The Death of Herbert Hoover, 1964

2019-10-21T21:47:00+00:00October 21, 2019|HH 2019|

“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” —Proverbs 22:9

The Death of Herbert Hoover, 1964

Herbert Hoover strode the world stage as a colossus of business, enterprise, and philanthropy before being humiliated and hounded for almost two decades by a ruthless and unprincipled political enemy, and then by historians who took up the cause of his opponents. It is unlikely any single human in history is responsible for saving more lives than the man who would become the “Quaker President.” Recent biographies have returned him to his proper standing in history, but he has become the special target of libertarians, the very ones that his life exemplified before his political ascendancy. Who was this man who excited such passions?

Herbert Hoover was born into a devout Quaker family in Iowa in 1874. His parents died before he was eight years old; at the age of eleven he travelled to Oregon to live with his Uncle, John Minthorn, a physician. Herbert dropped out of school at thirteen to work for his uncle, not uncommon among Quakers of his day. A voracious reader and hungry for knowledge, Herbert was allowed to attend night school and studied mathematics, typing and other courses he deemed necessary for his education. Hoover entered Stanford University with the first class, and graduated first in his class in four years, with an engineering degree. And At Stanford, he met and married the love of his life, Lou Henry, who bore him two children and proved his perfect match through their forty-six years of marriage.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) in 1877 at age 3

When the First World War began, Hoover and his family were at one of his international offices in England. In the previous seventeen or so years he had become one of the best known and respected mining engineers, mining consultants, and financiers in the world. He had rationalized and developed gold, coal, bauxite, silver, lead, and zinc mines in many countries and had amassed a personal fortune of more than five hundred million dollars by today’s standards. He was a master at identifying men who could run that economic empire, and as an organizer and leader, through hard work, genius, and personal integrity, few could question the decisions of “The Chief.”

Herbert Hoover in his 30s in 1917 while a mining engineer

With the sudden cataclysm of war upon them, thousands of Americans were trapped in Europe. The British banks would not honor checks and ships were unavailable for transport home. The American legation turned to Hoover for help. He organized a relief effort for stranded Americans, loaning them cash for a signed IOU (he got most of it back eventually) and providing ships to transport them home. He later said from that moment on his public life began and his business life ended.

1917 poster for Belgian relief

Poster requesting clothing for occupied France and Belgium

The civilian tragedy that enveloped Europe brought a plea for Hoover to establish relief efforts to prevent mass starvation. In conjunction with Congress and Belgian and French relief workers, he fed nine million people for almost four years of war. He worked fourteen hours a day from London and was the only man on earth that had no national boundaries in his travels to negotiate with the warring countries. When the United States entered the war, the Wilson administration appointed him “food czar” to insure American production and distribution. He mobilized hundreds of thousands of women to help in the enterprise.

The Committee for Relief in Belgium in Lille, France, 1916

When the war ended, he continued his relief efforts for the starving millions of Germans, having to overcome the resistance of England, France and the United States to those efforts. Hoover supported the winning Republican candidate for President in 1920, Warren Harding, and was rewarded with the little known and minor post of Secretary of Commerce, a post he would also hold under Calvin Coolidge. The mining engineer’s politics followed the soft progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt. He supported women’s suffrage, government/private business cooperation, minimum wage, child labor laws, etc.

Hoover listens to a radio receiver, 1925

The American electorate put Hoover in the Presidency in 1938, just in time for the crash of the stock market seven months later. He received 100 percent of the blame for the Great Depression from the other Party, who “rode to the rescue” of the nation in 1942 with Franklin Roosevelt. Attacked from all sides during his four-year presidency, and vilified by FDR until 1945, Hoover nonetheless became the elder statesman of the Republican Party, offering advice to those who would listen, and writing thirty books in his lifetime, including an autobiography and multi-volume account of the relief efforts of the First World War. President Eisenhower sought his counsel; his books on mining engineering are still used today.

Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, en route to the Capitol for Roosevelt’s inauguration, March 4, 1933

Hoover’s inauguration as 31st U.S. President at the Capitol, March 4, 1929

One man, willing to spend his fortune and sacrifice his businesses for a greater cause, fed millions of people in Europe during the great tragedy of the First World War. The virtues and values of his youth never left him, though he exited that nurturing environment to take his place in the world. Hoover never dreamed the directions that Providence would lead him, nor that his name would become synonymous with homelessness and reckless economic policies—demonized by the unscrupulous termagants that characterize American politics. He kept his poise and his faith and left a record worth examining and a character rare in the annals of our history. He outlived all his opponents, dying at the age of ninety on October 20, 1964.

The Birth of the American Navy, 1775

2019-10-14T23:29:51+00:00October 14, 2019|HH 2019|

“At the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through.” —Daniel 11:40

The Birth of the American Navy, October 13, 1775

In 1775, England boasted the mightiest navy in the world. The borders of empire had expanded by more than a third as a result of the Seven Years War, ending in 1763. Her army, however, could count only about 36,000 men to defend that empire twelve years later, so the dependence upon the naval forces was paramount to maintaining the Empire. With the American colonies in rebellion, one Parliamentarian assured his colleagues that the Royal Navy could handle the conquest of the rebels and drive them back into harmony with the mother country. The Americans eventually would put almost 250,000 men in the field, but at the start, they had no navy whatsoever. The colonists, however, possessed a merchant marine of over a thousand ships. John Adams of Massachusetts proposed to the Continental Congress the creation of naval forces to contest Britain on the high seas in the coming conflict. In October of that year Congress agreed, but they had little or no money to actually build a navy.

British bombardment of Morro Castle in Havana, July 1, 1762 during the Seven Years War

George Washington takes command of the American army, July 1775

George Washington had taken command of the American army outside Boston on the rainy Sunday of July 2, 1775. It is likely that not a single soldier among the 14,000 encamped in their siege works around Boston knew what the tall Virginian looked like. He wasted no time in issuing what were the first of 12,000 orders he would write in the course of the War for Independence. Washington heartily approved of the thirty-three New England whale boats which attacked British outposts along the shoreline. He encouraged privateers, usually merchant ships equipped with a cannon or two to pounce on supply ships or infantry transports, as Providence afforded. Congress had encouraged the colonies to provide their own navies to protect their shores. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia had all responded positively, but the magnitude of the problem to defend the shores could not be successfully borne by the colonies alone.

The creation of the American Navy officially dates from October 13, though it proceeded through the years in fits and starts, and did not really come into its own until the following century. Nonetheless, ship battle captains made their mark in the War for Independence, some in dramatic fashion.

“In addition to protecting American trade from British blockade and predation, the committee also made recommendations for intercepting British ships laden with supplies for the king’s forces in North America. Within hours, the Congress approved the committee’s recommendation that Massachusetts supply General George Washington, then stationed in Massachusetts, with an armed schooner and a sloop for the purpose of seizing British supplies.”

Emblem of the United States Navy, founded October 13, 1775

The naval committee received more funds by the end of the year and took upon itself the drawing up of regulations and rules for marines. The so-called Olive Branch Petition was rejected by the king, the last attempt at a peaceful solution to most of the Congressmen and other supporters of independence. The fledgling American coastal raiders had some signal successes, both blockade-running and waylaying British supply ships. In the course of a few months they seized ships with thousands of muskets and tons of power, the most precious commodity needed. About six hundred British Highlanders were captured in three separate ambushes on the ocean, along with their supplies and equipment.

Signature page of the Olive Branch Petition, with John Hancock’s prominent signature at the top

Five official armed vessels of the American Navy were commissioned by the end of 1775—USS Doria, USS Alfred, USS Andrew, USS Columbia, and USS Cabot. By April of 1776, the Continental Naval Squadron had eight ships and Congress called for thirteen frigates to be built, rather than refitted merchantmen, as soon as possible. Protecting American commerce and capturing British commerce were the chief duties of the naval forces. Several notable battles also occurred between ships of the line, and Captain John Paul Jones became one of the early American naval heroes.

Rear Admiral John Paul Jones (1747-1792)

John Paul Jones raises the “Grand Union” flag as Alfred is placed in commission in Philadelphia, December 1775. Originally a merchant vessel launched in 1774 and named Black Prince the navy renamed her Alfred after 9th century English monarch Alfred the Great.

When the war ended, the navy was all but abandoned, not to be restored till 1794. The founders did not anticipate the states aggressively interfering in the affairs of other nations and saw no need for naval forces such as the British Empire required. In fact, Britain continued to rule the oceans of the world until the 20th Century, and the Americans did not initiate aggression against non-belligerent nations until the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The naval campaigns and combats of the War for Independence preserve a tradition that included both victory and defeat. The intervention of the French Navy on behalf of the Americans proved decisive in bringing Lord Cornwallis to bay at Yorktown in 1781, but the individual warships fought it out on a small scale for eight years, despite losses, until independence was achieved.

The USS Constitution, commissioned and named by President Washington in 1794

The Battle of the Saintes, April 9-12, 1782 fought between French and British naval forces in the Caribbean during the War for Independence

Benjamin Keach Arrested, 1664

2019-10-07T16:06:44+00:00October 7, 2019|HH 2019|

“And now Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence.” —Acts 4:29

Benjamin Keach Arrested, October 9, 1664

The sixth decade of the 17th Century bode ill for Christians who defied the Anglican Church Bishops. King Charles II gave free reign to his churchmen to crack down on any preachers or laymen considered heterodox. Several thousand of their own clergy and the Presbyterians of Scotland were ejected from their pulpits. Men who preached in dissenting churches were especially singled out for persecution. One of those men was Benjamin Keach, a Baptist minister from Buckinghamshire

King Charles II of England (1630-1685)

Chief Justice Robert Hyde (1595-1665)

Associates described the tailor-turned-preacher as “earnest, self-educated, intensely evangelical, his outlook narrowed to the denomination . . ., but wielding great influence within those limits.” During his first pastorate at Winslow, Keach published his first work—a primer for children entitled The Child’s Instructor, in which he apparently set down doctrine not approved by the established church, probably concerning Believers’ baptism. He was arrested on October 9, 1664 and hauled before Lord Chief Justice Robert Hyde to answer for his crime. Failing to find just cause to have him executed, the judge sentenced Keach with these words:

“Benjamin Keach, you are here convicted for writing, printing, and publishing a seditious and schismatical book, for which the court’s judgment is that you go to jail for a fortnight without bail, and the next Saturday stand upon the pillory at Aylesbury in the open market for the space of two hours, with a paper upon your head with this inscription, ‘For writing, printing, and publishing a schismatical book entitled The Child’s Instructor, or A New and Easy Primer, and the next Thursday to stand in the same manner and for the same time in the market of Winslow; and then your book shall be openly burnt before your face by the common hangman in disgrace of you and your doctrine. And you shall forfeit to the king’s majesty the sum of twenty pounds; and shall remain in jail until you find sureties for your good behavior and appearance at the next assizes, there to renounce your doctrines and make such public submission as shall be enjoined upon you.”

Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) a Particular Baptist preacher and author in London

The only onlooker of the minister in the stocks who abused and rebuked him was the local vicar, who was in turn mocked by the crowd for his own immorality and hypocrisy. Pastor Keach was much loved and respected by the townsmen and did not cease preaching to them while in the stocks.

Keach’s catechism entitled The Child’s Instructor immediately brought him under persecution and he was fined and pilloried in 1664

Benjamin Keach went on to other pastorates, and further persecutions, although Judge Hyde suddenly dropped dead at the bench the following year and could not himself again pursue the Baptist preacher. Keach’s last thirty-six years were spent in the Baptist Church at Horselydown (pronounced horse-lie-down) where he wrote forty-two more books of theology and practical application, including a catechism for the much beloved children of his congregation. His church was likely the first Baptist Church to sing hymns, exclusive Psalmody being the rule.

The fearless minister died at the age of sixty-four in 1704, having providentially outlived all his persecutors, and the church he pastored eventually became the Metropolitan Tabernacle of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one hundred fifty years later. Spurgeon wrote a biography of Keach and used and promoted Keach’s Catechism for teaching doctrine to the children of his own Reformed Baptist congregation. Some Reformed Baptist congregations still use Keach’s works, especially the catechism, happily too late for the public hangman to burn them.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) c. 1870

The Death of Saint Jerome, A.D. 420

2019-09-28T18:51:10+00:00September 30, 2019|HH 2019|

“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” —Hebrews 4:12

The Death of St. Jerome, September 30, A.D. 420

His given name was Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus but he has come down to us in history as Saint Jerome. Of course all Christians are saints according to the New Testament, but the Church has not always been punctilious about what the Scriptures actually teach. Born in A.D. 347 in a small town on the border of Dalmatia in northern Italy, He spoke Illyrian but learned Latin when he went to Rome for education. After living a life of sinful indulgence, he came under great conviction. Jerome took up personal studies with a scholar in Gaul and developed many Christian friendships as he pursued translation work. He left for the Middle East with several of those friends and settled in Antioch.

Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, better known as Saint Jerome (c. A.D. 342 – A.D. 420) in his study

His desire for the solitary life led him to abandon his classical studies and join monastic teachers near the ancient town of Chalcis, where he studied and mastered Hebrew and Greek. His singular intensity of study and formidable intellectual understanding brought him to the notice of the Church hierarchy. They ordained him in Antioch and declared him a bishop “without pastoral responsibilities.” Jerome attached himself to a renowned Cappadocian father by the name of Gregory of Nazianzus, in the great city of Constantinople. His mastery of biblical theology under Nazianzus, and commitment to Trinitarian convictions, provided the groundwork of his life’s mission. After two years, Jerome returned to Rome and became secretary to Pope Damasus in 382.

Jerome moved to Chalcis, and later to Bethlehem

Pope Damasus (c. A.D. 305-384)

Jerome moved to Bethlehem, where he lived the rest of his memorable life. His immense scholarship led to broad correspondence with other fathers of the Church, as well as the compilation of a bibliography of Christian authors and his own commentaries on the books of the Bible. In the year 382, Pope Damasus commissioned the thirty-five-year-old scholar to produce a Bible in Latin translation that could be used by the entire Church. Most literate people of the Roman Empire spoke and wrote in that language, yet there were dozens of translations, some written by heretics with gnostic or Arian agendas.

As missionaries have done in other languages through the ages, Jerome began with translating the Gospels from Greek into Latin. He followed that project by completing a translation of the entire New Testament, perhaps with the help of other scholars of like Trinitarian convictions. He next tackled the Book of Psalms, and eventually the other books of the Old Testament from the Hebrew rather than the Septuagint. It took fourteen more years to complete the Old Testament in Latin. Fourteen religious books of the Jewish non-canonical tradition, known as the Apocrypha, were next on the agenda and were included as intertestamental readings.

Page from Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving complete manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible, produced c. A.D. 700

Jerome’s Latin translation became known as the Vulgate, and was used as the official standard text in the Church for the next thousand years, although there were a few vernacular translations in a few places in Christendom. At the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, the Pope called together a Church Council at Trent and there the Latin Vulgate with the Apocrypha was declared the authoritative Latin Bible. The Roman Catholic Church of today still respects and uses the Vulgate as the historic translation of the Scriptures but allows for modern updates of theological interpretation as scholarship deals with the original languages.

A the Council of Trent (1545–63) the Latin Vulgate with the Apocrypha was declared the authoritative Latin Bible

Jerome corresponded with other theologians of his day, especially Augustine. He excelled in apologetics also and defended Church dogma against challengers, affirming celibacy of the clergy, perpetual virginity of Mary, and other ascetics’ staples of dubious biblical origin. His writings are second only to Augustine in volume, and his commentaries and dogmatic productions are rejected by most Protestants as non-authoritative. Nonetheless, Jerome’s love of the Scriptures and lifetime pursuit of bringing a useful translation to Latin speakers, and to the liturgies of the church, make him a very important figure in Church history.

Saint Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

Billy Graham Enters First Pastorate, 1939

2019-10-18T00:58:00+00:00September 23, 2019|HH 2019|

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” —Titus 3:5,6

Billy Graham Enters First Pastorate, September 28, 1939

The “Second Great Spiritual Awakening” in American history occurred throughout the first half of the 19th Century. During that time, several prominent white-hot evangelists succeeded in introducing innovative measures, rejected by “revivalist preachers” of past years as unbiblical accretions to the true Gospel message. Heretical theology often accompanied the “altar call” and “anxious seat,” standard practice of evangelical evangelism in the United States. The most successful evangelist to combine the Gospel message with the innovations of emotional appeal and physical response arose to prominence in the 20th Century—the Reverend Billy Graham. He began his ministry as a pastor in 1939, four weeks after the beginning of the Second World War.

William “Billy” Franklin Graham, Jr. (1918-2018) in 1966

Graham was born in 1918 in North Carolina four days before the end of World War I to parents who descended from people of the huge Scots-Irish immigration into the Charlotte area before the War for Independence. Raised on a dairy farm and in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Graham dated his conversion to Christ at the age of sixteen, from an evangelistic meeting led by Mordecai Ham. He attended Bob Jones College and then Florida Bible Institute, where he practiced preaching outdoors alone. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1943 and married his wife, Ruth Bell, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary in China. Their marriage lasted sixty-four years and produced five children.

Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College

Ruth Bell Graham (1920-2007)

Ordained to the Gospel ministry by the Southern Baptists, Graham accepted a call to the Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois in 1939 but left in two years to run a radio ministry, little realizing it would be his only pastoral charge. In 1948 he led a small college in Minnesota as the youngest college president in the nation. Graham conducted a series of “revival meetings” in a circus tent in Los Angeles in 1949, which lasted eight weeks and received national media coverage from the Hearst publication empire. That event became the beginning of a phenomenal rise to fame and recognition as a Gospel preacher, the likes of which the world has never seen before or since.

1966 Billy Graham Crusade in Oslo, Norway

The centerpiece of the messages preached by Evangelist Billy Graham included the “new birth,” brought about by a simple faith in Christ which resulted in a “relationship with God,” and a life characterized by “love and peace.” He emphasized the infallible, God-breathed Word of God, as the basis of truth, but in later years discarded the idea of biblical inerrancy. He taught that God superintended the general outlines of history but left man with an uncaused free-will to do as he pleased, including “accepting Christ as your Savior.” By the time he had retired in 2005, he had preached to 215 million people in person in ninety-nine countries, and to perhaps two billion through live closed-circuit telecasts. His “crusades” drew crowds of 185,000 (Wembley Stadium in the UK in 1955) and 250,000 (Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in 1974). A five-day meeting in Seoul, Korea drew three million attendees.

Billy Graham’s 1954 London Crusade at Wembley Stadium

Graham’s radio broadcast Hour of Decision, begun in 1950, became the most widely heard religious broadcast in the nation, streaming into twenty million homes every Sunday afternoon. His advice column, autobiography and thirty-one other books reached millions of people. He knew all twelve Presidents of the United States from Truman to Obama and had close personal relationships with LBJ, Nixon, Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Billy Graham in Düsseldorf, 1954

Graham’s tactics and beliefs brought criticism from both Conservatives and Liberals for different reasons. Christians of Reformed conviction disagreed with his “decisional regeneration” theology and its concomitant actions of “going forward” in meetings, as well as his Arminian views of Providence, dispensational eschatology, and disconnection from the local church. Fundamentalists opposed his bringing Roman Catholics to the stage with him and for joining with mainline pastors in ecumenical collaboration. Liberals rejected not only his theology, but his close ties to the Presidents, especially Richard Nixon. British pundit David Frost said that Graham was the “nearest thing that America has to an established church.”

Billy Graham knew all eleven U.S. Presidents from Truman to Obama

Nonetheless, Billy Graham’s preaching reached multitudes who had never heard the Gospel, and multiple thousands of people claim that God changed their heart after hearing the evangelist’s messages. A statue of the preacher will soon be enshrined in the “crypt” at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as North Carolina’s greatest hero. The Billy Graham Library is the number one tourist attraction in his home state. Flawed though he was, and as we all are, God used the farmer’s son with the dulcet southern accent and powerful zeal for the Gospel, to expand His kingdom and proclaim the Gospel of salvation on a scale not equaled by any other Christian in history.

Billy Graham Library and grounds in North Carolina