Rich Mouw was in high school when the first issue of Christianity Today came out. He came home one day from school and checked the mailbox to find a brand-new magazine.

The first issue of CT was sent to thousands of pastors as a gift to gain interest in the new endeavor, and since Rich’s father was a pastor in the Reformed Church of America, he was on the free mailing list.

The cover article was by Billy Graham, which piqued Rich’s interest. Being a huge fan of Graham, he quickly devoured the article. While Rich enjoyed Graham’s article, there was another article by a man named Carl F. H. Henry, whom Rich had never heard of before. Henry’s article was about the need for a new kind of Christian scholarship—and it changed the course of Rich’s life.

Rich had grown up in a fundamentalist background where things like Bible study groups and prayer meetings were emphasized but intellectualism wasn’t taken seriously. Rich read Henry’s article, and while he didn’t understand it all, it felt right to him.

“Henry talked about how anti-intellectualism was a belief for most evangelicals at that time,” Rich recalled. “He argued that evangelicals needed a more intellectual approach to things, and I was interested in that and agreed with Henry.”

Since that first day, Rich has been an avid reader of Christianity Today.

“I started reading Christianity Today and it began opening my mind to big issues,” Rich said.

Early CT essays were written by evangelicals from Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and other institutions, but the magazine also contained essays by pastors and leaders who belonged to other faith groups such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. Learning from these different Christian expressions was a new and enriching experience for Rich.

“The fact that there were these wonderful writers who came from other denominations widened my sense of what the church and the Christian community was all about,” Rich said. “It taught me that it was possible to be an evangelical Christian and wear a clerical collar. This was a whole new idea to me.”

By the time Rich went to college, he had been deeply impacted by the idea of Christian scholarship Henry had planted in his head and was passionate about learning all that he could. Rich ended up going to Houghton College for his undergraduate degree in English. After that, he studied theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and then got a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Alberta in Western Canada. Finally, Rich landed at the University of Chicago for his PhD in philosophy.

While in his PhD program, Rich became involved in the political movements of the 1960s. He demonstrated against the war in Vietnam and marched for civil rights. During this time, Rich read an article he didn’t agree with in CT. He was disappointed because he loved the magazine so much, but his frustration led him to write his own article about why Christians should take a stand on social and political issues.

After sending his article off to CT, Rich didn’t think much of it until one day when his phone rang, and Carl Henry was on the line. Henry wanted to run Rich’s article in Christianity Today, but he had a few things he wanted to clarify. Rich and Carl went back and forth on the article until they finally agreed on a compromised statement.

“It was my very first published article,” Rich said. “I was proud of it because I had an affection for Christianity Today and it was about 10 years after I had read the first issue of the magazine.”

After receiving his PhD, Rich’s first job was at Calvin College, and he taught there for 17 years. Later he moved to Fuller Seminary, where he taught for a few years and then was the president of the seminary for 20 years. In 2013, Rich retired from the presidency but continues to mentor PhD students.

While teaching at Calvin and Fuller, Rich focused on the Christian worldview. He taught a course on the topic at Fuller that would have around 100 students in each class. They would discuss how Evangelical Christians could make an impact on culture and what that meant for people going into ministry, youth ministry, or teaching.

During his time at Fuller, the seminary established a theology and film program. Since the campus is only about 20 miles from Hollywood, students who worked for Disney or other studios would come to Fuller to study Christian worldview, which helped them evaluate scripts for movies. This led Rich to take an increased interest in how Christians can share their worldview through all types of media.

“Christian colleges have done a good job on Christian worldview,” Rich said. “Increasingly, Christian worldview has become the center of evangelical higher education—equipping students to think Christianly about culture, politics, the arts, science, and more.”

Rich also believes that CT continues to address topics concerning worldview.

“Just look at the latest issue of CT magazine,” Rich declared. “Yesterday I was reading the website, which I do several times a week, and there were a lot of questions about addressing issues of gender, climate, and global issues—what’s happening in Taiwan, China, and Africa as a growing Christian continent.”

Over the past 10 to 15 years, Rich has seen other changes within Christianity Today he is thankful for. CT has moved women writers from primarily a women’s website to being main voices within the organization who are addressing issues of culture in the world. Rich is also thankful that CT has made an effort to promote African American, Latino, and Asian writers and address the issues of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.

Christianity Today has been an amazingly effective and clear-thinking teaching voice for the evangelical movement. I am thankful for how CT continues to be influential on these Christian worldview issues,” Rich said.

Rich believes there are signs in our culture of movement toward the kinds of things Christians care most about—reaching beyond our national identity to a kingdom of men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.

One of those movements was the Asbury revival last year. At the time, people were talking about the decline of religion and how Gen Z was losing an interest in organized religion. But suddenly, for weeks on end, young people were gathering in a chapel and praying together at all hours of the day.

“There is something wonderful about that. We are seeing signs that God hasn’t given up on the culture,” Rich said. “I have a lot of hope for the influence of this younger generation.”

Over the years, Rich has spoken at many Christian college campuses and finds this younger generation is full of questions and passions. While giving a lecture a couple of months ago at Calvin University, a young woman in the class told Rich how she was so upset that her local school board was debating whether to ban books that she ran for the school board as a unity candidate. Her goal was to start good conversations by mediating between the two sides.

Rich acknowledges that it’s easy to get discouraged about where things are going in our culture. It can be terrible to see the polarization in local congregations and on college campuses, but he believes good things are happening and we need to make more of them. And one of the good things Rich believes in is the work of Christianity Today.

“There is much to worry about these days,” he lamented. “But CT is a key factor in giving me hope that evangelicalism can once again fall in love with the beauty of a vibrant commitment to biblical orthodoxy.”