Ask R.T. Kendall about COVID-19 and he will give a straight answer about what he believes is happening.
“I take the view that America is under judgment,” said the renowned theologian who was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in England for 25 years. “We are under judgment. That’s the way I put it. It’s a gracious judgment. He’s not finished with us yet.”
Kendall, a native of Ashland, graduated from The Southern Theological Seminary, who recommended him for the doctorate program at Oxford University. He has penned 70 Christian books. His latest work dives into what has happened in the past eight months with the coronavirus.
He and his wife, Louise, were on the last flight out of London allowed to come into America in March.
“I was blessed we got on that plane,” Kendall said. “We haven’t been too hurt (by the virus). We just started traveling (again) in the last few days. I’m very blessed, at my age, that people still want me.”
His publisher asked him two months ago if he had any definitive feelings about the ongoing worldwide crisis and, of course, he did. They asked him to put it in book form, which he has done many times. The book, We Have Never Been This Way Before, came out last month.
“Joshua said to the children of Israel to keep their eyes on the Ark of the Covenant because you’ve never been this way before,” he said. “What we have is unprecedented. I don’t think it will ever be normal again. The book is really an exposition of much of the Joshua 3-6 chapters.”
He said Sept. 11, 2001, was another time when God was trying to get the attention of the nation. “It lasted about six months and then we forgot,” Kendall said. “This time he’s not going to let us off the hook. It’s my view, my conviction, that all that has happened will lead to the next Great Awakening. I think that’s what is needed. That’s the only hope for America.”
Kendall said the judgment is on America for four reasons: racism, legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage and liberal theology.
“That’s the order I wrote them in, I’m not saying that’s God’s order,” he said. “I wanted to make everybody aware of where I stood. I’m hoping, with all my heart, that Black people will see the stand I take that racism is unwarranted and God is not happy with it. At Westminster Chapel, we were an international church. They all live 24 hours a day with a consciousness of the color of their skin and it hurts. I think God is on their side. I don’t think He’s on the side of what’s happened (with rioting and looting). It’s ridiculous.”
He lists five kind of judgments — retributive, redemptive, natural, silent and gracious, and the latter is where he believes America stands. An example of gracious judgment was David being spared despite his sin with Bathsheba, Kendall said. “David tried a cover-up, but God gave him a chance. He said, ‘You will not die’ and David repented and was spared. I believe that’s what we have now.”
Kendall referenced the Cane Ridge Revival in Bourbon County in 1801, which he said is the reason for the Bible Belt today, as the type of awakening that needs to happen. “It’s not going to be who the political choice is. We may have our preference, and I do mine, but it’s not going to help who is president. That’s not going to save us. We need for God to step in.”
Meanwhile, the 85-year-old Kendall, who lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, said he will speak at Christian conferences and go wherever God calls him.