Elmer Towns, a respected Christian academic and co-founder of Liberty University, weighed in on the state of American Christianity, politics and church growth patterns in a wide-ranging interview with The Christian Post.
At 87 years old, Towns is one of the most respected Christian academics of today. In addition to serving as a pastor and college professor, he’s penned over 170 books and given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in the United States and abroad.
He told The Christian Post that his latest book, The Bible by Jesus: Featuring the Complete Old and New Testament, is a “paraphrase, not a translation.” Despite having eight years of Greek and four years of Hebrew training under his belt, Towns clarified he doesn’t view himself as a “Hebrew or Greek scholar.”
“I call myself one who is dedicated to the Word of God. I believe in the inspiration of Scripture. I love Scriptures,” he said.
Towns said the inspiration for the Bible by Jesus book came while reading Psalm 37:4, which reads: “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
“As I was reading that passage, I said, ‘God, I prayed many times, but I don’t get what I want,’” he recalled. “Then I translated it very freely, and it said something like this: ‘If you make God number one in your heart, then what you want is what He wants, and He will give you what you ask for.’”
What followed was a 13-year-process of interpreting the Bible, from the Psalms to the book of Job. Ultimately, he explained, The Bible by Jesus is a unique presentation of the Old and New Testaments from the perspective of Jesus, the author Himself.
“It’s a tool in the hands of the people to help them understand and apply the Word of God to their hearts,” he said.
In 1971, Towns co-founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, alongside Jerry Falwell. Today, it is the largest private nonprofit university in the world, with over 11,400 students on campus and 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online).
Throughout his career, Towns has written and lectured on various aspects of church growth, with an emphasis on effective Christian education organizations and pastoral leadership.
The secret to Liberty’s success, according to the storied professor, is its dedication to raising up and training young men and women who use their talents for the benefit of the Body of Christ, the Church. Every student who attends Liberty is required to participate in weekly worship gatherings, local service projects and global mission trips.
Liberty, Towns told CP, has sought to intersect education, evangelism, and church growth from the very beginning.
“I said, ‘We’re going to start a college. We’re going to train people for ministry,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘If you can tie [academics] to churches, you’ll have two things: You’ll have God’s blessing on you because God loves the church. Jesus owns the church. The church was His body. And number two, you’ll have the blessing of God’s people because everyone’s tied to a local church.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett