Leith Anderson is president emeritus of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor emeritus of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He served as NAE president from 2007–2019, after twice serving as interim president. He served as senior pastor of Wooddale Church for 35 years before retiring in 2011. He has been published in many periodicals and has written over 20 books. Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Bradley University and Denver Seminary.
In the cultural hierarchy of anniversaries, paper is #1, tin is #10, silver is #25, gold is #50 and diamond is #75. Whoever started the list saved diamonds for 75 because 75 is a lot of years.
Diamonds are valuable because they are comparatively rare, amazingly strong, exceptionally durable and can be stunningly beautiful. Best known for their prominence in jewelry from engagement rings to royal crowns, they are most common in industry due to their extraordinary hardness and thermal conductivity. Simply stated, diamonds can cut through just about anything, but there are not many ways to cut up a diamond.
Sadly, diamonds are not always about happiness and good times. They have fueled wars and imprisoned slaves in mines. A “diamond heist” is a favorite crime in famous Hollywood movies. And, losing a diamond from your ring makes for a very bad day.
All that to say that the National Association of Evangelicals is celebrating our Diamond Anniversary. So much has changed since 1943. Take five minutes to Google the year and read about atrocities of World War II, race riots in Detroit, rationing of food and gasoline, and families divided by wars from Europe to Asia. Those were hard times that make many of today’s challenges seem like we are in the best of times.
What has not changed is the central bedrock core of the NAE — the Statement of Faith. Like a diamond birthed centuries ago, our faith in God, the centrality of Jesus as our Savior and the veracity of the Bible are extraordinarily hard yet with eternal conductivity to bring sinners to salvation. Not that evangelical beliefs are new because they are as old as Christianity and before. The founding of the NAE brought together a family bond of those who already were evangelicals and wanted to more effectively represent Jesus in our world.
Will NAE and evangelicalism celebrate Double Diamond in another 75 years and beyond? The “Yes!” answer is not in the perpetuation of an organization or the preservation of a term, it is in diamond-like faithfulness that shines in beauty and endures in difficulty. It is in our diamond-like faith in Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
This article originally appeared in Evangelicals magazine.