In appreciation of Charles W. Koller, 1896–1983.

It is impossible for a good man, fully consecrated, thoroughly equipped, and performing his ministry with diligence and effectiveness, to remain hidden or unappreciated by men.” Charles W. Koller had just completed his first year as president of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago when he spoke these words to the graduating class of 1939. Although Koller’s name is not a household word, he has neither remained hidden nor unappreciated by thousands. As W. A. Criswell, pastor of the 20,000-member First Baptist Church, Dallas, said in a letter to his close friend, “Only eternity will reveal the immeasurable contribution you have made to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom. Your courageous, uncompromising spirit has been a blessing to all of us.” Koller died quietly in his sleep on May 19, at the age of 87.

Koller came to Northern Baptist Seminary when a courageous, uncompromising spirit was essential. Controversy raged through the American Baptist Convention (ABC), at that time called the Northern Baptist Convention, leading to a split that would produce the Conservative Baptist Association of America (CBA) in 1947. Pulled in two directions, Koller held tenaciously to a pure gospel and denominational loyalty to the ABC, insisting that the seminary remain within the ABC but maintain a doctrinal position that made him welcome as a Moody Founder’s Week speaker.

History shows how right Koller was, for his alumni now hold key positions in both the ABC and CBA. Northern alumni from the Koller years also hold key leadership positions in numerous seminaries, colleges, and parachurch organizations. These alumni include such men as Kenneth M. Meyer, president, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; George Sweeting, president, Moody Bible Institute; Donald Hescott, executive vice-president, Moody Bible Institute; H. Wilbert Norton, former dean, Wheaton Graduate School; Melvin Lorentzen, associate director, Billy Graham Center; Kenneth Taylor, president, Tyndale House and paraphraser of the Living Bible; O. Dean Nelson, former president, Central Baptist Theological Seminary; David J. Draewell, former president, North American Baptist Seminary; Gordon Johnson, dean, Bethel Theological Seminary; Carl Lundquist, former president, Bethel College and Seminary; T. Leonard Lewis, former president, Gordon College; C. Adrian Heaton, former president, American Baptist Seminary of the West; J. Edwin Orr, missionary educator; Torrey M. Johnson, founder, Youth for Christ; Warren W. Wiersbe, associate teacher, Back to the Bible Broadcast; and Carl F. H. Henry, noted theologian. Koller taught dozens of other professors and leaders.

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Part of Koller’s success in producing leaders was in his philosophy of “producing reproducers,” as Mel Lorentzen recalls. He had driven a stake out in front of him that said “train leaders,” and he moved everything toward that goal. Northern Baptist Seminary President William Myers marvels at the way Koller “was able to visualize the institution, its goals, the campus, the faculty, and its finances, and to get the best of each. Many marvel at the faculty he attracted with inadequate finances—people such as Harold Lindsell, Carl Henry, Torrey Johnson, and others, including Julius R. Mantey, Warren Young, Faris D. Whitesell, Peder Stiansen, W. Warren Filkin, Arnold Schultz, and T. Leonard Lewis—who left a profound mark on the Christian history of our times. Three of the four future editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY were faculty members at Northern during the Koller years.

Perhaps Koller’s most remembered contribution was in his teaching of preaching. Hundreds of future pastors and Christian leaders took his “Senior Preaching” course where he taught others what he had mastered so well, the art of expository preaching. Carl Lundquist spoke of this as “a desire to help ministers become effective preachers of the gospel, an able demonstrator of expository preaching at its best.” Warren Wiersbe told Koller in a letter, “It is impossible for me to measure my indebtedness to you as a teacher of preachers. You not only taught us how to preach, but you excited us and convinced us that preaching the Word is a high and holy calling.” koller’s book, Expository Preaching Without Notes (Baker), is in its thirteenth printing.

At the foundation of Koller’s effective ministry is a rock-solid man who consistently portrayed all that he preached and taught. He chose in his wife Selma the perfect model of a minister’s wife, and together they passed along the values they represented to their two daughters, Carolyn K. Schroeder, Ph.D., wife of Robert V. Schroeder, D.D.S., Dallas, Texas; and Evelyn K. Reeve, wife of the Reverend Virgil V. Reeve, Decatur, Illinois. David Draewell summarized what so many of us saw in the power of Koller’s personal presence: “You modeled for me the concern, graciousness, hospitality, competence, and basic lifestyle of a Christian minister. I attempt, though at times with somewhat feeble results, to pattern my service after the many good things I observed in your style of leadership.”

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At the death of J. L. Kraft, of Kraft Foods fame and fortune, and a prominent supporter of Northern Baptist Seminary, Koller said, “He demonstrated that greatness depends on achievement, achievement depends on character, and character depends on God. His life is written deep in the affections of those who knew him.” Those of us who knew him well, and worked with him closely, would bring those tributes to focus on Koller himself at this time.

Some 100 New York City ministers, priests, and rabbis, who serve as chaplains, have gone union. They said that part-time chaplains are receiving between $4,900 and $5,900 and those working full-time get between $15,000 and $28,000. A union organizer said that chaplains have no pay scales and no steady increases or benefits. At their first bargaining session with the city, the chaplains requested $17,500 for part-timers and $35,000 for full-timers. They waived overtime, holiday, and night differential pay, stating that these would be reflected in the pay rate.

While enrollment in public, Catholic, and nonchurch private schools fell in the seventies, enrollment in Protestant schools skyrocketed. In the Northeast and Midwest, church school enrollment increased by 50 percent. On the West Coast, it doubled, and in the South, it nearly quadrupled. Much of this growth is attributable to Christian fundamentalist schools, whose population began to soar with early attempts at school desegregation. It is commonly held that the migration from public schools is largely a result of permissiveness and lower academic standards.

The town of New Castle, New York, has announced plans to begin foreclosure proceedings against the Unification Church. The church refuses to pay $121,000 in property taxes on land owned since 1980. The church has never applied for tax-exempt status. It will not pay because it believes the property is overassessed and the taxes are excessive. As the town seeks to assume ownership of the property, the church has sued the town to have the assessment reduced.

HIS magazine, published by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, has been honored as Periodical of the Year by the Evangelical Press Association. HIS also won the youth Award of Excellence. Edited by Linda Doll, HIS is a monthly publication whose primary readership is evangelical college students. Commenting on the selection, judges said that HIS sets the pace for “first-class writing, thoughtful content, and superior design.”

Nearly eight million Americans visited occult bookstores in 1982, according to a survey. This figure is up 3.3 percent from 1981. But the rapid growth of previous years appears to be over.

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