Thursday, January 08, 2004
My interview with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church
I had the privilege to interview Dr. Erwin Lutzer for my weekly radio interview show. Following is an excerpt from that interview.
CINDY: I'm truly honored to have as my guest today a man who is extremely respected in the Christian community. Dr. Erwin Lutzer is a pastor, an author and a radio speaker, who has since 1980 been the senior pastor of the Moody Church in downtown Chicago. Dr. Lutzer is going to be the speaker at the January Life Breakfast, which is coming up January 16th at Cliffbreakers...this is a major prolife event in Northern Illinois.
First of all, Dr. Lutzer, welcome to Weekend Magazine.
DR. LUTZER: Well, I'm so glad to be with you today.
CINDY: Well, I'm delighted to meet you over the phone, because I have admired you for quite some time. Living fairly near Chicago, my husband and my family and I are trying to take more advantage of the fact that we live close to one of the greatest cities in the world. A couple of years ago we were able to attend a Sunday evening service at Moody Church and, it wasn't held in the big sanctuary, but we were able to tour the sanctuary, and it's a wonderful place. I was so, just, overwhelmed by the Moody Church. What is it like to be involved in ministry in that great church, with so much history?
DR. LUTZER: Well, it is a tremendous honor of course, and I've been the pastor since 1980, which means 24 years... and when I became pastor I certainly did not expect to be around that long, because the challenges were quite formidable, but God has been very good to us. It's a great honor, when you think in terms of our past...some people would remember a pastor by the name of Harry Ironside, who was there for nearly 18 years, and Warren Weirsbe and Dr. Sweeting and so forth...and I'm certainly unworthy of it. But after being there 24 years, I would have to say that there's no place in the world really where I would rather preach. I've preached in many different places. but there's something very unique, something special about Moody Church. Its history...founded in 1864 by Dwight L. Moody., the famous evangelist, under whose ministry tens of thousands of people were converted, and I think I'm the 17th pastor. And so, it's been a privilege to be there that long. And what we've tried to do, Cindy, is to reach out and to create bridges to the neighborhood. We don't want to just be known as this big brick church on LaSalle street,. but what we want to do is to be touching lives, and throughout the years I think we've been able to do such things.
CINDY: I recently read an article in a Cedarville alumnae magazine by a girl who is a Cedarville grad, and she and her husband go to the Moody Church. and they help out in the Awana program that reaches out to the Cabrini Green neighborhood...so I was vividly able to see how Moody Church is a living, breathing church that's fulfilling the Great Commission, not just sitting around being a beautiful landmark. Dr Lutzer, how does the life and legacy of D.L. Moody actually impact you in real life? Are you cognizant, are you mindful of that in your ministry?
DR. LUTZER: Well yes, you know, I try to be. I've read a couple of biographies of D. L. Moody, and you know, one of the things about him is he may have had ADD,you know, attention deficit disorder, because he was very flighty, found it very difficult to concentrate on one thing. And I've mentioned that to people that struggle with those kinds of issues, just to show you how mightily God is able to use people despite their struggles. I mean, Moody was great for beginning ministries and then putting others in charge and then running off and doing something else...but in this way, he raised up a lot of laymen. He believed that it was not his responsiblity to lead things, it was the responsibility of others to do it, but he got the work going. And, he was such a fireball of energy , from early morning till late at night, witnessing, preaching...he must have been quite a challenge to be married to...(his wife, Emma)...but, the point is that you see a man who had flaws, he wasn't perfect, but he loved God with a passion, and that passion just spilled over, and just think of the ripples. You have the Moody Bible Institute, and you have Moody Church that he founded, and like a pebble being thrown into the middle of a lake, the ripples have gone all the way to the shore.
CINDY: You're going to be speaking on the prolife issue at the January Life Breakfast. Is this subject near and dear to your heart?
DR. LUTZER: It really is, because you know, the whole prolife issue is part of a larger issue in our culture. It's part of a larger issue regarding belief in God, belief in the Scriptures, and of course as you know we're on a moral and spiritual freefall, and for me to be able to speak at this breakfast is a great honor, to try to help Christians to focus...to realize that we have a battle ahead of us, but it is a winnable battle. Whether it's the battle for the life for the lives of preborn infants and other life issues, the simple fact is that we have a responsibility to preach the gospel and to be salt and light in our culture, and that's what we're going to be talking about.I think that my sermon topic...is going to be "Where do we go from here?" What do we do in light of what's happening in America? What are those great truths that are going to set us on our way, so to speak, as we think about our responsiblity in today's culture.
CINDY: It's interesting, as you make those comments...one of the questions that I put down that I wanted to ask you, because you are a venerated man of God and have been in a position to observe Christianity for the past many years..what concerns you about the state of Christianity today, and then, hand in hand with that, because I don't want to leave it on a negative note perhaps...what encourages you about it?
DR. LUTZER: Those are two very good questions. First of all, what concerns me is that we have to see that our battle in America is primarily a theological one. You know, we can talk about prolife versus other options, but the smple fact is it comes down to theology. Do we believe in God,? Do we believe in God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we believe in creation, because if we're the product of evolution, then I suppose we can kill preborn infants, in fact we can even kill deformed infants after they are born,like some people suggest, if all that we are are animals on this continuum.
If, however, we are created in the image of God, that's what really makes human life sacred. So many of these issues are theological issues, andwe live in a time of theological ignorance, most assuredly, and theological diversity, where everybody's making up their own view of God, their own view of theology based on their own hunches, their own desires and their own whims. And so, as a church, we have a huge responsiblity ahead of us to educate our culture and to make sure that we are preaching the gospel. So, what concerns me is our freefall--our moral freefall, yes, but also our theological and doctrinal freefall, because the doctrines that people believe are really just a reflection of the life that they want to live, where that's where we're headed.
What encourages me is that there are many movements in America that do give us hope. There's certainly the prolife movement, but also you have various orgnizations....Promise Keepers, for example, comes to mind...the evangelical church movement...oftentimes the largest churches are those that preach the gospel...You have the gospel preached on radio...sometimes also on television, mixed with a great deal of other kinds of things--TV preachers, there's a lot of heresy out there...but nonetheless, you do have these various movements. You do have a president in the United States who is willing to sign a ban on partial birth abortion...and you do have the possibility, perhaps in our court system, of reversing and bringing some kind of balance to the kind of liberalism that we've seen in the last few years, so there are reasons to hope.