While coming up with a list of favorite pastors for this series, there was always one who was a “shoo-in,” one who I never had to debate on whether or not I would include on this list. The man to whom I’m referring passed away today at the age of 90 to be in the presence of Jesus. Of course, I’m talking about none other than the legendary Charles Stanley.
Dr. Charles Frazier Stanley was a renowned pastor, theologian, and author who has been serving as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, since 1971. He was born on September 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Stanley received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond in 1955 and then earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958. He also received a Doctor of Theology degree from Luther Rice Seminary in 1972.
Dr. Stanley is best known for his practical and insightful teaching of Christian faith and living. He had authored over 60 books, including “The Blessings of Brokenness,” “How to Handle Adversity,” and “Success God’s Way.” He also founded In Touch Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to spreading the gospel worldwide through various media platforms, including television, radio, and the internet.
Charles Stanley has had a long history with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
In 1958, Stanley was ordained as a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention and has been an active member of the denomination throughout his career. He served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984 to 1986, and he has been a vocal supporter of the SBC’s conservative theological positions, particularly on issues such as biblical inerrancy and the exclusivity of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
However, Stanley’s relationship with the SBC has not been without controversy. In the 1990s, he was involved in a high-profile dispute with the denomination’s leadership over using his In Touch television program to solicit donations, which was against SBC policy at the time. Stanley ultimately resigned as a trustee of the SBC’s International Mission Board in 2000 over disagreements with the board’s leadership.
Despite these tensions, Stanley had remained a prominent figure in the Southern Baptist Convention and remained committed to its mission and values.
Dr. Stanley had received numerous awards and honors for his own ministry, including induction into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1988 and being named “Best Atlanta Pastor” by Atlanta magazine in 2016.
Stanley stepped down as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in 2020. While he would no longer be the primary Sunday morning teaching pastor, he held the supporting role of “pastor emeritus” while occasionally helping out in his semi-retirement.
As mentioned, he died today, April 18, 2023, in his home at the age of 90.
Why Charles Stanley?
Dr. Stanley was one of the most significant pastoral voices in my early Christian life. After I had been saved in 1987, the Lord made sure I got acquainted with his In Touch broadcasts both on St. Louis radio (the station then known as WCBW) and on KNLC TV Channel 24, in which Stanley preached simple but Gospel-laden messages from his home church in Atlanta, Georgia.
While nowadays I’m clearly an advocate for and a fan of the expository method of reformed preaching, Stanley’s topical style definitely helped me out in my initial walk with Christ. He has had numerous teaching series on topics such as how to pray to God, how to develop godly character, how to find out God’s purpose and will for your life, and how to hear the voice of God.
It was these types of easy-to-digest yet Scripture-rich preaching subjects through Dr. Stanley’s warm, approachable, yet unflinching style that helped shape many of my fundamental beliefs and practical views of the Bible. That’s also why I still recommend his podcast episodes or videos to new believers. They’ll gain a wealth of spiritual direction in their formative months. Once they have a layer of good, Scriptural foundation laid down, I would wholeheartedly recommend other pastors, theologians, and authors for them to study further.
And it’s not just Stanley’s oral preaching that’s of benefit to younger followers of Jesus. He’s written some excellent reading materials over the years, including “The Spirit-Filled Life,” “30 Life Principles,” and “Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines: Follow God’s Blueprint for Living,” which are all recommended books for those who’ve recently been born again.
I hate to give this warning at the end of a blog article about Charles Stanley, but I must provide caution to readers about Charles’ son, Andy Stanley, who is a famous Atlanta-area pastor and Christian leader in his own right. Andy Stanley has been slowly creeping over the line of false teaching in recent years, given the exposure of his recent views that are anti-Old Testament, pro-homosexuality, pro-evolution, and also ones that hold doubts about the Bible being inerrant and reliable. Please exercise caution when listening to Andy Stanley. Better yet, stick with Charles Stanley, and you’ll be pretty safe.
In Touch Ministries:
Dr. Charles Stanley’s Bio Page: