Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A few ways in which D. James Kennedy blessed me

As you probably know, Dr. D. James Kennedy died this morning at his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He has been very sick since a heart attack in December. Dr. Kennedy was a PCA minister and a very visible evangelical TV and Radio personality, one of the best known PCA ministers in the country, probably second only to R.C. Sproul if it's possible to rank such things. I have heard Dr. Kennedy preach or teach in person several times over the years but really didn't read his books or watch his TV broadcast too much. I do catch his radio program (which has continued to air, even while he was indisposed over the last 9 months or more) while driving and have appreciated the content of many broadcasts.

The ways Dr. Kennedy has blessed me are somewhat indirect, but genuine blessings none the less:

1. I was becoming a Calvinist in college and became aware of the Presbyterian Church in America as one of the denominations I would fit with. I distinctly remember someone telling me D. James Kennedy was a PCA minister. While at Moody Bible Institute, I went to the library and found several articles in magazines by Kennedy and a book called "What if Christ had Never Been Born". He was my introduction to the PCA.

2. When I first started sharing Christ with people, I almost always used the so-called "diagnostic" questions from Evangelism Explosion- the personal evangelism "program" started by Kennedy and used of the Lord to bring many to faith in Christ. I've said these words many times to people: "If God were to ask you,' WHY SHOULD I LET YOU INTO MY HEAVEN, what would you say?". I still use this method if I only have a brief moment with a person. As a young believer zealous to tell people about Christ, but not sure where to start, Kennedy's approach helped me.

3. There was a businessman named Mike Milton who came to Christ through an Evangelism Explosion presentation by a local church. He then went to Knox Seminary (founded by Dr. Kennedy) and was one of the seminary's first graduates. After graduation he came to Overland Park to lead the planting of Redeemer in 1993, the church I now serve as pastor. Praise God for this!

4. I didn't agree with every historical perspective Dr. Kennedy purported and I thought his "Gospel in the Stars" preaching series of a few years back was a bit strange, nevertheless I have always been inspired by his genuine belief that the Church was here to transform culture and take it for Christ. His bold activism in culture was a fresh relief from the predominant "the boat is sinking", dispensational, "we're waiting for the rapture", mindset. What he lacked in technical Reformed prowess, he made up for with practical Reformed cultural activism. I have always respected him greatly for that.

So it is that we witness the passing of one of the best loved and appreciated PCA pastors in our short history. Many of our denominational fathers are getting older- the hand with the baton is is outstretched, I pray regularly that it will be handled faithfully by the new generation of "fathers".


Rick Calohan said...


If it were not for Dr. D. James Kennedy’s I may still be lost in the PCUSA. Dr. Kennedy’s cultural mandate struck a chord with me, especially when his sermons were about church history or American history that is no longer being taught in the public schools.

Through Dr. Kennedy, I began to see that yes there was a “Presbyterian Church in America” that was not lost like the PCUSA. That there was a Covenant Theological Seminary where one could take courses via the ACCESS program, that there are PCA churches in the Kansas City Metro Area, that along with Truth’s That Transformed on KCCV, there was also Renewing Your Mind with Dr. R.C. Sproul, and this other radio program, oh yeah The Redeeming Factor with you.

There were many sermons I enjoyed of his the one I enjoyed the most (it might have something to do with my Scotch-Irish heritage) were on John Knox, and on St. Patrick. The courage of his convictions and more importantly how he stressed the cultural mandate by proclaiming the truth in order to reshape America for the better;
when I learned of his death, the very words on his memorial website, I remember watching that sermon with a friend in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”

D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

At least for me he did help transform mine.

grj said...

I too have been affected by the ministry of D. James Kennedy and read many of his books and sermons. It is my prayer that God will raise another to continue to preach social and cultural activism from a Scriptural and reformed perspective. May the Lord comfort his family and strengthen Coral Ridge in their grief and sorrow.amen

Frontier Forest said...

Now doubt, an uncompromising leader, pastor and teacher of God's truth indeed, and the body of Christ can be sad to loose him and joyous for his victorious home-coming!
But to be honest, I had a hard time listening to him. As much truth was proclaimed, he just got too political for me.
Don't mean to be critical at this time of refection, just an honest observation.
By the way Tony, on the drive home last night, on KCCV 92.3, I heard the announcement about the Nathan Clark George Concert Sunday, September 23rd at Redeemer!

GUNNY said...

Great stuff, Tony. I feel you on the diagnostic questions.

That's interesting that he was your introduction to the PCA.

Thanks for sharing; I've shared your thoughts on my blog as well.

P.S. I've heard great things about your new building and the first service. All I can say is, "Soli Deo gloria!"

AJF said...

Thanks Gunny,
I liked your post on D.James also. Thanks for the good work you did pounding Hough in to shape for us!

Phantom495 said...

I too have been impacted by Dr. Kennedy's cultural mandate, and hope that there will be another father in the faith to step into the breach now that he has gone home. I am saddened for his family and his church, but overjoyed that he is now with his Saviour. Tony, as you have said, our modern day fathers of the faith are beginning to pass the baton, and we must encourage our younger fathers to take it and run with the zeal and love for Christ that those who have gone before us have exhibited.

God is Sovereign, and He is already raising up this generation and preparing the next to carry His Word and the Gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world! May it be that we all go to glory with the same grace shown in Dr. Kennedy's quote!

All Glory to Christ!