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Theologian's Hall of Fame: Lewis, Spurgeon, Moody, Chesterton, Torrey, Bounds, and Tozer
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) Born in Belfast, Ireland, Clive Staples Lewis (Jack to family and friends) had a happy home life with his mother, father, and brother, Warren, until his mother's untimely death when he was ten years old. After that, he and his brother were sent out to boarding schools and he was very unhappy.
He obtained a scholarship to University College, Oxford in England. He went on to teach at Magdalen College in Oxford, and years later became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. Lewis was an avowed athiest until his conversion to Christianity during his teaching years at Magdalen. He was inspired by the writings of George McDonald and his friendship with J.R.R. Tokien (more initials). He went on to be a brilliant Christian apologist and prolific writer.
Some of his most notable books are Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, Surprised by Joy, The Four Loves, and The Problem of Pain, but there were many others. What was so unique about C.S. Lewis, is that he had the rare combination of creative prowess and imagination, and intellectual reasoning in his writings. His poetry was notable as well. C.S. Lewis died three years after the passing of his wife, Joy Davidman Lewis.
The mold in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.
Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it -- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is m— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was, and still is known as the Prince of preachers. He was born, raised, and resided near London during his more than 25 years as a pastor. His father and grandfather were preachers as well. He was dramatically converted at age 16 and within the year was installed as pastor of a small Baptist church. He began writing then as well. At age 20, Charles Spurgeon was called to be pastor of New Park Street Chapel in London. His preaching and oratory finesse catapulted him to fame very quickly. However, the greatest draw was the Holy Spirit's anointing on the messenger.
The church grew rapidly and they had to build a new church - Metropolitan Tabernacle - with a 10,000 member congregation. He became a prolific writer and had all his sermons transcribed. Some of his most notable works are Morning and Evening, The Sword and the Trowel, and The Treasury of David. Spurgeon died in 1892 at the age of 58.
D.L Moody (1837-1899) Dwight Lyman Moody was educated only until fifth grade. He spent many years in the shoe sales business until his conversion in 1855. He thereafter became very involved in the YMCA and finally became the pastor of Illinois Street Church. He became active as an evangelist during the Civl War. When the war was over he started an evangelistic training school for women. He later went abroad for two years and evangelized and preached in the revival of England and Ireland. He continued his evangelism in the United States for years to come.
His other claim to fame besides being a world class evangelist, was his interest in training men and women to evangelize. Thus, Moody Bible Institute was born, at first being called the Chicago Evangelization Society. He also became a publisher of Bibles and other Christian literature. Eventually his publishing company became Moody Press. Mr. Moody also wrote several books, The Overcoming Life, Secret Power, Men of the Bible, and The Way to God and How to Find It, to name a few.
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in Great Britain. He converted from the Anglican Church to Roman Catholicism around the age of 48. Gilbert was a brilliant and prolific writer of many genres, and also had a column in the Illustrated London News. He considered himself above all, a journalist, although he wrote 80 or more books, hundreds of poems, short stories, and nearly 4,000 essays.
Chesterton, like Lewis, was an intellectual giant, while at the same time, immensely creative; add to this his proclivity for humor and you have a shining, colorful, writer and commentator. In the non-fiction category, some of his most acclaimed books are Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man, and The Common Man, all apologetic writings. Chesterton was also a biographer, having written biographies on Charles Dickens, and St. Thomas Aquinas (which was considered to be one of the best biography's on St. Thomas of all time). Two of his famed novels were The Man Who Was Thursday, a metaphysical thriller, and The Napoleon of Notting Hill, an adventurous, humorous tale about the antics of Auberon Quin, mirthful king of England.
R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) Reuben Archer Torrey was a contemporary of Dwight L. Moody. He was highly educated, having graduated from Yale University, followed by Yale Divinity School. He went on to study more theology at Leipzig University and Erlangen University.
Torrey became a pastor, and eventually an evangelist who worked with Moody in Chicago at what is now called Moody Bible Institute as superintendent, and became minister of The Moody Church several years later. From 1902 - 1907 he preached around the world with the Gospel. Eventually he became Dean of what is now known as Biola University and then became pastor of Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles. R.A. Torrey was considered a powerhouse preacher.
He wrote many books, two of my favorites being How to Pray and The Power of Prayer. He wrote books on apologetics and on essential Christian themes such as The Baptism With the Holy Spirit, How to Witness to Anyone, The Fundamentals, What the Bible Teaches, and The Presence and Work of the Holy Spirit. Into the bargain,Torrey wrote a book on Moody called Why God Used D.L. Moody.
E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) Believe it or not, as a teenager, Edward Bounds traveled from his home in Missouri to California with his brother to work in the gold fields. They stuck it out for four long years, with little to show for it, and eventually returned to Missouri. Bounds became a lawyer at 19 years of age. Later on he felt called to the ministry during the Third Great Awakening, and was ordained as a Methodist pastor.
Interestingly, E.M. Bounds became a chaplain during the Civil War and was captured and detained for a brief time as a prisoner of war. When he was released he found himself in Franklin, Tennessee, a place where his comrades and been so ravaged in the war. He noted the poor, spiritual shape of the church there and set up a group of men to pray. E.M. Bounds was, and still is, known for his belief and practice in the power of prayer. Bounds and his prayer partners prayed for revival and after a year of faithfulness in prayer, revival broke out in a mighty way. Bounds' habit was to pray for three hours every morning from 4 a.m. to 7a.m. He had a desperate burden for the lost.
E.M. Bounds was author of eleven books, nine were on the subject of prayer. The other two were Satan: His Personality, Power, and Overthrow and Heaven: A Place - A City - A Home. Oddly, only two of his books were published before his death in 1913. The rest were published years later; books such as Power Through Prayer, Purpose of Prayer, Essentials of Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, and Preacher and Prayer.
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) Alden Wilson Tozer had a rather unusual conversion experience. As a teenage boy he was walking home from work and heard a message from a street preacher and promptly went home and asked Christ into his life. He became a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church and ministered in that capacity for over 40 years.
Tozer was a man of prayer, out of which he wrote over 40 books. His most well-known, and now deemed classics, are The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God. His writings were deeply insightful, provocative, and bold, exhorting us to dig deeper into the Word of God and find our passion for Christ, and to relentlessly pursue Him
Tozer often spoke out on the modern church of his time, and they still very much apply to the Church today. Tozer didn't mince words - ever, particularly when he was speaking about the Church. He hit hard but truthfully, and his words were powerfully convicting.
"If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it."
"If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference."
These were great men of God, revered to this day for their contribution to the Body of Christ. I have benefited from several these writers over the years immeasurably, and am just discovering some of them today. I encourage you to read their works and allow them to teach you and move your heart.
More on great men of God and their works
- C.S. Lewis: His Contribution to the World
C.S. Lewis' prolific writings touched the world. I give him tribute.
- The Mighty Work of God in the Life of Chuck Smith
Pastor Chuck Smith, father of the Jesus movement; who would have guessed the magnitude of his ministry.
- Classic Daily Devotionals Past and Present
Here are some classic devotionals, old and new, that will enrich your devotional life.
Which have you most benefited from?
Of the writers above that you have read, which do you benefit from the most?
© 2012 Lori Colbo