Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Most minor roads are untarred and quite dusty in the dry season. We saw no rain during the nearly one month we were there in the hot dry month of September. Bridges were at times treacherous, parts of them being removed by those who needed the wood or metal.
We hiked about seven miles early one morning to visit one of our Seventh Day Baptist church's four dispensaries in Malawi. Most of the way we hiked along the railway line. On five occasions we walked across rather long narrow railway bridges, as we occasionally peaked nervously at the scenic but shallow river far beneath us. Parts of the river divide Malawi from Mozambique. The dispensary or clinic had been established in Chipho, on the river border area, at an earlier time when Mozambique refugees had been pouring into Malawi to escape the civil war violence in Mozambique. We discovered after finishing our review and training at the clinic, and after we had had lunch with our local deacon and his wife, that the train, on which we were to return, had derailed the evening before. We ended up hiking back over the same 7 miles, this time in the heat of the day, praying that the train wouldn't catch us while crossing the longest of the rail bridges, the last one before reaching our home base of the previous week, Makapwa. The train did indeed return but thankfully not until after dark that evening, a few hours after our return to Makapwa.
Malawians are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I have met anywhere in the world. The children especially were a joy to be around. As we travelled on the very rural dirt roads, the children waved, shouting to us in excitement. They also would quickly run to be included in any quick, candid photos I would attempt to shoot.
Beautiful modern architecture was evident in Llongwe, the new capital city located in the central region where former strongman President Hastings Kamuzu Banda was born. The charming small city of Zomba, in the southern region is the former colonial capital and location of Chancellor College of the University of Malawi. I spent one afternoon at Chancellor College doing research on Charles Domingo, an early Christian pastor, teacher, and writer, who was trained at Livingstonia under Dr. Robert Laws, and even for a time, at Lovedale in South Africa. Domingo was baptized by the famous early anti-colonialism hero of Malawi, John Chilembwe, a Baptist pastor who had been trained in Virginia in the 1890's, and who in 1915 led an uprising against the British, when the hated hut tax, and onerous conscription of Malawians to fight the Germans and their allies in neighboring Tanzania during Wold War I, had caused a lot of turmoil in Nyasaland (Malawi since independence in 1964). Domingo, himself became a Seventh Day Baptist, through the English-born, Baptist missionary Joseph Booth, most famous as a vocal opponent of the corrupt colonialist system. Booth had written a book in 1897 entitled Africa for the Africans. Both Booth and Domingo were deported from Malawi, though both were pacifist oriented and not directly involved in the 1915 uprising. Domingo soon returned to Malawi, but Booth remained in and died in South Africa. Chilembwe was hunted down and shot near the Mozambique border, while many of his band of supporters were executed. Domingo himself was the first certified native teacher in Nyasaland, and prioritized setting up schools for chilren along with the churches he helped establish in the northern region of Malawi.
Zomba is surrounded by the Zomba Plateau and some mountainous terrain. On the top of the plateau is the stately Ku Chawe Hotel, recently restored. We enjoyed its fine restaurant with outside dining and a great view down into the valley. On our descent to the valley, we marvelled at the bicycles, on the steep, long, winding road, heavily laden with firewood being carefully guided down the long, steep mountain road to potential buyers of the firewood in Zomba. We were amazed at the strong young men who would day after day accomplish this herculean task, in order to eke out a living and to put food on the table.
Also in the southern region is Blantyre, the largest city. It was especially intriguing to me because of its impressive history and fine old architecture. Inside Blantyre's magnificent St Michael and All Angels Church, completed in 1891, are brass monuments to David Livingstone, the famous missionary-explorer, as well as to missionary David Clement Scott, who was a superb linguist and noteworthy cultural specialist. Scott published the comprehensive Cyclopedic Dictionary of the Mang'anja Language (forerunner of Malawi's national language Chichewa) in 1892, and the entire New Testament in 1896. Amazingly, the beautiful church is itself the work of David Scott. The Scottish Presbyterian missionary had no formal training in architecture or any of the building trades. The five sanctuary windows are magnificent art treasures. The inscriptions are inspiring: "The Good Shepherd," "The Good Physician," "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." The clocktower on the grounds also has a monument with a rather long list of the names of the early Scottish Presbyterian missionaries. The Mount Soche Hotel, and surrounding gardens, are among Blantyre's most eloquent. The Mandala House is reputedly Blantyre's oldest building.
Mzuzu, in the northern region is the only other city of any significant size. It is in an area of mountains and of a thriving timber industry. We saw many monkeys and a small "deer" during our travels in the northern region. The city also has a fairly new public university.
We were privileged to visit people and churches in all three regions of the country. Many of the churches had no benches, either of wood, or of the more traditional mud variety. The windows and doors were also often unfinished, being gradually finished as the funds were raised. Many times extra bricks are made and kilned in order to sell, so that the relatively expensive corrugated metal roof could be purchased. The corrugated metal sheets are often secured over long hand-hewn, wooden poles. My last weekend in Blantyre I preached (from Acts 1 and 2, and the work of the Holy Spirit in mission) with an interpretor, at a church where 200 to 250 adults and children sat on the earthen floor.
In the central region especially, we visited villages that were predominantly Muslim. The Muslims make up at least 15% of the population, mainly among the Yao people (as many as 90% of the Yao are Muslim), and to a much lesser extent among the Chewa people. Picturesque mosques are evident in these villages, as well as in all the cities. There have been only three presidents since Malawi's independence, the second being a Muslim. The first, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, was Presbyterian, and the current president, Mose Bingu, is Roman Catholic. Current Vice President Joyce Banda, is Presbyterian. The largest religious groups in Malawi are the Roman Catholics, the Sunni Muslims, the Presbyterians, the Seventh day Adventists, and several Pentecostal-Charismatic churches, including the Assemblies of God and the Living Waters churches. The Anglicans are not as prominent as they were in the colonial days, prior to Malawi's independence.
We enjoyed the great variety of food, but especially the fresh vegetables and fruit from our host family's garden in Limbe, on the outskirts of Blantyre. I also especially enjoyed the 'chambo" (talapia) and other fish dishes. Nsima, made from corn is the national food staple. Malawias joke that if you haven't had nsima with your meal, then you haven't really eaten a meal at all.
A portion of the Old Testament (Genesis and Exodus) is available from the Bible Society of Malawi in the Yao language, in a paperback, with drawings reminiscent of the Good News for Modern Man New Testament ( the Today's English Version). Their Bible House is in Blantyre. The New Testament may be published within months. I was also able to purchase from the Bible House in Blantyre the complete Bible in Chichewa (Chewa), the national language of Malawi. Both the older "Revised Chinyanja (Union) Version", also known as the Buku Lopatulika (first edition 1922, with revised editions in 1936 and 1966) and the much newer version, the modern speech Buku Loyera, finally completed in 1998, are readily available. The Buku Loyera was a project of both Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars. Some Protestant and independent Churches still prefer to use the older Buku Lopatulika. I visited the bookshop of a large Catholic Cathedral in Blantyre, but was unable to find the earlier Roman Catholic translation, Malembo Oyera, done over many years by the French missionary Fr Louis Villy and finally published in 1966. The Catholic bookshop only sold the Buku Loyera. Neither was I able to locate in any used bookstore either the Malembo Loyera or a pre-independence copy of the old Chinyanga Bible, the New Testament of which is, essentially, with some later revisions, the translation work of the late 19th century pioneer missionary David Clement Scott, and the Old Testament of which is essentially the work completed in 1919 of missionaries Rev W. Murray and his assistant Rev Alexander Heaterwick. The most recent edition of the Buku Lopatulika is as close as I could get to the older Bible. The Chinyanga language evolved into the Chichewa language under President Hastings, soon after Malawi's independence in 1964. In Zambia and Zimbabwe it is still called Nyanja (Chinyanja) My search for these earlier versions continues.
I was able to acquire full Bibles in Tumbuka ( or Chitumbuka, the prefix "Chi" indicates language of the particular people group, Tumbuka), Sena (or Chisena), and Kyangonde all published by The Bible Society in Malawi, but copyrighted originally by either the United Bible Societies or the British and Foreign Bible Society. Chitumbuka is also spoken in neighboring Zambia. These Bibles I found either at the Bible House or at the CLAIM (Christian Literature Association in Malawi) Bookstore. Both of these excellent book outlets are located in downtown Blantyre. A used copy of the New Testament and Psalms in the Lomwe language was traded to me by our hosts' son, since, though of Lomwe ancestry, he can't read Lomwe. It was published in 1991 by the United Bible Societies afiliate Casa da Biblia in Mozambique, but was originally copyrighted by the National Bible Society of Scotland in 1930. The Lomwe language is spoken more in neihboring Mozambique than in Malawi. I was informed at the Bible House in Blantyre by a 12-year employee that the full Bible in Lomwe should be available within about 5 years, and that the feasability of a possible partial or full Bible translation into Tonga (the Tonga are a people group in the northern region, mostly residing near Lake Malawi, consisting of only about 170,000 people) is still being researched.
The health, sanitation, and land management needs in Malawi at times seem staggering. Probably 10-20% of the population are HIV positive, though the percentage may have declined somewhat lately. Life expectancy is only in the age 40's, having declined because of the AIDS epidemic. Falciparum malaria is very deadly, especially among the very young and the immunosuppressed. There have been over 800 cases of the dreaded cholera disease this year already. Last year only a few cases of cholera were reported. Cholera is especially deadly in the very young, causing rapid dehydration from the diarrhea produced.
Maternal and infant mortality rates are very high compared to the western world. Malnutrition related to droughts has been common in the past. Irrigation of some of the semi-arid lands of Malawi is needed, but is still relatively uncommon. Controlled burning of the land is common. I saw these burnings very frequently in many regions of Malawi when I was there in September.
Corn is the staple of most Malawian diets, yet corn yields are low compared to western standards. Here were some average corn yields (admittedly a few years ago) in tons per hectare (one hectare equals 2.4 acres): USA about 9 (Indiana and Illinois are an even better, at 16), South Africa 4, Malawi 1.4, Mozambique 0.9 (three of four of our church's clinics are very near the Mozambique border). Average for all of Africa is 1.5, so Malawi was actually at about the average African yield, and also of the neighboring Zambia yield for corn, but significantly better than neighboring Mozambique yield. Malawi's corn yield may now be above the African average as food production in Malawi has increased significantly in the past 2 years or so, primarily due to some government initiatives to improve farming techniques and land management. Another positive note: uranium is now being mined, for export, in the far north of Malawi, near Karonga.
Would you please pray as individuals for Malawi. Also pray in Bible study groups, and in local churches. Here are some suggested prayer items:
1. Completion and publication of the Yao New Testament within the next few months.
2. Completion of the rest of Old Testament in Lomwe.
3. Possible translation of at least a portion of the Bible in the Tonga language.
4. A Holy Spirit led revival in Malawi, as previously occurred in the early 20th century subsequent much fervent prayer.
5. Spiritual discernment for Christians in Malawi concerning some of Satan's imitations, especially both cultic and occultic imitations. Jehovah's Witnesses and other anti-Trinitarian cults are prevalent. Prosperity gospel teaching seems to be seen and heard daily on TV and radio in Malawi. Witchcraft, spiritism, and syncretism are present. Literature about the cults and occult is needed- especially in the Chichewa language, not just in English.
6. Community health evangelism programs by local churches are needed. Teaching the women (probably by other, more mature Christian women) basic maternity and child health principles has been shown to have the greatest impact in lowering infant and maternal mortality rates.
7. Effective chastity teaching in the churches, especially for the youth. Better teaching regarding AIDS.
8. That Muslims and Hindus in Malawi would come to know the living Christ. The Yao people group of the south and cental regions are over one million in number and are almost 90% Muslim). Some of the Chewa peoples are also Muslim. Most of the minority Asian peoples in Malawi (originally from south Asia, mostly Gujarati and Tamil) are either Hindu or Muslims, yet unreached with the gospel of Christ.
Thanks for your prayers. I wish to especially thank our financial supporters and prayer partners, without whom this mission trip would not even have been possible. Most of all, thanksgiving is due to the Sovereign Lord of all, who has promised to bring in an abundant harvest of souls as we sow the seed of the gospel message.
Such assuring promises give us much hope, encouragement, and anchoring of our faith in Christ (Hebrews 6:18-19), We realize that God is in control and that he is the worthy object of all our mission in life. When our mission, witness, and work on earth is accomplished, we will still have an eternity to praise and worship him. That is why worship, and not missions, is indeed in the final analysis our ultimate priority (Rev 5:9-14 and Rev 7:9-17). All praise be to God the Father, and to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, the driving force behind God-centered and God-honoring missions.
By God's grace and mercy, and for His glory and honor,
Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
God's Word in Audio - Testimonies
Faith Comes By Hearing associates gather information and testimonies about what God is doing in and through Audio Bible listening programs in heart languages around the world.
Father to the Fatherless
This past summer, 23-year-old Kristie Campbell and her fiancée, 24-year-old Trever Duarte, took six Proclaimers to Malawi: One to the children at the Grace of God Orphanage and one to the caretakers who cook for the children; others were distributed throughout the area. Now the children spend much of their free time listening to God’s Word. Kristie says, “When they received the Proclaimer, they were sitting in the hot sun, totally engaged. You can’t get these children to get so engaged in something, but this is great!”
As well as filling their free time, the children can now also hear about God the Father’s love for them. Some have been forsaken and abandoned because their parents’ lives were taken by disease. Others have been abused. God’s Word says, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). God’s Word reveals His great love and concern for the fatherless, and now these children can hear for themselves about their heavenly Father’s love for them—in their own mother tongue of Chichewa.
Kristie says, “We bring them all sorts of gadgets: potato peelers, beautiful frying pans for the open fire, African Bible commentaries, Bibles . . . but the Proclaimers were THE BEST gift we ever brought to our Native friends in Malawi. They are used non-stop. The children not only listen to the Proclaimer in their free time, but also during Bible School and their morning and evening prayer times.”
The caretakers who cook for the children also received a Proclaimer. They cook 12 hours a day for 120 children, leaving not much free time or time to attend church. They set the Proclaimer carefully on the dirt floor beside the open fire and they play it the whole time they are cooking. Even though they cannot read, or attend church, they can now hear God’s Word.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling - Psalm 68:5
Click here for video of more FCBH work in Malawi.
From Naming’azi Listening Post-Thyolo:
Mr. Mizeri, who is the leader of Naming’azi Listening post, observed that the Faith Comes By Hearing program has brought hope and comfort into the lives of the members, especially now that HIV/AIDS is everywhere. The program has also equipped members to be able to witness to others about the love of God - a thing which was not there before the introduction of the Audio Bible listening programs.
From Pentecostal Holiness Church – Balaka:
Mrs. Padambo was over the moon when she gave her views regarding the FCBH Audio Bible listening program. She said the program is helping illiterate members to know and recite Bible verses, and with these they are able to assist fellow friends. The program has also resulted in a steady increase in the number of members attending church services. Above all, most members couldn’t pray or preach in church before, but because of Faith Comes By Hearing, people are more confident and full of faith.
From Fountain of Life Church:
Pastor Chisale of Fountain of Life Church made the following observations since his members started the Faith Comes By Hearing listening program:
"Members now know biblical concepts that were not known before the introduction of FCBH programs and members are now able to share and openly discuss Scriptures from the Bible without being shy."
From NYAMBADWE Youth Bible Study Group:
Lusayo, a youth from Nyambadwe Youth Bible Study Group, spoke on how he has benefited from hearing God's Word in his own language. First, he said that he has grown spiritually since he now is able to resist and overcome womanizing and other tempting situations influenced by peer pressure. Secondly, the program has increased his understanding of the Bible.
“There are some Scriptures which I didn’t understand that I now understand,” Lusayo remarked.
Thirdly, he is very grateful to God that through this program, he has now made a lot of new friends who are very helpful in his spiritual life. Lusayo also says that he has learned to make good use of his leisure time; instead of indulging in unnecessary activities, he uses he studies his Bible with his friends.
Some other testimonies:
Jesse used to be short-tempered before hearing the Word of God. When she picked a quarrel with a friend or neighbor, she would go for months without talking to the neighbor. But after joining the listening sessions, Jesse has now developed a heart of forgiveness as required by the Bible.
Stella lost her husband some years ago, but she has been having hallucinations of him every night. At the Faith Comes By Hearing listening sessions, she learned that prayer is the answer to all problems, including hallucinations. She started praying alone in her house so that God would deliver her from the torment. After a few days, her request was answered and now she sleeps peacefully with no more hallucinations.
Agness was an alcoholic. She couldn’t go for even a day without drinking. Having listened through the New Testament in her own language, she is now a completely reformed person. She no longer drinks, but spends most of her time in prayer.
Esther's health was very poor and weak. She couldn’t go to work in her garden. She was dependent on her husband and children for everything. After attending an Audio Bible listening program and being prayed for by group members, she is now healed and can even do gardening.
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Friday, July 17, 2009
The year 1900 is given by the Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions as the date for the founding by Joseph Booth of Seventh Day Baptists in Malawi. The same author, Klaus Fiedler, in the same article on Malawi, gives the year 1910 as the date that "Charles Domingo began the Seventh Day Baptists" in Malawi. Probably in reality then the 100 year anniversary of a continuous, unabated work of Seventh Day Baptists in Malawi is 2010. The 100 year anniversary though was already celebrated by Seventh Day Baptists in Malawi in the past decade.
Klaus Fiedler further writes, "With Malawi being seen as a Presbyterian/Anglican territory, evangelical and Catholic missions were seen as intruders. The early evangelical missions...all go back to Joseph Booth." Klaus Fiedler, a Baptist, though not himself a Seventh Day Baptist, lectured at the Seventh Day Baptist Bible College in Makapwa located in the more heavily populated southern region of Malawi, where Seventh Day Baptists have today their greatest concentration of members.
We will look at the Seventh Day Baptist leaders Domingo and Booth, as well as several other early church and political leaders , to better grasp the story of Seventh Day Baptists, as well as of other early missions, in Malawi.
Malawi was formally named the Nyasaland Protectorate by the British in 1907, although a British Central African Protectorate had been previously formed as early as 1891. The famous Scottish missionary David Livingstone had traversed Malawi on several occasions between 1859 and his death in 1873. Blantyre, Malawi is named for Livingstone's city of birth in Scotland.
Charles Domingo was probably from Quelimane which was near the Indian Ocean in neighboring Mozambique. He was the son of a cook with the African Lakes Company. W. P. Livingstone, the early biographer of Dr. Robert Laws, in his Laws of Livingstonia, calls the young boy a "helpless waif" and claims that the father may have been an alcoholic, but provides no substantiation for this claim.
The remarkable African, William Mthusane Koyi, a Gaika Kafir, was born in 1846 in South Africa. He became a Christian at age 23, and subsequently walked 150 miles to Lovedale, where he trained. He then volunteered to be a missionary to Nyasa with the famous Livingstonia Mission. He had brought the young Domingo to Nyasaland as early as 1881 on his return from furlough. Koyi was to became a very successful and influential evangelist to the Ngoni people.
Domingo very early in life, perhaps from only one or two years of age, was taken care of by Dr. and Mrs Robert Laws. He soon served as a houseboy in their home. Dr. Robert Laws was a well-known physician missionary and the leader of the Livingstonia Mission and spent over 50 years in Malawi (from 1875 until 1927). Domingo received excellent training at its Overtoun Institute at Livingstonia, a noteworthy Free Scottish Presbyterian institution.
Domingo was taken by Dr. Laws in 1891 to South Africa. Laws was on his way to Scotland, as ordered by his mission board, after he had suffered a severe bout of fever. Laws left four young men at Lovedale, in South Africa, one of whom was young Charles Domingo. Laws stopped in Capetown, and gave an address on Nyasaland, which was attended by Joseph Booth, a missionary who had recently arrived from Australia, and who, after hearing Laws, decided to go to Nyasaland, as an independent missionary.
Domingo himself attended the Lovedale Institution which many considered the best school in sub-Saharan Africa at that time. Domingo thus received an excellent theological and academic education.
Back at the Livingstonia mission Dr. Laws, when for a time without a carpenter, taught the young Domingo theology, while Laws himself was working at the carpenter's bench. At Livingstonia and its environs near Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi, or more accurately Maravi) in northern Nyasaland, Domingo served well as the first native assistant in the school, and also served in the church.
W. P. Livingstone's early Law's biography states that Domingo was an elder in the church, even though not officially ordained. He also became a gifted lead singer and soloist. He was formally licensed to preach in 1903. A thanksgiving service at the time of the Laws' silver wedding anniversary was conducted by Domingo. He was, however, partly because of the pervasive, subtle racism of the time, never ordained by the Presbyterians, who were also acknowledgely, very conservative in polity and practice.
The Presbyterian missionaries, did speak very highly of Domingo, and after the 1915 uprising led by Chilembwe, under intense questioning by the British colonial authorities, refused to speak disparagingly of Domingo. Other Malawians, who had good theological training and experience, were also at the time left unordained. This fact, as well as a disagreement at Loudon with the missionary Donald Fraser, may have influenced Domingo's decision to leave the Presbyterians, which he did abruptly in 1908, without giving any advanced notice.
He was baptized by immersion by John Chilembwe, a Yao tribesman and American-trained Baptist pastor. Chilembwe was the Providence Industrial Mission leader. Chilembwe had been brought to the U.S. by Joseph Booth about 1897. Chilembwe had met Booth in 1892 and had served as a household servant, and as a nurse-companion for Booth's little daughter Emily, who had been nursed back from near-death from malaria by Chilembwe, while Booth was gone on an extended mission trip.
Dr. Laws was to have, at a later time, a chance meeting with Domingo in Balantyre, where Laws had travelled by the new train system. He apparently treated Domingo who was ill. Laws' early biographer, W. P. Livingstone reports that Domingo had had dealings with John Chilembwe, "but he never seems to have agreed with his extreme views," and when Laws met Domingo in Balantyre, Domingo had already broken with Chilembwe. W. P. Livingstone also reported that Domingo, after failing to "obtain a footing" along the Nyasa Lake shore, "established a pretentious mud church" in Ngoniland, the pulpit and pew being made also of mud. Livingstone also reported that Domingo "gathered a following, his influence, unlike Chilembwe's being for good."
Charles Domingo briefly worked with the Watchtower movement (Jehovah's Witnesses) and the Church of Christ, perhaps out of financial expediency, but his views remained mostly Presbyterian, except for his new-found views on baptism by immersion and his even later views on the seventh-day Sabbath. He moved around northern Malawi frequently as a Christian evangelist, came under the influence of missionary Joseph Booth, and had become a Seventh Day Baptist leader by 1910, a century ago.
Remarkably, Domingo at one time served nine stations in northern Nyasaland, pastoring about 180 baptized believers. He set up stations with schools for children and young people. He stressed the necessity of not being dependent on foreign missionaries and on subsidies from outside Malawi, a view he later had to modify somewhat, because of a lack of good local jobs, due to colonial inequities and injustices. A related obstacle to an indiginous work was that currency was scarce, the barter system having to be used extensively by the rural people.
Domingo also may have reshaped his thinking about foreigners, after being favorably influenced by the U.S. Seventh Day Baptist missionary, Walter B. Cockerill, who came to Malawi in December 1913 and had bicycled hundreds of miles in the northern part of Malawi by 1914 and early 1915. Cockerill was deported from Malawi in 1915, a scapegoat of the colonial administration's crackdown on mission activity after the January 1915 uprising of John Clilembwe and his supporters, even though Cockerill himself was not involved in any way in the uprising.
George Shepperson and Thomas Price call the youthful Walter Cockerill "an innocent abroad" in their well-researched, definitive book, Independent African, published in 1958, which was primarily a book about the 1915 uprising in Malawi. Cockerill, partly because he was from the town of Berlin in Wisconsin, and also because he was working in the northern region of Nyasaland, near the colony of adjacent Tanganyika, which had become a German protectorate in 1891. Cockerill was suspected, incorrectly, by the British administrators of being a German sympathizer. There was an ongoing proxy war between British Africa and the German colonies in Africa, with a result that the Africans were often conscripted to fight against their wishes.
Because of this abuse and other abuses, Domingo opposed the colonial system, and the white employers who were "cruel as tigers. " The British colonialists dismissed from jobs some of his Seventh Day Baptist congregants who refused to work on the seventh day Sabbath, and were thus often jailed for being unable to pay the hut tax, which had been imposed about 1912. The "bomas" or administrative stations, which were often in the office of the District Commissioner (or "D. C."), were named after the thorn hedge (literally: "stockade of thorns") which surrounded the D. C. in Balantyre.
Although Domingo strongly opposed colonialism, he did not believe in resorting to violence, as Chilembwe had done in the 1915 uprising. In spite of his innocense he was also later deported by the fearful British colonial authorities. Livingstone again reports, "Though unconnected with the rising, Charles Domingo went down in the cataclysm."
Livingstone makes this somewhat biased assessment of Domingos later years, "The writer saw him in 1920 at Mzimba, where [subsequent to his deportation and after his return to Malawi] he was employed in the Government service, and came across his church in the bush falling into ruins. Charles appeared to be conscious of his foolish conduct, but there was nothing against his moral character, which was something to the credit of the careful teaching and training he had received in the [Livingstonia] Mission."
By 1912 there were several thousand Seventh Day Baptist adherents in northern Nyasaland. The church structures were, it is true, mostly unpretentious mud churches with mud benches, in contrast to the impressiive, often beautiful, Presbyterian and Anglican church edifices in Malawi. When I visited the Seventh Day Baptist churches in September 2009 many of them had mud benches or the congregants simply sat on hard-packed mud floors.
Charles Domingo, edited an African version of the Sabbath Recorder magazine in Nyasaland, under Joseph Booth, the editor-in-chief, who was working out of Capetown, South Africa. Booth, accused of being an an "Ethiopianism" supporter by the British colonialists, had been deported from Malawi in 1903. When I visited Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, in the old colonial capital, Zomba, I was able to copy a file full of letters from Charles Domingo. Domingo had written, mostly to Joseph Booth in Africa, and also to the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society in the United States. His hand writing was very neat and beautiful, as was one of his wife's letters. Chancellor College also has, according to the card catologue, the first three issues of the African Sabbath Recorder, which Domingo edited with Charles Booth. The second and third issues seem to be lost and unavailable for viewing, I discovered on my second visit to the college library.
Domingo supported a strong education for the youth, as well as for adults. Unlike Elliot Kamwana, the famous indiginous, charismatic Watchtower leader in northern Nyasaland, who reportedly baptized as many as ten thousand people, Domingo strongly supported education for the youth and adults. Kamwana was generally opposed to education, primarily due to his Watchtower millenial ideas; there was no need to educate people since Christ was supposed to return in 1914, as Jehovah's Witnesses falsely taught. Charles Domingo, on the other hand, was the first trained and educated indiginous teacher in all of Nyasaland, and made the education of the people a high priority of his Christian work.
Joseph Booth, the English nonconformist was born in England 1851, moved from Australia to Nyasaland in 1892, and died in South Africa in 1932. He visited the U.S. in 1897 (author Benjamin Ray says 1895) accompanied by John Chilembwe. Booth published the egalitarian, anti-racist treatise Africa for the African: Dedicated First to Queen Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Second, to the British and American Christian People, Third and Specially to the African-American people of the United States of America , in the city of Baltimore in 1897. It went through two editions.
He, with the help of the Plainfield, New Jersey Seventh Day Baptist Church, which he had joined in 1898 while he was in America, started an industrial mission in southern Malawi on 2,000 acres near Cholo (now more correctly spelled Thyolo). It came to be known as the Plainfield Mission. The coffee-growing industrial mission was not economically viable for a variety of reasons, one of which was a precipitous drop in coffeee prices, and soon failed and was sold at a great loss to the Seventh Day Adventists. It is now under the Adventists known as Malamulo Mission, one of the showplace, vintage mission complexes in Africa.
Booth was only in Malawi from 1892 until 1903, having been deported, and also banned from returning to Nyasaland, by the British colonial government.
Chilembwe, who went with Joseph Booth to the U.S. in about 1897, attended Virginia Theological Seminary, a National Baptist Convention school, for three years. Chilembwe returned to Malawi in 1899 or 1900 as an ordained Baptist minister, and started Providence Industrial Mission (PIM). He, like Domingo, established mission schools. He completed a beautiful large brick church building there in 1913, later destroyed by the British after the 1915 uprising.
A hut tax had been imposed by the colonial administrators (their colonial stations were nicknamed the "boma") in 1912, which the Malawian correctly viewed as a a form of conscription or slave labor, since half the tax could be rebated for doing a month's work on the white settler's lands. The Malawians were also conscripted to fight European battles on African soil before and during World War I, which many of them resented. The German colony of Tanganyika (now Tanzania) was contiguous to Nyasaland on its north boundary, and the Germans, in similar manner conscripted Africans from their colony.
Chilembwe became famous for leading the 1915 uprising in which several colonial men were killed, including the cruel manager of the Bruce estates, William J. Livingstone, a relative of the famous Scotish missionary-explorer, David Livingstone. It is to be noted in contrast to the killing of the men, that the western women and children were taken to safety, fed, and treated well.
Separatist churches, like the Watchtower Society and the Seventh Day Adventists, to some extent had raised unfulfilled millenial dreams of a new order to be established with Christ's imminent second coming. The white colonial order in Malawi and Africa it was proclaimed would be abolished. The year of 1914 had been set by Jehovah's Witness leader, Charles Taze Russell, for Christ's return.
Chilembwe started the first Central African resistance movement to British colonialist abuses, and is considered by Malawians to be their first national patriot. Near the Mozambique border Chilembwe was shortly tracked down and killed by Nyasaland policemen, working for the colonial government. Other supporters and accomplices of the uprising were also executed by the colonial government.
The only Seventh Day Baptist leader, who I was able to establish, with any certainty, to have been part of the 1915 uprising, was Pastor Filipo Chamaya. He was involved in a planned branch-uprising at Ntcheu. His group of Ngoni supporters were less organized and were apprehended by the District Commission before there was any violence. Chinyama was executed, even though no one had been killed by him or his men.
Joseph Booth very early was a noted denomination hopper, partly for financial reasons, having been variously a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Seventh Day Baptist , a Seventh Day Adventist, a Watch Tower movement supporter, and a Church of Christ worker. In the end, however, he rejoined and stayed with Seventh Day Baptists. During his visit to the U.S. he published an anti-Watchtower treatise, and distributed it at Chautauqua Lake in New York, where he lectured during the summer.
Booth had come to Malawi in 1892, three weeks after his wife Mary, who had shared the missionary call, died of pneumonia. He independently started the Zambezi Industrial Mission and then the Nyasa Baptist Industrial Mission, before organizing in 1899 the Plainfield Industrial Mission with the help of the Plainfield Seventh Day Baptist Church in New Jersey. Twelve thousand dollars had been paid by the Plainfield Church for the plantation.
Booth left Malawi in 1902 or 1903 after religious disagreement with the Adventists, with whom he had briefly affiliated. He was permanently barred from Malawi by the British colonialists in 1907 for "seditious" ideas. He was a pacificist and not involved in the Chilembwe armed uprising of 1915. He was egalitarian and opposed to colonialism. Booth had angered some whites by paying, what was considered by colonial standards, very high wages to Malawians.
George Shepperson and Thomas Price, Harry Langworthy, T. Jack Thompson, John McCracken, Andrew C. Ross, Robert Rotberg, Bridglal Pachai, D.D. Phiri, have written scholarly works which, among other things, have effectively shown the African response to European and African missionary factors. The three early Malawians trained by the missions, who came under the "Ethiopianism" and "Africa for the African" influence of Joseph Booth, have now become well known in Malawi and African history- John Chilembwe, Elliot (Kenan) Kamwana, and the Seventh Day Baptist Charles Domingo, althought the last has been somewhat less studied than Chilembwe and Kamwana.
Charles Domingo was a better writer than the better-known John Chilembwe. His English was sinificantly better. Apparently the education obtained by Domingo at Lovedale and at Livingstonia, in Africa, was superior to that received by Chilembwe in the segregated Baptist seminary in Virginia, though all three of these were Christian schools.
Domingo effectively used the pen, to oppose the injustices of colonialism in Africa. He was one of the pioneers in an Africa movement for freedom. As the first trained African teacher in Malawi, Domingo placed a high priorty on educating the youth, the future leaders of Africa. Though he, like Booth, had briefly been swayed by the Watchtower movement, his Christian faith remained orthodox and evangelistic. His writings were strongly influenced by the Bible, his primary source book. He emphasized that churches and Christian schools should be led by Africans, and not be so dependent on western missionaries and agencies, a concept that was ahead of the colonial times in Africa. His vision for his people was mostly unfulfilled in his lifetime, due to the colonial inequalities and injustices, and the pervading poverty of his family and people in a colonial culture.
Charles Domingo's vibrant Christian faith, a faith that was practical and holistic, was the hallmark of his life, and of his vision of hope for the African people.
Black, William Henry, Proposal for a Christian Mission to the Millions of Ethiopia and Eastern Africa, Walworth, Wisconsin: J. C. Beard, Crown Row, 1845.
Booth, Joseph, Africa for the African, Baltimore, 1897. Republished by CLAIM (Christian Literature Association in Malawi), Balantyre, Malawi, in the Kachere Series of the University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi in 1996, edited by Laura Perry, 114 pp. , editor's preface, index, illustrations.
Booth, Joseph, Correspondence with American Seventh Day Baptists in the Malawi/Nyasaland Collection, 1898-1915, Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, Janesville, Wisconsin.
Briggs, Philip, Malawi: The Bradt Travel Guide, Chalfont St Peter, UK: Bradt Publications, 1996, 1999. 246 pages. Chapter 1: History, pages 3-22.
Crosby, Cynthia, Historical Dictionary of Malawi, Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1980. 169 pages, abbreviations and acronyms, chronology, introduction, maps, extensive bibliography with introduction to bibliography. Charles Domingo, pp. 41-42.
Davidson, Basil, The African Genius, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1969, 367 pp. Illustrations and maps, notes and references, select bibliography, index. Published in England as The Africans. For Charles Domingo, John Clilembwe, and Joseph Booth see pp. 281-283, 288, 296.
Domingo, Charles, and Joseph Booth, "A Native Pastor's Plea for Boys and Girls," Sabbath Recorder, 72, 5 (January 29, 1912), 140-142.
Douglas, John and Kelly White, Spectrum Guide to Malawi, New York: Interlink Publishing Group, 2003, 384 pages. "The History of Malawi" section, pp 30-43.
Harris, Joseph E., Africans and their History, New York, New York: Penguin Books, 1972, second revised edition, 1998. 337 pages, bibliographical notes, index. Booth and Chilembwe pages 198-200, 231, 236. "Chilembwe's Rebellion" pages 198-200.
King, Michael and Elspeth, The Story of Medicine and Disease in Malawi: The 130 Years since Livingstone, Balantyre: The Montforth Press, 183 pages, 1992.
Langworthy, Emily Booth, This Africa Was Mine, Sterling Tract Enterprise, 1950, 139 pp. Introduction by George Shepperson, M.A., Department of History, The University of Edinburgh, 2 maps, 2 photos: Joseph Booth, and daughter Emily Booth as a child, in Malawi. Written by the daughter of Joseph Booth.
Langworthy, Harry, "Africa for the African": The Life of Joseph Booth, CLAIM: Balantyre, Malawi, 1996, 520 pp. Kachere Monograph Number 2, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi. Bibliography, index, 40 illustrations, including maps. Harry Langworthy is the great grandson of Joseph Booth and the grandson of Emily Booth.
Langworthy, Harry W., "Charles Domingo, Seventh Day Baptists and Independency," Journal of Religion in Africa, 15,2 (1985), 96-121.
Langworthy, Harry W., "Joseph Booth, Prophet of Radical Change in Central and South Africa, 1891-1915," Journal of Religion in Africa xvi, 1 (1986), pp 22-43.
Livingstone, W. P., Laws of Livingstonia: A Narrative of Missionary Adventure and Achievement, London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1921. 385 pages, introduction, many photos, endmap, index. Domingo pages 194, 257, 277, 277, 309, 327, 339, 355.
Lohrentz, Kenneth, "Joseph Booth, Charles Domingo, and the Seventh Day Baptists in Northern Nyasaland, 1910-1912," Journal of African History, 12, 3 (1971), 461-480.
McCracken, John, Politics and Christianity in Malawi 1875-1940: The Impact of the Livingstonia Mission in the Northern Province, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, 1977. CLAIM edition, 2000, 376 pages, 5 maps, preface, abbreviations page, bibliography, index.
Moreau, A. Scott, editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Missions, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000, 1068 pp. Articles on "Malawi" and on "Joseph Booth" both by Klaus Fielder.
Moore, N. Olney., and Wayland D. Wilcox, "The Report of the Visit to South and Central Africa," Sabbath Recorder 73, 22 (November 25, 1912, 695-735.
Moore, N. Olney., "Seventh Day Baptists and Mission Work in Nyasaland, Africa," Riverside, Cailfornia, 1950, Duplicated copies.
Morrison, J. H., Missionary Heroes of Africa, New York: George H. Doran Co., 1922. reprinted New York: Negro University Press, 1969, 267 pages. Chapters on David Livingstone, Stewart of Lovedale, and Laws of Livingstonia.
Pachai, Bridglal, editor, Livingstone, Man of Africa: Memorial Essays 1973-1973, London: Longman Group, 1973. 245 pages, notes, index, includes essays by George Shepperson, Andrew C. Ross, and John McCracken.
Pachai, Bridglal, editor, The Early History of Malawi, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1972, 454 pages.
Pachai, Bridglal, Malawi: The History of the Nation, London: Longman Group, 1973, 324 pages. Charles Domingo, see pp. 89, 169-170, 176, 179, 204-205, 210.
Pearson, Bettie, "An Old Soldier of Christ," Sabbath Recorder, 189, 4 (July 27, 1970), P. 6-7.
Pearson, David C., Seventh Day Baptists in Central Africa, Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society assisted author in publication, 2003. 138 pages, forward by Janet Thorngate, introduction by author, 2 maps, biography of Malawian SDB leaders, list of SDB missionaries and their dates of service, explanatory notes, bibliography, index. Charles Domingo, pages 14-19 in chapter 4 "Booth Relives."
Phiri, D. D., History of Malawi: from Earliest Times to the Year 1915, Christian Literature Association in Malawi (CLAIM), 2004, 292 pages, references, index. Pages 163-167 has sections on Seventh Day Baptists Charles Domingo and Alexander Makwinja.
Ray, Benjamin C., African Religions: Symbol, Ritual, and Community, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1976. 238 pages, introduction, notes, bibliography, index, map. Chapter 6, "Religion and Rebellion," includes pages 159-165: "John Chilembwe and the Nyasaland Uprising of 1915."
Ross, Andrew C., Balantyre Mission and the Making of Modern Malawi, Balantyre, Malawi, 1996. Ross, R. K., Christianity in Malawi: A Source Book
Rotberg, Robert I. The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The making of Malawi and Zambia, 1873-1964, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965,1972. 360 pages, preface, postscript, note on the sources, select bibliography, index. Charles Domingo, pages 69-72, 76-77, 135. Seventh Day Baptist Church, pages 64, 66, 70-71, 85, 151.
Sanders, Renfield, Malawi, New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988, 103 pages.
Sanneh, Lamin, Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity, New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 362 pages, inroduction, notes, maps, select bibliography, index. Charles Domingo, pp 142-143, 307.
Shepperson, George, and Thomas Price, Independent African: John Chilembe and the Origins, Setting, and Significance of the Nyasaland Uprising of 1915, Edinburgh, Scotland: The University Press, 1958. 564 pages, introduction, illustrations, notes and references, sources appendices, index, endmap. Charles Domingo, see pp. 159-169, 183, 210,213, 223, 241-242, 323, 334, 339.
Shepperson, George, "Joseph Booth and the African Diaspora," Tenth Herkovits Memorial Lecture, Evanston, Illinois, 1972.
Singano, E. and A. A. Roscoe, Tales of Old Malawi, 1974, amended and enlarged 2nd edition, 106 pages, 1980. Forward, thirty tales from Malawi's oral tradition, 137 riddles plus meaning of riddles.
Siwane, Nyaniso James, The Unknown Made Known: A History of Seventh Day Baptists in South Africa, published by the Seventh Day Baptist Conference of South Africa and the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, 1995. See Chapter 4 " Joseph Booth: The European Connection"
Thompson, T. Jack, Christianity in Northern Malawi: Donald Fraser's Methods and Ngoni Culture, Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1995. 292 pages, peface, glossary, map, 20 photos, bibliography, index. Charles Domingo pp. 166-169, 173, 177, 223.
White, Landeg, Magomero: Portrait of an African Village, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, 1st paperback edition 1989. 271 pages, preface, illustrations, maps, sources, index. Much Chilembwe and some Booth information.
Williams, Walter Lee, Black Americans and the Evangelization of Africa, 1877-1900, Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The Protestant Reformation began on the European continent with intensive study of New Testament texts by scholars such as Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, and John Calvin. Geneva in particular became the center of Reformation scholarship, as John Calvin and Theodore Beza were Greek and Latin scholars.The Reformers were involved in translating the Scripture into the vernacular. Many English Protestant leaders found safe haven in Switzerland and Germany. They studied and wrote primarily in Geneva. English and French translations of the New Testament and the whole Bible were produced. Miles Coverdale completed the first complete Bible with Apochrypha, in the English language. It was published in Zurich in 1535. A French Bible was translated by Pierre Olivetan, a cousin of Calvin. Notable English and Scotish Protestant exiles to the continent were William Wittingham, John Knox, John Foxe, John Bodley, John Bale, William Kethe, William Williams, Anthony Gilby, Christopher Goodman, Thomas Wood, Thomas Sampson, William Cole, and Thomas Cole. The Geneva Bible translation was supported by John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox, all considered some of the greatest Protestant theologians in history. Beza had published several editions of the Greek and Latin New Testaments. The Geneva Bible New Testament was finished in 1557 and the complete Geneva Bible in 1560, a year and a half after the death of Queen Mary, who had persecuted the Protestants. The Geneva Bible was in English, but the sources for the translation were in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, and prior English translations. The Geneva Bible had extensive Calvinist-oriented notes on the Bible text. John Bodley (father of the Bodelian Library of Oxford's namesake, Thomas Bodley) was the primary financial backer of the Geneva Bible. One of the primary translators, William Wittingham, a Greek scholar, was married to the sister of John Calvin's wife. The King James Bible was very indebted to the Geneva Bible, as were both translations to the earlier Tyndale Bible.
John Calvin's followers also were leaders in the developement of constitutional and representative government, the right of the people to change government, and the separation of church and civil government. In France his followers were refered to as Huguenots, and, in the British Isles and the Americas, they were called Puritans. These ideas of representative government were originally limited to the land-owning aristocracy but over the next century, especially in Holland, England and Scotland, and Colonial America more democratic ideals developed and flourished, culminating in the first flowering of extensive liberty in the small state of Rhode Island, founded by the Calvinist (or "Particular") Baptists Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke.
It is true that Calvin's administration of justice erred. Some of his opponents were tortured and executed, the most notable being Servetus, who was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1559.
Will Durant called John Calvin's massive masterpiece, Institutes of the Christian Religion, "one of the ten books that shook the world." This influential and systematic exposition of Bible doctrine, followed and expanded on the articles of the Apostle's Creed. It was revised at least five times between 1536 (first edition) and 1559. The book became the fundamental treatise in the developement of a truly evangelical theology. Calvin held that the Bible was the basis of all Christian teaching. He was indebted, however, to the writings of Augustine, the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene Creed, as well as to other early church writings. Calvin published the first of his many Bible commentaries, the Commentary on Romans, in Strasbourg in 1539.
His only child died at birth in 1542, and his wife died in 1549. In 1559 Calvin founded an academy in Geneva, which eventually became a university. Calvin has been described as a simple, reticent, and austere man, and not very much is known about his personal life.
Max Weber's well-known, but flawed, thesis (translated into English and published as The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) pictured Calvin as the source and spirit of modern capitalism, drawing heavily on the ideas of deist Benjamin Franklin, and misconstruing prolific English Puritan writer Richard Baxter. Calvinists were portrayed as exhibiting brotherly love only as a means of bringing glory to God, and thus devoid of real interest in the welfare of individuals or the community. Calvin did, it is true, as opposed to Luther, encourage the taking of interest. Robert Mitchell shines a beam of light on the issue: "Calvin's theological doctrines are based upon Scripture, and his social and economic views are related to his teachings of the Bible and how he should conduct his life." Georgia Harkness states " More consistently than any other Reformation leader, Calvin taught that the Bible was the sole authority in matters of faith and conduct." William Williston argues "...Far more than Luther... Calvin treated the Scriptures as a new law regulative of the Christian life." Richard Baxter (1615-1691), himself, probably better describes this ethic than does Max Webber. In his 17th century English, Baxter writes," True Morality of the Christian Ethick, is the Love of God and Man, stirred up by the Spirit of Christ, through faith: and exercised in works of Piety, Justice, Charity, and Temperance."
Calvinists have often, and unfairly been criticized for a lack of missionary passion and activity. Roger Greenway, in his article on Calvinism, in the Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, refutes this view both with Scripture and from history. He shows that Calvinism stresses truths that encourage missions. Three truths or doctrines are analyzed in relationship to missions: the glory of God, the kingdom of God, and the sovereignty of God. Historically, Calvinists have fielded the majority of missionaries in many parts of Asia (Korea for example) and the South Pacific , Africa (Moffat, Livingstone, Laws, Lovedale, etc.) and Latin America, and have had a major role in the missionary enterprise for over two centuries. Greenway writes, "There are critics who argue that Cavinism's emphasis on the sovereinty of God discourages mission...Calvinism's defense lies in its submission to the Scriptures which clearly teach both divine sovereignty and Christian duty to co-labor with God in mission."
John Calvin, himself, was, ostensibly, the most mission minded of all the early Reformers sending many evangelists back into his French homeland. He also in 1555 commissioned four missionaries to evangelize the indiginous people (Native Americans) of Brazil. Tragically, the mission and colony was plundered by the Portuguese and the few survivors martyred by Jesuits.
Calvin taght that the Bible was the supreme authority not only in spiritual matters, but also on the nature of all human institutions. His doctrinal statements began and ended with Scripture, even though he was well versed in the early church fathers and in the classic literature of the ages. Calvin writes in his Institutes "Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any others of that class; I grant you that you will be attracted, delighted, moved, enraptured by them in a surprising manner; but if, after reading them, you turn to the perusal of the sacred volume, whether you are willing or unwilling, it will affect you so powerfully, it will so penetrate your heart, and impress itself so strangely on your mind that, compared with its energetic influence, the beauties of rhetoricians and philosophers will almost entirely disappear; so that it is easy to perceive something divine in the sacred Scriptures, which far surpasses the highest attainments and ornaments of human industry." Further, he writes 'This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare."
Brake, Donald, A Visual History of the English Bible, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008
Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge, 2 volumes, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1983.
Harkness, Georgia, John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics, New York: Abingdon Press, 1931, 1958.
McNeill, John T., editor and introduction, John Calvin on God and Political Duty, New York: Liberal Arts Press, , 1950, 1956
Mitchell, Robert M., Calvin's and the Puritan's View of the Protestant Ethic, Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979
Moreau, A. Scott, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990. See "Calvinism" article by Roger S. Greenway.
Van Halsema, Thea B., This was John Calvin, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959, 1990
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Patrick was the apostle-missionary to heathen Ireland, a Celtic Christian, and, arguably, the most famous saint of the 5th century. He was at least a 3rd generation Christian, as he speaks of his father as a deacon and his paternal grandfather as a presbyter.
St. Patrick left two short works, his Confessio and his Epistola. Confessio outlines the story of his life. It was not what we would call an autobiography, by modern standards, as it left wide gaps in the story of his life. His life, therefore, remains obscured and enveloped in controversy, conjecture, legend and myth.
Patrick used simple illustrations from the world around him to explain God and the Christian faith to the Irish. His life exemplifies the enthusiasm of the Celtic Church. He frequently quoted that other great missionary, St. Paul. After 30 years of arduous and perilous missionary ministry to the Irish, he founded up to 300 churches and baptized as many as 120,000 believers. Ireland, which had been pagan when Patrick started his ministry, became a center from which Christianity radiated to the British Isles and to continental Europe.
Ireland become a center of Celtic monastacism (although Patrick was never himself a monk), and Christian culture, as well as of missionary zeal. The monastaries became the repositories of ancient Christian writings, as the barbarian hordes descended on continental Europe, destroying many ancient texts there. Ireland, it should be noted, did not officially become a Roman Catholic country until the 12th century, long after Patrick's lifetime.
"He [Patrick] conquered by steadfastness of faith, by glowing zeal, and by the attractive power of love."-August Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, 1855.
For further reading:
Bury, John, The Life of St. Patrick and His Place in History, New York: Macmillan, 1905. Reprinted by Books for Libraries, 1971.
Cahill, Thomas, The Hinges of History, Volume I : How the Irish Saved Civilization, New York: Doubleday, 1995.
Hanson, R. P. C., The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick, San Francisco: Harper, 1984, 144 pages.
Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of Christianity, Vol I: to A.D. 1500, Revised Edition, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975, pages 101-102.
Neil, Stephen, A History of Christian Missions, New York: Penguin Books, 1980, pages 56-57.
Olsen, Ted, Christianity and the Celts, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003, 192 pages.
Tucker, Ruth, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983, pages 38-40.
Monday, June 22, 2009
"Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as with the ordinary church member.
Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier.
Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual.
But the one who has love, courage, and wisdom moves the world."
--Ammon Hennacy (1893-1970)
Many soldiers are, of course, not "ordinary," but heroic, so I am not trying to disparage soldiers. And many of the intellectuals are merely pseudo-intellectuals. And the real "ordinary Christian" should, by God's grace and empowering, and through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, exhibit love with courage and wisdom. It should be said of us, ordinary Christians, as it was said of the early church:
"These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also."- Acts 17:6, (King James Version)
Monday, May 11, 2009
1. d) hundreds
2. King Alfred
3. John Wyclif
4. William Tyndale
5. Myles Coverdale
6. King James Version
7. Geneva Bible
8. King James Bible
9. New International Version
10. Algonquin (Native American) language / John Elliot- missionary to the Algonquins
11. German language
12. English language
1. How many English translations of the Bible and the New Testament have been completed over the centuries? a) about a dozen b) about a score or 20 c) about a hundred d) hundreds
2. Who was the great 10th century King of England who translated some of the Psalms into English and is considered by many scholars to have been early England's greatest King?
3. Who, with the help of some others, completed by hand, in 1382, the first English translation of the Bible?
4. Who in 1526 completed, and had published, the first printed English version of any part of the Bible?
5. Who in 1535 finished the first complete printed English Bible?
6. What English Bible, published in 1611, became the best selling book of all time and remained the best selling English Bible in annual sales until the 1980's?
7. What version of the Engish Bible inspired John Bunyan as he wrote Pilgrim's Progress?
8. What English Bible went through 236 editions between 1660 and 1710?
9. What English translation or version of the Bible became the best-selling English Bible beginning in the 1980's?
10. In what language was the first full Bible translation done in America in 1663? What famous missionary did it?
11. In what language was the second full Bible translation in America done? It was printed in 1743 by Christopher Saur.
12. In America in 1782, the full Bible was done in yet a third language? What language was it?
(That particular Bible publication, completed in 1782 by Robert Aitken, was the only Bible publication ever authorized by the U.S. Congress.)
LOOK FOR ANOTHER BIBLE AND BIBLE TRANSLATIONS QUIZ IN ABOUT A WEEK.
Does anyone know anything about the author Fred D. Jarvis, where he lived and when he wrote this?
TIME TO REAP
Now is the time to rise and reap,
The fields are harvest white;
This is the hour, I now repeat,
To spread the Gospel light.
This is the hour to give and work
Until the war is won;
O let us not our duty shirk
Before it is done.
The entire world is Christ's domain,
Yet heathen millions wait;
Let's quickly reap the golden grain
Before it is too late.
We must not let that harvest field
Grow ripe, then rot and die;
Our hearts must heed their strong appeals,
O let us then the sickle wield,
It's murder by neglect.
We dare not pass them by.
Of all the wrongs that we commit,
Perhaps our worst defect,
Is damning souls while we just sit,
It's time to call a halt, dear friend,
It's time to pray and weep;
The sheaves must quickly be brought in;
It's time for us to reap!
...Fred D. Jarvis
Sunday, May 3, 2009
b. Syriac (other satisfactory answers: SyroChaldaic, Aramaic, the Peshito)
These were the oldest (first) translations of the New Testament from the original Greek.
2. Sir David Dalrymple -- early British scholar who found all but about 11 verses of the New Testament in the then known writings of the Ancient Church Fathers.
3. The Apostle Paul -- wrote his letters between 50-65 A.D. (C. E.)
4. b. 400 B.C. --when the Prophets and Writings were accepted as Hebrew Scriptures along with the Law (Torah, Pentateuch).
5. c. 250 B.C. --when the Hebrew Old Testament was first translated into Greek.
6. Incunabula (the singular is Incunabulum) -- fairly rare books and Bibles printed before 1501 (1445-1500), the first printed books in the western world. (There was some printing done even earlier in China.)
7. The Council of Jamia --in 90 A.D. (C.E.) this Jewish council fixed the Hebrew canon at the same 39 books that are now also in the Protestant Old Testament of the Bible.
8. Erasmus -- in the 1500's produced editions of the New Testament in Greek used by others to make later vernacular translations of the New Testament.
9. Syriac and Coptic -- were sometimes used as translation sources other than the Greek and Latin Vulgate, the latter of which were much more commonly used.
10. Count Constantin Tischendorf (1815-1874) -- German scholar who published the New Testament in Greek in 8 editions between 1841 and 1869, and discovered Codex Sinaiticus at the monastary of St Catherines in the Sinai Peninsula.
The 3rd Quiz, in a day or two, will be on the English Bible and the Bible in the U.S.A.- look for it.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
1. Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These are the 3 languages of the original Bible manuscripts.
2. The Septuagint , LXX (Roman numeral for 70), Greek language. The first and oldest translation from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament.
3 The Essenes. They hid the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Romans, preserving them for posterity.
4. Esther. Parts of all but this book of the Old Testament were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
5. Polyglot. Book that contains the Bible in multiple languages.
6. Uncial. Ancient writing style of large plain block letters as opposed to more modern cursive writing.
7. Palimpest. Literally means "written twice". Ancient writing is found hidden under more modern writing on a manuscript, vellum, parchment, etc.
8. Deuteronomy. Book of the Law that King Josiah found in Temple hiding place, and had read to the people.
9. Jerome. Wrote the "authorized" Latin Vulgate in the 4th century A.D. (C.E.).
10. John. The oldest known extant manuscript is part of this Gospel book of Bible- dating to about 125 A.D. (C.E.).
11. Johannes Gutenberg. Used moveable type to print the Latin Vulgate Bible in the 1400's in Germany.
12. 4,000. Languages that have no Bible translation, not a single verse-but most of these are not major languages (not so many speakers of the language compared to the languages that have Bible translation.)
New Quiz on the Bible, the World's Greatest Book:
1. What two languages have the two oldest (first) translations of the New Testament?
Clue: One is now a "dead" language not spoken in any nation of the world, but the basis of many European Languages.
2. A British scholar who found, many years ago, that all the New Testament, but eleven verses, were found in the then known writings of the ancient "Church Fathers."
3. He wrote many letters between 50 and 65 A.D., now part of New Testament Scripture.
4. The Prophets and the Writings were accepted as Hebrew Scripture alongside the Law (Torah) a little after: a) 500 B.C. b) 400 B.C. c) 300 B.C. d) 200 B.C.
5. The Old Testament was first translated into Greek (the Septuagint) about:
a) 100 A.D. (C.E.) b) 100 B.C. 3) 250 B.C. 4) 500 B.C.
6. Bibles and books printed before 1501 (between 1445 and 1500 A.D. (C.E.) that are fairly rare and collectable are called____. (Clue starts with an "I" and is from the Latin)
7. The Jewish council that in 90 A.D. fixed the Hebrew canon at 39 books, the same 39 books found now also in the Old Testament of the Protestant Bible.
8. Famous Renaissance man who used manuscripts back to the 10th century A.D. to produce an edition of the Greek New Testament in 1516 which became the basis for many later vernacular translations of the New Testament.
9. New Testament translators use the Greek and the Latin Vulgate, but they occasionally also use the ____ and ___ translations of the New Testament. Name these 2 translations or languages.
10. A 19th century Greek scholar-translator who discovered the Codex Sinaiticus manuscripts in a waste basket at the St. Catherine's monastary near Mt. Sinai.
ANSWERS, AND ANOTHER QUIZ, IN 3 DAYS.
Friday, April 24, 2009
1. What are the 3 languages of the original manuscripts of the Bible?
2. The first (oldest) translation of the Old Testament was made for the Jews of many lands, and was also the primary Bible, rather than the Hebrew Bible, of the early church. What was the translation called, what was its numeric symbol, and what was its language?
3. Which of the three divisions of Judaism hid and preserved for posterity, the "Dead Sea Scrolls" from the Romans, who in 68 B.C. destroyed their community?
4. All except which book of the Old Testament was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
5. What is a large book that contains the Bible in multiple languages called? Clue: multiple=poly (it's prefix is poly, the word begins with poly_)
6. What is the writing style, used in ancient Bible manuscripts or parchments, that consists of large, plain, capital letters, called?
7. What is the word for the ancient writing style found hidden under the more modern, cursive writing on a parchment? The word means "written twice."
8. King Josiah found and had read to his people this book of the Law (Torah or Pentateuch) in a temple hiding place. What's the book's name?
9. Which early "Church Father" began translation work, in about 380 A.D., on the authorized Latin Vulgate?
10. The oldest extant New Testament manuscript discovered, dates from about 125 A.D. (C.E.) and is part of which Gospel book?
11. Who used moveable type to print the Latin Vulgate in the 1400's at Mainz, Germany?
12. About how many languages have never had a single verse of the Bible:
a) 1,000 b) 2,000 c) 3,000 d) 4,000
Answers will be published Sunday or Monday (2-3 days), with a new Quiz on the Bible, the world's greatest book.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
George Lisle (sometimes spelled Leile), an African-American, was the first known Baptist foreign missionary from America, and perhaps, the first Baptist minister to carry the Gospel to any foreign country. He preceded the famous Baptist missionary William Carey by 15 years or more.
Lisle was born a slave, about 1750 in Virginia.. He was set free by his owner, a Baptist deacon named Henry Sharpe, for the purpose of preaching the Gospel. Lisle was baptized on May 20, 1775. He became the first black ordained Baptist minister in America. He established a Baptist church in Savannah, Georgia as early as 1777, which merged with another Baptist group originally from Silver Bluff, South Carolina, pastored by David George, and founded by an itinerant preacher Brother Palmer. The merged church became the African Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia.
When Deacon Sharp died, Lisle went to Jamaica, at least in part to escape re-enslavement by Sharpe's heirs. He served as an indentured servant to repay money he borrowed for the journey to Jamaica.
During eight years of preaching he baptized 500 Jamaicans and established a strong Baptist church there. He also sent urgent appeals to the British Baptists to send missionaries to Jamaica.
The emancipation of the slaves in Jamaica on July 31, 1833, was another result of this missionary work, and can be directly correlated to another, later Baptist missionary in Jamaica, William Knibb.
Born into slavery near Richmond, Virginia in 1780, Lott Cary (some books use the spelling Carey) turned to Christ in 1807. He became a member of the First Baptist Church of Richmond.
From the balcony of the church his heart was set afire to preach to his own people. He learned to read the Bible and was licensed to preach. With money he had saved as a craftsman he, in 1813, bought freedom for himself and his family.
In 1815 he helped found the Richmond African Missionary Society. It was a time of "growing interest in world missions." It contributed to missions through the American Baptist Union. Lott Cary, and Colin Teague, an assistant minister at First African Baptist Church in Richmond and a fellow craftsman who purchased his freedom from slavery, were both primary leaders of the society. The first president, however, was a white man, William Crane, Lott Cary's mentor. This society was an auxiliary of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination of the United States of America for Foreign Missions, organized in 1814, and was to become known as the Triennial Convention.
When the American Colonization Society was organized in 1816, Baptists raised funds to send freed blacks as missionaries to Liberia, in conjunction with the African Baptist Missionary Society and the Triennial Convention. Lott Cary, with Colin Teague, also a Baptist, sailed January 16, 1821 to Liberia from Norfolk, Virginia on the ship Nautilus, a full generation after Lisle went to Jamaica. Cary established the first Baptist church in Liberia, the Providence Baptist Church of Monrovia, the capitol city. He set up schools for children in and around Monrovia. He established the Monrovia Baptist Missionary Society, serving as its first president. The society's goal was primarily to evangelize the local indiginous tribes, which it did successfully.
Cary was a godly leader, and a great missionary and statesman. He was a founder of the nation of Liberia, based, as its name implies, on principles of freedom. He also had the distinction of being the first Baptist missionary to Africa from the U.S. He died in an accident in 1828, seven years after sailing for Africa.
The Lott Cary Baptist Foreign Mission Convention was organized in 1897 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. in honor of Lott Cary. It was an independent outgrowth of the National Baptist Convention organized three years earlier in 1894. In this mission organization, named for Lott Cary, the "learned and unlearned walk hand in hand" in "love and service" as they promote God's mission in the world.
FOR FURTHER READING:
Adams, C. C. and A. Marshman Halley, Negro Baptists and Foreign Missions, Philadelphia, 1944.
Cole, Edward B., The Baptist Heritage, Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1976, 205 pp. forward, preface, appendix containing " Chronological Review of Important Dates for Baptists."
Fitts, L., Lott Carey, First Black Missionary to Africa.
Jacobs, S. M., editor, Black Americans and the Missionary Movement in Africa.
McBeth, H. Leon, The Baptist Heritage, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1987, 850pp., preface, bibliography, index. See especially pp. 777-782.
Moreau, A. Scott, editor, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2000. Article on "Lott Carey" by Richard D. Callenberg.
Puritan Pulpit, Summer 1989 (Volume 1, Number 2) and Fall 1989 (Volume 1, Number 3), Ron E. Davis, editor. Articles : "George Lisle and Lott Cary" and "George Lisle, Pioneer Black Baptist Missionary to Jamaica: His Own Account."
Shick, T. W., Behold the Promised Land: A History of the African-American Settlers in Nineteenth Century Liberia.
Torbet, Robert G., A History of the Baptists, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 3rd edition, 1975, 1978 (earlier editions staring in 1950) See pp 353-355.
Wood, James E., editor, Baptists and the American Experience, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1976.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
More than 300,000 have died and up to 3 million have been displaced, fleeing their homes, since the 2003 start of the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur, western Sudan.
The I.C.C. formally charged al-Bashir with war crimes. They allege that he ordered his troups and Arab militias to kill, torture, and rape civilians in Darfur, including many women and children.
Please fervently pray for a quick end to the genocide, and that the atrocities do not escalate, now that the humanitarian groups, that were helping the vulnerable women and children, have been expelled. And pray God will raise up a new generation of righteous leaders in the Sudan.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 (KJV)
Friday, February 27, 2009
In this small book of great truths for hurried and harried Christians, Swindoll expounds on four disciplines, based on four decisions, that can help us cultivate an in-depth relationship with the Almighty God.
The 4 disciplines:
The 4 decisions:
1. To reorder one's private world
2. To be still
3. To cultivate serenity
4 To trust the Lord completely
"Nothing under his control can ever be out of control," Swindoll writes. "When I keep my hands out of things, his will is accomplished, his name is exalted, and his glory is magnified."
As we finish another week of work, and begin another Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath that God wisely established at creation for all of us, let us celebrate his great glory and magnificent creative power. Let us, thoughtfully and joyfully, take the time, given us by God, to rest in him, so that he might truly work in us and through us.
I recommend spending an hour or two reading and heeding this little classic, as you also meditate on God's Word.
Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathens, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10 (King James Version of the Bible)
Charles R. Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty: Encountering Christ in the Secret Places of Your Life, Dallas, Texas: Word Puplishing, 1996, 80 pages, including 2 pages of endnotes.
Other pertinent books cited by Swindoll:
Bennett, Arthur, ed., The Valley of Vision, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975.
Edmon, V. Raymond, The Disciplines of Life, Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press, 1948.
Foster, Richard J., Celebration of Discipline, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978.
Kelly, Thomas, A Testament of Devotion, New York, Harper & Row Publishers, 1941.
Nouwen, Henri J. M., The Way of the Heart, New York: Seabury Press, 1981
Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr, The Gulag Archipelego, translated by Thomas P. Whitney, Harper & Row Publishers, 1973.
Tozer, A. W. (Aidan Wilson Tozer), The Divine Conquest, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, 1950.
1. What we want most
2. What we think about most
3. How we use our money
4. What we do with our leisure time
5. The company we enjoy
6. Whom and what we admire
7. What we laugh at
How do you stack up? Are you serving yourself, your own pleasure and your materialistic quests? Or do you have a passion for God, and for his kingdom and glory?
A. W. Tozer books still available in print at budget prices:
The Pursuit of God
The Knowledge of the Holy
God's Pursuit of Man
Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit
Keys to a Deeper Life
Man: The Dwelling Place of God
I Talk Back to the Devil
The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship
Acknowledgement: The seven definers are from a handout of Garri George shared at a Youth For Christ luncheon, in Anderson, Indiana Feb. 25, 2009. Garri George is the Executive Director of East Central Indiana Youth for Christ/Campus Life. Youth for Christ's Vision/Mission Statement: "As part of the body of Christ, our vision is to see every young person in every people group in every nation have the oppotunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become a part of a local church." Youth for Christ's mission is "to participate in the body of Christ in responsible evangelism of youth, presenting them with the person, work, and teachings of Christ, and discipling them into a local church."
Sunday, February 22, 2009
One organization, The Seed Company, has a goal of beginning the translation of the Bible in 200 more languages within three years. The goal is to complete the translations in the heart language of the people, by partnering with others, such as national colleagues, other organizations, investors, and prayer networks.
Those of us who live in western countries, blessed with multiple translations of the Bible, can, through The Seed company, partner with those who have had no portion of Scripture at all in their tongue.
The Seed Company, an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators, has offices in Arlington, Texas (headquarters) and Santa Ana, California. The webpage incudes a "prayer focus" link, to facilitate prayer for unreached peoples whose languages are targeted for Scripture translation.
To get involved in the project, go to: http://www.theseedcompany.org/
or phone: 817-557-2121 or 714-549-SEED
or toll free: 877-593-7333
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Diarrhea, caused by drinking dirty and contaminated water, is the leading cause of childhood deaths in these parts of the world.
Local river or trench water, so polluted you wouldn't even want to bathe in it, may often be the only drinking water available to the poor in the developing world, and in areas wracked by wars, genocide, famines, and natural disasters.
One partial solution might be the use of simple water filters, which can be constructed locally for about $15 USD, using entirely local materials.
Those new to the faith and to the church, memorized seven of Christ's main commands, with accompanying Scripture texts. Many of these indiginous, new believers were illiterate, when they turned to Christ, so had to memorize the Scriptures, then share them with others, rather than just share by reading the texts.
The seven commands of Christ, with the Bible texts, are these:
1. Repent and believe Mark 1:15
2. Be baptized Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:38
3. Love John 13:34, Matthew 22:37-40
4. Celebrate the Lord's Supper Luke 22:17-20
5. Pray John 16:34, Matthew 6:5-15
6. Give Matthew 16:19-21, Luke 6:38
7. Witness Matthew 28:18-20
Patterson also distinguishes three levels of authority, of which we also would be wise to differentiate and prioritize:
1. God's command's (have all the authority of heaven)
2. Apostolic practices (not commanded, but have the authority of example)
3. Human customs (a congregation is united in agreement on a paricular tradition)
Most church divisions develope, sadly, because 2nd and 3rd level practices are treated as if they were first-order commands.
Patterson, George, "The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches," in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, Ralph D. Winter and Stephen C. Hawthorne, editors, Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1981, revised edition 1992
Saturday, February 14, 2009
When people are ill from Malaria they have difficulty working, and usually are a big burden on their family, and other caregivers as well.
We now know, from computerized analyses done by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, and from other studies, that environmental control is probably as important as bednets and the new vaccines (now in trials being done in Africa), in reducing malaria. For example, spreading ground-up seeds from neem trees, which grow in Africa, on the ponds and standing water can reduce mosquito populations by about 50%. Using simple shovels and plows, to fill in or reduce the size of ponds, also help significantly. Plant derived pesticides also help. Bed nets can also be treated with pesticide to improve their effectiveness. Some countries are again using DDT (an organochlorine pesticide) with success and fairly low risk. DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, except for use in public health emergencies, like the outbreak of malaria or typhus, because it has EPA class II toxicity (moderate toxicity).
Bill Gates retired last year as the head of Microsoft to focus on the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the foundations main projects is ending malaria. The foundation is spending millions on fighting disease and reducing deaths caused by malaria. In September 2008 Gates announced that the foundation will provide 168 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Two vaccines for malaria are now in late stage trials in Africa and the results so far look promising. The U.S. Government, under the previous Bush administration, also has given a long term commitment, and funding, to fight, not only AIDS, but also malaria, in Africa.
One campaign is asking for a million people to get involved in the malaria fight. Tens of millions of deaths from malaria can be prevented they hope.
Deaths can be prevented by use of simple $5 bednets, inexpensive shovels, old-fashioned DDT, and the vaccines now being developed.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His family moved from Kentucky to Indiana in 1816, and from Indiana to Illinois in 1830. He was the first president born beyond the boundaries of the original 13 states, the first president who was assassinated, and the first Republican president.
His was not an easy life. His father was abusive and barely literate. He lost his mother when he was 9 years old. His baby brother, older sister, and two sons also died. His wife suffered from mental illness. He lived in poverty, was self-taught (he had less than 2 years of schooling), and was homely and gangling. Lincoln worked as a ferry operator, a flatboat pilot, an enlisted soldier, a partner in an unsuccessful merchandise business, a postmaster, and a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1837. He was an excellent wrestler.
He failed in his bid for public office several times: to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1832, to the U.S. Senate from Illinois on the Whig ticket in 1855, to be the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1856, and to the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket in 1858 (just two years before his election as the first Republican president in 1860). He was not liked much during his two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives because he opposed the Mexican War, and because he was considered a amusingly odd westerner of only average talent. His opposition to the war lost him his congressinal seat. His political failures and losses, however, prepared him to be a better president, a presidency he won with a mere 39% of the vote, as the Democrats split their vote.
Lincoln was a man of faith in God. Although he apparently never belonged to any denomination, he attended for over 10 years, the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, pastored by his friend, Rev. James Smith. After becoming President, he frequented a number churches in Washington, D. C., often more than one on a Sunday.
A small book of Scripture and poetry, containing the signature "A. Lincoln," and discovered in 1957, is evidence of his deep faith. He carried this book, The Believer's Daily Treasure; or Texts of Scripture arranged for every day in the year, in his vest pocket. The book had been published in 1852 in London by The Religious Tract Society as a 4th edition. He probably read it as he travelled the Old Eighth Circuit, and later, during the Civil War, as commander-in-chief.
Lincoln read the Bible throughout his life, often quoting it in conversation and in public addresses, and referring to it frequently in his letters. His famous Gettysburg (1863), Second Inaugural (1865), and House Divided (1858) speeches, and many other speeches contain Scripture and references to the Almighty God and the Heavenly Father. He used the name of Jesus in his private and public speech, and seems to be the only president to cite the Holy Spirit in a proclamation.
Several writers and historians have refuted the idea that he was anything but an orthodox Christian, who held to the tenets of historical Christianity (see the reference list). He exhibited Christian virtues of forgiveness, magnanimity, generosity, compassion, courage, honesty, self-control, warm humor, devotion, zeal, patience, and humility. Historian Michael Burlingame, author or editor of 12 books on Lincoln, says, "He was able to rise above the tyranny of the ego which most of us suffer from."
A 19th century author, Allen T Rice, wrote of Lincoln, "His sense of humor never flagged. Even in his telegraphic correspondence with his generals we have instances of it." One of his favorite humorists, he enjoyed reading, sometimes to his staff, was the writer Charles F Browne (pseudonym Artemus Ward).
He and his family owned several Bibles. He cherished the Scriptures, proclaiming: "In regard to this great book, I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man." He told his friend, L. L. Crittenden, "I decided a long time ago that it was less difficult to believe the Bible was what it claimed to be than to disbelieve it."
In the Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is a statue of Lincoln in an attitude of prayer, done by the sculpturer Herbert Spencer Houck. Houck's grandfather, while walking the fields near the Battle of Gettysburg, had once found Lincoln kneeling in the leaves. This picture of Lincoln, passed on verbally from grandfather to grandson, was the inspiration for Hauck's statue, "Lincoln in Prayer."
Rev. Willard Davis, in a great and important sermon, "Was Abraham Lincoln Really a Christian?" preached in 1989, 20 years ago, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, quotes Lincoln: "When I went to Springfield I wasn't a Christian... When I went to Gettysburg I wasn't a Christian. But there at Gettysburg I consecrated my life to Christ." Rev. Davis goes on to say that the day that he came to know Christ was November 19, 1863 (probably the same day Houck's grandfather found him kneeling in the leaves of the fields of Gettysburg). Davis relates that his subsequent Second Inaugural Address reads like a sermon, much more than his pre-conversion speeches do. Davis claims, based on his studies, that Lincoln was planning to join the Presbyterian Church on Sunday just several days after he was shot and killed. At the time he was shot at Ford Theater he was telling his wife they should take a trip to the Holy Land, "We could go up to Jeru..." He never got to finish the word "Jerusalem"
On the 200th Anniversary of his birth, let us remember the humble Abraham Lincoln, who rose above a life of hardships and sorrows to become one of the greatest U.S. Presidents-a president who acknowledged and trusted God, read His Word, and was in frequent prayer.
References used to prepare this blog:
Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writing, Roy P. Bassler editor, Kraus-Thompson, 1968 (1st published 1946)
Abraham Lincoln's Daily Treasure: Moments of Faith with America's Favorite President, edited by Thomas Freiling, Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell (a division of Baker Book House), 2002
Facts About the Presidents: From Washington to Johnson, Joseph Nathan Kane, NY: Pocket Books, 1960, 1964
Great Speeches/ Abraham Lincoln: With Historical Notes by John Grafton, NY: Dover Publications, 1991
Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of Our Greatest, Krannawitter, Thomas
Lincoln's Devotional: Introduction by Carl Sandburg, Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, 1957 (from my father's library & containing his signature)
Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time, Allen T. Rice, New York, 1886, 1909.
The Life of Abraham Lincoln for Boys and Girls, Charles W. Moores, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1900, illustrated
The Hidden Lincoln, Emmanuel Hertz, editor, 1938 (Law partner of Lincoln, William H. Herndon's letters and papers relating to Lincoln, edited by Hertz)
The Lincoln Reader, Paul M. Angle, editor, Greenwood, 1981
For Further Research about Lincoln's Spiritual Life:
Barton, William, The Soul of Lincoln, 1920
Fox, Dr. G. George, Abraham Lincoln's Religion
Jones, Edgar DeWitt, Lincoln and the Preachers
Olasky, Marvin, The American Leadership Tradition
Wolf, William J., The Almost Chosen People: A Study of the Religion of Abraham Lincoln
Go to the website of the "HAVEN Today" radio program, if you would like to obtain Pastor Willard Davis' 1989 sermon, "Was Abraham Lincoln really a Christian," preached at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland: http://www.haventoday.org/