Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Remembering Fred Smith

I met Fred Smith briefly many years ago as a young pastor at a convention. Little did I know of his reputation and influence. That would be appreciated later. He went on to glory August 17th. For many who haven't been blessed by his practical wisdom, consider the following one liners attributed to him:

  • A perpetual learner is the best teacher.
  • Avoid the authors who are meringue chefs. (one of my favorites - I call it the "fluff-factor", big on volume, light on substance)
  • Better to be a participant in life than a reporter.
  • Clarify your thoughts so that others may use them.
  • In 20 languages "be" and "do" are the same word.
  • Language is often a useful tool to conceal meaning.

Typical of his insight and clarity of thought is the following:

"When Dr. Julian Gumperz, financier of New York City died his obituary read, "The awesome intellect of Dr. Gumperz is gone." He and I enjoyed breakfast together at the St. Regis for seventeen years up to his death. I remember one morning his saying to me, "You Protestants are going to ruin the economy of the world if you're wrong in having changed your beliefs from man is basically evil to basically good."

He went on to say, "If man is basically good, then giving him financial aid, education and freedom will improve our world, but if he is not - then you have implemented our destruction."

Personally I am convinced that the watershed of all human thinking is the perfectibility of man. It is the fulcrum on which the conservative/liberal thought turns. If man is perfectible, then the liberals are correct in theology, politics, philosophy, etc. But if he is not perfectible, then the Puritan position of restraint is the right one. (breakfastwithfred.com/library/article/70/puritans-and-ethics/ ).

If they are right ... giving external helps without changing hearts will improve our world.

If they are wrong ... they will have implemented our destruction.

Truth matters. Well-intentioned Christian benevolences are having their devastating consequences as they are implemented in isolation of gospel truths and in the absence of local churches being established in the cross-cultural settings where both the gospel and benevolences are needed. The result: dependency, lost incentive, families destroyed.

May God raise another generation of clear thinkers for mission ministry. Whose actions will be consistent with Biblical convictions.


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