Calvin Miller, author, speaker, pastor and seminary professor, died on Sunday in Birmingham, Ala., from complications after heart surgery he had less than two weeks ago. He was one week shy of his 76th birthday.
Miller was the author of more than 100 titles, including the Singer trilogy that sold 1 million copies in the late 1970s, The Book of Jesus, Into the Depths of God, The Empowered Leader and the recently released Letters to Heaven. Thomas Nelson published his memoirs, Life is Mostly Edges, in 2008.
“As a writer, Calvin Miller offered that rare combination of preacher and artist,” says author Philip Yancey. “He looked with the eyes of an artist, sensitive to story, beauty, and human empathy; then he wove it all together in a message of deep Christian hope.”
Thomas Nelson vice president and publisher, Matt Baugher, says it’s difficult to work today as his thoughts are full of Miller: “His legacy and the God he served so well are an ongoing inspiration to me and untold thousands of others. Several members of the Nelson team admitted that ‘Calvin truly made some dynamic contributions to the development of my heart.’ ”
In total, Miller’s books sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. His final book, tentatively titled The Vanishing Evangelical is set to release next March. At the time of his death, he was working on a book about the kingdom. The books he wrote included fiction, nonfiction, devotional, leadership, children’s picture books, poetry, specialty Bibles, Bible study guides and many books on the deeper life.
“We are all shocked and heartsick by his sudden passing. He was a true eenaissance man if there ever was one. Few knew that he was also a fabulous painter, a wonderful piano player… he lived to create,” says his longtime literary agent and friend, Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary.
“He was also an insightful and entertaining speaker with a great sense of humor. He continued to travel more than 30 weekends a year to speak at churches and seminaries. He will be greatly missed by the kingdom and all of us who had the privilege of knowing him well.”
Miller was born in Enid, Okla., and graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1958. He attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1961 and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1975.
In 1959 he was married to Barbara Harman, the love of his life, who survives him. Together they raised two children: Melanie and Timothy. His first full-time pastorate was Plattsmouth Baptist Church, Plattsmouth, Neb., 1961 to 1966. He moved onto to Westside Church, Omaha, Neb., in Jan. 1966, where he served as senior pastor for 25 years.
During his pastorate the congregation grew from 10 to more than 2,500 members. From 1991 to 1998, Miller served as professor of communication and ministry studies and writer-in-residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. In January 1999, he joined the faculty of Samford University, Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham where he retired just a few years ago.