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“[O]n the errands of angels sent:” The Evangelistic Piety of George Whitefield

May 29, 2011

In his 19th-century poetic tribute entitled “The Preacher,” John Greenleaf Whittier called George Whitefield “a homeless pilgrim with dubious name / blown about by the winds of fame.”[1]  This fame on both sides of the Atlantic provided Whitefield with a unique platform for preaching the Gospel in his day.  He seemingly seized every opportunity, preaching over 18,000 sermons over the course of his life while traveling frequently between England, America, and Scotland.  Whittier’s poem, while recognizing that Whitefield was not without his faults, summarizes his ministry well with these words: “Up and down the world he went / A John the Baptist crying, Repent!”[2]  Beneath Whitefield’s fiery passion and inexhaustible energy for the Great Commission was an evangelistic piety built upon Calvinistic theology and evangelical convictions about the nature of God and man.  This paper will examine Whitefield’s piety as it relates to his zeal for evangelism through the lens of his life and theology.  The goal is to provide an evaluative summary of the spirituality of a man who lived, in Whittier’s words, as if he were “on the errands of angels sent.”[3]

 

The article is by Matt Haste, a Ph.D. student in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with his wife, Cheyenne, and son, Haddon, where he serves as the Adult Discipleship Pastor at Living Hope Baptist Church. To read his entire article, click  here.


 

[1] John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Preacher,” [on-line]; accessed 18 April 2011; available from  http://www.readbookonline.net, 7798.htm; Internet.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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