is encouraging Paul, who is struggling with the fear of man (this is a comfort to me…knowing the apostle Paul struggled with this), promising that He will be with him. Then we read a fascinating phrase “for I have many in this city who are my people.". This means that God has already ordained the people (in the city of Corinth) that will respond to the gospel (spoken from the mouth of Paul). Packer, in his reflection on this profound truth, states:

“It is God who brings men and women under the sound of the gospel, and it is God who brings them to faith in Christ. Our evangelistic work is the instrument that He uses for this purpose, but the power that saves is not in the instrument: it is in the hand of the One who uses the instrument”.

I imagine Paul’s renewed vigor to proclaim the gospel, since he knows that God is working in the hearts of the citizens of Corinth. You may ask, “Who was Paul supposed to share the gospel with?” The answer…..EVERYONE!! Paul didn’t know who God was working on, but he believed in the power of the gospel, which caused him to simply sow the seeds of the gospel.

It is no different for the Christian today. Sow the seed of the gospel. Pray fervently. Live in humility under the magnificent incomprehensibility of the Eternal God. I leave you with the profound words of J.I. Packer.
“The knowledge, then, that God is sovereign in grace, and that we are impotent to win souls, should make us pray, and keep us praying. What should be the burden of our prayers? We should pray for those whom we seek to win, that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts; and we should pray for ourselves in our own witness, and for all who preach the gospel, that the power and authority of the Holy Spirit may rest upon them.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

J.I. Packer--A man who loves the Puritans

In 1950, J.I. Packer, O. Raymond Johnston and the legendary D. M. Lloyd-Jones began what would be known as the Puritan Conferences. These conferences lasted for roughly 20 years and are undoubtedly the reason for the resurgence of puritan theology and puritan reprints. Here is an excerpt from the mouth of Packer himself:
“The interests of the Conference are practical and constructive, not merely academic. We look on the Puritans as our fellow-Christians, now enabled to share with us, through the medium of their books, the good things which God gave them three centuries ago…And the question which we ask is not simply the historical one; what did they do and teach? (though, of course, that is where we start); our questions are rather these: how far is their exposition of the Scriptures a right one? And what biblical principles does it yield for the guiding of our faith and life today? The second half of each session of the Conference is devoted to discussing the contents of the paper that has been read, from the standpoint of these two questions.”  (This excerpt is found in Packer’s foreword to A Goodly Heritage: Puritan and Reformed Studies Conference, 1958)
But why did J.I. Packer have such a deep love and affection of the Puritans?

First, Packer loved the Puritans because it helped him understand his battle with sin.

Many people, including J.I. Packer, were influenced by the Keswick (also known as “Victorious Living”) movement, which began around 1875. This movement focused on the concept of “full or total surrender”, which when embraced would supposedly lead to a sustained victory over sin. The mantra of Keswick teaching is to “let go and let God”. According to their teachers, this consecration would eventually produce victory over sin.

Packer became increasingly discouraged because of his inability to make any spiritual steps. This is when he found the great work by John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers. Owen’s approach was different. He argued that “sanctification is progressive and requires the Christian to “kill” sin at its root” (Col. 3:5). In this approach there was finally relief for Packer, because now he had a clear, biblical plan of attack, which gave him hope through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2).

Christians today need to read the Puritans we need to be reminded of the destructive reality of indwelling sin. To them it truly was their enemy, their nemesis, not simply a spiritual hangnail that causes some discomfort. Some accuse the Puritans of being too scrupulous or having a morbid focus of sin. This perception of the Puritans is the popular view, but it is from those who are ignorant of the historical facts. Certainly there were some that tipped the scale in the direction of morbid introspection, but again that was the exception, not the rule.

Second, Packer loved the Puritans because of their balance of theology and spirituality.

Packer once said that modern evangelicals are dwarfs compared the Puritans, who are like redwood trees. If this is true, why it is? Though one answer is likely too simplistic, yet I would agree with Packer when he states it is ‘their balance of theology and spirituality’. One of my favorite quotes of Packer is this:
“If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both.”
Packer asserts that the majority of the Puritans would agree with this sentiment. Yet at a broader level, the desire of the “true” Puritan is a God-centered life, a life that put everything under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity, every hour at work, every meal with the family was an opportunity to speak of God and live for Him.

So how does American Christianity resurrect this balance? The same way the Puritans did….by actively being transformed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which begins with a correct understanding of the gospel. When a Christian fears God, he will hate sin. When a Christian saturates his mind with the Word, he will love Christ more. When a Christian commits to pray, he will see how personal and imminent God is with His creation. 

Third, Packer loved the Puritans because they believed this life was transitory.

For the Puritan, life was likened to a gymnasium. It was a training ground, a preparation for eternity. With this mindset, eternal life was always sweeter than this earthly, sin-ridden life. Their discipline made sense with this perspective. It was not to earn the righteousness of Christ, but to gain it and to proclaim it (Phil 3:8-14).

How does the Christian retain or generate this mindset? Mark Dever gives a simple answer:
“Lose your hope in the return of Christ and you will lose your way in the Christian life”.
Are you ready for His return? What have you done with your stewardship of the gospel? Have you told your neighbors about Jesus? Would you smile at the sound of the trumpet, hide from His perfect face or ask for more time?

For me, it is the untimely departure of a loved one that brings me back to reality. It is no wonder that the men of old thought often about their death. I leave you with the words of Jonathan Edwards:
“Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

J.I. Packer—A man who lived with a facial deformity


Bullying is a serious thing. Nowadays, kids are able to bully other kids verbally, physically and now virtually. For James Innell Packer, bullying changed his life forever.

“He was always being bullied. Another boy chased him out of school grounds on to the busy London Road outside. A passing bread van could not avoid hitting him. He was thrown to the ground with a major head injury. The young boy was taken to the Gloucester Royal Infirmary and rushed into the operating room. He was discovered to have a depressed compound fracture of the frontal bone on the right side of his forehead, with injury to the frontal lobe of the brain. After surgery, the boy was left with a small hole in his right forehead, about two centimeters in diameter. The injury would remain clearly visible for the rest of his life.” (p. 1)

So what can we learn from this unfortunate circumstance?

Packer’s injury was used by God to mold him and stretch him.

How did it mold him? As a boy, Packer was quiet and introspective. His love for reading was quite apparent early in childhood. This was the boy who was filled with delight when he received a typewriter as a present (age 11). Yet his injury intensified his shyness and introverted nature. Outside play seemed uncontrolled, which led to indoor activities, free from the unknowns and uncertainty of physical play.

Undoubtedly, God used this injury to mold the intellect of J.I. Packer. The hours indoors, typing on the typewriter, processing creative thoughts, instilled within Packer a discipline that soon God would use to enlighten the minds of Christians around the world.

But though this injury was molding the young Packer into a great intellect, God also used it to stretch him, reminding him that he still need God’s grace for every moment of every day. Social interactions were difficult for Packer. Sustaining friendships proved a greater challenge than the feelings of loneliness he occasionally felt. But, as with anything in life, the bigger God becomes to you, the less important you see yourself.

If you have read the writings of J.I. Packer, then you would expect him to view his injury in the proper perspective. This is a man that believed in the sovereignty of God. This is a man who understood that God has ordained every event in this life (Prov. 16:4). This is a man that believed God works all things together for his good (even facial deformities), to help make him more into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).

A proper view of God is essential to proper thinking, especially in the midst of a “tragic” or “unfortunate” accident. What comfort in knowing there is a good God who is in control! Not only that, but the comfort knowing that God has orchestrated events to produce the growth needed to accomplish His will.

Is “thinking” this way always easy? No, because often God doesn’t give us the reasons for His actions, nor is He required to (Job 38:1-5). The creation must trust in the goodness of the Creator. The Christian must believe in the promises found in the Bible, which are from the mouth of God Himself. Therefore, if the Bible says God is good and His ways are perfect, then my sister (and brother-in-law) who raises a child with autism can have “indescribable joy” (James 1:2-4) knowing that God will not only give them the daily grace to accomplish the task He has ordained, but also the knowledge that this is God’s perfect way to “make them complete in Christ” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Did J.I. Packer have days when he asked, “Why me, God?” Maybe early in his Christian life. But the mature Packer would tell you that is a foolish question to ask. The reason it is foolish because the Bible says that God is good. The question you should be asking is this, “Do I believe and trust what the Bible says?”

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Who is J.I. Packer?

Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of J.I. Packer, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

Why should you care about the life and ministry of J.I. Packer?

1.   His book Knowing God is a Christian classic.
2.   His book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a Christian classic. 
3.   His love for the Puritans helped ignite a resurgence of 20th century interest in Puritanism.  
4.   His disagreement with D. M. Lloyd-Jones is a good example of a bad example.  
5.   His balance of Calvinism and ecumenicalism is unique and refreshing.
6.   His facial deformity did not limit his usefulness in Christian ministry.

 
J.I. Packer (1926—present),
James Innell Packer (born in Gloucester, England) is a British-born Canadian Christian theologian in the Calvinistic Anglican tradition. He currently serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is considered to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century.

The son of a clerk for the Great Western Railway, Packer won a scholarship to Oxford University. He was educated at Corpus Christi College, obtaining the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (1948), Master of Arts (1952), and Doctor of Philosophy (1955).

It was as a student at Oxford where he first met C.S. Lewis whose teachings would become a major influence in his life. In a meeting of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, Packer committed his life to Christian service.

He spent a brief time teaching Greek at Oak Hill Theological College in London, and in 1949 entered Wycliffe Hall, Oxford to study theology. He was ordained a deacon (1952) and priest (1953) in the Church of England, within which he became recognized as a leader in the Evangelical movement. He was Assistant Curate of Harborne Heath in Birmingham 1952-54 and Lecturer at Tyndale Hall, Bristol 1955-61. He was Librarian of Latimer House, Oxford 1961-62 and Principal 1962-69. In 1970 he became Principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol, and from 1971 until 1979 he was Associate Prinicipal of Trinity College, Bristol, which had been formed from the amalgamation of Tyndale Hall with Clifton College and Dalton House-St Michael's.

In 1978, he signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed a conservative position on Biblical inerrancy.

In 1979, Packer moved to Vancouver to take up a position at Regent College, eventually being named the first Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, a title he held until his retirement. A prolific writer and frequent lecturer, although best known for a single book, "Knowing God," Packer is widely regarded in conservative Protestant circles as one of the most important theologians of the modern era. He is a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today. In recent years, he has become an outspoken proponent of the ecumenical movement but believes that unity should not come at the expense of abandoning orthodox Protestant doctrine. Nonetheless, his advocacy of ecumenicism has brought sharp criticism from some conservatives, particularly after the publication of the book Evangelicals and Catholics Together : Toward a Common Mission (ed. Charles Colson, Richard J. Neuhaus) in which Packer was one of the contributors.

Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version, an Evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. He is now at work on his magnum opus, a systematic theology.

Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version of the Bible (2001), an Evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version of 1971.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

D.L. Moody—A man who was always had a “child-like thirst” for knowledge


Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

Below is an interaction between Dr. William Plumer, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and D.L. Moody, which gives the reader some insight into his “child-like thirst”:

Mr. Moody: “Is any given amount of distress necessary to genuine conversion?”
Dr. Plumer: “Lydia had no distress—we read of none. God opened her heart, and she attended to the things spoken of by Paul. But the jailer of Philippi would not have accepted Christ without some alarm.”

Mr. Moody: “Well, Doctor, what is conversion?”
Dr. Plumer: “Glory be to God there is such a thing as conversion. To be converted is to turn from self, self-will, self-righteousness, all self-confidence, and from sin itself, and to be turned to Christ.”

Mr. Moody: “Can a man be saved here tonight, before twelve o’clock—saved all at once?”
Dr. Plumer: “Why not? In my Bible I read of three thousand men gathered together one morning, all of them murderers, their hands stained with the blood of the Son of God. They met in the morning, and before night they were all baptized members of Christ.”

Mr. Moody: “How can I know that I am saved?”
Dr. Plumer: “Because of the fact that God is true. Let God be true, but every man a liar. If I accept Jesus Christ, it is not Mr. Moody's word, it is the Word of the living God, whose name is Amen.”

Mr. Moody: “I don’t feel that I love Christ enough.”
Dr. Plumer: “And you never will. To all eternity, you never will love Him as much as He deserves to be loved.”

This interaction blows my mind. Moody is 40 years old, a man of global fame, who has led thousands of people to Christ and yet during a revival in Philadelphia he is genuinely and humbly asking questions to Dr. Plumer (who was in his 70’s) about conversion! Would you ask these questions? Would I?

Moody was different because he was humble.

I spent a few moments thinking about how rare is humility of Moody is. What compels a man to ask such foundational questions, to a man known as a theological giant, without any regard for that man’s opinion of him? It is a man who fully believes the work of an evangelist is solely the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a man that cares only that he was faithful to stand and proclaim the truth. It is a man who believed that if this is God’s task for him, he would empower him and bring the proper results. It is a man who accomplished things beyond human comprehension, simply because he trusted in the power of God, rather than the power of D.L. Moody.

But why don’t more of us live like this? The reasons are many, here are just a few: We love to be comfortable. We love the applause of men. We don’t believe in the power of the gospel. We are practical deists.

All of the above reasons are self-evident, but how are we “practical deists”? A deist believes in a Creator, but not a personal, imminent Creator. In other words, a deist believes in a God that doesn’t care and doesn’t reveal Himself in the affairs of His creation. Christians are practical deists when we live faithless lives. We live how we want; because we believe God doesn’t care and doesn’t engage in the affairs of men. Not so with Moody. He believed that God acts. He believed that God is big enough and powerful enough to breathe life into thousands of rebellious human hearts…in one night.

Moody did not let his lack of training hinder his ministry.

Many people, in their assessment of Moody, called him a “man of common gifts”. He regretted never going to college, but he would always say that “he was doing the best he could without it”. Furthermore, though his oratory skills were often criticized as being “unrefined”, the words of Lord Shaftesbury ring loud and clear. He stated, “ I thank God Mr. Moody was not educated at Oxford for he had a wonderful power of getting at the hearts of men, and while the common people hear him gladly, many persons of high station have been greatly struck with the marvelous simplicity and power of his preaching”.

Many Christians convince themselves that they do not have enough training, intellect or natural abilities to be servants of the King. This thinking, though common, is unfortunate and unbiblical. I am not sure if the problem is the ignorance of scripture as much as a low view of God. Maybe it is a fusion of both. Yet God says that He “chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (I Cor. 1:27). Furthermore, in His infinite wisdom, He prefers to use servants that feel totally inadequate for the appointed task (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Why is this the way that God works? I believe the primary reason is because the “weak” bring more glory to His Name. Do we think it coincidental that the Jewish leaders were shocked by these common, untrained disciples in Acts 4:13? Or that Israel, God’s chosen people, who were small in number and lacked military strength, were chosen to present God’s glory to the nations (Deut. 7:7-8)? Or that the blind man of John 9 displayed the glory of God, though he had NO human influence and was a social outcast? All of these “weak” examples were used by God to magnify His name, why would we want to live according to our strength?

My interaction with Moody is coming to an end. I leave you with the words of C.I. Scofield spoken at Moody’s funeral:

“He expected the supernatural to work, but through the natural.”  Let’s work hard for the Master!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

D.L. Moody—A man who grew up without a dad

Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.
“It was foreign to the disposition of Edwin Moody (D.L. Moody’s father) to give much thought to the future, and so it is not strange that he made little or no provision for the contingency of his sudden death. When, therefore, he was stricken down without a moment’s warning at the early age of forty-one, the widow was left with practically no means of support.”
It is unclear the age of Moody when his father died, but one can assume that it was heartbreaking for the family. Yet death is part of the human existence and the biography that I read (the one written by Moody’s son) focuses more on the burden carried by Moody’s mother, rather than the loss of their beloved husband and father.

The question I have is this: What impact (if any) did Moody’s loss play in his personal development and future ministry?

Yet before I give my answer I want something to be very clear: D.L. Moody was affected by his childhood experiences, not defined by them.

Please notice the distinction between “affected” and “defined”. Are all of us affected by our upbringing? Absolutely. The experiences in life shape us and challenge us, but they don’t have to define us.


First, the death of Moody’s father fueled his care for orphaned or misguided youth (YMCA).

I don’t believe it is coincidence that D.L. Moody had a profound love for orphaned and misguided youth. Though looked after by an uncle and a Unitarian preacher, the young Moody must have seen himself in many of the orphaned children he saw on the streets of Chicago.

Undoubtedly, Moody, early in his childhood, was comforted and challenged by the fact that God is the “Father to the Fatherless” (Psa. 68:5). His mother reminded him of God's goodness and provision, even in the most difficult times. Yet, the more mature Moody, came to believe that he was specifically called (as are ALL Christians) to bring this comfort (both material and spiritual) to these children, through the means of the gospel, which gives sight to the blind, rest to the weary (Matt. 11:28) and nourishment to those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty (John 6:35). 

Yet the zeal of Moody is often balanced by his common sense and playful spirit. Biographers mention often that Moody would be seen walking through the streets of Chicago, inviting children to Sunday School and young men to these “associations” (i.e. the YMCA) and no matter their response, he always had candy in his pocket for them to enjoy. 

Second, the death of Moody’s father likely fostered his spirit of independence and self- sufficiency.

The Moody family made it financially, but not by much. Moody left home as soon as he could to find his own way. After a stop or two, he ended up in Boston, which is where he began working in the shoe business. It became apparent early on that Moody was a good salesman. His magnanimous personality and bold disposition compelled people to buy into what he was selling. Yet as he found more financial independence, he began to feel the weight of God's calling and the undeniable joy of godly dependence. Finally, Moody submitted to the words of Jesus, who made it clear that "you cannot serve both God and money" (Matt. 6:24). Later on, Moody said that the toughest decision he ever made was leaving the business world.

Did Moody lose that magnanimous personality and bold disposition? Never! This is the wonder of the transforming work of God in the hearts of men. Instead, Moody began to use these gifts and talents for God and Him alone. Furthermore, his indomitable spirit would serve him well, since many friends and co-laborers would try to discourage him from "thinking big" or "thinking outside of the box", but always to no avail. 

Third, the death of Moody’s father may have been a constant reminder that life is a “mist”.

Death is unnatural. It often comes without warning. For many, it is a reminder to not waste time. For others, it forces us to prioritize, to put God back where He belongs or at least consider the possibly of a Creator.

I believe for Moody the untimely death of his father compelled him to look at others differently. Any of these young men he saw on the street could die at any moment. Any of these businessmen could be travelling and suddenly fall over dead. Therefore, within Moody there was always an urgency to share the gospel. Time is short and only God knows the number of your days. Boldness must be embraced. The souls of men required immediate attention.

Fourth, the death of Moody’s father was overshadowed by his insatiable love for Jesus Christ.

Moody not only feared God, but he loved Him and followed Him. He viewed it as a supreme privilege to be given a “stewardship” of the gospel. He knew that he was “bought with a price” so he desired to glorify God in every area of his life (1 Cor. 6:20). He never acted like a victim nor used his situation as an "excuse". He never had to "find himself", because he knew who he was.....A sinner saved by grace. Therefore, Moody's hope was fixed on Christ, the author and perfecter of his faith (Heb. 12:1-3). Though I am speculating, I am fairly confident that if asked about he dealt with the loss of his father, Moody would have quoted this verse: 

Job 1:21 And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Monday, October 10, 2011

D.L. Moody—A man who was turned down for church membership.


Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots" of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

In May, 1855, young Moody presented himself for membership in the Mount Vernon Church, from the records of which the following minute is taken:
“No. 1079. Dwight L. Moody. Boards, 43 Court Street. Has been baptized. First awakened on the 16th of May. Became anxious about himself. Saw himself a sinner, and sin now seems hateful and holiness desirable. Thinks he has repented; has purposed to give up sin; feels dependent upon Christ for forgiveness. Loves the Scriptures. Prays. Desires to be useful. Religiously educated. Been in the city a year. Is not ashamed to be a Christian. 18 years old.”
As a pastor and a Christian, I am as much amazed at the confession of Moody as I am his rejection by the leaders of the church. Moody seemed to understand all the elements of the gospel and even showed some immediate signs of true conversion (i.e. new desires that stems from a new heart—Ezek. 36:26). Yet I will not criticize their decision (but I revisit this issue at the end of this blog entry), since Moody himself appreciated their hesitation. 

In light of this incident, here are a couple things we can learn from Moody:

Moody always had a high view of the local church.

Sometimes people accuse those who have iterant ministries or who create “para-church organizations” as having a “low view” of the local church. Though this may be the case with others, this is an unfair assessment of Moody. On many occasions when challenged on this issue, Moody would often say, “It (i.e. Y.M.C.A. / Northfield Schools / Moody Bible Institute) is a handmaid, a feeder to the church”. 

Moody was convinced that the visible church is God’s way of growing His children to look more like Jesus (Heb. 10:24-25). This is why he would not come to certain cities (to do his evangelistic campaigns) if there wasn’t an appropriate atmosphere of togetherness for the gospel. He wanted the city (and all of the evangelical churches) to be ready for the new converts as the wind of the Holy Spirit blew through (John 3:6-7).

I have always believed that there would be less para-church organizations, if local churches would embrace their mission (Acts 1:8).  What often happens is that Christians get weary of the politics of the local church or their lack of compassion and seek ministry outside the walls of the local church. Leaders must be careful to not to squelch the promptings of the Holy Spirit within the people of God. Lead the people, shepherd the people, even protect the people from their own lack of discernment, but let us make sure we are not hindering a mighty work of God out of fear it might “muddy up” our perfect church. 

Moody embraced what God wanted him to be.

Like George Whitefield, there were many who invited Moody to “settle down” and pastor their church. Yet he always turned them down. Why? Because he was comfortable in his own skin. He knew that God has called him to do a certain task for His glory.

Yet even with all the spiritual success of Moody, some still argue that Moody did it outside (not through) the ordained means of the local church. Is this assessment correct?

It depends how you define the “church”. If the church is an actual building, then certainly that assessment is correct. If the church is the body of Christ, living out the “one-anothers” and encouraging each other to live on mission (I Cor. 12:12-27), then Moody worked through the means of Christ’s church. Here are the facts: Moody himself was led to Christ by his Sunday School teacher, matured under solid teaching and consistently served in local churches throughout his ministry. Moody lived on mission. He worked side by side with local churches. He assumed they would be the instruments of discipleship to these new believers.

Below is my “blog rant”:

I have swung back and forth on this issue through my Christian years. As of the last few years, I am more convinced that a robust membership process is necessary. American Christianity seems to have an aversion to “making a commitment” to the local church, which is likely either because they are not truly converted or sanctification (the active pursuit of a set apart life) is not high on their priority list.

Please don’t misunderstand me. A robust membership class does not assure a purer, more committed local church. But the added emphasis and the resurrection of a church covenant (which we just created at my church) is a step in the right direction. Most people believe pre-marital counseling is vital to help couples understand the intrinsic commitment and expectation of God (who created marriage and defined the roles of it). Is the commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ any less important before God? 

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Friday, October 7, 2011

D.L. Moody—A man whose grandkids beat him to Heaven


Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

This is a letter Moody wrote to his children regarding the death of their son and his only grandson (who had his namesake):

"I know Dwight is having a good time, and we should rejoice with him. What would mansions be without children? He was the last to come into our circle, and he is the first to go up there! So safe, so free from all the sorrow that we are passing through! I do thank God for such a life. It was nearly all smiles and sunshine, and what a glorified body he will have, and with what joy he will await your coming! God does not give us such strong love for each other for a few days or years, but it is going to last forever, and you will have the dear little man with you for ages and ages, and love will keep increasing. The Master has need of him, or He would not have called him; and you should feel highly honored that you anything in your home that He wanted.” (p. 537)
The first time I read this account, I could not help thinking about my only son, Oaks. How hard it would be if God called him home! To imagine life here without him, without his smile, without his laughter is almost unbearable. Even now there is a little bubble in my throat, holding back the tears.

Yet, I want to ask this question, “How can Moody be so sure?”

It is because he believed in a purposeful God.

My favorite sentence in Moody’s letter was this: “The Master has need of him, or He would not have called him”. Moody’s words assume he had a correct understanding of the goodness of God and the sovereignty of God. Therefore, he knew that the death of God’s own is not too early or too late or an accident; it is simply time to come home for another purpose.

For many people, even Christians, the problem lies in our concept of Heaven and Eternity. The image of clouds, harps and white-robed people floating with endless serenity reinforces this mindset that eternity is without purpose and without substance. I am pleased that many Christians have retreated from this view, which is called the Spiritual Vision Model of eschatology (formulated and espoused by the early church fathers, Origin and Augustine) and embraced the New Creation model of eschatology (seen clearly in the writings of Randy Alcorn). For a fuller presentation of this issue, I would highly recommend digesting this article from my Seminary professor.


It is because he understood the transitory nature of this life.

These simple two words “passing through” are very important. It means there is something beyond this present life. The atheists are wrong and without hope. Moody, on the other hand, believed this truth because he trusted in the authoritative word of God.

God says:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

It sounds better, doesn’t it? It sounds sweeter, doesn’t it? This is why for those who have trusted in the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ and Him alone…..death is understood as a “homegoing” and a “celebration”.

Yet the loss of a loved one still hurts. Tears still flow often. For most the grief comes back at piercing moments when the memory of them becomes fuzzy and faint. But the hope of a reunion burns brighter for those who long to see Jesus. It is not that the memory of the loved one is absorbed in the sea of Jesus. Instead, we begin to see our loved one through the lens of eternity, the finality of our salvation.

What do we see through that lens? We see our loved ones doing what they were created for, the worship of the Creator. We see our loved ones living without sin, without pain and without suffering. We see our loved ones watching with wonder God conducting His business through the means of His angels. We see our loved ones cheering us on, longing for the days when we can embrace again (Heb. 12:1-2).    

I have asked God before that he might spare me the pain of watching my children go to Heaven before me. But if, in His perfect plan, He chooses to take them home, may I never question His goodness, but instead be thankful that because of the forgiveness found at the cross, I can spend eternity with my Creator and my loved ones. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

D.L. Moody—A man who was led to Christ by his Sunday School Teacher


Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.



Many of us know the story of how D.L. Moody came to know and follow Jesus Christ, but many do not. Here is the testimony of Moody’s Sunday school teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball:


“I determined to speak to him about Christ and about his soul, and started down to Holton’s shoe store (the place of Moody’s employment). When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go in during business hours. But I pushed on finding Moody in the back part of the building wrapping up shoes. I went up to him at once, and putting my hand on his shoulder, I made what I afterwards felt was a very weak plea for Christ. I simply told him of Christ’s love for him and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was. It seemed the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, and there, in the back of that store in Boston, he gave himself and his life to Christ.” (p. 41)

Before we glory in the boldness of this simple Sunday school teacher, let us not forget it is the gracious and merciful hand of God that lifted the eyes of this darkened soul. But after we acknowledge His indescribable gift, it is nevertheless a fact that this Sunday school teacher was unique and therefore worthy of further examination.

What can we learn from Mr. Kimball?

Mr. Kimball was a gospel-driven Sunday School teacher.

This is what set this man apart. This is likely what set his Sunday school class apart. His pursuit of Moody assumes that he had enough “gospel conversations” to know that he needed Christ. How many teachers unleash bible truths week-after-week, but never pray for the souls of these children? How many feel such an urgency for the gospel that it couldn't wait until Sunday? Later in his ministry Moody would consistently challenge his audience to “get one person into Heaven” this week. Just think if every Sunday school teacher (or every Christian) had that type of “gospel resolve”, how many more people would come to know Christ?


Mr. Kimball understood he was just a sower of seed.  

How many of us would resonate with Mr. Kimball and describe our attempt of sharing the gospel as “feeble” or “weak”? Yet the parable of Mark 4 brings comfort and confidence to the Christian who is “on mission”. 

Jesus says,

Mark 4:26-27 And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows-- how, he himself does not know.

Mr. Kimble didn’t know. Neither will you. But again the question is, “Will you sow the seed”?


Below is my “blog rant”:

I have heard some people use this parable to defend the “non-verbal” approach to evangelism (passing out tracks, billboard evangelism, etc.). In response to this, I must point out of few things. First, the obvious point of the parable is the proclamation of the gospel (and then leaving it to God to change the heart), not the promotion of a certain methodology. Therefore, this cannot be used as a proof-text for passing out tracks or any other non-verbal approach to evangelism.


Second, I would caution those who criticize the approach of “passing out tracks”. My father-in-law (who now is with Moody in Heaven) would always put a gospel track in with a generous tip and give both to his waiter / waitress. Of course this was not the only way he shared the “good news”. He was faithful to proclaim the good news whenever he could to whomever he could. He was always strategic because he was always praying specifically and actively looking for opportunities. I guess for me it comes down to this: “Do you think it is more strategic to pray for the unknown waiter / waitress before you arrive at the restaurant and leave a gospel track or try to have an awkward, compressed “gospel conversation” that often prevents other patrons from enjoying quality service?”

Now I feel better.
                                    

Monday, October 3, 2011

Who is D.L. Moody?

Throughout the next few weeks, this blog will examine certain “snapshots” of D.L. Moody, which I hope will bring a deeper appreciation for this servant and a greater love for the God whom he gave his life to.

Why should you care about the life and ministry of D. L. Moody?

1)      He began ministries such as the YMCA and Moody Bible Institute (my family attends the YMCA).

2)      He was often criticized for his “simple mind”, but still did great things for God.

3)      His methods for evangelism are worthy of further study.

4)      He was an example of being affected by your upbringing but not defined by it.   

5)      He preached with both simplicity and clarity.

6)      His revivals were comparable in size and effect to the days of Whitefield and Wesley.


Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899),

Dwight L. Moody was born on Feb. 5, 1837, in Northfield, Mass. At the age of 17 he went to Boston and entered the retail boot and shoe trade. In 1856 he moved to Chicago to enhance his business opportunities. While in Boston he had come in contact with evangelical Protestants, chiefly through the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and a local Congregational church. He expanded these associations in Chicago, where he soon became a leader in religious circles, chiefly through his work for the local YMCA.
In 1860 Moody abandoned his business career to work full time for the YMCA. He served as president of the Chicago branch from 1865 to 1868. He also ran a large "independent" Sunday school for slum families, which was supported chiefly by local members of the YMCA. This experience was essential in preparing him for his eventual work as a revivalist.
In 1867 Moody visited England, immediately establishing contacts with important English evangelists. In 1872 he launched his formal career as a revivalist in Great Britain, accompanied by Ira D. Sankey, his famous "singing partner" in all his subsequent major revivals. They first attracted widespread popular support in Scotland; then they moved south into England for a long series of campaigns, climaxed by a 4-month visit in London in 1875.
That year Moody returned to America, a national figure, and immediately launched a series of revivals. In huge revival meetings in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston he created the basic machinery of urban mass revivalism. It was chiefly a feat of organization which sought to adapt the traditional theological and institutional practices of evangelical Protestantism to the new urban environment created by industrialism.
Although Moody never abandoned his work as a revivalist, after 1880 he developed other interests. He founded three schools: two private secondary academies in Northfield, Mass., and the Chicago (later Moody) Bible Institute, a training school for urban lay evangelists. He aided national officials of the YMCA in inaugurating the Student Volunteer movement in 1886 - a major expression of the American Protestant missionary impulse. At the Northfield schools he also held numerous summer adult and youth conferences offering informal Christian education.
A theological conservative, Moody was bewildered by the rapidly changing intellectual climate of the late 19th century. He found it difficult to deal effectively with the splits between liberals and conservatives in the American churches. His career as a revivalist had noticeably declined by the time he died in December 1899.
(Taken and adapted from the Gale Encyclopedia of Biography)