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These Sayings of Mine

by Ronald R Johnson (

So far, Douglas had only published books about the ministry, aimed at other ministers. In 1926 he reached out to a wider audience, and he told them about the teachings of Jesus. It was called These Sayings of Mine.

I have read this book several times over the past 25 years, and although there is a lot of good material in it, I sense now, as I did the first time I read it, that this effort fell short of what Douglas was trying to do. He was trying to present Jesus as the answer to the pressing moral and psychological problems of his age, and yet he did little more than make that claim – in many ways, and from a number of angles. He let us know that he thought Christ was the answer, but he didn’t connect the dots for us. He didn’t tell us precisely how Jesus can help us in contemporary times.

The raw materials were there. You can spot them throughout the book. But he had not yet figured out how to put them together into a coherent message.

He wrote that Christ was the Light of the World and that there was no one else in history who spoke like Jesus did or who related to people the way he did. He wrote that, in order to follow Jesus, we need to do the things he taught. He said that our creeds barely touch on Christ’s teachings; and at any rate, reciting creeds about Jesus does not get us any closer to following him, just as electricians would never get anywhere by declaring their belief in Volta or Faraday; they can only generate electricity by doing what Volta or Faraday said.

As to Christ’s teachings themselves, Douglas said that they were directed to different classes of people, depending on their gifts and abilities. He said that Jesus taught us to “launch out into the deep” and “make large demands on life,” recognizing that we have heavy responsibilities. He said that we should be able to sense Christ’s nearness when we’re at our place of employment, but also in our leisure time. This presence would establish a kingdom within us here and now – a domain that would banish fear and motivate us to live by the Golden Rule.

But it was all so vague! He talked around and around the subject but never quite helped his readers to connect. He was trying to convey something that he, himself, hadn’t quite come to terms with, even though he had experienced it in his own life.

When I say that the raw materials were there, I can point out no better example than his comments on the early verses of Matthew 6, in which Christ talks about doing our alms in secret. As I told you in an earlier post, Douglas himself had practiced that for years – so successfully, in fact, that it took me a lot of detective work in order to uncover just one of his secret projects. (See the PDF mentioned at the bottom of this page for more details.) And it had clearly made a difference in his life. But he still hadn’t put the pieces together; he still didn’t understand how to help others experience what he had experienced.

In These Sayings of Mine, he writes:

There is a peculiar psychology involved here which baffles explanation. Do your good deed and keep it a secret. You will achieve a great deal of satisfaction. Tell somebody you did it, and you divide your joy in half. Tell a dozen, and the joy is all gone. Whoever wishes to elucidate this mystery is welcome to the materials. One simply knows that it is true.

These Sayings of Mine, p. 224

Again, after a guy named Jones does a good deed…

All day Jones goes about in a sort of golden mist. Never had he done anything in his life that gave him this particular kind of spiritual satisfaction. In the evening his closest friend and neighbor drops in for a call…. So Jones tells the story; and even while he is telling it, he feels the ecstatic joy of the thing gradually oozing out! Why? Who knows? But it is true. One can depend upon whatever Jesus said about these practical considerations. He was an astute and infallible psychologist.

Ibid., p. 225

We know that Douglas himself wasn’t satisfied with what he wrote here because he ended up writing an entire book about it – a book that remained a bestseller for years and is still in print, almost 100 years later. That book was Douglas’s breakthrough, not because it made him famous but because it helped him put his great idea into words. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

For now, in 1926, Douglas published a book that promised or hinted at what was coming. And it seems to me that there was a particular reason why he wasn’t able to piece it all together yet: because he was still approaching the problem as a minister. He needed more practice thinking about the everyday lives of regular people. And he got it… in some unexpected ways. I’ll tell you about that in the next few posts.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C. Douglas, fill out the form below:

Lloyd Douglas’s Views on Immortality

by Ronald R Johnson (

While at the First Congregational Church of Akron, Ohio, from 1921 to 1926, Lloyd Douglas shared the following thoughts about immortality:

I have told you that we can add length to our earthly days through altruistic service; that whatever may be the nature of our future life, we know enough about this life to be assured that men do not quickly die and leave no trace who, in the quest of the Christian ideal, have contributed something of their hope and faith and work to the generation in which they had lived.

I have taught you that belief in a life beyond this world is consistent with orderly thought on the present values and duties of our earthly day; that it is inconceivable God would so endow us with this eternal hope and disappoint us in the end with death.

Lloyd C Douglas, “Five Years of Akron,” in The Living Faith (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin/Riverside Press, 1955), pp. 91-92.

He did encourage his flock to hold the standard view of immortality (that they would live on in some spiritual form in the world beyond), but he also wanted them to live in such a way that they would be long remembered in this world. He wanted them to sow seeds in this world that would sprout and blossom long after they were gone. And it was this aspect of “immortality” that seemed to appeal to him more than the other.

(On a side note, I reached out to his daughters, Betty and Virginia, while they were still alive, back in the mid-1980s, and told them how much I appreciated their biography of their father. Virginia wrote me a wonderful note in reply, and she was especially thrilled at the realization that her father was still “so alive” in my thoughts. “What an immortality!” she exclaimed. And since I’m still writing about him on a daily basis decades later (in the 2020’s), and you’re reading it – and some of you have reached out to me to let me know that he’s still alive in your thoughts – I guess he knew what he was talking about.)

But as provocative as this view of immortality is, he still had more work to do on the concept. He didn’t know it, but he was one step away from the idea that would make him a household name: the concept of investing in other people’s lives and thereby empowering both parties. The interpersonal nature of Christian faith would soon become central to his thinking, and when it did, it would give deeper meaning to his views on immortality. But he wasn’t there yet. As I’ve said before, Douglas did his best thinking at the typewriter. He had a bit more writing to do before this idea would become fully conscious.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C. Douglas, fill out the form below:

Lloyd Douglas’s Views on God and the Bible

by Ronald R Johnson (

The Christian Faith that Lloyd Douglas taught his Akron congregation (1921-1926) was not the kind of thing you’d have found in most of the other churches in town. Here’s an example, from “Five Years of Akron,” in The Living Faith (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin/Riverside Press, 1955):

I have attempted to present an idea of Deity which portrays Him as a conscious kinetic energy, speaking to the world through all the media of His creation; not a parochial Jehovah, or Zeus, or Apollo, especially concerned with the welfare of any particular class of people at any particular time in history – but a Universal Father of all mankind.

And, because I have so believed, I have made no effort to disguise my opinion that every alleged quotation of God’s voice, reported in holy books (ours or any other’s) which reveals Him as a parochial God, or engaged in any thought or action not consonant with the thoughts and acts of a cosmic and universal God – is no more to be believed or credited, because written several thousand years ago by some pious shepherd, than if it were to have been written yesterday afternoon on some preacher’s typewriter.

This, of course, meant that he was not committed to the infallibility of Holy Writ:

I have taught that the Bible is a library of impressions which certain men have had concerning Deity and their relation to Him. I have not believed these men to have been invariably inspired or supernally endowed with wisdom from on high.

You might assume, then, that he didn’t value the Bible, but he actually did. He took it very seriously. And because he did, he assumed that we could experience God and learn from God today, in our own way:

I have taught that Livingstone knew more about God than Jeremiah; that Pasteur had discovered more divine secrets than Joshua; that Faraday had been at closer grips with the Creator than Solomon; that Phillips Brooks knew as much about the real spirit of Christ as did Paul of Tarsus. I have tried to get religion into the present time. I have wanted you to hear and see God at work in contemporaneous life.

Notice how he appeals to the history of science. From 1920 onwards, Douglas routinely held up scientists as examples of how to seek the truth. Here he mentions David Livingstone (the Scottish physician, Congregationalist, and Christian missionary), Louis Pasteur (the French chemist and microbiologist who gave us the process of pasteurization, along with a lot of other things), and Michael Faraday (the English scientist who discovered the basic principles of electricity). While some may chafe at the invidious comparison he makes between these historical figures and certain biblical characters, what he’s saying is literally true: Livingstone had the whole Bible available to him, as well as two thousand years of church history, and therefore should have known more about God than Jeremiah did; we all should. Pasteur certainly “discovered more divine secrets than Joshua,” whose strength wasn’t in probing the Divine Mind, after all. Faraday was “at closer grips with the Creator than Solomon,” who, at any rate, wasn’t among the Bible’s greatest exemplars.

But we are especially challenged by Douglas’s last comparison: Phillips Brooks was an Episcopalian Bishop, best known as the Rector of Trinity Church in Boston. Those who knew him said he was a great man. But in what sense did he know “as much about the real spirit of Christ as did Paul of Tarsus”? It all comes down to this: “I have tried to get religion into the present time. I have wanted you to hear and see God in contemporaneous life.” That’s the point: not to place biblical characters far above us and, by so doing, disqualify ourselves from participation in the life they exemplified; but to present the gospel as a going concern here and now.

Which leads us to the question, “What did Douglas teach about Christ?” I’ll share that with you in the next post.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

The People in the Pews at Ann Arbor

by Ronald R Johnson (

In the series of lectures Lloyd Douglas delivered at various universities as a representative of the YMCA, and in his “Sermonettes” in the Daily Illini (the student paper at the University of Illinois), we can glimpse Douglas’s emerging theology. There wasn’t a lot of meat to it yet, but one principle came through quite clearly: he believed that the new state universities were engaged in a day-to-day discovery of the truth.

Therefore, when he went back into active ministry in April/May 1915, it’s no coincidence that he accepted a call to be the Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, adjacent to the University of Michigan. And what an opportunity this was! Many of his parishioners were members of either the faculty or the administration of the university. The list below is from a booklet Douglas published for university students in the fall of 1916. It’s available online; you can view it by clicking the following link: L.C. Douglas, Congregationalism at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: Michigan Congregational Conference/First Congregational Church, 1916).

Here are the members who were in some way connected to the university:

The booklet then went on to list the students who were members of the congregation, from sophomores through seniors, as well as graduate students. There were several hundred names.

I look at it this way: Lloyd Douglas did his best thinking at the typewriter. He always typed out his sermons, even though (by all reports) he delivered them extemporaneously rather than just reading them. As he typed, he was keenly aware of his audience. When he rehearsed his sermons, usually on Saturday afternoons, he must have crafted them with these people in mind: the faculty and administrators I’ve listed above, as well as the hundreds of students in the balcony. From his daughters’ testimony we know that, after the service on Sunday mornings, he and his wife and daughters would walk home without speaking, but as soon as they got home, he debriefed, telling his wife Besse the specific reactions he saw on his parishioners’ faces to this or that part of the sermon. (His daughters give us a vivid description of this in the opening chapter of their book, The Shape of Sunday: An Intimate Biography of Lloyd C Douglas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952).)

We also know that he was willing to change his mind, sometimes on very important matters, and that he usually did it by reflecting on something he himself had preached or published earlier. The progression followed this pattern: he would make a strong statement in a sermon or magazine article and then, on a later date, would disagree with that statement, sometimes even quoting what he had said on the earlier occasion, although he never told his audience that the person he was refuting was himself. He did this at a few key moments in his life, and (in my estimation) his later views were an improvement.

During his years at Ann Arbor, however, I believe we see this happening on a smaller, subtler scale. The years 1915-1921 were the core of Douglas’s education. He did some important thinking during this period, and he did it in full view of the faculty and administration of one of the Midwest’s most influential state universities. As he typed out his beliefs, he did so with this audience in mind, and when he delivered the message to them on Sunday morning, he was very tuned-in to their reactions, self-correcting as needed. The reactions of this audience were especially pertinent because he wasn’t just preaching the old, old gospel in the old, old way. He was trying to communicate the message of Jesus Christ to people on the cutting edge of twentieth century scholarship (both the sciences and the humanities) and bring it to bear on the lives they were actually living on weekdays. Although he was always trying to reach students, he now began to focus his energies especially on the faculty. They were the ones most on his mind as he prepared his sermons. (He told us this in his “Third Commandment” in an article called, “Ten Commandments for the College Church.” Click the link to see the article in full.) And by preaching to the faculty, he became more mature as a thinker and a representative of Jesus Christ to the modern world.

But he also knew he had a responsibility to reach the townspeople not involved with the university, and he did that, as well. I’ll tell you more in the next post.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

What Do You Want for Christmas?

woman with christmas gifts beside decorated fir tree
Photo by Laura James on

by Ronald R Johnson (

Quotable Quotes from Lloyd C. Douglas

From a sermon entitled, “What Do You Want for Christmas?” preached at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday, December 14, 1919:

How would a wish like this strike you? To wish for some added grace of character that would make people love you, not for anything you had on, or for the house you happened to live in, or the material possessions you were known to command, but just because you are you.

So that, if the clothes go out of style, or the moth eats them up, or the house burns down, or panic upsets business, and rust corrodes your machinery – you will still be possessed of a grace of character that will make people respect you, and have confidence in you, and be glad when you come into the room where they are, and sorry when you leave.

The ability to wake up every morning with a smile and go to sleep every night with peace of mind and satisfaction of heart.

How would you like a gift that would ensure your happiness, in all kinds of weather; that would hold you independent of the inroads of little disappointments – a sort of perpetual guarantee against despair and dissatisfaction?

Somehow, I believe that if we might today choose, for a Christmas gift, absolutely anything we really wanted, to last us for life, this gift that I have been talking about would meet the demand.

Well, you may have it! Take it, and welcome.

Lloyd C Douglas, “What Do You Want for Christmas?” in Lloyd C. Douglas Papers, Sermons [4], Box 3, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

Seems like an abrupt ending, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t he have invited his listeners to come to Christ in that moment? But that was never his way. Douglas was always careful not to “stampede” people (his word) into making a commitment while under the emotional influence of the architecture, the music, and (yes) his own God-given eloquence. He wanted his listeners to continue thinking about it after the service was over, and to hear his question ringing in their ears above the noise of traffic as they headed home. If they truly didn’t know the next step, then he hoped they’d make an appointment with him to discuss it. But he trusted his material (the sermon he had been given) to continue doing its work after it was over.

So here it is, a hundred years later, still doing its work. What do you want for Christmas?

For a free PDF of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill in the form below:


by Ronald R Johnson (

Lloyd C Douglas in 1910. From Virginia Douglas Dawson and Betty Douglas Wilson, The Shape of Sunday: An Intimate Biography of Lloyd C Douglas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952).

It was officially 98 degrees in Washington, DC, that day (107 degrees on “the street kiosk”), but the members of Luther Place Memorial Church must have stopped fanning themselves when they heard the announcement. It was Sunday, July 2, 1911, and as their young pastor, Lloyd C Douglas, ended his sermon and was about to begin administering the sacrament, he said these words, according to the next day’s Times Herald. They are remarkable for their brevity:

“This morning I celebrate the feast of the Lord’s Supper with you for the last time. Probably, too, it will be the last time I shall officiate in this capacity in our church.”

In less than half a minute, he told them two important pieces of information: (1) that he was resigning as pastor, and (2) that he was leaving the ministry of the Lutheran Church. He continued:

“For I have concluded, after most thorough and prayerful attention to a call to the University of Illinois to become religious work director of the Student Christian Association, that it is my duty to accept.”

A little less than two years earlier, he had been given an opportunity to lead this flagship church in the nation’s capital, and now he was throwing it all away to become a campus minister.

From the Washington Post:

“Hardly had the minister concluded his resignation when members of the church surrounded him and pleaded with him to give up the call. The officials of the church were loudest in their insistence that he remain, declaring that he was as much needed in this city as in his new field. To these claims Mr. Douglas replied that he had already accepted the call from the Young Men’s Christian Association and could not alter his decision now.”

From the Washington Herald:

“‘It seems clearly God’s own call,’ said one of the leading members afterward. ‘We are honored, though the regret in having Mr. Douglas go, just as he has really got well started with us, is sincere and universal in Luther Place Memorial Church.’”

From the Washington Times:

“‘I leave my church here with much regret, but I feel that my duty lies in the new field,’ said the pastor. ‘My relations with the church here are most pleasant and only the urgency of the call leads me to leave.’

The reporters at the Washington, DC papers had not yet become either as aggressive or as persistent as they would be in later years, for they all seemed to suspect that there was more to the story, but none of them pursued it. Douglas was giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Luther Place, and his new job at the YMCA was a downward move, although he did his best to make it sound important.

A letter he received from the White House put it in perspective. The note came from Charles D Hilles, secretary to President Taft. “While I congratulate the University on securing your services,” Hilles said, “I very much regret that we in Washington are to lose you. I have no doubt that your pre-eminent success with young men fits you for the task you are about to assume. If I did not know of your fondness for such work, I should be unable to account for your departure from the fine old church in Washington.”

There it was: yes, we know you’re fond of working with young people; and yes, we know you’ll do well. But even taking those factors into consideration, we are “unable to account for your departure.”

It was a different day and time than the one we live in now. No one seriously pressed him about it. But their suspicions were correct: there was more to the story.

For although Douglas had strong feelings about the YMCA and had even been considering working for them when the Luther Place opportunity fell in his lap, this career move was about far more than that. Lloyd Douglas was at a crossroads – mentally, spiritually, and professionally. For reasons known only to himself and his wife Besse, he could no longer continue on his current trajectory. Over the next five blog posts, I’ll tell you about those reasons.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

Are You a Man? Then Read This

by Ronald R Johnson (

In January 1908, Lloyd Douglas began a series of Sunday afternoon lectures designed specifically for men. The Lancaster Eagle reported him saying that “there are many men in the city who have nowhere to go on Sunday afternoon, and who would be glad to avail themselves of the opportunity to spend an hour hearing good music and a sermon-lecture of a popular nature.” If this seems unlikely, bear in mind that most public places were closed on Sundays, and this was the dead of winter. The Gazette added Douglas’s suggestion that there were some men “who may find it more convenient to attend a church service on Sunday afternoon than at the regular hours of service, and who might be more inclined to attend a men’s meeting than one designed for a mixed audience.” The day before the first meeting, the Eagle said that there would be a large male chorus led by “Prof. E. R. Barrington, the noted baritone of Columbus.”

To help spread the word about these meetings, Douglas had the following cards printed, which were handed out to men on the street. The first page was really a half-page, and the man to whom it was handed was invited to flip open the page:

Although it’s hard to believe that anyone would take the time to do this, apparently some men did, perhaps because they were intrigued. They stopped “within” (probably the church) and were given a flyer describing the upcoming meetings:

Then they went outside and handed the “Are You a Man?” card to the next male who passed by.

(This was just the kind of thing Douglas loved, by the way: one person not affiliated with the church handing an invitation to someone equally a stranger to the church. He used something similar years later in his novel, Green Light, when Dean Harcourt of Trinity Cathedral would have a counseling session with a woman who was not a churchgoer, then, on her way out, ask her to introduce the next person who had come for counseling.)

This passing-of-the-cards technique, although interesting, was not the primary way that Douglas got the word out; he also prepared a number of press releases in the days leading up to the meetings, and the local papers ran them. He doesn’t seem to have run any paid advertisements; he didn’t need to. The articles raised enough interest on their own.

When the first meeting was held on Sunday, January 5, 1908, at 3:15 pm at the First English Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Ohio, the Eagle reported it as “the largest assemblage of men ever seen in a Lancaster church edifice… beyond all expectations, the seating capacity of the church auditorium being overtaxed, even the gallery of the church which has not been occupied for many months had to be thrown open and was well filled… It was an inspiring sight to see such a large audience of intellectual men and thrilling to hear the songs as they were rendered by that multitude of male voices.” Another paper (presumably the Gazette) declared the event “a great success” and counted “about four hundred men in attendance.”

Douglas told the story of Esau and his brother Jacob from a man’s perspective. He called Jacob “a mama’s boy.”

“To me,” he said, “one of the most unfortunate mistakes parents can make in their attitude toward their children is to single out one or two and to treat them as favorites.

“I have heard it said many a time, and so have you:

“‘Yes, Jimmy is mama’s boy. Johnny and Billy and Annie and Susie all run after their father but Jimmy is mama’s boy, ain’t you Jimmy?’

“And Jimmy replies truthfully and awkwardly that the allegation is correct.”

“I see a future for Jimmy that is neither bright nor dim – just a sweet twilight. People will say of Jimmy to their own sons:

“‘See here, Thomas, why don’t you keep clean, and play in the house, and say “Yes, ma’am,” and “If you please” like Jimmy does?’

“And so all the boys will come to hate Jimmy…”

Jacob’s brother Esau, on the other hand, “was a born sportsman. As a boy he wandered the fields with his bow and knife. No tent for him. He belonged to the sunshine, and he meant to live in it.”

And with this down-to-earth introduction, Douglas told the story of Jacob cheating his brother out of his birthright. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the story told the way Douglas told it, but it must’ve held the attention of the four hundred men sitting shoulder-to-shoulder that day, for the following week one of the papers said that the church “lacked seating capacity for the large audience that attended,” and another paper reported “one hundred more” in attendance than the previous week.

His messages continued to defy prediction. From the story of Judas Iscariot, for example, he extracted the unusual question, “What do you think about when you’re alone?… What are you thinking about when you take that long walk by yourself out into the country and sit down on some hilltop to survey the landscape?” In reply to his own question, he said, “Show me a stenographic report of five minutes’ meditation up there, and I believe I can tell you what kind of a man you are.”

From the New Testament story of Ananias and Sapphira, he ended up talking about what happens when you let your insurance policy lapse, and then he used that as a metaphor to explain why he thought deathbed confessions were useless.

The fourth and final Sunday he preached on “The Failure of a Loan and Trust Company,” which turned out to be about the Parable of the Talents.

As one of the local papers remarked, “Men of every church in the city have united heartily in these meetings and there have been many men in attendance who have no regular church homes. Perhaps it has been the stirring music, perhaps the peculiar nature of the addresses, perhaps the mere novelty of a service distinctly for men – that has brought forth all this enthusiasm, but whatever it is, the audiences are so large that it has become quite a problem to accommodate them in the church…”

Another unusual feature of the series was the fact that each sermon was printed in full, a day or two later, by one of the local papers.

After the fourth week, as the newspapers noted, Douglas stopped the afternoon meetings but promised to continue the series “at the regular Sunday evening services to which everybody is invited. During the month of February he will deliver sermon-lectures on the theme, ‘Mistakes of Great Men,’ and it is safe to predict that the church will be filled at each service.”

The newspapers reported that he was, indeed, “greeted with a full house” the next Sunday evening, and later in the month “the church was crowded to its utmost capacity” for the evening service – this despite the fact that the United Churchmen’s League of Lancaster, using the momentum caused by Douglas’s afternoon meetings, held a series of its own afternoon lectures for men in the city hall auditorium throughout the month of February. Speakers from around the region (Columbus, Dayton) were invited, and attendance was good at those events, too.

What’s significant about this is that Douglas’s afternoon lectures raised enough interest to sustain not only his own evening services but also a continuation of the men’s meetings, even in his absence. But no one forgot the role he played in getting the men’s meetings started, and when he was invited back to give another lecture at the United Churchmen’s League a few weeks later, the minister who introduced him called him “the godfather” of the afternoon men’s meetings. (This means something very different in our day, thanks to Francis Ford Coppola. They weren’t comparing Douglas to a mafia boss; they were recognizing his important role in getting the meetings started.)

The United Churchman’s League meetings quickly became focused on civic and moral (rather than religious) issues, and when Douglas addressed them a few weeks later, he used the opportunity to push for a more systematic board of charities for the city. The newspaper accounts say that he was interrupted numerous times by applause, and when he asked, at the conclusion, how many would support the board of charities, they gave him a standing ovation.

All of this shows how highly Douglas was regarded in Lancaster by Spring 1908, but there is one more subtle display of admiration that he did not fail to miss. While the “Are You a Man?” card is pasted into the inside front cover of his 1908-1909 scrapbook, he gave the scrapbook a wonderful symmetry by pasting this advertisement to the inside back cover. It was from a local shoe store:

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

Jesus’ Interest in Everyday Problems

by Ronald R Johnson (

From Lloyd C. Douglas, These Sayings of Mine (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926), pp. 55-56:

[A]ny man who desires friendship with Jesus should consider it a pleasant thought that the Master was so deeply concerned with the problems of men’s lifework. He knew where the fishing was best. He knew about the industrial problems of the vineyard. The little domestic cares of the homemaker were very real issues, in his regard. He had thought deeply about the problems of kings going to war, and ambitious men seeking to build tall towers with few brick. He could talk helpfully to shepherds; but that was not because he had the mind of a shepherd. He was not ill at ease in the presence of Nicodemus ben Gorion, probably the wisest old gentleman in Jerusalem. He who only yesterday was sitting on the edge of a fishing-boat, talking in terms of affectionate intimacy with a group of Galileans, this evening smiles at the mental chaos of the Holy City’s wisest seer and remarks: ‘Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?’ He was able to call the obscure Nathaniel by his name when he saw him sitting under the fig-tree. Jesus entered whole-heartedly into the problems of humanity.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

The Kind of Religion We Need

by Ronald R Johnson (

Quotable Quotes from Lloyd C. Douglas

From an article entitled, “That 100th Sheep,” published in The Lutheran Observer, July 6, 1906.

(A word of advice: read this passage a phrase at a time, pausing just as you would if you were reading it from the pulpit.)

A religion must now be taught that means more than Sunday and solemnity and hymn-books and the church confession; something vital, virile, living, to be harnessed to every day of the week; not an ideality, not a theory, not a multiplication of complexities; but a seven-day-in-the-week affair that can be passed over the counter in the store and through the wicket at the bank and along the keen-edged tools in the shop. A Gospel must be preached whose warp will stand the strain of being woven into the woof of every-day living on the slow-plodding loom of human experience; and any other doctrine than this will not make the church evangelical, or assist in the restoration of That One-Hundredth Sheep.

For a free PDF copy of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill out the form below:

An Ironic Twist on ‘They Know Not What They Do’

by Ronald R Johnson (

Quotable Quotes from Lloyd C. Douglas

From These Sayings of Mine (1926), pp. 32-33. He’s talking about the crucifixion of Christ:

In that seemingly pitiful moment, as he died, he freely forgave his persecutors. ‘They know not what they do,’ said he. It was true. Had they known, they would not have done it. For whereas, up to that hour, this new ideal had been a localized aspiration that went about in the keep of a certain individual, now it was released. Now it was free to go its way. Now it was a thing that had wings at the top and roots at the bottom. Any chance breeze would carry it and any soil would reproduce it. So it was borne, by slave-galley and barge and caravan, to the outposts of civilization; and then, not content with the sluggish pace of mystics who carried it for its own sake, the new ideal took passage with pioneers and adventurers, riding with them across uncharted seas, over trackless deserts, and through unblazed forests, until it had girdled the world!

It spread until the story of its founder was known in countless homes wherein the far-flung fame of Alexander, Plato, and the Caesars had never received so much attention as a single syllable of scorn. It spread until the names of the squalid little hamlets through which he had walked on his errands of mercy were household words among multiplied thousands who had never heard of Athens or Memphis or Phoenicia. It spread until even the humble fisher-folk who had trudged at his side in Galilee were figures to be enshrined in marble by the world’s master sculptors.

Religion and government had put him to death as a disturber of the peace. No man then living survived long enough to realize just how great a disturber of the peace he was…

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