Drummond’s colleagues remember a man passionate for revival

Communications Staff — January 5, 2004

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Lewis A. (Louie) Drummond was a scholar with a heart for souls, colleagues said after Drummond’s death Jan. 4 at the age of 77.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’ Executive Committee and a former convention president, said Drummond, a former seminary president and professor, “did as much as any man in his generation to sound the trumpets signaling the need for revival in our nation.”

“His passion to see lost souls saved and the church renewed and refreshed has left a lasting impression upon the convention he loved and served faithfully,” Chapman continued. “We thank the Lord for his untiring efforts for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom.”

James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources, called Drummond “one of God’s great gifts to Southern Baptists and to Christians everywhere.”

“Seldom has a man so possessed the heart of an evangelist, the passion of the great awakenings, the intellect of a scholar, the gifts of an author and the simplicity of a powerful preacher,” Draper said. “’Louie’ was a friend and faithful co-laborer for the Lord. Such a man seldom comes along even over several generations and we have been blessed that God provided him in ours. He will be greatly missed and will be remembered always with gratitude to God. Our prayers go with [his widow] Betty at this time as she continues his legacy.”

Drummond’s career included the positions of:

— president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., from 1988-92, soon after it became the first SBC entity to have a conservative majority on its board of trustees. It was a time when, as Drummond recounted in “The Baptist Reformation” by Jerry Sutton, the battle within the SBC over the conservative resurgence “was still being waged in a very vociferous fashion.”

— Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., from 1973-88 and director of the Billy Graham Center there.

— Chair of Evangelism and Practical Theology at Spurgeon’s Theological College in London from 1968-73.

— Pastor of Ninth and O Baptist Church in Louisville from 1964-68 and, earlier, of churches in Alabama and Texas from 1949-1961.

After his Southeastern presidency, Drummond served as the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., from 1992 until this summer when he became evangelism professor in residence at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Ashville, N.C., and chancellor of schools of evangelism for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School and a former colleague on Southern Seminary’s faculty, said Drummond “was possessed by the optimism of grace. He was one of the most upbeat, optimistic, hopeful persons I‘ve ever known. And that all stemmed from the fact that he really knew Jesus Christ in a dynamic and personal way and he wanted to share that with everybody else.”

Drummond also was “a world Christian, particularly through the Baptist World Alliance and through Billy Graham’s work,” George said. “He had preached all over the world, on every continent, to thousands and thousands of people and was really a world-class Christian.”

And Drummond was “a great scholar of evangelism and of awakening and revivals [as well as] a great biographer of Christian leaders,” George said. “His largest, and in some ways his magnum opus, was his great biography of Charles Spurgeon. But he also wrote biographies of Charles Finney, Bertha Smith and Billy Graham.”

The book on “Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers,” spanning nearly 900 pages, was released in 1992 by Kregel Publications.

Dummond’s book on Graham, “The Evangelist,” was released in 2001 by Word Publishing, followed by “The Canvas Cathedral: Billy Graham’s Ministry Seen Through the History of Evangelism,” released in 2003 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The books on Finney, a prominent evangelist of the 1800s, and Smith, a key Southern Baptist missionary in China from 1917-48, were released in 1985 and 1996, respectively.

Among his other works were “The Awakening That Must Come” (1978), a popular book that gave voice to a yearning for spiritual awakening, “The Word of the Cross: A Contemporary Theology of Evangelism” (1992) and “Leading Your Church in Evangelism” (1976). With his wife, he wrote “Women of Awakenings: The Historic Contribution of Women to Revival Movements” (1996) and “The Spiritual Woman: Principles of Spirituality and the Women Who Have Lived Them” (1999).

Drummond’s successor at Southeastern, Paige Patterson, said Drummond “contributed immeasurably to the evangelical cause through his years of substantive instruction on evangelism and spiritual awakening, through his biography of Spurgeon, and through his years as president of Southeastern … where he engineered a remarkable turn and proved, amidst the harshest of criticisms, the superiority of his Christian testimony by remaining gentle and Christlike at all times.

“Southeastern Seminary and indeed all Southern Baptists will miss him profoundly,” said Patterson, who last year moved to the presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.

“Lewis Drummond was a great teacher, a faithful evangelist and a man who influenced many lives throughout decades of Christian service,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Drummond “made an indelible impact on so many lives through his service as Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Southern Seminary. I was privileged to be a student in his evangelism class and to see firsthand his heart for the lost and his confidence in the Gospel,” Mohler said. “Furthermore, Dr. Drummond stood for the inerrancy of the Bible and the totality of biblical truth,” Mohler said, noting that he faced opposition in doing so.

“The Southern Seminary family joins all Southern Baptists in thanking God for his service. Dr. Lewis Drummond will be greatly missed, even as his legacy will live on in so many lives,” Mohler said.

James Merritt, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Pointe, the Church at Gwinnett Center in the Atlanta area, described Drummond as “almost like a life preserver for me” when he enrolled at Southern Seminary in the early 1980s.

“Dr. Drummond was, at that time, one of the very few men on that campus to believe not only in the inerrancy of Scripture but who also had a passionate heart for personal evangelism,” Merritt said.

Merritt recounted a day when Drummond failed to arrive on time for an evangelism class and most of the students, after waiting a while, had left the classroom. Merritt, however, decided to wait. “He finally came in, and the reason why he came in was to tell us he was late because he had just led the telephone repairman to the Lord.

“And when he said that, something in my heart said this is the man I want to do my Ph.D. work with,” said Merritt, one of Southern Seminary’s first graduates with a Ph.D. in evangelism under Drummond.

“Dr. Drummond was more than just a supervisory professor,” Merritt said. “He was a mentor, he was a friend; without question one of the greatest Christians I ever knew. Both in life and even in his death had an unquenchable, enthusiastic, passionate love for Jesus Christ. He undoubtedly will be greatly missed both in our denomination and around the world.”

Larry Michael, pastor of First Baptist Church in Clanton, Ala., and another Ph.D. graduate in evangelism under Drummond, added, “I am representative of the thousands of students whose lives were impacted by the influence of Dr. Lewis Drummond. He inspired us in the classroom to go out and win our world for Jesus Christ. He represented the best of Christian leadership and his legacy lives on through those he mentored in the cause of Christ.”

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