In 1978 as an ETBU student, I served as the preacher on a Revival Team in the state of Iowa. We were sponsored by the Home Mission Board, now the North American Mission Board. We served throughout the state for the summer. A few times we attended seminars given for Iowan Baptist Student Union students doing evangelistic work for the summer. Most of these students were relatively new Christians excited about telling others about Jesus.
One of the speakers for these seminars was a professor from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MWBTS). He was theologically liberal. For example, on one occasion he explained that in the Bible Luke said such and such, and Paul said something else. His conclusion - Paul was right and Luke was wrong. He seemed to delight in pointing out what he considered mistakes and contradictions in the Bible. The leader of these students came to me almost in tears telling of how this professor had shaken the faith of some students. After all, here was a professor supported by Southern Baptists, teaching there were mistakes in the Bible.
The leader made a wise decision. He scheduled Calvin Miller from the neighboring state of Nebraska to give a lecture the next week. Miller gave a scholarly, moving lecture on why we can trust the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. In one session he put it all together and it made sense. He confirmed the once shaken faith of these new believers. One student after another came away saying things like, “That answered my questions,” and, “That’s what I believed all along.”
We had lunch with Dr. Miller and he told a couple of fascinating stories.
Much like these college students, Miller began with a simple, child-like faith in the trustworthiness of the Bible. He went as a student to MWBTS and his faith too, was shaken. He began to doubt more and more. Finally, it came to a culmination. He was pastor of a church at the time and, as I recall, it was a deacon who came to him asking him to pray about a serious matter. The young pastor expressed his concern. The deacon thanked him for his concern, but said he especially wanted him to pray about it. Miller then replied, “I’m sorry but I don’t believe in prayer any more and don’t believe it would do any good.” The wise deacon replied, “You may not be able to pray for me, but I can pray for you.” Over time, Calvin Miller came back to a stronger faith than ever.
Calvin Miller also told a story that happened at MWBTS while he was a student there. He had a professor who did not believe Isaiah wrote the biblical book of Isaiah. (This was well before the Conservative Resurgence; all professors at MWBTS now believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.) The professor never missed a chance to cast doubt on Isaiah authoring the book that bears his name.
One day in the middle of the class lecture, there was a knock on the door. A Western Union man came in saying he had an urgent telegram for… and he called the professor by name. The professor affirmed he was the one, and the messenger gave him the telegram and left. The professor opened the telegram, read it, laid it on the desk, and said, “Boys, some things just aren’t funny.” The telegram said, “I did too write my book. Signed, Isaiah.”
By the way, I also enjoyed hearing him say that the fastest growing churches were usually led by conservative, premillennial pastors.
Later when a student at SWBTS, I saw Miller again as he attended a theater play in Fort Worth that was based on his Trilogy.
Calvin Miller, who at the age of 75 moved from this life to the next on August 19, 2012, was a great encouragement to conservatives in the days leading up to the SBC Conservative Resurgence (that began in 1979). He encouraged many young students and preachers. His preaching and writing have inspired multitudes.
Note: On the above stories I’ve tried to be accurate but I’m going by my memory of over 30 years ago. If anyone has a recorded or written document on these stories, I’d love to be made aware of them.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 21, AD 2012.
Calvin Miller, author, pastor, prof, dies at 75, from Baptist Press
Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence
Random Advice to Pastors, Part 1
Young Preachers - Finding a Place to Preach; Part 1
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