DL Moody (1837-1899) USA
In his time he was a well known evangelist whose indefatigable life mission to bring Christ to folks was a milestone in the American social history. While the Gilded Age burnished the materialism at end of a spectrum his fundamentalism was as plain as a hair-shirt. Moody often spoke to audiences of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. He presented the plan of Salvation, by voice or pen, to at least one hundred million people. One historian, obviously critical of both the excesses of the Gilded Age and evangelists like Moody, wrote: “There was revivalist Moody, bearded and reckless, with his two hundred and eighty pounds of Adam’s flesh, every ounce of which belonged to God.”
Moody was born in 1837, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign, and he died in December, 1899, just nine days before the turn of the century.
Moody was not only a product of his age, but also a herald of a new one. He pioneered techniques of evangelism that remain largely unchanged today. He proclaimed a new eschatology of *pre-millennialism and fostered a new ecumenical spirit.
As one ponders Moody’s deprived, rural boyhood, his career as an evangelist and educator, and his role as a father, he was a man of the people for the people and it was their salvation was all that mattered.
Moody had no formal theological training and only the doubtful equivalent of a fourth- or fifth-grade education. Although he said he read the works of the great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Moody did not read widely. What he learned from others he learned in conversation. At age 18, when he attempted to join a Congregational Church, he failed a simple test of Bible knowledge administered by the deacons. Moody’s education was, by most standards, inadequate: he never went to college or seminary, nor was he ever ordained as a clergyman. He spelled phonetically, so his adult letters and sermon outlines abounded in spelling errors, as well as grammatical ones.
If Moody’s education was inadequate, other aspects of his childhood did equip him for his future career. His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common folk; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position. From his mother’s heroic efforts to hold the family together, Moody learned the virtues of thrift, hard work, and close family ties. From her he also acquired tenderheartedness. As an adult he repeatedly broke into tears upon realizing that he had unwittingly hurt or offended someone. His public apologies to the offended person were profuse and sincere.
“I want to be frank with you, Mr. Moody,” one of his listeners once told him. “I want you to know that I do not believe in your theology.”
“My theology!” Moody exclaimed. “I didn’t know that I had any. I wish you would tell me what my theology is.” (Christianity Today, Stanley N. Gundry)
*pre-millennialism is the doctrine that the prophesied millennium of blessedness will begin with the imminent Second Coming of Christ.