It is the 17th of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Sam Leanza Ortiz, filling in for Dan van Voorhis, who is on vacation.
It is always a joy to recount the saving work of Christ, and today we will do just that as we remember the conversion of Charles Edward Fuller on this day in 1917.
Charles Edward Fuller was born to Henry Fuller and Helen Maria Day Fuller on April 25, 1887, in Los Angeles, California. The devout Presbyterian family moved inland to Redlands, California, when Charles was still a young child.
Like many Californians in the early twentieth century, the Fuller family found success in the profitable citrus groves throughout the southland. Charles had every intention of continuing his father's success, as he graduated from Pomona College in 1910 with a degree in chemistry.
He married Grace Leone Payton in 1911 and eventually branched out to the citrus packing industry.
His life changed in 1917 when boxer turned preacher Paul Rader began holding revival meetings at Reuben Archer Torrey’s Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles. On July 17, Rader preached on Ephesians 1:18, presenting the glorious riches of the saints who are called to the faith.
Reflecting on the sermon, Fuller wrote, "There has come a complete change into my life. Sunday, I went up to Los Angeles and heard Paul Rader preach. I never heard such a sermon in all my life. Ephesians 1:18. Now my whole life aims and ambitions are changed.”
Fuller put action to these words in 1919, when he enrolled at the Los Angeles Bible Institute, now known as BIOLA. There, he sat under the tutelage of R.A. Torrey, who impressed upon him the importance of never preaching a sermon “without bringing in the Cross of Christ.”
This wisdom served him well as he entered the ministry, first at Placentia Presbyterian. When his fundamentalist teachings became a source of tension within the congregation, Fuller pursued ordination in the Baptist Bible Union and became pastor at Calvary Church, Placentia.
From Calvary, Fuller began his radio ministry in the 1920s, first conceived as “The Pilgrim’s Hour.” Then, in 1937, he shifted his energies to the Old Fashioned Revival Hour, hosted through Mural Network.
While Fuller had shifted his life's ambitions post-conversion, he retained his amazing sense of organization and business acumen that propelled his gospel message. As the Revival Hour grew in listenership, he founded the Gospel Broadcasting Association to produce and promote his content – such that by the mid-1940s, upwards of 20 million people turned in weekly to hear Fuller's program, and the show was syndicated by major radio networks, like ABC and CBS.
Southern Californians and visitors could be treated to live recordings of the program from 1941 to 1958, as Fuller opted to broadcast from the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.
As if pastoring and hosting a national radio ministry were not enough, Fuller founded the Fuller Theological Seminary in 1947. Named after his father, Henry, the school sought to find a place between the hardline fundamentalists of the day and the liberal drift of mainline modernism.
The business mind of Fuller, combined with the intellectual muscle of Harold J. Ockenga, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, led to the creation of the largest nondenominational seminary in the world. Opening with a class of 39 students, the seminary now boasts an alumni base of over 40,000.
Energetic to the end, Charles Fuller continued broadcasting the Old Fashioned Revival Hour until his death in March 1968, when he entered into his heavenly inheritance, secured through faith in Christ alone on this day in 1917.
The last word for today comes from Ephesians 1, which proclaims the saving power of God’s Holy Word.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 17th of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie.
This episode was written and read by Sam Leanza Ortiz.
You can catch us here every day. And remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.