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Robert Tillman Kendall (b. July 13, 1935) is a Christian writer, speaker, and teacher who pastored Westminster Chapel for 25 years. He is author of more than 50 books, including Total Forgiveness. Kendall is currently listed as part of the Word, Spirit & Power team, a non-denominational Charismatic ministry.
Kendall was born July 13, 1935 in Ashland, Kentucky and named after R. T. Williams who was a General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. He married Louise Wallis of Sterling, Illinois on June 28, 1958, and together they raised a son and a daughter, Robert Tillman II (TR) and Melissa Louise. According to his testimony, Kendall came to a conviction regarding Calvinist theology and his own eternal security in 1955. He received degrees at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee (A.B., 1970), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky (M.Div., 1972) and the University of Louisville (M.A., 1973) before earning a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) at Regent's Park College, a hall of the University of Oxford. He later received a Doctor of Divinity from Trevecca Nazarene University (1988).
While at Oxford, Kendall was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lower Heyford from 1974 to 1977 (now Brackley Baptist Church) which mainly served USAF families based at RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Croughton. From February 1, 1977 to February 1, 2002 he was the Minister at Westminster Chapel in London. He succeeded Dr. Glyn Owen who himself followed Martyn Lloyd-Jones and G. Campbell Morgan.
Kendall is well known for his view that later Calvinism departed from the teaching of John Calvin on the issues of assurance and the extent of the atonement. Kendall expounded his views in his D.Phil. thesis, The Nature of saving Faith, from William Perkins (d. 1602) to the Westminster Assembly (1642-1649) and his 1981 work Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. Kendall's views prompted a response by Paul Helm, who wrote Calvin and the Calvinists in 1982.
Kendall’s 1983 publication of Once Saved, Always Saved on the nature of Christian perseverance prompted debate of antinomianism among Chapel members and others. There were various disagreements over various issues. Indeed, so serious were these, that his predecessor, Lloyd-Jones, stated that Kendall should take no part in his funeral arrangements:
In the now-published account, however, Kendall says nothing of why the relationship broke down. Indeed it broke down so seriously that prior to his death, Dr Lloyd-Jones indicated that Kendall, far from organizing his funeral or memorial service, was to take no part in those proceedings.—Iain H. Murray, A review of R. T. Kendall, In Pursuit of His Glory
His charismatic beliefs and affirmation of prophecies and association with Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets from the early 1990s led to some controversies with some[which?] Christian groups.
A longtime member of Westminster Chapel had the following testimony regarding Kendall's preaching legacy:
R.T. Kendall is a man of great authority and leadership. He has an amazing knowledge of the Scriptures and a willingness to deal with any verse in the passage preached, however difficult it might be. I can never remember hearing a sermon which did not bless me. He truly practiced what he has preached. He has sought to reach every type of person and shown increasing patience and love to difficult people. Sometimes too patient! He has always shown himself to be open and honest.—Ernest Paddon, In Pursuit of His Glory
He instigated a "Pilot Lights" scheme of church members distributing tracts and orange stickers such as "Turn on to Jesus" and "Jesus Loves You" initially led by Arthur Blessitt[clarification needed] on the streets of Westminster in different languages to the general public. These evangelism techniques were based on those of Arthur Blessitt who preached at Westminster Chapel for a few weeks along with Sherry Blessitt and their children in the late 1980s. The scheme continued for about a decade. As a result, significant number of conversions were witnessed and some even joined the congregation and became active members. Despite that, church membership declined over the same period.
His "School of Theology" evenings attracted hundreds of visitors and church leaders from all over London. He introduced Thursday lunchtime services, which were visited by workers from nearby Whitehall.
In 2002 he was introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Envoy to the Middle East to meet the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Subsequently the men met five times and RT Kendall had an opportunity to present the gospel of Christ.[clarification needed]
Kendall is now in retirement in Hendersonville, Tennessee, from where he continues his work as an author and guest speaker at Christian conferences. He appears on Christian TV programmes and is a regular contributor to Christian publications. He is also the President of R.T. Kendall Ministries.
Kendall is the author of over forty books including: