From the Editor: Climbing the family tree
In 1969 Boston pastor and evangelical spokeperson Harold John Ockenga, evangelist Billy Graham, and philanthropist J. Howard Pew capped over a decade of fruitful collaboration with a new project: merging Gordon Divinity School and Conwell School of Theology to form Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Among the young evangelical students in the very first class was my father. He vividly recalls the first chapel service in which he heard Ockenga preach as the school's inaugural president. Ockenga began by saying that he had been trained to write out a sermon first, then preach from an outline in order to avoid sounding rehearsed. But, he surmised, why not just memorize the outline? And so, with nothing but the Bible in front of him, the president launched into an articulate sermon that transfixed the new seminarians.
Two and a half decades years later, I joined my fellow Gordon-Conwell first- year students in Boston's Park Street Church, where Ockenga had once been pastor, watching the inauguration of Walter C. Kaiser Jr. as the school's third president.
Working on this issue of the magazine has felt like writing a communal autobiography. Not only does my own family have roots in the "New Evangelical" movement (led by Ockenga, Graham, and others) that transformed the American religious scene in the mid-2Oth century, so does the family of magazines to which Christian History & Biography belongs, Christianity Today International.
The company's flagship publication Christianity Today—which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year—was the brainchild of Billy Graham. Ockenga was chairman of the board, and the first two editors—Carl Henry and Harold Lindsell—were founding ...