Thanks, D. James Kennedy

Presbyterian Pastor D. James Kennedy went to be with the Lord earlier this week.

A little personal history. I grew up in a liberal, mainline Lutheran denomination. Like probably most young people who grow up in such denoms, I stopped attending church in college (why bother?). After spending the first few years doing what was right in my own eyes, I started seeking spiritual direction — especially from someone who seemed to believe. I watched televangelists and therefore (not surprisingly) flirted with the Charismatic movement, had a fascination period with the end-times, and was even receiving materials from the Worldwide Church of God. Remember (the misnamed) Plain Truth magazine?

Amid a sea of Tiltons and Swaggarts on the tube, however, I was most impressed with the sensible pastors like (pre-divorce) Charles Stanley and D. James Kennedy. After leaving college, I went through a “Great Books” phase and was reading Augustine, trying to come to grips with the Biblical views on predestination. Then one day I came across Kennedy’s Truths that Transform in a Christian bookstore. Recognizing his name, I bought the book. That purchase more than any other is what led me into the Reformed Presbyterian orbit. As much as I wanted to believe in free will as popularly defined — that we can act inconsistently with our sinful nature — it just didn’t square with the Bible at all. Kennedy’s book explained monergism simply and clearly. So I got a job, looked up the nearest Presbyterian church in the yellow pages that wasn’t PCUSA — no more mainline churches for me! — found a church from some denomination I’d never heard of called the OPC, and the rest is history.

I eventually came to believe that Pastor Kennedy was too involved in politics. I’d get junk mail from him constantly and his shows became nothing but topical discussions of political issues. Still, the book I bought that day was as formative for me as his EE was for folks of the prior generation (plus I think Pastor Kennedy rededicated himself in recent years to preaching the Gospel).

I pray that a Reformed (or Reformational) network will one day grace TV, just like the one Catholics have. Yes, the internet has changed things, but the tube is something people watch. Searchers are often attracted to Christian programming, and unfortunately all they see is a lot of sorry word-faith stuff and Joel Osteen’s moralistic drivel. For many folks, the Trinity Network and Pat Robertson are the only things they ever associate with Christianity.

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