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Harold Lindsell dies at 84; authored ‘Battle for the Bible’

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (BP)–Harold Lindsell, a former
editor of Christianity Today magazine whose 1976 book, “The
Battle for the Bible,” told of a coming upheaval over the
issue of biblical authority, died Jan. 15 at a retirement
village in Laguna Hills, Calif. He was 84.
Lindsell died of flu complications, family members
indicated. He was diagnosed in 1991 with a rare disease of
the nervous system, called polyneuropathy, and had become
In the preface to the Zondervan-published “Battle for
the Bible,” Lindsell wrote, “I regard the subject of this
book, biblical inerrancy, to be the most important
theological topic of this age.
“A great battle rages about it among people called
evangelicals. I did not start the battle and wish it were
not essential to discuss it. The only way to avoid it would
be to remain silent. And silence on this matter would be a
grave sin.”
Evangelist Billy Graham, in a letter to Lindsell’s
wife, Marion, wrote that Lindsell’s “stand on the authority
of Scripture is one of his lasting legacies. His writings
will be used of God for many years to come to help hold the
church to the Scriptures.”
Graham also wrote that his wife, Ruth, “credits him
with being used by God to save her doubting faith while a
student at Wheaton (College).” Graham also credited Lindsell
with filling the void at Christianity Today after its
founding editor, Carl F.H. Henry, moved on to other
Lindsell was Christianity Today’s editor from 1968-78
and had authored more than 20 books, including another
volume on the issue of biblical authority, “The Bible in the
Balance,” 1979, and several study Bibles.
Lindsell held membership in Southern Baptist churches
throughout his career — most recently at El Toro Baptist
Church, Lake Forest, Calif., and earlier at Glenfield
Baptist Church, Glen Ellyn, Ill., and First Baptist Church,
Alexandria, Va. He was ordained in 1944 at First Baptist
Church, Columbia, S.C., where he was a professor of church
history and missions at Columbia Bible College.
One of the chapters in Lindsell’s “Battle for the
Bible” was devoted to the Southern Baptist Convention,
which, he wrote, “has numbers of people in it who deny
biblical infallibility. They are challenging the historic
position of the denomination and constitute a threat to its
future. Not only so, but it will be shown that some who have
abandoned biblical inerrancy have also abandoned other
cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith so that in any
historic sense they have ceased to be Baptists as understood
In the chapter, Lindsell took issue with several
individual Baptists and Baptist institutions over their
stances on biblical authority.
“Southern Baptists will have to act with dispatch in
the next few years. If they fail to do so, the infection
will spread and the time must come when there will be a
showdown,” Lindsell wrote at the end of the chapter. “And
the longer the Southern Baptists wait, the rougher the
battle will be, the more traumatic the consequences, and the
less obvious the outcome in favor of historic Christianity.”
He added, “At this moment in history the great bulk of
the Southern Baptists are theologically orthodox and do
believe that the Word of God is inerrant. At this moment
there is no reason for those who support infallibility to
give up on the denomination.”
Lindsell wrote in the preface of “The Battle for the
Bible,” “The book itself could be expanded almost
indefinitely, for there is no end to the available material.
The data I have used comprise only a small part of what I
have personally collected for ten years. … But I have
tried to represent matters fairly and objectively. … I
hope that I have not misquoted or misinterpreted anyone
whose words appear in this book. There is sufficient
material available that makes it unnecessary to do this.”
Born in New York City on Dec. 22, 1913, Lindsell
graduated from Wheaton College in 1938, then earned a
master’s degree in history from the University of California
at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in history from New York University.

In 1947, Lindsell and six other men founded Fuller
Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif. At Fuller until 1964,
Lindsell served as registrar, then dean of the faculty and
then vice president.
Leaving Fuller, he moved to Washington to work as an
associate editor at Christianity Today. In 1968, he became
editor, moving to Wheaton when the magazine relocated there.
In addition to his wife, Lindsell is survived by three
grown daughters and a son; 11 grandchildren; and one great-
A memorial service was held Jan. 18 at St. Andrew’s
Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, Calif.