3rd November 2010
To William Taylor
I hear you are turning 70 in a few days time. How young 70 has become in our present era with the medical and other advances that has raised our life expectancy!
I was encouraged by what you said about being a mentor to younger Christians. Let me tell you why. One of the biggest concerns I have for the evangelical movement is that the thinkers of the movement, the theologians and missiologists, whose writings influence the direction which the church will take are lacking in passion for the gospel. When the evangelical movement gained a measure of respectability the desire to maintain and enhance that respectability became one of the unwritten agendas of the evangelical academy. Many of those reacting to this maintained their orthodoxy but did so with an insensitivity and disrespect for opponents which brought dishonour to the gospel.
Sadly, most of us evangelical leaders in the church today are found close to these two extremes—the quest for respectability and the insensitive disrespect for opponents—with few adorning our radical gospel adequately. The radicalism of the gospel lies in its combination of loving and humble servanthood and the urgent proclamation of exclusive absoluteness.
True gospel values have never been popular with the establishment. The hold of sin in the world is so great that it will always be uneasy with the proclamation and demonstration of God’s righteousness. Those who made a difference in this world were almost always viewed as fools and extremists when they launched into what later became recognised as their heroic work. A passion for the gospel, with its terribly hard-to-bear severe side, was one of the things that gave those people the motivation to launch into and persevere in these heroic ventures.
We need such heroes in the church today. You are a man of passion. May the next decade of your life, be used by God to encourage younger Christians to dare to be different, Christians whose passion for God and the gospel drives them to difficult avenues of service.
Have a happy birthday,