A Pen in God's Hand
The Prototypical Evangelical? Historians David Bebbington, Mark Noll, and George Rawlyk have identified four characteristic marks of "evangelicalism": a stress on conversion, a focus on Christ's redeeming work as the core of biblical Christianity, an acknowledgment of the Bible as the supreme authority, and an energetic and personal approach to social engagement and evangelism. According to Paul Lim, the life and ministry of Richard Baxter reveal all four of these qualities. Read more about this remarkable man.
On July 28, 1875, the town of Kidderminster in the English Midlands witnessed a rare moment of Christian unity. After over 200 years of deep Protestant divisions, clergy from all denominations came together for the unveiling and dedication of the statue of a Puritan preacher.
The inscription at the base of the statue read, "Between the years 1641 and 1660 this town was the scene of the labors of Richard Baxter, renowned equally for his Christian learning and his pastoral fidelity. In a stormy and divided age he advocated unity and comprehension, pointing the way to everlasting rest."
Baxter himself would have been pleased by the ecumenical spirit of the event. Refusing to be boxed into any party or sect, he called himself a "mere Christian"—a phrase that would influence C. S. Lewis centuries later—and spent his life trying to persuade his fellow Protestants to reconcile their doctrinal and political differences and work together towards holiness. "In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity" was his motto.
By age 44, he was the most famous clergyman in England, known for completely transforming the town of Kidderminster and fostering cooperation between clergy. By his death in 1691 ...