Ed Dobson

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Edward G. Dobson (born December 30, 1949) is a Northern Irish-American pastor who was formerly an executive at the Moral Majority. After becoming disillusioned with the Christian Right he went on to become pastor of a large megachurch in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[1] Dobson was later diagnosed with ALS and has since become nationally known as an author and speaker.[2] His son, Kent Dobson, is the current pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, which was formerly pastored by Rob Bell.[3] Bell was mentored by the elder Dobson.[4]


In 1964, Dobson moved to the United States from Northern Ireland. He earned a BA (1970) and an MA (1972) from Bob Jones University and later an EdD (1986) in higher education at the University of Virginia.[5] At 23, Dobson became Dean of Men at Liberty University, "but before long he was also teaching New Testament survey, coaching the soccer team, and taking on more administrative duties. In time, Dobson was named vice president for student life as well as associate pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church." When the Moral Majority was organized in June 1979, Jerry Falwell named Dobson to the board.[6] Three years later, the premiere issue of Fundamentalist Journal listed him as one of two senior editors; he became editor-in-chief two and a half years later and served as a voice of the Moral Majority.[7] Dobson and another Liberty faculty member, Ed Hindson, effectively ghost-wrote Falwell's The Fundamentalist Phenomenon (1981).[8] With his mentor, Dobson also drifted away from fundamentalism toward more mainstream evangelicalism.

Nevertheless, by the late 1980s, Dobson had decided that the rationale behind the Moral Majority had been wrongheaded and that to a significant degree cultural problems could not be remedied through the political process.[9] In 1987, Dobson left Liberty (just as Falwell became responsible for the empire of failed televangelist Jim Bakker) and took the pastorate of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he remained for eighteen years (1987–2005).[10] In 1993, Moody Bible Institute named him "Pastor of the Year." Dobson serves as an advisory editor for Christianity Today.[11] While senior pastor of Calvary Church, Dobson mentored a number of young men who had recently entered the ministry, or were considering doing so. They included Rob Bell, Michael Hildalgo, Jim Samra, Brett Werner, and Marvin Williams. After Dobson's retirement, he continued to mentor others in his Grand Rapids home.

After Dobson was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in January 2001,[12] he wrote Prayers and Promises when Facing a Life-Threatening Illness.[13] In Spring 2008, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary dedicated a "Dobson Study Center" in its classroom building to honor Dobson's long pastorate and television ministry in Grand Rapids.[14]

In January 2009, Dobson was interviewed on Good Morning America because he had attempted to live a year as Jesus had, observing Sabbath and Jewish holidays and festivals. Dobson said that he had voted for Barack Obama on the grounds that Obama "was closer to Jesus's teachings."[15]

In May 2013, Dobson's son Daniel Dobson, a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq, publicly came out as gay and Christian.[16]


  • Abraham: The Lord will Provide (1993)
  • Blinded by Might (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999) with Cal Thomas
  • Daniel: Making the Right Choices (1994)
  • King James Bible Commentary (1999)
  • The Knowing Jesus Study Bible, NIV (2000) with Ed Hindson[17]
  • Mastering Conflict and Controversy (1992)
  • Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007)
  • Starting a Seeker-Sensitive Service (1993)
  • What the Bible Really Says about Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage (1986)
  • The Fundamentalist Phenomenon (1st edition 1980, 2nd edition 1986) with Ed Hindson and Jerry Falwell
  • The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000 (1997)
  • The Year Of Living Like Jesus (2009)
  • Ed's Story(2001 - Current)[18]


  1. ^ http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/interviews/ed-dobson.html
  2. ^ http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/18/tending-the-garden-one-person-at-a-time/
  3. ^ http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/august-web-only/mars-hill-bible-church-names-rob-bells-successor-kent-dobso.html
  4. ^ http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2008/03/mars_hill_bible_church_pastor.html
  5. ^ Marquis Who's Who, 2008.
  6. ^ Dean Merrill, "The Education of Ed Dobson," Christianity Today, August 11, 1997.
  7. ^ Zondervan bio.
  8. ^ Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999). Dobson said that they produced "the material so he could edit it....we were putting Jerry's political agenda in writing."
  9. ^ Blinded by Might, 15.
  10. ^ Liberty University website. During Dobson's pastorate, Calvary planted Mars Hill Bible Church, led by Rob Bell. Christianity Today website.
  11. ^ Zondervan - Edward G. Dobson
  12. ^ Leave Room For God - Leadership journal - ChristianityTodayLibrary.com
  13. ^ Edward G. Dobson, Prayers and Promises when Facing a Life-Threatening Illness (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 13.
  14. ^ Cornerstone University website.
  15. ^ "Critics: Man 'living like Jesus' should not have voted for Obama" The Christian Century 10 February 2009
  16. ^ Honey, Charley (2013-05-29). "Daniel Dobson, son of prominent West Michigan minister, talks about being a gay Christian". Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 2013-05-30. 
  17. ^ http://www.faithfulreader.com/FEATURES/gold_medallion_awards.asp
  18. ^ http://edsstory.com/

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