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All articles in category Historical

May 2018
Articles > Historical

Billy Graham: 1918 – 2018 (part one 1918 – 1949)

Billy Graham’s death on 21 February brought to a close one of the most remarkable Christian lives of the 20th Century. In 1983, when US President Ronald Reagan presented the evangelist with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in America, he said, ‘His contribution to the wellbeing of the human race is literally immeasurable. The world is a better place because of Billy Graham’. While not everyone would agree with that assessment, in 2006, a year after his last crusade, Graham made it into Gallup’s annual list of the top ten most admired men in the world for the 50th time.1 Mr Graham...

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May 2018
Articles > Historical

Billy Bray (1794-1868)

There is a genre of Christian biography which delights in recording the doings and sayings of eccentric preachers, and William Trewartha Bray – Cornish miner and Methodist local preacher, small, spare and wiry of build – falls into that category. If his name is mentioned, most people know little if anything about him beyond the occasion when he said, ‘If they were to put me into a barrel, I would shout Glory! out of the bunghole’. There is, however, much more to this servant of God than some of his more remarkable sayings. He was born in 1794 near Truro, in Cornwall, at the village...

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May 2018
Articles > Historical

LETTER FROM AMERICA: Billy Graham and the American presidents

Often regarded as ‘America’s pastor’, Rev. Billy Graham was vastly influential in the United States and around the world as a minister and evangelist. Ever a simple and humble man, he was close friends with nearly every US president since Truman. Born in 1918, he was alive from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson to that of Donald Trump. Graham treated each president with transparency and grace. His goal was ‘to bring out the best in people, even presidents, because that tended to be all that he saw in them. Whatever faults they had, he would not be the one sitting in judgment’ (Time, 21 Feb....

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May 2018
Articles > Historical

The Reformed tradition on Israel is diverse

Is the Reformed tradition historically supersessionist? That is, have theologians following the Calvinist trajectory always taught that the church supersedes Israel without remainder, such that the non-Jesus-accepting people of Israel and that little territory on the Mediterranean are no longer theologically significant? One might think so. After all, John Calvin wrote that because the Jews did not ‘reciprocate’ as willing partners in God’s covenant, ‘they deserve to be repudiated’ (Institutes, 4.2.3). There is only one covenant for Calvin, so the new covenant did not replace the old; yet the church is the new recipient of the Old Testament promises made to Jewish Israel. There is...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

David Brainerd

David Brainerd was born 300 years ago, on 20 April 1718, and died on 20 October 1747. His father was Hezekiah Brainerd and his mother Dorothy (née Mason). On his mother’s side, an impeccable pedigree of Puritan preachers both in England and New England, and a great uncle who had been Oliver Cromwell’s chief justice, brought prestige and distinction to the family. But it is the sixth of their nine children, David, who we remember. From his birthplace Haddam, in the Connecticut River Valley, David Brainerd’s life has shot a meteoric flame, the likes of which has seldom been known. In David Brainerd, servant of...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868)

A missionary in China was once asked if he knew a fellow-missionary by the name of William Burns. ‘Know him, sir? All China knows him; he is the holiest man alive’. Given that it is now 150 years since William Burns died, these words were spoken a long time ago. And certainly he has not been forgotten in the intervening period. But it is inevitable that to a growing number of Christians Burns should be a complete stranger, or, at best, a mere name. Inevitable, but regrettable; Burns for many reasons deserves still to be widely known. Kilsyth William Chalmers Burns was born in Dun,...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

J C Ryle

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March 2018
Articles > Historical

George Burder, founder of the Religious Tract Society

Celebrity status is temporary. Time races on, life is congested and we soon forget. Of course, some towering figures of the past adorn our history books, but most slip down the list of must-know people and events, and are forgotten. Consequently, although we are aware of some of the greats of eighteenth century Christian history, many others are no longer etched on our memories. The great revival of the eighteenth century left behind it a glow and energy that had been unknown for centuries. One of those who kept alive the sacred flame was the very kind George Burder. He seems always to have been...

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