Adoniram Judson Gordon died on February 2, 1895, at the age of 58, having been born in New Hampshire on April 13, 1836. He was a leader of early Baptist fundamentalism.
Gordon’s parents were devout Calvinist Christians. His father was named after John Calvin and Gordon was named after the famous American Baptist missionary to Burma. The family’s devotion prompted their son, at the age of 15 to seek salvation for his soul. A year later he told his church that he desired to become a minister.
Entering Brown University in 1856 and Newton Theological Seminary in 1860, he pursued his calling and on graduating became pastor at Jamaica Plain, near Boston. He enjoyed six successful years there before becoming pastor of the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston, where he remained for 25 years and from which pulpit he became a famous preacher.
Gordon was challenged by an unbelieving community and an unmotivated congregation. He met those challenges with the simple truth of the gospel, ultimately transforming his church into a spiritual powerhouse.
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Dr Gordon, as he was known, lived a saintly life and wrote much about the Spirit-filled life.
Gordon spoke at the Niagara Bible Conference of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario virtually every year from 1877 until his death in 1895, and he was D L Moody’s right-hand man at the Northfield Conventions, even being privileged to host the event in 1892 while Moody was in Europe. Gordon was a regular speaker at Northfield.
Gordon’s presence in these conferences is significant, as very few Baptists were part of the fundamentalist Convention movement in the late nineteenth century. Most of the speakers and organisers were Presbyterian and Congregationalist.
Gordon’s ministry embraced a strong missionary emphasis, he wrote prolifically on the Second Coming of Christ, and he advocated ‘faith healing’. He was personal friend to A. B. Simpson, who had a faith healing ministry.
He believed in the premillennial return of Christ and preached on this, among other things, in the convention meetings. He penned The Ministry of Women in 1894, defending women’s right to preach.
One book that is regarded as possibly his finest work, Ministry of the Spirit, defines the three aspects of the Spirit’s work as: sealing; filling; and anointing.
This contemporary fundamentalist also put pen to paper to compose the melody of one of Christendom’s loveliest hymns, the tune Gordon, which is used to William Featherston’s words, My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
On the morning of February 2, 1895, Dr. Gordon, with “victory” as the last clearly audible word on his lips, fell asleep in Jesus.
Gordon’s life and his generation represented the shift in America from the doctrinal preoccupation of the Calvinists, to the practical missiology that dominated American evangelicalism since then. His emphasis was on practical theology and effective evangelistic ministry, saying, “We believe we ought to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints, but in doing this we should seek to be like the saints once delivered to the faith.”
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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com