One hundred years ago today, on December 22, 1899, Dwight Lyman Moody died in Northfield, Massachusetts, the same small town in which he had been born. Years before, Moody had anticipated this moment: "Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. … I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
Moody has been called the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century, but it would be more accurate to say that Graham is the D. L. Moody of the twentieth. Both are evangelical icons in the revivalist tradition. Like Graham, Moody modeled the virtues of integrity, sincerity, and single-mindedness, avoiding the taint of scandal in personal and financial matters. In their respective eras, both preachers also served as magnanimous leaders around whom others could rally.
More specifically, Moody embodied three principles that are highly relevant for what we face today. First, he modeled an evangelical unity focused on the gospel. Some have predicted the inevitable fragmentation and dissipation of evangelicalism in the post-Graham era, a replay of the fratricidal fights following Moody's death. But history need not repeat itself. Evangelical unity is not a matter of patching together new coalitions, nor of devising a new superstructure. Jesus Christ is our unity, and his gospel is our message. Second, Moody showed love and generosity toward all, including those with whom he differed. This same note was sounded by the late Francis Schaeffer, who reminded us that love is the irreducible mark of the Christian: ...1
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Why We Still Need Moody
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