Saturday, January 20, 2018

Joy in Hope

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 17:00
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If in Christ we have hope in this life only,

we are of all people most to be pitied.”

-1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV-


. . . we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,

because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

  And hope does not disappoint us, because God

has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,

whom he has given us.

-Romans 5:5 NIV-


Gifted with access to a treasure trove of primary sources, extensive family letters, and documents, Mrs. Howard Taylor authored Borden of Yale ‘09 first published in 1926 (now available at  Chaplain Brown, retired Presbyterian missionary to China, recommended this book to a fourth-year college student in 1962-63.  Decades later that student inherited the book from his father-in-law who himself had received it as a Christmas gift from his aunt in 1932.  That student has finally read it in the summer of 2017!

William Whiting Borden (1887-1913) was born into a family of notable wealth and privilege coupled with remarkable affection and nurture.  Following his mother’s conversion to Christ, young Bill attended Moody Church and Bible Institute from which he eagerly received a firm foundation for his life.  Then followed a rigorous Christian classical education at the “The Hill” in New Jersey administered by Dr. John Meigs. 

In 1903, at sixteen years of age, Borden was accompanied by Walter Erdman on a world tour whereby he was able to assess first-hand the conditions of human life, other cultures, and religions.  Employing exceptional writing skills, Borden related his keen observations in daily letters written to his parents many of which are presented verbatim by Mrs. Taylor. 

Taylor’s review of Borden’s multi-faceted accomplishments at Yale also (1) shines light on the series of 19th-century Christian awakenings at Yale during which indifferent, even hostile, groups of students accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior impacting the entire student body; (2) opens a window to the late 19th-century Student Volunteer Movement; and (3) alludes to the early twentieth-century departure of some from the biblical doctrine of Christ. 

In 1912, during his student days at Princeton, Borden was a member of the Board of Directors of Moody Bible Institute.  Borden knew that “it mattered supremely what one thinks.”  As a member of the committee, it was his assignment to prepare the first draft of a statement setting forth the doctrinal standards for the Moody Bible Institute. 

Upon completing his education at Princeton Seminary and moving to the Middle East in January of 1913, Bill Borden began his study of Arabic while, at the same time, enriching the lives of fellow Christian believers and Muslims.  Borden became ill in March, and died in April.  Perhaps no passing in the modern world has exceeded Borden’s in terms of Christian legacy and impact– the message of his life had been one of dedication to Christ and reflection of Christ’s character.  This writer was particularly stirred by reading of Borden’s faithful devotion to his mother.  During the trip with her daughter Joyce to visit her son, she received the news of William’s passing four hours before they reached Cairo.

We may be tempted to think, “What a loss after all that preparation for an expected  lifetime of service!”  In the life and death of William Borden, however, there is open-ended  evidence that God’s love and the fulfillment of His purpose far exceeds anything we could ever imagine or hope for in our limited frame of reference.  C. T. Studd said it so well:

Only one life–t’will soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ shall last!

Reflecting on Borden’s obedience to the Pauline principle of not building on another man’s foundation, as per Romans 15:20-21, Dr. Kenneth Latourette wrote, “The steadfastness of that purpose of Bill’s had no small part, I am sure, in bringing the largest Volunteer Band in Yale’s history into the days of his college life.”  William Borden had his self-identity in Christ.  He had no place for  “religious” airs or stuffiness.  A man among men, he was versatile and fun-loving, just as much at ease in a wrestling match, hiking, and sailing, as he was in communicating Christ and salvation in Christ to persons in all settings and cultures.  It may be said that he embodied the reality of the apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)  Borden embodied “Joy in Hope.” 

Mrs. Howard Taylor’s Bordon of Yale’09 provides both inspiration and realism concerning Christ-honoring choices with reference to one’s own affections, marriage, home life, parenting, education, financial assets, career, use of time, the church, the community, and the world. 


About the Writer

David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona.  He and his wife reside in Wooster, Ohio.  They have four grown children and eight grandchildren.  With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing.  His Th.M. thesis, a study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.



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