December 18, 2017

Comments on The Baptist Program of Evangelism

Don Johnson

Editorial note: We are in the midst of a series of posts from the messages delivered at the Pre-Convention Conference of the Northern Baptist Convention, 1920. From the Conference the Fundamental Fellowship was formed which is today known as the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International. The messages from the conference were published in a book called Baptist Fundamentals. The book has been digitized by Maranatha Baptist University and is available as part of the Roger Williams Heritage Archives collection in Logos format, available here. Links to previous posts will appear at the end of this post.

William W. Bustard served several pastorates, notably one in Boston and later at Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland. He was reportedly an eloquent preacher. One biographical note says, “In both places it has been impossible to accommodate the great crowds who have come to hear him preach, and frequently hundreds have been turned away from the doors.” (( He was an active and able administrator and was “a great power” in the temperance movement in his community. Besides being known for his ministerial qualities, he was also known as John D. Rockefeller’s pastor, Rockefeller having been baptized and holding his membership at Euclid Avenue. A former college athlete, Bustard became a regular golf partner of Rockefeller.

In 1921, a church employee was assaulted by armed gunman who attempted an attack on pastor Bustard at his home in Cleveland. No one was ever arrested for this crime, but another historical site speculates that “many at the time suspected that the attack was in response to Bustard’s fiery condemnation of former Cleveland Police Chief Fred Kohler who had recently been elected Mayor of Cleveland.” (( We note this to remark on William Bustard’s courage. He was no shrinking violet and was active in preaching and proclaiming righteousness.

In our series, I’ve attempted to describe where the speakers at the Pre-Convention Conference fell on the moderate/fundamentalist divide. Due to my limited resources, it is difficult to determine exactly where Bustard stood. His friend Rockefeller notably supported some liberal causes, but the message Bustard preached seems to hit the right notes from a fundamentalist perspective.

For example, on the question of the church and social work, Bustard says,

While it is good to clean up a community, it is better to clean up the people who live in the community, for the reformation of society is made possible only through the regeneration of human nature.

In order to be effective evangelists, he says there are three things we must believe. First on the list is belief in the Bible.

The first thing we ought to believe is in the authority of the Scripture and inspiration of the word. The Bible is not only the god of books, but it is also the book of God. It is the word of God because it reveals the will of God. Regardless of the fact that everything has been done through centuries to destroy it by enemy, agnostic, and higher critic, every book in the Bible says to its critic what Paul said to the jailer, “Do thyself no harm, we are all here.” It is a fact which is beyond contradiction that the men and the churches, in our denomination, who are doing the greatest soul-saving work, are those who believe in the authority of the Scriptures and the inspiration of the Bible.

Bustard calls us to devotion in Christian work,

We are not to seek first that which pertains to our own worldly advancement but that which pertains to the upbuilding of God’s kingdom in the world and the transaction of God’s business on the earth. As ambitious as we may be to make a success of our work, we should be even more ambitious to make a success of God’s work.

If you haven’t yet taken the time to read this message, I hope you will. It happens to be one of the shorter ones in our series and I think you will find it interesting as a part of the history of fundamentalism as well as a spiritual encouragement for your own evangelistic efforts. The link is at the end of the list below.

Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Link to Baptist Fundamentals and other works available in Logos format as part of the Roger Williams Heritage Archives, produced by Maranatha Baptist University.

Baptist Fundamentals series:


Baptist Fundamentals: Opening Address

Comments on Baptist Fundamentals: Opening Address

Historic Baptist Principles? … or the seed of defeat in the soil of revival

Baptist Fundamentals: Fidelity to Our Baptist Heritage (1)

Baptist Fundamentals: Fidelity to Our Baptist Heritage (2)

Comments on Baptist Fundamentals: Fidelity to Our Baptist Heritage

Baptist Fundamentals: The Divine Unity of Holy Scripture

Comments on Baptist Fundamentals: The Divine Unity of Holy Scripture

Baptist Fundamentals – The Significance of the Ordinances

Comments on Baptist Fundamentals – The Significance of the Ordinances

Northern Baptists and the Deity of Christ

Comments on Northern Baptists and the Deity of Christ

An Unexpected Message

Comments on An Unexpected Message

The Bible at the Center of the Modern University (1)

The Bible at the Center of the Modern University (2)

Comments on The Bible at the Center of the Modern University

The Baptist Program of Evangelism

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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