Colorado Springs, CO – March 6, 2016—Jerry Bridges, popular NavPress author and 60-year member of The Navigators ministry, passed away Sunday, March 6, 2016, from heart failure. He was 86.
Jerry was best known as the author of The Pursuit of Holiness (NavPress 1978), which has sold more than a million copies. He authored nearly 20 books including Trusting God, Respectable Sins, and The Practice of Godliness. His final book, The Blessing of Humility, will be released posthumously in June 2016.
NavPress Publisher Don Pape said, “Jerry Bridges has most certainly impacted millions worldwide. His Gospel-infused message challenged each of us. What an honor to not only call him author but, truly, a friend.”
Jerry was born on December 4, 1929, and grew up in a four-room house in Tyler, Texas, with his parents and older brother. His mother died when Jerry was 14 years old. In his autobiography, God Took Me By the Hand (NavPress 2014), he said, “You have to be amazed at what God has done for a cross-eyed, partially deaf boy growing up in poverty alongside the railroad tracks.”
With little hope of affording college, Jerry applied to a new education program offered by the U.S. Navy. He was accepted, and in 1951 graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in general engineering. On the same day Jerry was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy.
During his time in the Navy, Jerry was introduced to The Navigators, a ministry that provided Bible studies and spiritual mentoring to help Jerry grow in his love for Jesus Christ. This led him to join The Navigators staff in 1955.
In 1963, he married Eleanor Miller who was also serving with The Navigators. They had two children, Kathy and Dan.
Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Jerry worked to establish the administrative practices of The Navigators and eventually began writing and speaking. Upon the release of his first book, The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry believed it would be the only book he’d ever write. He would go on to pen nearly 20 books with combined sales of over 2.5 million books.
In June 1987, Eleanor was diagnosed with cancer. She died November 9, 1988, just three weeks after their 25th wedding anniversary. A year later, Jerry married a long-time friend of the family, Jane Mollet, and they were together until his death 26 years later.
Jerry received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary (Glenside, Pennsylvania) in 2005 and a Lifetime Influence Award from The Navigators in 2011. In his autobiography he wrote that the recognition that meant the most was the thousands of readers telling him how his books had changed their lives.
He commented, “When we go to be with God it is not the awards or recognition we have received, but the lives impacted for Christ that will count when each of us hope to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21).”
Tyndale House Publishers Chairman and CEO, Mark D. Taylor, said “Through our alliance with NavPress, we have been privileged to be associated with Jerry Bridges and to be a small part of helping spread his message worldwide. We mourn his passing, but we have every confidence that his writing will continue to influence readers for decades to come.”
Jerry is survived by his wife, Jane, daughter Kathy (Jeff) Rodman, son Don (Lisa) Bridges, and seven grandchildren.