T. T. Shields

“Take the Bible as a whole, learn the Bible. Fill your mind with the Book. Whatever else you read, be sure that you master the Bible. Learn the whole Bible so that you know your way about.”

Some saw clearly the situation developing in the flight from authority in our culture, and their warning were not always appreciated or heeded. Such a preacher was the often feisty and combative Thomas Todhunter Shields (T. T. Shields 1873-1955), who pastored the great Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto for forty-five years. Some called him the Canadian Spurgeon, and there are striking similarities between the two. Others called him the John Bunyan of Canada. Shields was born in Bristol, the fifth of eight children. His father was a Primitive Methodist clergyman who became a Baptist and immigrated to Canada. His father was his teacher of Latin and Greek, but especially of proper English usage. Shields was converted in 1891 under the preaching of a visiting speaker who pressed 1 John 1:9 on his ears. He preached his first sermon in 1894. Like other preachers; Shields fought heavy battles in the drift toward liberalism. A considerable disruption over his views took place at Jarvis Baptist in 1921, but great years followed under his solid Bible exposure and evangelism Sunday by Sunday. Shields’ preaching was first and foremost Biblical and always Christ-centered. His “Christ in the Old Testament series” was one of the most intently followed series he ever gave. He said: Take the Bible as a whole, learn the Bible. Fill your mind with the Book. Whatever else you read, be sure that you master the Bible. Learn the whole Bible so that you know your way about.” This he did himself, and when a storm cut off power just as he started to read his text in a service, he recited the rest of the passage from memory in the darkened auditorium. Shields founded the Toronto Baptist Seminary and often insisted to his students that above all the preacher must be “a good man.”

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