Harold Lindsell, conservative evangelical scholar, teacher and author of more than 20 books who staunchly advocated literal interpretation of the Bible, has died. He was 84.
Lindsell, also a longtime editor of Christianity Today magazine, died Jan. 15 in Lake Forest, Calif., after a long illness.
"His stand on the authority of Scripture is one of his lasting legacies," the Rev. Billy Graham wrote in a letter to Lindsell's widow, Marion, that was read at a memorial service Sunday in Newport Beach. "His writings will be used of God for many years to come to help hold the church to the Scriptures."
Lindsell championed the "inerrantist" approach to biblical interpretation, which claims the Bible is accurate and error-free in details of history and science as well as moral and theological teachings. He set forth the theory in two of his major books, "The Battle for the Bible" in 1976 and "The Bible in Balance" in 1979.
Both books roundly criticized experts at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, where Lindsell taught and held administrative positions from 1947 until 1964.
"The only Jesus I know is the Jesus of the Bible. There is no other Jesus," Lindsell said at the opening of the 1981 Southern Baptist Convention in Los Angeles. "If the liberal critics are right and Jesus didn't say half of the things that are attributed to him, then I've got some real problems, because I can't be sure that even the things they attribute to him [are things] he really said."
Lindsell boosted conservatives' efforts to wrest the Southern Baptist group, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, from moderates over the inerrantist issue.
Born in New York City, Lindsell earned a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., a master's from UC Berkeley and, after graduate study at Harvard, a doctorate from New York University.
He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1944 and taught missions and church history at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, S.C., and the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago before coming to Pasadena. One of Fuller's original four faculty members, Lindsell remained committed to biblical accuracy even as his colleagues moderated to concede possible factual errors in Scriptures.
Lindsell left the seminary as vice president in 1964 to become associate editor of Christianity Today. He became editor in 1968, added the title publisher in 1972 and retired in 1978.
In addition to his wife, Lindsell is survived by a son, John Harold Lindsell; three daughters, Judith Wood, Joanne Buffam and Nancy Sharp; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.