Remembering David Pawson
Life is too often non predictable. The same is true of death. Earlier this week I received news of the passing of Ravi Zacharias and today it was David Pawson. Both I regarded as spiritual giants, an accolade I give to few. Their ministries were different; some may disagree but Ravi was first and foremost a Christian apologist and David was a Bible expositor. Both had ministries reaching across international and church boundaries; both could engage effectively with non Christians and both were the leading lights in their particular areas.
Check out Wikipedia to find out more about David Pawson. I don’t remember when I first come across David but it must have been over forty years ago and it was in the context of Bible teaching and that was the case in every subsequent encounter. I read several of his books down the years, something I can’t say about possibly any other Bible teacher. What he did for me was open up and expound on important subjects in ways that were rarely bettered. I often found myself agreeing with him on subjects where Christians often disagree e.g.: Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Hell, Women in Leadership, Israel, Islam. And yet there were also subjects where I disagreed e.g. the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Israel can do no wrong (or so it seemed) and the idea of Christians losing their salvation. The one thing we must never do is put people on a pedestal and no doubt David would agree he was not perfect (personally, I sometimes found him needlessly, dogmatically irritating despite usually agreeing). But importantly, he opened up key subjects and drew out important points, creating an excellence that was rarely surpassed.
It happens my current writing project requires I go through the whole Bible. When I start on a new book of the Bible, I usually go to David Pawson’s YouTube series – Unlocking the Bible (here for the Old Testament and here for the New Testament) to get the main points, backround and structure etc. Does he cover all one might want or need to know – almost certainly not by a long way, but then no one could given the size of these videos (30-40 minutes for each book, sometimes two for a larger book). But what I have found amazing is the thoroughness of his coverage and the way he draws out the main points. Despite my knowing the Bible well compared to my peers, he brings out new stuff exposing the shallowness of my understanding. There is no doubt that he knew his subject well and had understanding of world events. It would have been a huge undertaking to have got to the level he had and then to be able to communicate precious truth to eager listeners, but he managed it. I cannot comment on his non public life but the thing that struck me about David was he was faithful to his Lord; it counting more for him than popularity, for no doubt he ruffled many feathers.
I daresay there will be many paying tribute to David Pawson. He wasn’t afraid of tackling controversial topics, encouraging those who heard him not just to believe anything that he taught, but rather read and imbibe the Bible for themselves, evidenced no doubt when in later years (up to his death, aged 90) he worked hard to make his teaching materials widely available, e.g. via the Internet, which many more besides me will have benefited from. I have no doubt he leaves a marvelous legacy. It will be interesting to read what others have to say about the man, especially those who knew him. The Lord only knows and time will tell what that legacy will be. It should be added that while David’s teaching stretched my mind, it also touched my heart. He not only knew his Bible; he knew the God of the Bible. I thank that same God for giving us David Pawson and, as yet another of His dear servants parts this life and enters their rest, I pray the Lord will raise up others to carry on that good work.