A Reformation & Revival Journal Interview with Earle E. Cairns -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 12:2 (Spring 2003)
Article: A Reformation & Revival Journal Interview with Earle E. Cairns
Author: Anonymous


A Reformation & Revival Journal
Interview with Earle E. Cairns

In March I interviewed Dr. Earle E. Cairns, long-time chairman of the history department at Wheaton College, and author of Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church (Zondervan), a widely-used general Church history textbook (250,000 plus copies in English sold). Dr. Cairns was a consulting editor for the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, with James D. Douglas. He also wrote An Endless Line of Splendor: Revivals and Their Leaders from the Great Awakening to the Present. His most recent book is A Reader’s Guide to the Bible.

—John H. Armstrong

R R J —Tell us about your background, your childhood, your family and your Christian heritage.

E E C —I was a Canadian, brought up in Manitoba on a wheat farm. I go back to the days of kerosene lamps. The weather was very cold. I remember one cold winter when the snow was packed up to eight feet in our driveway. It was packed so hard from the storms that our horses could walk on those deep snow piles. It was sometimes forty degrees below

zero in the wintertime so I had to learn to cope with some difficult conditions.

My father farmed and my mother took care of him and our family. It was her influence that caused me to become a Christian. My father came to faith later on. He was quieter.

I went to grade school and high school in Canada. I then attended Bible School in Canada. This particular school no longer exists.

You did not know Framer Smith who did the revision work on the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, but he came to visit my wife’s father, who was a pastor in Philadelphia for years. On that visit he urged me to attend Omaha Seminary in Nebraska. I went to Omaha and finished an A. B. degree and seminary degree. I then applied to the University of Nebraska and did my work in history on my Ph.D. I worked as an assistant and also served a church each Sunday in Dunbar, Nebraska.

R R J —What did you do your research on in your doctoral program?

E E C —I studied missions in South Africa for the M. A. and specialized in the work of the London Missions Society in the nineteenth century for my Ph.D. I was able to tie together missions and events in African history of generations of African leaders trained by the missionaries. It was the Africa Anglican [Episcopal] Church that took the Western Church to task for their favoring of the homosexual agenda in the larger Church body.

R R J —Was your doctoral work e...

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