2333) The Concoction

Asa Griggs Candler - Wikipedia

Asa Griggs Candler  (1851-1929)


By Robert J. Morgan in One Hundred Bible Verses That Made America, 2020, pages 249-251.


I Thessalonians 1:5a  —  Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction. 


     Atlanta businessman Asa Candler once wrote his son a letter expressing his philosophy of life and paraphrasing 1 Thessalonians 1:5:  “My boy, you cannot know how anxious I am about you.  I do so greatly desire your success. . . Don’t be religious in word only, but in your life.  Let your life constantly exhibit Christ.  We live for Him.”‘

     Here Candler was quoting a favorite verse about the practicality of a biblical faith.  The apostle Paul was telling the disciples in Thessalonica that the gospel isn’t simply a matter of words.  It must show up in our life and affect all our deeds through the power of the Holy Spirit.

     Candler knew what he was talking about.  He had always been a person of deeds.  Born in the hills of northwest Georgia, he had trapped animals and sold furs to make money as a child.  He badly wanted a good education, but with ten brothers and sisters, only one would have the funds for college—Candler’s brother Warren, who was studying for the ministry.

     While Candler had aspired to be a physician, with little education he did the next best thing.  He moved to Atlanta, which was rising from the ruins of the Civil War, and he opened a drugstore.  In those days, drugstores featured their own concoctions of roots, herbs, elixirs, and tonics.  Another nearby druggist, John Pemberton, had developed a medicinal drink to help relieve the pain he suffered from wounds incurred in the Civil War.  Knowing he was dying, Pemberton sold the formula and it ended up in the hands of Candler, who began manufacturing and selling it from his drugstore.

     He was a natural business leader.  His stores and enterprises flourished, and he viewed his wealth as a stewardship from God to be used for the kingdom.  With his brother’s advice, Candler supported many evangelical Methodist causes.  He started a college in Havana to provide a biblical education for Cuban students.  He served as vice president of the American Bible Society.  He provided the funds to establish Wesley Memorial Hospital (today Emory University Hospital) in Atlanta.

     Until Candler’s time, the leading Methodist university in the South was Vanderbilt, but the school had strayed from its evangelical beliefs and no longer wanted church oversight.  On July 16, 1914, Candler wrote what is now called the “million dollar letter” to his brother Warren, offering a million dollars to establish a Methodist school in Atlanta—Emory University.

     Candler believed that “education without a strong Christian influence would lead to a population of an educated elite with no moral foundation.  A person unable to distinguish between right and wrong has as little value to their community as those who could neither read nor write.”‘  Candler wrote:

In my opinion, the education which sharpens and strengthens the mental faculties without at the same time invigorating the moral powers and inspiring the religious life is a curse rather than a blessing. . . .  I am profoundly impressed that what our country needs is not more secularized education, but more of the education that is fundamentally and intentionally religious. . . .  The Church of God is an enduring institution; it will live when individuals and secular corporations have perished….  I rejoice in the work of all the denominations who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and seek to do good to all people….  I see no reason to hesitate to trust money to that church to which I look for spiritual guidance, and to that church at whose altars I receive the Christian Gospel… . The work of higher education is not going to be surrendered to secularism.

     In 1916, Candler retired from his business to serve as mayor of Atlanta, where he balanced the city’s budget and coordinated the reconstruction efforts following the Atlanta fire of 1917.  But his wife of forty years, Lucy, was ill, dying of breast cancer.  Candler left office to care for her.  After she died, he was bereft, and his final years were lonely.

     Asa Candler has gone down in history primarily for the drugstore concoction he purchased and popularized, which produced millions of dollars for the expansion of the work of the Methodists and the ministry—a drink called Coca-Cola.


Amazon.com: Open Road Brands Coca-Cola Things Go Better with Coke ...



Matthew 25:1a…14-21  —  (Jesus said), “The kingdom of heaven will be like… a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,  each according to his ability.  Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’  His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!…’”


Lord Jesus, as we serve you, may we faithfully do all that you call us to do.  And after we have done what you commanded, may we have the wisdom and the faith to say what you have taught us to say:  ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’  Amen.  (See Luke 17:10)