Training Others to
RADIO WORK WAS unquestionably the great work to which God called Charles Fuller. But we have also noted his recurrent interest in training people for Christian service. Thus he took on the heavy responsibility of being president of Biola's board of trustees from 1928-32, and even devoted some time to teaching at the Los Angeles Baptist Seminary in the late 1920s. Then for seven years after he left Calvary Church his energies went exclusively into building his radio ministry. But one night in November, 1939, God woke him out of a deep sleep and began to lay on his heart a burden (to quote from his statement made at the convocation for the founding of Fuller Seminary in 1947) "for a Christ-centered, Spirit-directed training school, where Christian men and women could be trained in the things of God, to become steeped in the Word, so as to go out bearing the blessed news to lost men and women." This burden which came upon him then was more than just a passing fancy, for I well remember how, one evening that fall, he drove my mother and me out to the La Puente hills in the eastern end of the San Gabriel Valley and walked around what was then still a rural area, wondering whether God might not have him build a school there sometime.
We have also noted how rapidly the radio ministry grew, especially after America entered World War II and people became more conscious of spiritual things. After hearing Charles Fuller pleading for souls Sunday after Sunday, there were some who felt led to entrust monies to him to use either to get the Gospel out by radio or in some other manner. They felt that he was in a better position to know how to use it for the spread of the Gospel. For example, a bachelor who had been a regular listener to the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" was drafted into the service, and as he came through Los Angeles to go out to the Pacific to fight, he called and asked Charles Fuller for an appointment. "I may not return," the GI said, "and if I don't, please invest this money in missions in my name." Such requests raised the question of whether the Gospel Broadcasting
Association should receive monies designated for ministries that might not specifically involve radio broadcasting. While its by-laws stated that it was primarily concerned with broadcasting the Gospel by radio, they also allowed it to acquire and expend funds for "the general purpose of carrying on religious, missionary, charitable, benevolent, and educational work." Thus the trustees of the GBA were legally justified to accept and channel monies designated for non-radio broadcasting projects. Nevertheless, they felt that in order to do this, it would be better to establish a new religious nonprofit corporation. So in October, 1942, the GBA voted to establish the Fuller Evangelistic Association especially "for the purpose of training, or assisting in the training, of men and women for the Christian ministry and for evangelistic work."1 While the two associations were to be entirely separate, yet the majority of the board members of the FEA was to be made up of board members of the GBA.
This new corporation also gave Charles Fuller a more efficient means for disbursing the income of the Immanuel Missionary Fund, which his father, Henry Fuller, had set up in 1918. At this point it is interesting to recall the vision that led Henry Fuller to set aside a fund of some $100,000 for helping foreign missionaries. For twenty days during September, 1918, Henry Fuller, still active at the age of seventy-two, had been busy sorting the one thousand dollars worth of oranges from his grove that came by on a conveyor belt each day. But as his eyes busily directed his fingers, his thoughts were far away. He was thinking of what to do with his fifty thousand dollars of Liberty Bonds, and the thought flashed across his mind, "Why not use them all to invest in missionary work?" Believing this to be from God, he said, "Yes, Lord, I will use them all for thee." He reported how a bit of God's glory then came down from heaven and filled his heart with love, joy, and peace.
As he continued sorting oranges during the days that followed, he recalled how much money he had loaned out in the preceding years some of which was never repaid since he had planted his orange grove. He remembered how he had spent more for travel
and in investment in various business enterprises than he had for the Lord's work. So he decided to put all the Liberty Bonds into a trust and to add another fifty thousand dollars besides, and to make a close friend, Mrs. Grace D. Woodson, a co-trustee with him. Not only the interest from this money but also some of its capital from time to time was to be used to help support missionaries around the globe. Mrs. Woodson suggested that the trust be called the Immanuel Missionary Fund, and by the time of Henry Fuller's death in 1926, fifty-four missionaries in various parts of the world were being supported.
After his father's death, Charles Fuller was appointed co-trustee of this fund with Mrs. Woodson and together they continued to carry out the purposes for this trust that had been outlined by Henry Fuller. When the FEA was established in 1943 with virtually the same goals as the Immanuel Missionary Fund, Mrs. Woodson, a sponsor of the new association, agreed with Charles Fuller to put the Fund under the administration of the FEA.
There were two tasks upon which the newly constituted FEA embarked, the establishment of a Fuller Seminary of Missions and Evangelism, and a Department of Field Evangelists. Before proceeding with the way the seminary developed, it is well to describe the evangelistic outreach of the FEA, since the zeal that Charles Fuller gave to this department, while at the same time he was struggling to found a seminary and to keep an international radio broadcast going, indicates how serious was his commitment to the task of world evangelization.
To fulfill his dream of getting the Gospel out into the neglected areas, Charles Fuller set up a Department of Evangelism which guaranteed the expenses of an evangelist so he could hold a campaign in an impoverished area whose churches could never hope, otherwise, to have the renewal and encouragement that an outside speaker could bring. The FEA offered to make up the difference between what such churches could pay and the cost of supporting an evangelist. In 1948, sixteen evangelistic teams held one hundred eighty campaigns in such areas in the United States and Canada. Some of these evangelists and their wives traveled with house trailers so they could work more easily in the out-of-the-way places.
Thus Mr. Harry Sprague, who worked with the FEA for twenty-five years, gave a typical instance of how during an open week
between scheduled campaigns, he and his wife drove into the railroad town of Imlay, Nevada, where the Sunday school had closed three months before. Despite a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the former Sunday school officials, he persuaded them to let him advertise a Daily Vacation Bible School to be held in the local school building each day of that week. By the third day fifty young people from that unchurched area were coming for a whole morning of instruction in the Bible. They followed the "Heavenly Sunshine" D.V.B.S. material which Miss Irene Hunter, also of the FEA, had written up and which was being used in two thousand churches across America. Having reached the young people, the Spragues found that they had a point of contact with the adults also, and were able to hold an evening service in which several adults made a public profession of Christ along with twenty-seven younger people who had been attending the Daily Vacation Bible School.
Two other evangelists had jeeps which enabled them to get into the mountainous areas of Kentucky and West Virginia, where they would give similar reports of people won to Christ. Such reports were a great encouragement to Charles Fuller. We recall how he himself had done this sort of work in the summers shortly after his conversion, and even now as he stood before the microphone Sunday after Sunday, he visualized himself speaking to someone living in some such inaccessible spot. His radio broadcast kept him tied down Sunday after Sunday to the Southern California area, but how he did praise God for making it possible through the newly formed FEA to have these consecrated evangelists standing in for him in many places across the land.
The evangelists also found their linkage with the FEA and Charles Fuller to be helpful, for the broadcast was well known to people in these areas, and a good majority of the audiences already knew "Heavenly Sunshine." As one evangelist working in the southeastern part of the country put it,
To be associated with Dr. Fuller in any capacity gives one a solid acceptance with the Christian public. I find that I am received in the utmost confidence, and don't have to go through that period of breaking down people's reserve and of getting acquainted with them.
But during the very time that Charles Fuller was marshaling evangelists
to go out into the neglected areas, he was also working hard to carry out that vision God had given him in 1939 of establishing a school to train others to preach.
THE FOUNDING OF FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
In the summer of 1944, a year and a half after the establishment of the FEA, a first step was taken toward launching the Fuller Seminary of Missions and Evangelism. The FEA bought a piece of property to the north of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. During the war, Cal Tech had been using this property for military research, and it was hoped this could be zoned for a school. It was soon apparent, however, that after the war the neighborhood would not approve a zone variance.
Selling this property, the FEA was then able to procure a five-acre plot of ground very close to the civic center and only one block away from the main library. A high school had once stood there, and this plot was now the largest piece of unused property in the center of Pasadena.
Charles Fuller announced that when steel and materials became available after the war, he would erect on the property six concrete buildings that would be designed by a top architect and be a credit to the city of Pasadena. In the meantime, however, he had a temporary location where the school could hold its classes when it planned to open in the fall of 1945. The Lake Avenue Congregational Church had voted in a recent meeting to permit the new school to hold classes in its three-story educational building until it could construct its own buildings.2 No longer planning to start a seminary, Charles Fuller decided the school would be a college of missions and evangelism. It would offer a five-year course of study for high-school graduates and would lead to a Bachelor of Theology degree. A shorter course, also stressing missions and evangelism, would be available for college graduates. Charles Fuller believed that as many as 500 students would apply for the entering class, but from these only the best qualified 125 would be accepted.
But as the war dragged on for another ten months, it became
apparent that this school could not be started in the fall of '45, so the fall of '46 became the next target date. It was a good thing Charles Fuller had this extra time, for many steps had to be taken before a school could actually be training and graduating students. The first step was to find a man to head up the school who would be an experienced educator and also zealous for evangelism and missions. Such a man was Dr. William Evans. When Charles Fuller was a student at Biola, he had regarded Dr. Evans as one of his most valued teachers. After leaving Biola, William Evans had become director of the educational department at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Steeped in the knowledge of Scripture and a powerful speaker, William Evans was now constantly in demand to preach at Bible conferences. In the fall of 1945, he accepted Charles Fuller's offer to come and set up a new school. As dean he plunged into the task of recruiting faculty, mapping out the curriculum, and planning how to carry on the school during the period before the buildings could be erected on the Walnut Street property.
By September, 1945, Dr. Samuel Zwemer, the great missionary to the Muslim world for forty years and recently a teacher at Princeton Seminary, had moved to Pasadena in preparation for the school's opening a year later. The Rev. Armin Gesswein, who had taught evangelism at Gordon College in Boston, also moved to Pasadena with a view to teaching evangelism in the new school.
During January, 1946, the FEA received permission from the state to conduct a college or seminary to grant degrees. By that time Dean William Evans had published a brochure giving a general outline of the Fuller College of Missions and Evangelism that was to start that next September. Now the plan was to admit only students who had completed two years of college, so that with an additional two years of training provided by this new school, they would receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. Along with the usual biblical and theological studies that would occupy most of those two years, they were to have a sequence of courses stressing missions and evangelism. This brochure listed several others who would make up the charter faculty, among them Robert H. Glover, the well-known writer on missionary subjects. An architect had now begun to draw plans for the new school, and the FEA Board had authorized borrowing several hundred thousand dollars from the bank to erect the buildings on the Walnut Street property.
But by the spring of 1946, plans for opening that next September were going awry. William Evans was not in good health, and it did not appear that Dr. Samuel Zwemer, now seventy-nine years old, would be able to carry much of a teaching load. Then, too, Charles Fuller was appalled at the figures which the architect gave as an estimate of the cost of the buildings. In the postwar inflation the cost was three times more than he had estimated. He also found that it would be some time before the nation, until recently tooled only for war, would be able to satisfy the tremendous demand that had built up for peacetime goods. He couldn't even produce kitchen equipment in order to remodel homes next to the Walnut Street property for married students.
But even more important than these problems was the task of obtaining the right person to head up the school. William Evans had now stepped out of the picture, and Charles Fuller cast about for a younger man who, as an educator and sharing his vision, would make the school a reality. In April, 1946, he wrote to Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, for ten years pastor of the historic Park Street Congregational Church in Boston. For some time Charles Fuller had had Harold Ockenga in the back of his mind as one who would be eminently qualified to head up such a school.
As pastor at Park Street Church, Harold Ockenga held an annual missionary conference during which many thousands of dollars in pledges for the support of foreign missions were received as fifty or more missionaries would take their turn speaking in day-long meetings that lasted for a week. That very spring of 1946 the missionary conference had raised $75,000 for missions. Harold Ockenga was also qualified as an evangelist in that he had a backlog of about two hundred requests to hold evangelistic campaigns around the country, but because of his pastoral duties he accepted only three or four a year. He was a scholar as well, for he was not only a seminary graduate (Westminster Seminary, 1930) but had also earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939. By 1946 he had authored six books, among which were Our Protestant Heritage (1938), Everyone That Believeth (1942), and Our Evangelical Faith (1946). He had achieved such prominence as a leader of evangelicals in America that he was elected as the first president of the National Association of Evangelicals when it was organized in 1942.
Charles Fuller and Harold Ockenga had been friends for some
years. Harold Ockenga had fully supported Charles Fuller's evangelistic meetings in Boston in May, 1939, and October, 1941. When Harold Ockenga came to Southern California on a preaching mission sometime around 1941, Charles Fuller had shared with him the burden he had for founding a school, and in the course of suggesting that he would be the one to head up such a school had driven him around the Pasadena area, showing him where he might well reside. But nothing came of this at that time.
However, as everything now hinged on getting someone to head up the school, Charles Fuller's thoughts again turned to Harold Ockenga, and he wrote him a letter in April, 1946, in which, after describing the advances that had been made in securing the property and outlining the curriculum, he said,
I feel that with Dr. Evans and myself both getting on in years we should have a younger man trained to carry on in case of illness in either of us. Therefore I am looking for a man between thirty and forty-five or fifty years of age, preferably a seminary graduate who is spiritual and scholarly, and who has had experience in some line of Christian work since leaving seminary.
If you are able, Dr. Ockenga, to put me in touch with such a man, I shall greatly appreciate it . . . Frankly, Dr. Ockenga, I have entertained the wish that you might be free some day to head this college. This suggestion may sound absurd to you, but I am sure you will pray with me about it, won't you? You know the Word of God tells us, "Ye have not because ye ask not."
Harold Ockenga replied that "you very graciously raise a question which is flattering and which I would be willing to seriously consider. God has been leading me in this realm of missions and evangelism in a very interesting way." Harold Ockenga went on to describe what God had been doing through him in missions and evangelism, and then he added, "It is quite possible that within five years from now, if God abundantly blesses your school, that I might be interested. Of course it would have to be a leading from Him." But he could suggest no one who could take over the leadership of the school in the very near future.
No one else who was approached at that time could help Charles Fuller solve the all-important question of the school's leadership. The property originally purchased for $90,500 could now be sold
for $150,000, and so Charles Fuller could easily have scrapped the whole idea of founding a school and channeled all his remaining energies into his radio work and to developing the evangelistic department of the FEA. He really wanted to do just that, but try as he would he could not shake off the conviction that God wanted him to found a school. So he contacted a number of other Christian leaders, either asking them to recommend someone or sometimes suggesting that they themselves might be the ones, but nothing came from these inquiries. To one such person he wrote in the fall of 1946 as follows:
Oh, brother, God has laid so heavily on my heart the need of this type of school for training men for the preaching of the Gospel in these terrible days, but I am not qualified to plan such a curriculum. I see this great need, but I am not an educator. I must have the help of men of like vision. I cannot understand why God has laid this so heavily on my heart, but I wondered in the same way when he so definitely called me to preach the Word and I felt so inadequate: and later still when He called me to use radio as a means of reaching the lost. I felt so absolutely inadequate that I drew back and argued with God and told Him I wasn't the man for this; I wasn't a polished speaker, etc., but as I yielded He has worked and undertaken in such marvelous ways just because it is His will and His plan . . . . Well, if this is not of Him I want none of it. But I am confident this is God's plan, but it may not be His time.
With no outward indication for many months that God was working to found a school, it was only natural that Charles Fuller should say that "it may not be His time." But he kept complaining to his wife that he could not shake off the conviction that he must somehow found a school. He would find himself waking up at night with this burden and praying about it until he dropped off to sleep again. Finally one morning in exasperation Mrs. Fuller said, "Charles, you'll be sixty years old in April. Either get the school started now, or stop talking about it."
Charles Fuller agreed and decided that the one last step he would take was to invite Harold Ockenga and his wife to spend part of their winter vacation with him and Mrs. Fuller at their Palm Springs home. A few months earlier, Harold Ockenga had agreed to be a consultant for the proposed new school, and so Charles Fuller suggested
that they spend three days together, away from it all, out on the desert. The Ockengas concurred, and in February, 1947, they arrived in Southern California. After being met at the airport, they were shown the five-acre property in Pasadena and walked over it in the warm sunshine. Then the Fullers drove them one hundred miles east to their desert home where, surrounded by the sage brush and snow-capped peaks, these two leaders of the evangelical cause and their wives began to talk about the kind of school that was most needed.
Both men agreed that such a school should provide scholastically sound training in scriptural exegesis, theology, and church history and at the same time imbue students with a vision for missions and evangelism. Harold Ockenga felt that the needs of the evangelical cause would be served best by a school providing postgraduate theological training on a seminary level, as Charles Fuller had originally planned. But Mrs. Fuller asked, "Do enough evangelical scholars exist to start a seminary?" Much to the encouragement of the Fullers, Harold Ockenga quickly listed off a dozen men who would qualify. The more the four talked, the more excited they became, and Charles Fuller became convinced that now God was indeed opening the door for him to go ahead with the school.
The result of that Palm Springs conference was the decision to form a board of trustees for a school to be called Fuller Theological Seminary, and Harold Ockenga very willingly consented to be a member of that board. They were thinking then of opening the seminary eighteen months hence, in the fall of 1948. "Who knows," said Harold Ockenga, "but what I will be led to come on at that time as president?"
Right after the next Sunday's broadcast, Charles Fuller flew across the country to talk personally to other men whom he wanted as board members, and by the time he returned home, three men, Mr. Herbert Taylor of Chicago, Dr. Rudolf Logefeil of Minneapolis, and Mr. Arnold Grunigen of San Francisco had agreed to come on the board. Herbert Taylor was the president of the Club Aluminum Company and was also president of the Christian Workers' Foundation. He had played a vital role in the development of the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and in the massive Youth for Christ rallies in Chicago. Rudolf Logefeil was a prominent physician in Minneapolis. Arnold Grunigen, a stockbroker in San Francisco, had
been very active in the International Christian Business Men's Fellowship.
In conjunction with frequent communications with Harold Ockenga in Boston, approaches were made to several men to come on the faculty of the seminary. Dr. Wilbur M. Smith, professor of English Bible at Moody Bible Institute and editor of the annually published Peloubet's Select Notes on the International Sunday School Lessons, indicated that he was open to coming. Charles Fuller also began serious conferences with his architect over plans for erecting the seminary buildings but was very troubled because the architect still advised against planning to build until materials were more readily available. Charles Fuller feared that if he stopped moving forward in getting buildings for the seminary the men now willing to be on the charter faculty might lose interest.
But then he learned of the sale of the five-acre Cravens estate with its thirty-two room mansion on South Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. Here was a piece of land just as large as that on which he had been planning to build, but with a building already on it which could easily provide offices for half a dozen faculty. Its enormous living room could be both a chapel and classroom, and its large bedrooms could be used as classrooms, dormitories, and library stacks to house the 14,000 books that Wilbur Smith had in his own personal library and the 4,000 volumes the FEA had been collecting for a school library. The surrounding five acres would provide ample land for building additional structures. Its value was assessed at $145,000, and Charles Fuller got authorization from the FEA to bid that amount on April 2, 1947. Any other interested parties could also place their bids by May 2, at which time it would go to the highest bidder. Charles Fuller, however, was quite confident that he could get it. Even if he had to go a few thousand dollars higher in his bid, the price would still be a marvelous bargain.
In the meantime Wilbur Smith had written and said he wished that somehow the new seminary might start in the fall of 1947 instead of 1948. Charles Fuller had asked Harold Ockenga what he thought of the idea, and he had replied, "Yes, that can be done, but it will take work." They did not want to risk losing Wilbur Smith's interest and so agreed that as Harold Ockenga returned from the National Association of Evangelicals meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, he would stop over in Chicago on Thursday, April 17, and confer
with Wilbur Smith and Charles Fuller, who would fly in from Los Angeles.
This historic meeting was held in a private room at the Union League Club in Chicago. Wilbur Smith wanted to know what position Harold Ockenga would occupy in the seminary. He would be president in absentia for the time being, Harold Ockenga replied. He would work to recruit the charter faculty and map out the curriculum. Then they agreed that if three faculty members, besides Wilbur Smith, would be willing to start teaching by that next September, they would then go on ahead with this earlier date. They also agreed to meet again a month hence in Chicago in the offices of Herbert J. Taylor's Christian Workers' Foundation in the Civic Opera Building. Harold Ockenga would contact several prospective faculty members, and if any of these would be willing to move to Pasadena, they would be invited to participate in this forthcoming meeting.
Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, then professor of theology and philosophy at Northern Baptist Seminary, had been one of the names Harold Ockenga had put on the list of evangelical scholars at the Palm Springs conference with the Fullers in February. Dr. Henry had indicated that he would be interested in casting his lot with the seminary for that next fall, but was doubtful that a seminary could start on such short notice. In his earlier days he had been a newspaperman and had had some experience in handling publicity. He felt that more time would be needed to advertise the new seminary to the Christian public, and before the May meeting he had conferred with Wilbur Smith and together they sent the following telegram to Charles Fuller:
We cannot announce plan without good advertising literature and catalog. This could not be available until July. Moreover we need assurance of one more professor and registrar before advertising can be written. Ten months of preparation and wide publicity in press not a wasted year. We all believe this is our life-work. Great things are before us.
But by now Charles Fuller was not at all willing to postpone starting the seminary until September, 1948. God had remarkably worked in enabling him to buy the Cravens property for no more
than the $145,000 he had put down. Before the final chance to bid, it was known that two other parties were interested in the property. One party had wanted to make a swank social club out of the estate. But for some reason neither of these parties showed up for the final bidding session, and the judge ruled that the property should be deeded over to the FEA. Later, neither of the two men could quite understand why he had not come to place his bid. "Why did we let that man Fuller beat us to it?" one of them complained. "Well," reasoned the other, "maybe he prayed."
To finance buying the Cravens property, Charles Fuller sold two-thirds of the Walnut Street property and leased the other third. Now that he owned this highly improved Cravens property, Charles Fuller did not want to waste money maintaining it for eighteen months before it would be used. Also, by announcing the seminary's opening over the radio, he could give it a boost and visibility far beyond what the printed word could do. And how could he be sure he would still have this vastly effective medium of communication a year hence? Then, too, Charles Fuller, with his characteristic urge to get the Gospel out to as many people as quickly as possible, did not want to delay sending out the first graduates for a whole year. If they could start with fifty men in the fall of 1947, that would mean fifty men ready to preach the Gospel in the spring of 1950, and why lose a whole year getting such men out? So he wired back to Drs. Henry and Smith as follows: "God has worked so marvelously we should do our very best. Do not favor seventeen months' delay unless He absolutely closes doors."
But as this second crucial meeting convened in Chicago on Wednesday-Thursday, May 13-14, 1947, none but Charles Fuller really believed the school would begin that next September. In Drs. Smith and Henry, only two of the four faculty that would be needed were on hand. Indeed, Dr. Everett F. Harrison, professor of New Testament at Dallas Seminary, whom Harold Ockenga had contacted, had indicated a willingness to consider moving to Pasadena by September and would be joining the meeting the next day, but who would that fourth man be?
The meeting began with a prolonged season of prayer. Then Harold Ockenga began the discussion, following a carefully prepared agenda. Wilbur Smith has written how in that time together "there seemed to be an unusual consciousness of the presence of God, giving
wisdom, liberty in discussion, prompting suggestions, keeping us from disastrous mistakes, and, hour by hour, knitting us together in a fellowship which we knew was rare upon earth, even in Christian educational institutions."3 As the meeting progressed that day with Charles Fuller recounting the wonderful way God had procured the Cravens property, the possibility of opening the seminary's doors four months hence seemed to grow. But they needed a fourth man. Carl Henry suggested that Dr. Harold Lindsell, a colleague who was professor of missions and associate professor of church history at Northern Baptist Seminary, would certainly be a suitable man. After earning a doctorate at New York University, he had been a professor of church history and missions at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina for two years. When contacted he said he was interested and would be on hand that second day when Everett Harrison would also be present.
At noon that second day deliberations on starting the school began in earnest. After two hours of quiet, calm discussion and prayer, everyone agreed that the announcement to open the school that coming fall should be made. Along with their teaching duties, Carl Henry would be the dean for at least a year, and Harold Lindsell would be the registrar. Carl Henry would prepare a very attractive advertising layout which would be sent to several religious magazines as one way to announce the opening of this new seminary. Charles Fuller agreed to announce the opening of the school over the radio on June 22, to coincide with the announcement coming out in the July magazines.
As Charles Fuller flew home from Chicago after that fateful meeting, his heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving to God for working so wonderfully to bring about agreement to launch the school beginning that next September 29th. But he also trembled to think of how much work would have to be done by then. Fortunately, I had just arrived home from having spent one year at Princeton Theological Seminary, and I did a lot of leg work. I purchased the pulpit and folding chairs to put in the new chapel, as well as desk chairs and blackboards for the classrooms. I wrote to each of the professors to get lists of books they wanted for classes
that fall, and proceeded to open up accounts with various publishers under the name of the Fuller Seminary Book Store.
Mr. Ernest Buegler, an ex-army chef who had used his culinary skills to feed students at Prairie Bible Institute in Canada and later at Moody, was busily at work setting up the kitchen and dining room facilities. Half of Wilbur Smith's books arrived at the Cravens mansion early in June, and workers busily built shelves in one of the large bedrooms where his library would be stored.
Miss Mary Ashley (now Mrs. Daniel Lansing), who had been a secretary with the FEA, set up a registrar's office and began to process the applications which were already coming in. At that time she was functioning as the registrar's secretary, since Harold Lindsell, the registrar, was committed to spend the summer in New Hampshire and could not come west until September. But on his way to New Hampshire early in July, he and Carl Henry spent an afternoon with Harold Ockenga at Park Street Church, mapping out the curriculum for the first year and sketching out the catalog that had to be published immediately and sent to prospective students.
The "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" was not on any network at that time, and so some broadcasts were recordings of services conducted at Long Beach as much as a month earlier. For all stations to have announced the new seminary by June 22, Charles Fuller had to make the announcement at the Long Beach service on May 31. Some stations on the west coast were carrying the broadcast "live," or later that same day, and so inquiries about the new school had been coming in ever since the end of May. I recall one man who was to be a member of the seminary's first class telling how he was sitting in his car with his girl in front of her Oakland home, listening to the broadcast that Sunday and heard Charles Fuller tell of the new seminary that would soon open. For some time he had received much spiritual help through the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour." Now he was about to graduate from the University of California at Berkeley, and when he heard that Charles Fuller was starting a seminary, it came to him in a flash that God wanted him to begin training there that next fall. (According to surveys of entering classes made during the early years, more than half the students who enrolled, until about 1960, said the chief reason they came was the blessing they had received from the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour.")
From the applications that were coming in it was clear that a large
percentage of the students would be married. Many of these were veterans who had been in the service for several years after graduating from college. But where could adequate housing be found for these married students? The FEA owned a few old houses across from the Walnut Street property, which had been remodeled so they could house several couples, but many more apartments would be needed. My father was staying at the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center that summer, and I remember how burdened he became as the weeks drew nearer to the time when married students would be arriving. He had real estate agents looking for an apartment complex that could be purchased, and what a great relief and answer to prayer it was when a phone call came from Miss Rose Baessler, his secretary in Pasadena, telling of a complex of sixteen apartments that was available.
But a much more serious crisis was developing. The Cravens property was part of a mile-long row of estates on South Orange Grove Boulevard that had been built two to three decades earlier by immensely wealthy people. The "golden age" of that street had now passed, and Pasadena's zoning commission was being petitioned to allow a hotel and multiple dwelling units to be built there. Everyone felt quite certain that the street's zoning category was going to be changed, and so Charles Fuller had indeed acted responsibly to purchase a property for a school even while it was still zoned only for residential use. The man who wanted to build the hotel was bringing his petition before the commission in June. Many felt that his petition would be granted, and so it seemed that the FEA could then ask for a use variance to permit the Cravens property to be used for a school. (For many years there had been a fashionable girls' school directly across from the Cravens estate.)
Unexpected opposition to the building of a hotel developed, however, and this same opposition also vented itself against granting a zone variance for a school. Now Charles Fuller went through one of the hardest times of testing in his life. At the rate the registrar was receiving applications, it was clear that there would be about forty students arriving in just a few weeks. Four professors had now burned their bridges behind them and had either arrived or soon would be coming. They were making down payments on homes in Pasadena. The thirty-two room mansion had been fitted out as a school with desks in the classrooms, books in the library rooms,
faculty offices set up, and eating facilities established; but the property was still zoned for residential use only.
Satan hurled fiery darts at Charles Fuller during those rapidly passing days of the summer of 1947. Would he not be the laughing stock of the world to have announced on an international broadcast the founding of a school on a piece of property that the law said could not be used for a school? I remember my father remarking to a friend what an awful thrust of anguish he felt one day that summer as he drove past the Walnut Street property and wished he had hung onto it instead of buying the Cravens estate. But then he said, "God has remarkably lifted the burden since then and has given me a peace that passes all understanding." At another time he and my mother were tempted to say, "Just think how much trouble we could have avoided if we hadn't started a seminary. We could have simply gone on with the radio ministry and the FEA and enjoyed the fruits of our labors during our remaining years." But he also remembered how he had tried, without success, to shake off the conviction that he ought to start a seminary. Then, too, God had miraculously worked to help him out of many impossible situations before, and surely this present crisis would be no exception.
The solution to the problem did not come, as hoped, through getting a zone variance before school started. Rather, it lay along the rather humiliating pathway of having classes meet in the assembly rooms of the educational building of the Lake Avenue Congregational Church. Three years earlier the church had voted to let the (proposed) Fuller College of Missions and Evangelism hold classes there until it could construct its own buildings, and as Charles Fuller consulted with his good friend, the pastor, Dr. James Henry Hutchins, he said he believed that the decision made then would apply for the seminary now.
But the decision to follow this option was delayed as long as possible. Another meeting of the zoning commission was coming up soon after classes were to commence, and there was hope that the city authorities would let the school carry on at the Cravens estate until the final decision was reached. Admittedly, there was some wishful thinking in this because it was hard to concede that the Cravens estate, whose procurement had been the chief encouragement to start the school in 1947 instead of 1948, could not be used now for a school after all.
On Monday morning students did begin to register for classes at the Cravens property, and the next day a qualifying examination in Greek was given and some classes were even held there. But on that day the city fire marshal had to inform the school that while students could be housed and fed and professors could have their offices there, no actual class instruction could be carried on. On Wednesday evening of that same week, the seminary's opening convocation was scheduled to be held in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, and President Harold Ockenga was going to bring the inaugural address. The "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" chorus and quartet would sing, but that Wednesday morning the duty fell to me to stand at the driveway entrance to the Cravens property and tell each student as he drove up to turn around and go two miles away to the Lake Avenue Church, where classes would be meeting instead.
There was some confusion, but the thirty-nine men who had come to this new seminary for training were able to carry on with their scheduled classes in Greek exegesis, introduction to the New Testament (Dr. Harrison), apologetics (Dr. Smith), revelation and inspiration (Dr. Henry), and church history (Dr. Lindsell). The assembly rooms in the church's educational building were large enough, but we members of that first class will never quite forget the incongruity of hearing Carl Henry's insights into the theory of religious knowledge while sitting on kindergarten chairs taking notes. But within a day or so the classroom desks that were at the Cravens property were set up in these rooms.
The final zoning decision for South Orange Grove Boulevard was to permit garden apartments but no hotels or schools. So the seminary classes continued to meet in the Lake Avenue Church for the next six years, until property was procured back near the center of Pasadena, on Oakland Avenue, and the permanent buildings the seminary now occupies were completed for the classes beginning in the fall of 1953. Indeed, it was inconvenient for faculty offices, the library, and single student housing to be located at the Cravens property, two miles from where the professors actually taught. Where the daily chapel service was held, and where the study hall with its reserve and reference books was located. But a school's worth depends far more upon its faculty than upon its physical features. Dr. David Hubbard, who has been president of the seminary
since 1963, was a member of the third entering class, and one day he remarked to me, his dean, "You know, even though we were sitting in kindergarten rooms in those days, we still had a great school because we have a first-rate faculty," and I heartily concurred with him. This policy of having a first-rate faculty has continued over the years as the number of the faculty for the seminary has grown from four to seventeen men.
Twenty-five hundred people attended the convocation for the new seminary at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Charles Fuller shared his vision for founding a seminary and then introduced Harold Ockenga, the president of the seminary, who spoke eloquently of just why it was so important for men who were already college graduates to spend three more years in preparation for the preaching of the Gospel, and why the general Christian public should not only support those carrying on ministries that are presently reaping fruits but also a seminary which would train tomorrow's Christian leaders. "We fling out the challenge of the Christian Gospel," Harold Ockenga said. Dr. Ockenga continued,
Now there is a task to be done. And that task is not going to be done by the ordinary Christian alone. It's going to be done by those who are prepared to do it. It must be done by the rethinking and restating of the fundamental thesis and principle of Western culture. There must be today men who have the time and energy and the inclination and the ability and the support to be able to redefine Christian thinking and to fling it forth into the faces of unbelievers everywhere.
In other words, we need to rebuild the foundations and to restore the breaches. Where the foundations are destroyed what will the righteous do? We need men who can once again in an intellectually respectable way present an apology for God, and for His creation of the world, and for the soul, and for eternal life, and these things must be brought out so that our young men, and those who are going to take the places of leadership, will once again believe in the eternal law of an eternal God.
Now I have said something about our intellectual purpose and goal. Let me say something about the spiritual program. The Lord Jesus laid down His program, and the trouble with so many of us is that we don't follow His program. Here it is in all of its simplicity. He placed missions first. And I'll tell you that though we stress the academic
preparation of these young men to preach and stand out before the world, yet their first and primary task is to be missionaries to the world. We must have hearts full of passion and zeal, that are on fire for Jesus Christ to win souls.
Harold Ockenga went on to tell of the need for graduates from such a seminary. He pointed out that every day one Protestant church in America was closing its doors, and that most of the major denominations were not training enough men to fill the pulpits of the remaining churches.
Now you say, Is it time to be building a theological seminary when the world's on fire? Such a question is legitimate. Well, if you don't build a theological seminary and train the men, and you don't send them out, who is going to do it? Are you going to do it? Is an untrained man going out? Who is going to occupy till Jesus comes? Listen to me, my friends, the quickest way to evangelize the world is to have divinely called, supernaturally born, spiritually equipped men of unction and power to go forth. We will not default. God helping us, we will occupy till Jesus comes.
He concluded his address as follows:
Pray for the school, for these men [the thirty-nine students who had enrolled were sitting near the front], pray for the faculty, pray for Dr. Fuller, pray that the needed funds will come in because though we have launched an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars and have a fine start in every way, yet, my friends, it is only the beginning of what must be done. I say again, I envisage a school that can become the center of missions and evangelism on the basis of a Gospel of which we need not be ashamed because we can give a reason for the hope that is within us.
Thus Fuller Theological Seminary was launched, and the vision and burden which had weighed so heavily on Charles Fuller for the past eight years had finally become a reality. Yet, as Harold Ockenga had said, "It is only the beginning of what must be done." The seminary had made great advances in the years since the "small beginnings" of 1947, and the purpose of the remainder of this chapter is to show the crucial ways in which the seminary affected the last twenty years of Charles Fuller's life.
THROUGH MUCH TRIBULATION
For many years the primary burden for the financial support of the seminary was on Charles Fuller's shoulders. Indeed, the school had enough money through the FEA to make "a fine start in every way," as Harold Ockenga put it in his inaugural address. But soon the faculty would have to be quadrupled so that students would be trained in all phases of a seminary curriculum. Then, too, large sums would be needed to erect the buildings the school would need. Since the Cravens property could not be used, money would also be needed to buy new land for the buildings. As Harold Ockenga closed his inaugural address by soliciting prayer that "the needed funds will come in," Charles Fuller knew how much the financial responsibility of the seminary rested on his shoulders.
Some may wonder why he would start a seminary without being quite sure where all the necessary money would come from. But as Harold Ockenga remarked at Charles Fuller's funeral in 1968, "Here was a man of faith who took great risks for God." When the FEA was founded, God had made it clear that it was to be used to found a school. Obeying God, then, meant using the limited resources of FEA to get the school started and trusting God for the rest. Charles Fuller was obedient to the heavenly vision, and God has marvelously blessed the seminary as it has grown these past twenty-five years.
Others may wonder why he did not look to his large radio audience for support for the expansion of the new school. This, however, was impossible, for the audience had to keep sending in twenty thousand dollars a week at that time just to keep the broadcast heard on its six to seven hundred outlets each Sunday. Charles Fuller had had enough experience in radio broadcasting by then to know that if he gave appeals to raise money for something besides the radio work, support for the radio work itself was very likely to decrease. Then, too, he knew that not everyone in the radio audience shared his vision for training men in a theological seminary. At the beginning his vision had not been to found a college but a seminary, and I well recall how often he talked of the need of establishing what he liked to call "a Cal Tech of the evangelical world." He wanted a school which would be as effective in getting out the Gospel as the California Institute of Technology had been in advancing science. By and large, however, the evangelical world and
the people supporting the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" were more interested in supporting a broadcast which was winning souls now than a seminary which would train men for effective work several years hence. Charles Fuller also sensed that the ordinary evangelical was a little distrustful of theological seminaries with all their emphasis on study. So he knew it would be impossible to depend on the radio audience for the development and support of the seminary.
A way that seemed open to him for raising the necessary funds was to visit wealthy evangelical leaders and try to enthuse them with the vision of the need for a theological seminary. In the spring of 1948 Charles Fuller went on several fund-raising trips in between Sunday broadcasts. But he was never a very good money raiser. He loathed asking individuals for money, and the strain of traveling all week and returning to preach on Sunday drained off all his energy. As he flew into Los Angeles late one Saturday evening in April, 1948, he was exhausted and downcast. Mrs. Fuller drove him home and put him to sleep in the guest room so he might be ready for his heavy responsibility the following day of preaching on the broadcast. But the next morning, while tiptoeing around so as not to awaken him, she was alarmed to hear sobs coming from the guest room. Going in she heard him say, "Oh, Lord, I'm so glad you're going to take me home. I'm so glad to go. I've done the very best I knew how to get the Gospel out. It's been a long battle, but you've been wonderful, Lord. But we're so far behind in getting the needed funds for the seminary, that I'll be so glad to go home now and be at rest with You."
Mrs. Fuller could see that her husband was suffering a very severe emotional breakdown, and she hurried to call the family doctor. Obviously, Charles Fuller would not be able to broadcast that Sunday, and when the doctor arrived, he predicted that from his experience with emotional breakdowns as severe as this apparently was, it would be months before Charles could broadcast again. Mrs. Fuller then called Wilbur Smith and asked him to preach that Sunday. But what would happen for the Sundays ahead? How could the broadcasts and the seminary carry on if Charles Fuller would be laid aside for months?
During that next week, however, he began to rally much more swiftly than the doctor had thought possible. As the coming Sunday drew near he had faith, against the doctor's advice, to attempt to preach.
We all were very apprehensive as the time for the sermon approached. As he began, his voice was shaky and his hands trembled, but as the sermon progressed he began to preach with increased power. By its conclusion all the shakiness had gone and he was speaking with complete liberty and boldness. Over one hundred people came forward to accept Christ when the invitation was given. But as if that were not enough, Charles Fuller then gave an invitation for people to dedicate their lives to full-time vocational Christian service and to the amazement of everyone many more people responded. Not many after-services at Long Beach were like this one, but God was working that day to show that indeed His strength is made perfect in weakness. God also answered the prayers of many thousands who had heard that Charles Fuller was ill. In the May, 1948, Heart to Heart Talk he said,
I wish to thank each one of you for your prayers on my behalf, and for the many encouraging letters you sent during the past weeks. You will never know how they helped me during the time of utter exhaustion and weakness.
I have always been so well and strong . . . but this past year has been one of greatly increased responsibilities and intensified attacks on the part of the enemy as we have enlarged our borders under God's blessing.
Speaking to his radio audience through these monthly letters or over the radio, Charles Fuller could not say that the "greatly increased responsibilities" of the past year stemmed from the task of getting a theological seminary started.
The problem of providing the seminary with the financial undergirding it needed was a primary concern for him for the first sixteen years of its existence. God worked many miracles during that time to balance the budget and to enable the school to grow. But in 1963, when Charles Fuller was seventy six years old, Dr. David A. Hubbard became the seminary's third president, and under his able leadership and that of other dedicated seminary board members, the financial responsibility for the seminary was basically shifted to other shoulders.
Another great difficulty which Charles Fuller constantly encountered as the result of having launched the seminary was the many criticisms that were directed against the school. The root cause
for these is that a seminary or school will, by its very nature, be different from an evangelistic radio broadcast. In seeking to reach the millions who listened to his radio sermons, Charles Fuller naturally limited his remarks to those matters of greatest importance to the majority of such an audience. But stressing such matters meant not talking about other important matters. No evangelical found grounds for criticizing Charles Fuller as he continued to preach from Sunday to Sunday the simple truths of salvation by faith in Christ, the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection, and the future judgment.
But when the seminary was founded, American evangelicals were facing the very difficult problem of separation from apostasy that is, the question of whether a local church belonging to a denomination many of whose leaders had become Liberal, should not separate from that denomination. A number of evangelicals had followed the answer to this question given by the American Council of Churches and its chief spokesman at that time, the Rev. Carl McIntire, editor of The Christian Beacon. For a church to belong to the American Council, it had to remove itself from all association with a denomination that was represented in the predominantly liberal Federal Council of Churches.
A larger group of evangelicals, however, followed the answer given to this question by the National Association of Evangelicals and particularly by Dr. Harold Ockenga, its president for the first two years. While remaining with a denomination represented on the Federal Council of Churches, a church could nevertheless join the NAE and thus join hands with many other evangelicals to accomplish tasks requiring a united effort.
Charles Fuller's own church, the Lake Avenue Congregational Church of Pasadena, joined the NAE, and his own sympathies were with it rather than with the alternate answer to this problem. But when he stepped before the microphone to use the twenty minutes allotted him each week to speak to millions, he was obviously not going to say anything about the issue of "separatism" and "come-outism." But when Harold Ockenga, as the president of the newly founded Fuller Theological Seminary, gave the inaugural address for this school, he had to say something about how the seminary would relate to the burning question of separatism. While a radio
broadcast seeking to win the lost would never touch upon such an issue, a school for training the ministers of tomorrow's churches could not avoid it.
Thus in his inauguration address Harold Ockenga said,
We do not intend to be ecclesiastically bound. We will be free. But we are ecclesiastically positive. In our church relationships, though we are interdenominational, we do not believe and we repudiate the "come-outism" movement. We want our men to be so trained that when they come from a denomination, whatever that denomination is, they will go back into their denomination adequately prepared to preach the Gospel and to defend the faith and to positively go forward in the work of God. We will not be negative.
No sooner had these words reverberated through the evangelical world than Charles Fuller began to receive irate letters from long-time supporters who, holding to the American Council position, felt that he had betrayed them and therefore wanted their names taken off his mailing list. But as the founder of a school, he stood behind the answers his seminary had to give to this and other crucial questions that would never be brought up on an evangelistic radio broadcast.4
Charles Fuller also lost radio supporters because of the stress by Harold Ockenga and the seminary on the need for evangelicals to relate the biblical teachings on love to the injustices of society. In their battle against Liberalism, Fundamentalists had, correctly,
criticized the Liberals for teaching man's need to reform without stressing his need first to be regenerated. But Fundamentalists, in emphasizing regeneration, had sometimes sounded as if, in their concern for saving the individual, they had no concern to remedy socio-economic injustices.
As a leader of what might be called "the second generation of Fundamentalism," Harold Ockenga wanted to reawaken the social conscience of evangelicals. He had been particularly interested in Carl Henry's book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1946), which had taken evangelicals to task for neglecting social ethics for several decades, and this book's appearance was unquestionably one of the reasons why Carl Henry's name stood high on the list of those qualified for the faculty of the new seminary. But many evangelicals regarded this emphasis on social ethics as diluting the Gospel. As a result, more letters came into Charles Fuller's office from long-time supporters who now wanted their names expunged from his mailing list.
The same sort of problem continued through to the end of his life and beyond. He lost more radio supporters through the seminary's refusal to condemn the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. While it refused to condemn this version, as many Fundamentalists were doing, it also refused to give it a blanket endorsement. Instead, the seminary chose to maintain toward that translation (and others that have also appeared) a critical stance of testing it against the original Hebrew and Greek. The seminary has maintained a similarly critical stance toward the World Council of Churches. While refusing to endorse this council, the seminary has also refused to condemn it. The school has not wanted to close doors to any opportunity to represent the evangelical point of view before the leaders of that group. But through the years many hundreds of supporters have withdrawn their names from the broadcast's mailing list because the seminary which Charles Fuller founded and of which he was, for many years, the board chairman, maintained dialogue with the World Council of Churches.
A particularly heavy wave of criticism came with the publication in 1959 of Dr. Edward Carnell's book The Case for Orthodoxy. Edward Carnell was the President of the seminary from 1954 to 1959 and had been a professor there since 1948. In that book,
Edward Carnell had the courage to point up certain inconsistencies and foibles in the evangelical world, and with a prophetic note he had reminded Christians everywhere of the sobering implications of the command, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." In so speaking he violated some sacred cows, but he did this because he was convinced that a Christian school renounces its God-given commission when it seeks only to please the constituency from whom it derives its financial support and fails to remind the churches of some emphases of Scripture that they may not want to hear.
Over the years Charles Fuller lost many thousands of supporters of his broadcast because they did not like certain things the seminary said. Receiving letters from disillusioned supporters always caused him extreme anguish of soul, and in his weaker moments he would wonder whether the seminary faculty realized how much it was costing him for them to have the freedom to speak out on the burning issues affecting the evangelical cause. But then would come his better moments when he would remember that a seminary can adequately train those who will lead the churches only when it frankly airs the basic issues that confront the churches. The price of having a "Cal Tech of the evangelical world" was high, but then really small in comparison with the benefits which have been channeled throughout the world by the now more than twelve hundred graduates of the seminary.
Another source of anguish which the seminary brought to Charles Fuller was the inability of three of the Presbyterian members of the faculty to be admitted to the Los Angeles Presbytery after they had moved to Southern California. In November, 1953, Dr. Gleason Archer, Everett Harrison, and William LaSor were refused admission to the Presbytery because "to hold positions on the faculty of the . . . Fuller Theological Seminary, which, judged by past attitudes, records, and statements of some of its present officers and faculty members, will aid the [seminary] in such a way as to hamper the approved program of the Presbytery of Los Angeles." In talking about "past attitudes, records, and statements of some of its present officers," the Presbytery was thinking, in part, about what Charles Fuller did in previous years in relation to Placentia Presbyterian Church and to Dr. John MacInnis, a Presbyterian minister who resigned as dean of Biola just before Charles Fuller became president
of the board there. As one member put it during the discussion on the floor of Presbytery,
A great deal of the attitude of this Presbytery is centered around . . . Rev. Charles E. Fuller. While he was a member of the board of trustees of the Los Angeles Bible Institute in 1928, according to the judgment of the Presbytery of Los Angeles . . . he did . . . "great wrong to a member of the Presbytery, the late John Murdock MacInnis, in private and in the public press, making it appear that Dr. MacInnis was of unsound faith and lacking in respect for Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures, in spite of repeated avowals on his part of loyalty to the historic standards of the Presbyterian Church . . ."
Another person remarked that
Mr. Fuller joined the Presbyterian Church in the little town of Placentia, and was in due course ordained as an elder . . . Mr. Fuller had not been an elder long before it was discovered he was circulating literature among the young people without the approval of the session. This literature caused marked division and feeling. The session appealed for unity of action and spirit of cooperation. The appeal was apparently of no avail, for the session's record indicates the futility of all effort to have [Fuller's] teaching and actions in harmony with the feeling of the session. Ultimately, an independent church, the Calvary Church, was organized with Mr. Fuller as the pastor-founder . . . and in due course the sanctuary was built in Placentia some two blocks from our Presbyterian Church . . . We all make mistakes, to be sure, but so far as I know, this former elder and founder of that church and the founder of the seminary in question has never repented of this act, but rather, if records that come to me are true, it seems to reveal a pattern that continues to be characteristic.
It hurt Charles Fuller to realize that three of the seminary faculty now had to move their ordination to other denominations, partly because of his actions in the 1920s. But both he and the faculty rejoiced as the graduates of each class from 1950 onwards began to serve Christ across the nation and around the world. Any thought of wishing the seminary had never been started were overcome by considering that of the two hundred fifty men who had graduated by 1955, thirty-seven were already serving on the foreign field and fifteen more had been accepted by mission boards and would soon
be overseas. Of those already on the mission fields, six were in the Moslem world, eleven were in Latin America, four in Africa, eight in Asia, four in Oceania, and four in Europe. A glance at the bulletin published late in 1955 shows some of the places in America where the most recent graduates had gone to pastor churches: Trenton, Michigan; North Freedom, Wisconsin; Montrose, California; Santa Ana, California; Culver City, California; Battle Ground, Michigan; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Denver, Colorado.
Often letters came in from radio listeners blessed by graduates from the seminary. For example, a lady from Iowa wrote,
Dear Mr. Fuller,
I realize you are a very busy man, but I'm sure not too busy to hear about one of your students, a graduate of the class of 1952. He is our Pastor. You would be very proud of him if you would hear him preach. He is a spirit-filled man; not only does he preach the Word in its entirety, but he lives it as well. No one could possibly have a greater burden for the lost than he does, and for the backslidden members on the church roll. He devotes his entire time to God's work in calling, witnessing, teaching, and preaching. He has only been with us for six months, but many souls have been added to our church and many who were not coming are coming again. How it must thrill your heart to see these men go out, in service for the Master, to teach and preach like you.
A lady from Oregon wrote,
Dear Dr. and Mrs. Fuller,
Last summer I was in another town, and went to a church of the same denomination where I usually attend, but was so disappointed. The minister held a Bible in his hand and talked, but didn't make a grain of sense. The next Sunday I attended another church. But it also seemed cold and lacking in the presence of Christ. Well, the following Sunday as I went out the front door I prayed, "Please, God, take me to the right church." I walked around the corner to a very small frame building which looked as if it had been a residence converted into a church. The moment I stepped inside, I was so overcome by the feeling that Christ was there that it was difficult to keep back the tears. I said, "Thank you, God." Then the minister appeared and really preached the Word of God as I hadn't heard it preached in a long time. He was one of your graduates, I learned later.
When I came back home I asked God to direct me to a good church there. He did, and I found a church where God's Word was really preached, and the minister, I find, is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary.
Some of the seminary's graduates were doing just the things that were closest to Charles Fuller's heart. One man was working in the hill country of Kentucky, in the "out-of-the-way places," and wrote, "I can never thank you enough for the fine training received at the seminary. We want the Lord to use us here in this portion of the world's harvest field. You, Dr. Fuller, have many friends here." Mr. Akira Hatori graduated from Fuller Seminary and returned to Japan, where he preaches daily on a nation-wide broadcast. Shortly after leaving the seminary he wrote my father:
We praise His name for His great power manifested in your radio ministry. It has been a wonderful encouragement and testimony to me as I undertake the same ministry in Japan. Being a graduate from your seminary and being given the same radio ministry, your name and testimony never leave my mind.
Thus Charles Fuller's vision not only to get the Gospel out by radio but also by training men to be effective witnesses themselves has surely been realized over the years. Furthermore, the effort to have a school which would send men back into their denominations to do a positive work for God there was proving very successful. At the time of Charles Fuller's death in 1968, the more than nine hundred graduates of the school were serving in forty denominations. One hundred three were serving in the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.; seventy-seven were in the American Baptist Convention; sixty-eight in the Conservative Baptist Association; twenty-nine in the Baptist General Conference; eighteen in the Congregational Church; sixteen in the United Church of Christ; fifteen in the Methodist Church; and fourteen in the Christian and Missionary Alliance. A considerable number of graduates were also working with inter-denominational para-church organizations: twenty-two with Wycliffe Bible Translators; twenty with Young Life; eighteen were Inter-Varsity staff members; five were with Campus Crusade for Christ; and three were working with the Navigators.
One particularly encouraging bit of news that Charles Fuller heard in 1965, two years before his final illness, was that the two faculty members (the third had gone to another school) who had had to relinquish their Presbyterian ordination in order to continue to teach at Fuller had now been readmitted to the local Presbytery.
THE PRESIDENCY OF THE SEMINARY
Charles Fuller always realized that he lacked the gifts and training necessary to organize a seminary and run it himself. So much depended on having the seminary led by an educator who also shared his zeal for evangelism. Harold Ockenga was the leader who, especially during those crucial first years of the seminary's history, set the tone for the school by the faculty he recruited, by the kind of curriculum he set up, and in many other ways as well.
During those early years Harold Ockenga was open to the possibility that God would lead him to become the resident president of the seminary. When the three-story classroom and administration building was completed at 135 North Oakland Avenue and at last all the school's facilities were assembled at one location, Harold Ockenga knew that the time had come for him finally to decide whether or not to move to Pasadena. In the months leading up to the board meetings and his visit to Pasadena in the spring of 1954, he went through much soul-searching over this question: should he leave Park Street Church with its ever-growing missionary outreach and key ministry for the evangelical cause in the difficult New England area? God had given him a great gift for expository preaching, and his two sermons on Sunday were aired over a powerful Boston radio station. He had been a pastor for almost twenty-five years; should he now leave all this behind to become primarily a seminary president? To make the transition from Park Street to Pasadena would be very difficult, but there was the seminary now fully established and needing the day-to-day supervision of a resident president if it were to grow properly from this point on. What should he do? He decided to put out a "fleece" as a means for knowing whether or not God wanted him to make this move.
The board was naturally very eager to learn what Harold Ockenga's decision would be. Charles Fuller had great hopes that he would decide to come, but he also appreciated how difficult it would
be for him to leave behind all the work that was being so blessed in Boston. In particular he wondered how Harold Ockenga could be happy in Pasadena without a regular preaching schedule.
That spring Charles Fuller turned sixty-seven, and he realized that he would not be able to carry on the broadcast indefinitely. He was feeling more weary after his Long Beach broadcasts than in previous years. The thought occurred to him, might not the time now be right to turn the broadcast over to a younger man, and if so, why not turn it over to Harold Ockenga? Then as president of the seminary he could still have a regular preaching schedule and be heard by many millions. But then what would he, Charles Fuller, do for the remaining years of his life? He would no doubt greatly enjoy taking a vacation for awhile, but would not the time soon come when he would be restless to be preaching over a microphone again?
One night during Harold Ockenga's visit Charles Fuller became so exercised over the matter that he had difficulty sleeping. Harold Ockenga was staying in the downstairs guest room, and early the next morning Charles Fuller decided to have a talk with him. He went down to his door and said, "Harold, are you up? I must talk with you."
Harold Ockenga answered, "Come in, Charles, come in," as he pulled on a robe and offered his friend a chair.
"Harold, I could hardly sleep last night thinking about an important matter. I've come to a decision. I want you to take over the 'Old Fashioned Revival Hour.' "
Harold Ockenga covered his face with his hands and gasped, "Oh, Charles, that's the fleece! I told the Lord that if the door would be opened for me to carry on my preaching ministry by being on the 'Old Fashioned Revival Hour,' I would take this as an indication that I should move to California and become the president (in residence) of Fuller Seminary."
The board and faculty were elated when they learned that Harold Ockenga had decided to move to Pasadena, and plans were made for him to be there as resident president that next September. But after a few days Harold Ockenga began to have second thoughts. He went through great agony of soul as he returned to Boston and announced to his congregation that he would be leaving them soon. The Park Street congregation was also deeply distressed. Some of them
organized a caravan of cars to drive up to New Hampshire where he was vacationing to show him just how much they wanted him to stay. He was deeply touched by their love, but the courage to reverse his decision came only after much prayer during that vacation time.
It was by no means easy for him to counter the announcement he had made publicly at his church and which had gone out as a news release on the national wire services. Many another man, fearing the reproach that such a change of mind would bring, would have doggedly gone through with the original decision. But when Harold Ockenga, through much prayer, realized that God did not want him to take the "fleece" as a final indication of His will, he wired the seminary to cancel all forthcoming publications that were about to announce his coming.
Subsequent events seem to have confirmed the wisdom of this decision. As Harold Ockenga continued on as pastor of Park Street Church for another fifteen years, its missionary outreach and ministry continued to grow. As for Charles Fuller, whereas he had moments when he felt tired and thought it would be a relief to stop, yet it was God's plan for him to go right on preaching Sunday after Sunday on the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" for yet another thirteen years! When Harold Ockenga visited me in 1961 while I was studying theology in Switzerland, he remarked how thankful he was that he had reversed his decision in 1954. "Wouldn't it have been awful," he said, "if I would have gone ahead and become speaker on the broadcast back in 1954! How could your father have stood it to be on the sidelines all these subsequent years?"
When it was clear that Harold Ockenga would not move to California, it was then necessary to find another president, and the board of trustees offered the post to Edward Carnell, the professor of apologetics and systematic theology since 1948. A man with great scholarly and teaching abilities, Ed Carnell accepted the presidency with the understanding that he would function more as an academic headmaster than as an aggressive fund raiser, a task for which he regarded himself as definitely unqualified. Harold Ockenga then became president of the board of trustees, while Charles Fuller became executive vice-president of the board.
Under Edward Carnell's leadership the seminary made some
notable advances. The most significant of these was achieving full accreditation in 1957 from the American Association of Theological Seminaries, the nationally recognized accrediting agency for theological seminaries. One problem that had stood in the way of accreditation was that the seminary, though it had become a separate corporation in 1951, was financially dependent to a large extent on the FEA. But in 1956 the FEA deeded to the seminary the land on which its building now stood, and also the assets that were posted as collateral for the loan which had made it possible to build.
Evangelist Billy Graham also came onto the board of trustees during Edward Carnell's presidency. During the spring of 1956, Billy Graham was holding a crusade in the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and as Charles Fuller visited that crusade one evening and the two men were sitting together, Charles invited Billy to come on the board, pointing out how that would demonstrate their oneness in the cause of evangelism. Billy Graham agreed and later said, "I personally feel a sense of mission about the work being accomplished by Fuller graduates, and I like to think of it as 'scholarship on fire.' " For himself, Charles Fuller said, "God has used Billy Graham to point thousands to Christ, and I am confident that by his part in helping to direct this young seminary, he will greatly multiply his own ministry." After five very fruitful years as president, Edward Carnell stepped down and returned to his teaching and writing. He had passed out the five-hundredth diploma that commencement evening in 1959 when he announced his resignation. Now the board of trustees was again faced with the question of who would be the president of this flourishing seminary which now had three hundred students from one hundred colleges and universities and from forty denominations.
For the next three years Harold Ockenga was acting president again. He continued to make several journeys a year to California. (In 1967 he estimated that in the past twenty years he had traveled to Pasadena one hundred thirty times and had been a guest in the Fuller's home seventy-five times.) A most notable achievement during these three years was the construction of the McAlister Library Building, where the school's fifty thousand books could be adequately housed and where more than two hundred thousand could eventually be accommodated.
In 1962 Mr. C. Davis Weyerhaeuser became the chairman of the
board of trustees, and a committee was formed to find a resident president. Its efforts were rewarded when Dr. David A. Hubbard became the seminary's third president in 1963. Graduating from the seminary in 1952, David Hubbard had then earned a doctorate in the field of Old Testament from St. Andrew's University in Scotland. Committed to evangelism as well as scholarship, he had held month-long preaching missions while studying for his doctorate in Scotland. He had then taught at Westmont College and was chairman of the biblical department there. He had sung in the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" choir for several years both before and after his study period in Scotland. Charles Fuller had had him preach on the program in January, 1962.
Dr. Hubbard was thirty-five when he became president. Admittedly, he was a young man for such a responsible post, yet the board was convinced that he was remarkably well suited for the task. Almost twenty years before, Charles Fuller had talked of his need to find a younger man to carry on the school. More than anyone, Harold Ockenga had been that man for sixteen years. But now in David Hubbard, Charles Fuller had that younger man who could fully shoulder the responsibility of the seminary, and who would, in time, become the featured speaker on the broadcast.
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1. Up until 1968 this corporation's name was the Fuller Evangelistic Foundation. At that time the board voted to substitute the word "association" for "foundation." To avoid confusion, this later name will be used throughout the book in speaking of this corporation.
2. Charles Fuller and his family had been members of this church since they moved to the Pasadena area in 1933. Dr. James Henry Hutchins, who had been pastor of the church since 1921, had been a very close friend of the family from the beginning. He had served on the board of trustees of the GBA since 1937 and was a charter board member of the FEA.
3. Wilbur M. Smith, A Voice for God (Boston: W.A. Wilde, 1950), p. 188.
4. A careful reading of Harold Ockenga's famous statement quoted above will show that while he committed the new seminary definitely to the NAE position, he certainly did not make students coming from separatist churches unwelcome, for he said, "When students come from a denomination, whatever that denomination is [italics added], they will go back into their denomination adequately prepared to preach the Gospel . . . and to positively go forward in the work of God." Thus he was not repudiating all churches who at sometime in their history had been formed from a separation from a church deemed apostate, for had he meant that, he would have repudiated the Reformation itself. What he was repudiating was the spirit of separatism, which, with its implicit negativism, no sooner accomplished one split than a new one would develop within its midst. Many Fuller Seminary students have come from and gone back into denominations recently formed by a separation. But we are not aware of any Fuller graduate who has split a church, because the school's emphasis has been "to positively go forward in the work of God."
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