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Adoniram Judson Gordon ("A.J.") was born in New Hampshire on April 13, 1836. His father, Baptist deacon John Calvin Gordon, was a Calvinist. His mother, Sally Robinson Gordon, was later described by this son as a "minister whose family (of twelve children) was her parish." They named their infant son to honor the first American foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson, also a Baptist, who persevered in the face of enormous hardships in Burma, and had recently completed a Burmese translation of the Bible.[1] A. J. Gordon was also a convert of John Nelson Darby.

Gordon was a pastor in Boston, an author, and the founder of Gordon College, a nondenominational Christian college in Wenham, Massachusetts. Today, the campus's A.J. Gordon Chapel honors their founder.[2] Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an interdenominational Christian evangelical theological seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, also bears his name.

He was a well-known and respected leader in Baptist circles and beyond due to his writings, his diverse philanthropies, his pulpit ministry, and especially his promotion of missions.[3]

In 1856, he attended Brown University and in 1860 entered Newton Theological Seminary. Upon graduation in 1863, he accepted a pastorate at Jamaica Plain, in Boston. That same year he and Mary (Maria) Hale were married and together until A.J.'s death. They had six children.

After six very successful years in his first pastorate, he went to pastor the famous Clarendon Street Baptist Church. It was there that he became noteworthy and remained as pastor for 25 years. His two alma maters conferred honorary doctorates on him: an A.B. degree from Brown University, and a B.D. degree from Newton Theological Seminary.[4]

Under Gordon's leadership, Clarendon Street Church was described as "one of the most spiritual and aggressive in America". He became a favored speaker in evangelist Dwight L. Moody's great Northfield conventions. Moody built his temporary preaching tabernacle across the street from the church Gordon pastored. A. B. Simpson, the great missionary evangelist, was also a friend of A. J. Gordon's.

On October 2, 1889, with the help and backing of Clarendon Street Church, he founded Gordon College (originally called Boston Missionary Training Institute). He served as its first president. His wife, Maria, described as an unusually able woman in her own right, became secretary and later treasurer, posts she held until 1908. He saw to it that there were no tuition charges. Gordon had a heart for developing women in Christian service, especially those called to preach and to be missionaries. He made sure that at Gordon College women were as welcome as men, unquestionably a very progressive policy for the times.[4] Today's Gordon College upholds that tradition of training women for ministries.

Gordon edited two hymn-books himself in order to enrich congregational singing at Clarendon Street church. He wrote the hymn-tunes for at least fifteen hymns, including "My Jesus, I Love Thee," a hymn that has been included in nearly every evangelical hymnal published from 1876 to the present time.[5]

In his book The Ministry of the Holy Spirit (foreword written by F. B. Meyer), Dr. Gordon wrote, "It seems clear from the Scriptures that it is still the duty and privilege of believers to receive the Holy Spirit by a conscious, definite act of appropriating faith, just as they received Jesus Christ."[6]

Probably his most remembered work is The Ministry of Healing,[6] a highly revered book on divine healing—physical, mental, and spiritual.[7]

He became suddenly ill with influenza and bronchitis and on February 2, 1895, he died in his 59th year.



One of his most often-quoted sayings still is "You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed."[8]

He lived by the following conviction or quote: "Nothing is Practical except the Spiritual, and nothing is Spiritual unless it is Practical."


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