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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

'Born on this day'

D.L. Moody had his first spiritual birthday, April 21st 1855, when he was converted to Jesus Christ through Robert Kimball. “It seemed to me I was in love with all creation. I had not a bitter feeling against any man, and I was ready to take all men to my heart.” (1) DL Moody went on to saturate himself in the Bible of the English speaking peoples: the King James Version. As a result he made it accessible to the countless urban masses in the nineteenth century looking for a hope to carry them through a difficult life. He was thought to have travelled more than a million miles and addressed more than 100 million people.” (2)

What did DL Moody believe about the Bible? He accepted it literally for a start. ”Moody rejected attempts to set aside literal interpretation of the crossing of the Red Sea, the story of Jonah and the fish . . . as being essentially objections to the supernatural character of the Bible, and not worthy of the Christian’s serious consideration. “I notice,” said Moody, “if a man goes to cut up the Bible and comes to you with the truth and says, ‘I don’t believe this and I don’t believe that’ – I notice when he begins to doubt portions of the Word of God he soon doubts all.” Verbal plenary inspiration involved verbal infallibility of the scriptures as originally given in Hebrew Aramaic, and Greek, and the King James Version . . . “(3)

Moody lacked the training to approach the Bible critically, and so take its words apart. In that weakness was his greatest strength, for he was thus prepared to affirm what few of our educated contemporaries are willing to believe. He sharpened his general affirmation that the Bible is true with statements that all the Bible is inspired, “yes, every word of it.” [Likewise, Dr. Billy Graham was formally trained in anthropology, not theology – so neither did his training take him away from the KJV]. Such a comment today would be seen by many as unintelligible, even stupid. Yet the highly accomplished textual scholar John Burgon, Dean of Canterbury, held the same view, as he lauds the extreme accuracy of the Received Text (transmitted via the KJV):

". . . [T]his Day's Sermon has had for its object to remind you, that the BIBLE is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the Throne! Every Book of it,-- every Chapter of it,-- every Verse of it,--every word of it,--every syllable of it,-- (where are we to stop?) --every letter of it -- is the direct utterance of the Most High! -- Pasa graphe theopneusto. ‘ Well spake the HOLY GHOST, by the mouth of' the many blessed Men who wrote it. -- The Bible is none other than the Word of God: not some part of it, more, some part of it, less; but all alike, the utterance of Him who sitteth upon the Throne;-- absolute,-- faultless,-- unerring,-- supreme!". (4)

DL Moody’s understanding of God and the needs of the human heart were simply phenomenal. Had the Apostle Paul foresight he might have been thinking of Moody when he said: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.(5)

Because he was prepared to be thought foolish, God chose Moody to confound the wise, and he became an immense blessing to countless numbers of needy people. I guess Proverbs 3:5 was a key thought for him, as he said: “It is easier for me to have faith in the Bible than to have faith in D.L. Moody, for Moody has fooled me lots of times.” (6)

(1) 1963 JC Pollock Moody without Sankey, Lon: Hodder, p. 25

(2) 1974 JD Douglas New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, UK: Paternoster.p. 675.

(3) 1976/99 SH Gundry Love them in: The Life and Theology of D. L. Moody, ILL: Moody Press, p. 209

(4) 1861 JW Burgon Inspiration and Interpretation, LON: Parker. Quoted at
VII SERMON IV.(5) 1 Cor. 1: 27-29

(6) Quoted in Christian History, Christianity Today.