A dinner party with Francis Schaeffer and others

Ray Ortlund is the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also the author of several books, including The Gospel (in the 9Marks Healthy Church series) and Supernatural Living for Natural People.

Here, Ray writes about three leaders he would like to invite to dinner.

He starts with Francis Schaeffer:

… he had the insight and courage to chart a new course for God’s people in a time of intense social and cultural upheaval.  In the mid- to late-1960s, evangelical leaders, it seemed to me, were stuck in patterns of ministry and communication that just didn’t connect with those amazing times.  Our leaders lacked imagination.  They seemed perfectly relevant – to a world that had passed by.  But Schaeffer had the boldness to rethink ministry in a way both faithful to the Bible and compelling to the rising generation.  How did he do that?   What pushed him forward?  What did not allow him to settle for less?  I’d love to listen to him tell that story, because I believe we need the same newness today.

Martin Luther:

Again, because he had insight and courage.  The man had many flaws.  But more than offsetting them the man stood up, clear and strong, for the good news of justification by faith alone.  He stood up bravely to titanic human power.  And he won.  He won because his position was more biblical, and he wouldn’t shut up.  But how did he find the inner wherewithal to keep going, all the way?  I would love to know how the Lord helped him, especially in the darkest days.

Ray Ortlund Sr (Ray’s father):

I watched my dad grow and bear fruit through good times and bad.  He was the most cheerfully radiant man I’ve ever known.  He could not be beaten down.  He stayed on a growth curve for a long time, surfing a wave of spiritual growth and power for decades, never lapsing into tired and dead patterns but staying fresh all the way.  I saw him pastor a large church into a decade of revival warmth and aliveness and joy during the 1970s.  What did the Lord show him along the way?  What were the crucial turning points, when it could have gone bad but it didn’t, and how did my dad know to turn the right way amid many plausible options?  I’d love to hear that story in greater detail than I ever had the chance to ask him during his lifetime.

I’d also love to listen to Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Billy Graham, and Machiavelli.  Yes, Machiavelli.  Looking at the photographic negative of everything I believe in can be highly instructive!



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