Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: An Introduction

Note: We’re preempting our usual “Throwback Thursday” installments this week and next for this five-part special.

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The unbelieving world loves to idolize “successful” people. Those who were the “best” at their profession or who were the most influential in a particular cause or movement are put on pedestals to be admired and venerated. There are a multitude of “halls of fame” throughout the world that have been established to recognize successful or exemplary people in various categories. Inductees are said to be “enshrined” and are honored with a painting, photograph, or sculpted bust with some words about their accomplishments. Many of us are familiar with the various sports halls of fame and the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, they’re a big business, but there are many, many other such institutions.

Believe it or not, there’s even a Christian Hall of Fame! Yes, there is! I learned about this institution while recently reading the biography of John R. Rice. In 1964, Pastor Harold Henniger (1924-2004) of the Canton Baptist Temple (Independent Fundamental Baptist) in Canton, Ohio was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack and reading Hebrews 11, which some refer to as the “faith hall of fame,” with its many references to notable Old Testament saints. Henniger was familiar with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which had opened the previous year in Canton, and got the idea to establish a Christian Hall of Fame within the facilities at Canton Baptist Temple. The church inaugurated the Christian Hall of Fame two years later in 1966 with a special room and an original oil painting* for each inductee. To date, 108** persons have been inducted into the Christian Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio.

One of the things I love about the Bible is God shows us therein that we are all unworthy sinners. While people like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and David were greatly used by God, they were also revealed to be weak and sinful. Their “greatness” was only in their ultimate faith and dependence on God. I’m so glad that God reveals in His Word that those Old Testament “heroes” were “mess-ups” just like me. We are not to put Christian leaders, men or women, on pedestals. We know this, yet we do it anyway. In that regard, we still have much of the world in us.

Independent Fundamental Baptists had/have a proclivity for leadership idolatry and Henniger no doubt believed this Christian Hall of Fame concept was a grand idea, but it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” – Luke 17:10

The Lord dispenses His gifts to the body of believers as He sees fit, however, those who are in leadership roles can be especially tempted by pride. The rest of us don’t help by placing them on pedestals and creating halls of fame for them. But there’s no need to take a radically iconoclastic stand on this. The lives of faithful servants of God CAN BE inspiring examples for us.

Although I’m not in agreement with the concept of a “Christian Hall of Fame,” I thought it might be interesting to review who Henniger and his associates selected for inclusion. To that end, I will be “clearing the deck” and devoting most of next week’s posts (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday) to the hall’s “enshrinees” in four installments of twenty-seven individuals each, with a few bio-facts and links to their respective Wiki articles. I’ll also surely have some comments regarding some questionable selections.

Postscript: I imagine all inductions into the Christian Hall of Fame are done posthumously because accepting such an honor while still alive would appear as shameless self-aggrandizement. It’s my contention that many/most of the 108 enshrinees in the Christian Hall of Fame would have objected to being venerated in such a manner.

*Eight of the portraits hanging in the Christian Hall of Fame were painted by the controversial independent fundamental Baptist pastor and firebrand, Peter Ruckman.

**A 2009 article (see here) states that 124 persons have been inducted into the Christian Hall of Fame, but the list on the Canton Baptist Temple’s web site includes only 108 individuals. Either the article is wrong or CBT is no longer prioritizing its Christian Hall of Fame web page. 🧐

This entire series can be accessed via the links below:

Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: An Introduction

Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: Inductees 1-27

Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: Inductees 28-54

Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: Inductees 55-81

Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: Inductees 82-108

17 thoughts on “Oxymoron: The Christian Hall of Fame: An Introduction

  1. “ One of the things I love about the Bible is God shows us therein that we are all unworthy sinners. While people like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and David were greatly used by God, they were also revealed to be weak and sinful. ”
    Amen, brother!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I’ll readily admit I’m as prone to pride as the next person, but I know enough of God’s Word to know that the apostle Paul would have scolded anyone who desired to induct him into a “Christian Hall of Fame.”

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Looking forward to the bios and comments you’ll have.

    When I read: “. . .those who are in leadership roles can be especially tempted by pride. The rest of us don’t help by placing them on pedestals. . .” it reminded me of a worship workshop I attended many years ago. One of the speakers said something very similar about putting musicians on pedestals, and actually worshiping the musician rather than G-D. While he didn’t exonerate the musicians in their acceptance of it, he did make it clear that it makes it very hard on musicians to be put in that place. Same goes for pastors.

    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m looking forward to reviewing the inductees of the (very) inaptly named hall.
      Thanks also for the personal illustration. I’m guessing many/most believers would find the Christian Hall of Fame’s name blatantly objectionable, BUT we regularly foster pridefulness at our fellowships in other ways. Lord bless you, too!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! Yes, I am definitely on a roll with the IFB! The list of inductees is very interesting, not only for who is included but for who is omitted. The IFB bias is very obvious.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy! A Christian Hall of Fame is a flagrant contradiction in terms, but it’s interesting to examine the listing. Definitely skewed toward American independent fundamental Baptists.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, sister! I’m looking forward to your feedback. You’ll see that the selections are a bit skewed in favor of independent fundamental Baptists.

      Like

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