Dr. Gardner C. Taylor Visits Revelation, the Seven Churches, and Adventists

by Mervyn A. Warren, with Charles E. Bradford, Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2021.

R. Clifford Jones, PhD, DMin, is dean of the School of Theology, Oakwood University, Huntsville, Alabama, United States.

Dr. Gardner C. Taylor was an iconic pastor whose preaching prowess is legendary. Taylor led the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, for over 50 years, retiring from that vaulted pulpit after preaching a series of sermons from Revelation, a book of the Bible that Seventh-day Adventists hold near and dear. Intrigued that a non-Adventist pastor would seek to unpack what is inarguably a complex book, Drs Mervyn Warren and Charles Bradford sought to discover what motivated and guided Taylor to do so. The result is this helpful volume, which bulges with profound insights that professional preachers and the public should find beneficial.

Mervyn Warren and Charles Bradford, both retired from Seventh-day Adventist denominational service, are eminently qualified to write this book. Mervyn Warren was a renowned professor of preaching at Oakwood University and published extensively on the subject.

Charles Bradford, preeminent church administrator, got to know Gardner Taylor when they both pastored in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, remaining friends throughout their lives. Their friendship was strengthened by their deep love for expounding the Word of God, not to mention their palpable respect for each other.

This slender volume consists of three chapters. The first unveils what motivated Taylor to preach 81 sermons from Revelation, the second briefly examines the lifelong relationship between Taylor and Bradford, and the third is a review of three of Taylor’s sermons from Revelation. Three appendices follow. The first is an interview of Taylor by Warren, and the second is a complete listing of the 81 sermon titles, texts, and dates on which the sermons were preached. Appendix C is “Selected Readings in Homiletics and Preaching.” Sandwiched between the chapters and appendices are a couple of pictures of Taylor and African American Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders.

Adventists pastors often frequented Concord Baptist to hear the “Dean of Black Preaching,” and one or two shared Ellen G. White books with Taylor, who publicly acknowledged receiving and using them in his preaching. Whenever Bradford preached in New York City, Taylor adjusted his schedule to be able to listen to his dear friend in person.

Preachers of every race, culture, and denomination will find this book instructive. One strength lies in the authenticity that permeates the book. Taylor shines forth as consummately genuine and a preacher who was more interested in lifting up Jesus than anything else. Indeed, he bemoaned the lack of Christ-centeredness that characterizes preaching these days, saying, “Preaching might be something very nice, very comforting, very encouraging, maybe very helpful, but it falls short of the saving gospel without Jesus Christ” (58). The picture of Taylor on the cover of the book tells his story. Taylor’s knitted brow and piercing eyes reflect the fervor and passion of this giant of a preacher, who, quite fittingly, passed to his rest on Easter Sunday 2015.

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R. Clifford Jones, PhD, DMin, is dean of the School of Theology, Oakwood University, Huntsville, Alabama, United States.

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