Many people around the world have paid their respects to Dr. Charles Stanley over the last few days. I am sure I have listened to his son Andy more than I have his father Charles, but I am fully aware of his ministry's impact on so many people, including people I pastor.
I have a friend that participated in the service, so I decided to watch it on YouTube. I was struck by the many interesting and unique aspects of his life and ministry. Here are four things that I learned about him during the service:
One of the most surprising and fascinating things I learned about Charles Stanley was his Pentecostal heritage. I had seen several posts about this after his death, but I was unaware of it. Although he was eventually drawn to a more conservative branch of Christianity, Stanley grew up in a family deeply involved in the Pentecostal movement. His grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. While he ultimately rejected some of the more extreme teachings of the Pentecostal movement, his early experiences undoubtedly had a lasting impact on his faith and ministry.
Interest in the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues
Building on his Pentecostal heritage, Charles Stanley maintained an abiding interest in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. He believed the Holy Spirit was essential to the Christian life and advocated for a personal experience of the Spirit's power. While he did not believe that speaking in tongues was a requirement for salvation, he saw it as a valuable gift God gave to some believers. Though Anthony George acknowledged that Dr. Stanley did not have a prayer language, it was something he believed in and supported.
Personal Sense of Humor
Despite his serious demeanor and reputation as a scholar and preacher, Charles Stanley had a personal sense of humor that endeared him to many. His family shared stories of his love of practical jokes and his ability to find joy and humor in everyday situations. Others recounted his famous "shimmy" dance move, which he would do to the delight of his grandchildren.
Impact of Jimmy Swaggart on His Life
Finally, the Celebration of Life service highlighted Jimmy Swaggart's impact on Charles Stanley's life and ministry. Although their paths would eventually diverge, Stanley credited Swaggart with introducing him to the power of the Gospel message and inspiring him to pursue a life of preaching and teaching. Even as their theological differences and personal conflicts grew, Stanley respected and admired Swaggart's early influence on him. The current pastor of First Baptist Atlanta noted that while Charles was going through his divorce, he listened to messages by Jimmy Swaggert every morning while driving to the office. He admired Jimmy’s resiliency and willingness to come back from a difficult time.
As I listened to the many speakers and watched the tributes to Charles Stanley, I was struck by his impact on so many people. From his early experiences in the Pentecostal movement to his many years of faithful service as a pastor and teacher, Stanley was a man who left an indelible mark on the lives of those around him.