The Pastoral Predicament Of Vavasor Powell (1617-1670): Eschatological Fervor And Its Relationship To The Pastoral Ministry -- By: Michael A. Milton

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:3 (Sep 2000)
Article: The Pastoral Predicament Of Vavasor Powell (1617-1670): Eschatological Fervor And Its Relationship To The Pastoral Ministry
Author: Michael A. Milton


The Pastoral Predicament Of
Vavasor Powell (1617-1670):
Eschatological Fervor And Its Relationship To The Pastoral Ministry

Michael A. Miltona

The dawn of a new millennium, the almost staggering proliferation of popular “Christian novels” about end-time events, some Christian magazine publisher’s willingness to accept commodities brokers’ advertisements that seek to sell gold and other precious metals to tremulous Christians (as a hedge in the possibility of an economic meltdown or some other possible catastrophe), as well as the millennial madness that invariably accompanies such epochal moments in history, have all led, it seems, to a heightened interest in matters eschatological. Moreover, the widely heralded collapse of a moral and ethical center in Western society has combined with the end-time speculation to produce an era of great fascination in the end of the world.

It is also a fitting time for pastoral practitioners, pedagogues, and seminarians to ask questions about the relationship of eschatological fervor and the pastoral ministry. This is, in fact, the theme of this essay. The present paper is not about the preference of one eschatological scheme over another, not is it about exegetical controversies surrounding the study of last things. This article rather will seek to expose, through historical case study and theological reflection, excesses and subsequent problems that arise from an unbalanced approach to eschatology in the pastoral ministry and then aim to encourage a Biblical balance between “Blessed Hope” teaching and the contemporary pastoral task. The setting for the study will be a very ripe time for both Reformed confessional orthodoxy and sectarian heterodoxy: mid-17th century England and Wales. Moreover, I want to lift certain events from the ministry and life and times of one, Vavasor Powell (1617–1670), a 17th century Welsh Puritan pastor and evangelist, and apply them to my subject in this paper.

1. The Life And Ministry Of Vavasor Powell

Sadly, there are no portraits or drawings of any kind of Vavasor Powell. From his remains and from the writings of his peers, however, we can gather that Vavasor Powell was a non-conformist minister born in Kuncklas in the parish of Heyop, Radnorshire, in Wales in the year 1617. Educated by his Uncle

Erasmus Howell, vicar of Clun, Shropshire and, by at least one account, at Jesus College, Oxford, Powell returned to Clun in 1637 to become a schoolmaster.

In the years 1638–39 he was deeply influenced by the evangelistic preaching of the great Welsh minister Walter Cradock (c. 1606–1659) and the writings of th...

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