Dr.Lyle W. Dorsett is a professor at the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University. He’s a former faculty member of Wheaton College and bestselling author. He’s written books about C.S.Lewis, E.M. Bounds, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and A.W. Tozer.
Dr. Lyle Dorsett is my favorite biographer and I recently heard him speak at his Church in Birmingham, Alabama. After I read his biography on Billy Sunday, I ask him to answer a few questions for me. Dr. Dorsett is not only a full time professor but he’s also a pastor, so I’m grateful to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to the following three questions:
1. You have written books on the lives of many famous Christians. Which famous Christian has had the greatest impact on your spiritual formation? How has he impacted your life?
Greetings, Bobby. Here are some brief answers to the questions you asked. First, yes I have written books on the lives of several famous Christians. Besides the biography of Billy Sunday, I did a book on D. L. Moody, E. M. Bounds, A.W. Tozer and a spiritual biography of C.S. Lewis. I cannot say that one had the greatest impact on me. I chose to write books on Tozer, Bounds, and Lewis because their writings had blessed me much that I knew I wanted to learn how they grew in their knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, I chose to write a biography of CS Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, because I wanted to learn about her life and there was nothing published. Publishers asked me to write on Sunday and Moody. From Sunday I learned the dangers of doing ministry without accountability. From his life I learned that a man must be careful not to destroy his family with the demands of his ministry. From Moody I learned how to care for family in the midst of busy ministry, and Moody widespread ministries helped me shape some of my own ministry
2. Have you received much criticism for revealing the character flaws of the Christians about whom you have written? How has this criticism influenced you as a biographer?
I have received some criticism from readers who don’t like the fact that I draw pictures of these people with warts and all. I never argue with people but my response is that God only has flawed people to work through. If anyone is so sure that he or she has no shortcomings, I wonder if they are not the man at the temple who pridefully thanks God that he is not like the sinners. Jesus tells us that He came for the people who need a physician.
3. Would you, as an Anglican minister, share the importance of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper? How does the Eucharist affect your spiritual life? Should the Evangelical Church place more emphasis on this sacrament? Why should they?
I wish I had time to answer your question about sacraments, etc. I think my position is best expressed in chapters 4 and 5 of my book on Lewis. I learned much from Lewis in these matters, both from his letters and from his book, LETTERS TO MALCOLM, CHIEFLY ON PRAYER. Also, studying Luther and Wesley have pointed me to the importance of Holy Communion.
I hope that these brief answers are useful.
Note: I would recommend you read, Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C.S.Lewis (It’s one of my favorite books.) This will help us all to better understand Dr. Dorsett’s views on the sacraments. – Bobby