Over at Christianity Today they had a nice piece reflecting on the life, ministry, and the brilliant, faithful work of Haddon Robinson, one of the greatest preachers of modern times and author of the excellent book Biblical Preaching.
I had learned a few days ago of Haddon’s passing and was sad, but also filled with warm memories of my time studying under him at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He was a real blessing to my life, and to countless thousands of others. I recall once being so nervous in his class that when he asked me to recite John 3:16 I totally forgot and froze in front of the class. His response, holding his arms out: “Is this seminary?” A personal roast from Haddon Robinson, priceless! Some people might be offended by that, but I cherish the memory. He had a wonderful rough edge to him that showed he was not out of touch with the world, but a supernatural, spiritual peace and maturity and pastoral air about him that communicated “This man is ministering the words of God” and “I believe the Gospel because of what he is saying, how he is saying it, and who he is.”
Aside from (and probably above) his excellent primer and methodology on preaching, both of which have influenced me in great measure, it is this gentle, warm, pastoral, Jesus-like presence and ethos that the man held that I never will forget. It makes me believe the Gospel to hear it come from a person who embodies the ethos of Jesus in such an authentic manner. As much as I’d love to have his skill in preaching, it is that kind of Jesus-like presence that I desire to be true of me for others.
As a theology and New Testament prof now, I look at the man from an even different angle and perspective. Even when you’re in the midst of it, doing what you’ve trained for over a decade to do, whether its ministry or theological education or whatever, it is so refreshing to conclude when you look at someone like Haddon Robinson: “Wow, I want to be like that someday.”
In the contemporary church there as so few multi-generational congregations that we often miss the feeling of having fathers and grandfathers in the faith. I long for that. I am lucky as part of the Anglican church to have an entire extended family through dioceses, networks, and bishops, many of whom are older than me, and represent this kind of spiritual fatherly role. Particularly, my bishop Bill Murdoch in the ADNE. During seminary, I had the same warm Christian experience with Haddon Robinson, and I am so grateful for his life, ministry and witness to the Gospel and person of Jesus Christ, in both his words and his actions.