The life of Vernon Grounds, who died September 12 at age 96, spanned the birth, growth, and maturation of the evangelical movement in North America. During his seven decades of ministry, he helped shape contemporary evangelicalism in significant ways: by building a key institution, Denver Seminary; by challenging evangelicals to wed social action to evangelism; and by pointing the way to a new and thoroughly Christian approach to psychology. But before he did those things, Grounds gave himself to preaching a reasoned and reasonable faith.
While a student at the newly formed Faith Theological Seminary in Delaware, Grounds became part of a group that included such later evangelical luminaries as Arthur Glasser, Kenneth Kantzer, Joseph Bayly, and Francis Schaeffer. The Faith Seminary community, like its theological guru Carl McIntire, was committed to defending the intellectual foundations of our supernatural faith.
While a young pastor in Paterson, New Jersey, Grounds produced his first book, The Reason for Our Hope, based on a series of radio talks. He ably made the case for faith in the supernatural Christ and the credibility of his Word. With this book, Grounds began his ongoing emphasis on apologetics. Over the next few years, in tandem with Edward John Carnell of the newly formed Fuller Theological Seminary, he was at the forefront of an intellectual renaissance among American evangelicals.
While pastoring in Paterson, Grounds also pursued a Ph.D. in psychology at Drew University. There he began writing a dissertation on "The Concept of Love in the Psychology of Sigmund Freud." It took him 20 years to complete the dissertation, but his topic presaged his engagement with culture and his break with fundamentalism.