20th Century Contender for the Faith

He was born during a prayer meeting on March 25, 1942, in Peoria, Illinois, and by the time he was 21 years of age, he was pastoring Golden Hill Baptist Church in Rochester, Minnesota. From that humble prayer-meeting entrance into this world, Dr. Fred Moritz became a 20th/21st-century contender for the faith once delivered to the saints.

He was well prepared for his leading role in the advancement of Christ’s kingdom through the independent Baptist movement. Born into a Christian home in the Midwest, nurtured under the tutelage and ministry of Bible-preaching pastors and loving, Godly parents, Fred Moritz enrolled as a student in Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, Minnesota, where he would sit under the ministry as he caught the evangelistic fervor and hard-core convictions of the then President of PBBC, Dr. Monroe Parker. As a 19 year-old sophomore, Dr. Moritz surrendered his life to preach the glorious gospel of the grace of God. In 1963, he married the love of his life and constant companion in life-long labors of love for their Lord, Judy Cook Moritz. God blessed this union with two daughters and “six wonderful grandchildren.” Dr. and Mrs. Moritz reside in North Carolina.

Fred Moritz continued his ministry preparation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, where Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters had founded—through his church, the Fourth Baptist Church—a seminary that trained young pastors, missionaries and evangelists to resist the encroaching compromise of the “ancient landmarks” in favor in inclusivism, theological compromise, and a softening of the principles of both personal and ecclesiastical separation.  This “mood swing” affected mission agencies, mainstream denominations, colleges, seminaries, and pastors’ fellowships. It was a byproduct of early-20th century Modernism, which was spawned by the “higher criticism” that had swept across the waters from its birthplace in Germany, eventually affecting and infecting the pastors and pulpits of America.  The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversies that raged during the 1920s continued into the 1940s and 50s, as the “New Evangelicalism” carried forward the spirit of Modernism under a different banner. Dr. Moritz was trained under the leadership of men who were committed to the fundamentals of the faith, purposing to steadfastly perpetuate and contend for the “faith once delivered to the saints.”

Following his shepherding of the Golden Hill Baptist Church, he would in time pastor the First Baptist Church of Oregon, Illinois; the Oak Grove Baptist Church of Bartonville, Illinois; and the Thompson Road Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana, before entering full-time, local-church evangelism in 1979. I had the privilege of following Pastor Moritz as his successor at the Thompson Road Baptist Church—a congregation that, in September of 1979, bid a fond farewell to their under-shepherd of seven years, who had endeared himself to them through skillful Bible exposition messages powerfully delivered, with a heart as wide as the sea of God’s love. Like the previous churches pastored by this man of God, the church in Indianapolis grew and was grounded in the faith, becoming a pillar of the truth on Indy’s Southside.

Two years into the full-time evangelistic ministry that God had called him to, Dr. Moritz received an invitation to join his college mentor, Dr. Monroe Parker, in Decatur, Alabama, as Assistant to the General Director of Baptist World Mission, an independent, fundamental mission agency born in 1961 out of the need for a mission agency that would be separatist and Biblicist in position and practice. Dr. Moritz served as the Assistant Director for four years. In 1985, he assumed the position of Executive Director, a position he held until his retirement in 2009.

Under the careful guidance of Fred Moritz, Baptist World Mission continued to grow. Entering the 21st century, it enjoyed the confidence of hundreds of pastors and local churches, which needed to partner with a mission-service agency to get God-called missionaries from their churches to the regions beyond. When Dr. Moritz retired, having served BWM for 28 years, he was known as a leader in fundamentalism, an author of several books—including “Be Ye Holy,” “Contending for the Faith,” and “Now is the Time,” a history of Baptist World Mission. His strong pulpit ministry, keen mind, and tender heart made him a favorite conference, Bible college, and local church speaker. He regularly visited the various continents of the world, ministering to missionaries and their families and field co-workers. Upon his retirement from Baptist World Mission, Dr. Moritz continued his ministry as an adjunct professor at Maranatha Baptist Seminary in Watertown, Wisconsin, where his theology courses were popular and desired by students, including one Joel Stevens—who, on my retirement from the pastorate in 2019, became the senior pastor of Thompson Road Baptist Church.

The measure of a man who serves God faithfully for more than half a century—pouring his heart into the hearts of fellow servants of God, encouraging hundreds of ambassadors for Christ to pursue with purity the call of God upon their lives to take the gospel to every creature—is incalculable. Serving for, and with, scores of leading North American pastors who comprised the core leadership of Baptist World Mission; writing books that champion conservative Christianity in our generation; encouraging all who heard his message or read his manuscripts to continue to “earnestly contend for the faith, once delivered to the saints”—Dr. Moritz discharged his commission in faith and with fidelity to the Bible for His Body, the Church. It is certain that, with God as his co-laborer and Judy as his helpmeet, Fred J. Moritz has lived a life that has counted for Christ, for time and eternity.

The prayer of all who know and love this dear servant of God is that the Lord of the Harvest will raise up a score—yea, scores—of young men who will perpetuate his passion for truth, who will imitate his commitment to world missions, who will disseminate faithful and fearless preaching of the “thus saith the Lord,” and who will motivate the next generation to cultivate sharpened powers of reasoning and recall, of a mind that is disciplined, directed and devoted to fulfilling the calling that the Holy Ghost has separated them to, for the work of the ministry.

In a word or two: May his influence and worth of work follow him, and may his Lord and Savior, his Chief Shepherd and Bishop of his soul, increase his tribe today, tomorrow, and until Jesus comes again!

Faithful is He who hath called you who will also do it.” I Thess. 5:24

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