A prince and a great man has fallen. Without L. Nelson Bell there would have been no CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Through the years, he has been a pivotal force in all of its operations, and evangelical Christians everywhere are indebted to him for his labors. He was, to me, a father, a confidant, a spiritual guide, and a splendid example of what a Christian ought to be and how he ought to act.
I personally will miss him because he was not only my father-in-law, he was my pastor, He was the one I went to for counsel and advice on almost any major decisions I ever made. There flowed in and out of his home political leaders, theologians, churchmen, and ordinary people seeking his advice and counsel. He was one of the most selfless men I have ever known. Even though he retired from medical service years ago, he still was the doctor to hundreds of people in these mountains of western North Carolina. He continued his rounds at the hospital regularly, calling on the sick. He was always ready to help the least person who came across his path.
Dr. Bell’s name was known on all continents; he had, indeed, a long record of service on two—in medicine, journalism, speaking, and administration. His unyielding insistance on the plain basics of the faith and his evangelistic earnestness made his “A Layman and His Faith” the popular reading of a host of followers. He was perpetually in motion for Christian concerns. On the margin of both his own and his eminent son-in-law’s ministry, he had far-reaching contacts and influence. He wanted to end his days with “boots on.” Those “boots” were consequently well-worn, and many places where he walked were brightened by his ministry there—a ministry that will be ongoing because of his stake in CHRISTIANITY TODAY and in the printed world of words.
A warm personal friend, “one who sticketh closer than a brother,” has gone to be with his Lord, whom he loved so much and served so well. What a joy to have served with him for these thirty-one years!
The Church has lost a leader of large capacity, whose charity of spirit and indomitable courage profoundly influenced his generation in this nation and around the world in many a hard-fought battle for the truth and the Gospel. He was never vindictive, never bitter, never lost heart.
Mountain Retreat Association
Asheville, North Carolina
Nelson Bell had more drive than any other man I have ever known. Like Enoch, he walked closely with God. Like Livingstone, he made it through many a difficult day only by spending hours before daybreak on his knees. Like Moody, he was mighty in the Scriptures. Like Knox, he was fearless in any company. If he occasionally seemed aggressive in his zeal, it was truly because “the zeal of thine house has eaten me up” (Ps. 69:9). He surely has entered into the joy of his Lord.
What a superb life Dr. Lemuel Nelson Bell lived! He was above all else a peacemaker, and no person can strive for a greater calling. In a world seemingly shattered by strife and rancor, Dr. Bell was one of all too few peacemakers—one whose peacemaking was based on person-to-person service and contact, of gentleness, of conciliation. For his many friends and relatives, he left a magnificent legacy to man’s better nature.
Asheville, North Carolina, Citizen
The death of Dr. L. Nelson Bell of Montreat has stilled a strong voice for reconciliation in the troubled Presbyterian Church U. S. just as plans are ripening to formally split the old Southern denomination.
Nelson Bell was a great Christian with clear vision, unfailing courage, sound faith, and an optimistic spirit. His was a faith exemplified by good works, yet with all a “faith that worketh by charity.” Others talk and write of reconciliation; he lived it.
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