In the past month or two, we’ve seen the passing of two faithful champions of the faith. Pastor Tim LaHaye and Phyllis Schlafly both went home to be with the Lord in the latter days of the summer. Their impact on the church and culture in America will not be fully known until eternity.
Rev. LaHaye co-authored Mind Siege: The Battle for Truth in the New Millennium with Summit’s founder, David Noebel. Their friendship was an encouragement to Summit and its constituents in days that needed every bit of encouragement we could get.
LaHaye’s beliefs were criticized even though he was an understated, philanthropic pastor to his very core. His resolute stand against militant gay activists, along with his increasing popularity on the heels of the Left Behind series, made him an easy target for critics. Jerry Jenkins, who co-authored Left Behind with LaHaye, wrote in Christianity Today:
He’ll be called opinionated, polemic, a right-wing conservative fundamentalist — and some will even accuse him of homophobia.
Those descriptions will not resonate with my view of the man I got to know and grew to love. Though make no mistake: Tim never backed down from a fight, or what he considered a studied conclusion. You never had to wonder where he stood.” 1
When I worked at Focus on the Family, I was attracted to those around me who stood for something. It was breathtaking to watch Dr. Dobson and his successor, Jim Daly, take stands for biblical convictions. That attraction is what drew me to Summit. I’m working here because so many of our young students leave Summit with a new view on what it means to take a stand.
A young woman named Abigail, who attended this summer, wrote a post recently strongly implying that she GETS it. She’s taking a new approach to living.
So, stop living in the past. Stop pining away for how things used to be. Instead, take courage from the heroes, and lessons from lives lived before; then, look to the present, and ask your King what work He has for you. 2
While LaHaye’s legacy will likely revolve around his writing, Schlafly’s will be as an activist. It is well-noted that her impact on the conservative movement was no less than heroic.
“She never gave up, never grew bitter, never let down her guard, and never quit,” wrote political commentator Laura Ingraham. “She was a standing rebuke to the lazy notion that conservative women are weaker than feminists.” 3
Summit’s David Noebel was a guest on Schlafly’s Eagle Forum radio program multiple times. Her support of the ministry was as obvious as her passion for truth. Schlafly’s Report was quoted dozens of times over the years in The Summit Journal. As she took on the Marxist, feminist, and leftist, she did so with an air of grace.
Like LaHaye, her bold words and clear stand on issues put her in the ideological crosshairs. She’s been called everything from cruel to dense. But there’s no doubt on either side of the debate that Schlafly activated a movement of American housewives who got engaged culturally and politically.
Who will come along behind men and women like LaHaye and Schlafly? The baton has passed, but to whom?
This issue of the Journal highlights timely political and cultural issues. Our interview with Rev. Albert Mohler is both an honor and a chance to include the next generation of champions for the faith. Mohler’s cultural commentaries show the power and poignancy of biblical worldview thinking. If you haven’t already subscribed to his podcast, I can’t recommend doing so more highly.
Another feature in this issue is a profile with Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison. Morrison is a graduate of Summit. In every observable way he exemplifies the results our ministry aspires to produce. Life trajectory isn’t easy to measure, but Rep. Morrison is quick to give credit to Summit. Please pray for his efforts in the state of Illinois.
Perhaps Mohler and Morrison are runners to the baton of biblical values in the public square. The days are dark, but in days that are filled with examples of misguided leadership, the rays of hope shine brighter than ever. Mohler certainly has a large enough platform to influence, while Morrison is in position to move a very influential state.
As I look around at the students learning from Summit faculty and staff, I wonder if the next leaders of our country are sitting here even now. From what I see, I certainly hope so.