Today I learned that (Rev. Prof. Barrister Dr.) Francis Nigel Lee passed away two years ago this month. Sadly, no one bothered to inform me. Last night I told my wife a story about the good doctor, and this morning I decided to “google” him since I’ve been out of touch for years. Upon learning the news, I sat back in my chair and started drifting back in time.

Allow Me To Introduce “The Doctor”

Though his numerous adversaries would disagree, he was considered by many to be the world’s smartest man. I considered him as such. Lee had more degrees than a thermometer and had more letters after his name, than in them (Ph.D., Th.D., D.Phil., D.Min., D.Ed., L.L.D., Dr.Sac.Th., D.Jur., D.Litt., D.C.L., D.Hum, et al). His seventeen total degrees included ten earned doctorates. He was the author of more than 300 publications, including over 180 books. His writings numbered in the tens of thousands of pages! He taught himself several languages. In fact, he rose early each morning to read the Scriptures in eleven languages including German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Greek and Hebrew, as well as his native English.

His writings covered subjects as diverse as law, economics, government, education, cultural issues, and various disciplines of theology. He was considered a world class authority on Communism/Statism, Common Law, and Calvinism. He was an intense student – always studying, always learning. I was once told Dr. Lee was “stuck” in Australia because it would take an entire container ship to move his personal library!

I do not know his IQ, nor do I care. Ever since I learned Madonna has a “genius-level” IQ, I have downplayed the importance of the test. Lee possessed more than the ability to determine what the next item in a complex pattern would be. He was not only intelligent, but sagacious, wise, incisive, intuitive, adroit and downright savvy. Most importantly his acumen was faith-based. It was rooted in the Word of God, rather than the whim of men.

There is something else impressive about Nigel Lee. He was very down-to-earth and approachable. He never allowed his world-class brain to become conceited. After speeches, he allowed attendees a visit where he kindly answered each and every question. He was a serious man but I found him to have a pleasant, jovial side as well. I was touched by every encounter I had with him.

Francis Nigel Lee was born in the United Kingdom in the year of our Lord, 1934. He survived a childhood accident where the doctors did not expect him to live. Had he survived, they expected he would never walk, and would be mentally-retarded. He miraculously recovered. During World War II, while still a child, he survived a Nazi bombing that took the life of a little girl next door. His father was soon to be assigned to a post in South Africa. Nigel and his mother were booked on a steamer to make the voyage and missed the boat. They later learned it was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. The boat that did safely conduct them to South Africa was also later torpedoed. His life is full of such interesting stories.

Lee spent the next several years growing up in a vastly different South Africa than we have today. He grew up an atheist and continued as such until November 28, 1955. That day, he was working a Summer job in a gold mine when an explosion occurred. He, along with several hundred men, were trapped 2000 feet below the surface without any air supply. As his life flashed before him, he prayed for God to save him…not from physical death, but rather from spiritual death. God was pleased to do both, and the man who entered the mine as a convinced atheist, departed as a child of God. He continued his university studies and later enrolled as a post-graduate student studying theology and philosophy. He eventually came to America where he taught for a number of years before settling into life as a professor in Australia.

The General and I

In the late nineties, Dr. Lee made some speaking tours throughout the United States. When he was near, I would travel to hear him as much as possible. In 1997, he was speaking at three locations in Mississippi. I asked him if he could cut out one morning to chat with me about the Common Law as well as trinitarian aspects of American government. He graciously accepted the offer and we met in the home of Rev. George Felton in Collins, Mississippi.

Dr. Lee was considered the world’s leading expert on the Common Law. I had a huge interest in the subject and had been chomping at the bit to learn as much about the General’s knowledge as possible without having to read his 10,000 page exhaustive work on the subject. In other words, I wanted the Cliff Notes. He agreed for me to record the session and we spent quite a long time discussing the subject. I left with a new perspective on the origins of the Common Law before Magna Carta.

We discussed other things that morning such as Dr. Lee’s morning walks and why he removed his tie while preaching. As for the walks, he informed me of his morning discipline which involved reading the Bible in several languages and talking long walks. He instructed me as to the importance of having both a sound mind and body. He was certainly a worthy role model. He also enlightened me as to why this formal suit and tie man would remove his tie, loosen his top shirt button and remove his jacket, while preaching. He said it allowed him the feeling of being more “free in the spirit.”

I returned home and later that evening took my son, Nathaniel, and drove to Laurel where Dr. Lee was scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Nigel had a keen interest in the War Between The States having studied it extensively. He enjoyed speaking on the subject believing the South could use some vindication after decades of distorted history. In fact, some of his friends referred to him as “General Lee.” In future correspondence with me, that is how he always signed off.

My son was very impressed with the astute speaker and the good Doctor took a liking to him as well. Though Nathaniel was quite young, he never forgot that evening. Over the years he continued to listen to online lectures and sermons by Lee. I corresponded with Lee for a while after our visit, until such time as the hustlings of this world somehow ended it. Regrettable indeed! I will never forget him and purpose to download some more of his writings to sharpen my own acumen.

And so, I bid a belated farewell to my friend, my brother and my teacher until such time as we meet again.

DEO VINDICE
12.05.13


A DIME’S WORTH OF LESSONS GLEANED FROM DR. LEE’S LIFE

1. He never stopped learning. How many people read and study today? After high school or college has ended, many believe the days of learning are over. Lee reminds us that a man can spend his entire life in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Not all will continue, after graduation, to add letters to their title, but we all can continue to learn.

2. He never stopped teaching. He submitted his final writing for publication nine days before his death. The burden of the wise man is to live and impart his wisdom. Knowledge is a tree trunk. Wisdom is the branches and leaves that bring beauty and meaning to knowledge. But understanding is the actual fruit that empowers the tree to impart new life. We are to take our learning and apply it to our lives. From there we are to be an example unto others, and to be a help unto others. What good is knowledge if it is merely “stuck in our head”?

3. He was very disciplined. I have read many biographies of great men. They were all different in many respects. They had varied temperaments. They had diverse upbringings and opportunities. They came from all walks of life. Some were rich, others were poor. Some were some highly-educated, a few were self-educated. The one and only thing I ever found in common among great men is their highly-disciplined lives.

4. He accomplished much. I am reminded of the epigram by the missionary William Carey, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” I believe Dr. Lee lived his life by this. He accomplished much, because he expected much, and so he attempted much. Most of us will accomplish little in life because we will attempt little.

5. He was serious, yet jovial. Life is serious. We make decisions every day that affect ourselves, as well as others. We are confronted with difficulties in life that try our spirits to the very core. While it is not possible to maintain a jovial mood 24/7, it is good to enjoy life; and it is good to impart joy to others. Even the smartest man in the world can cut up with “we normals.”

6. He was approachable. I have been a speaker at many events where everyone on the schedule, save me, had doctor before his name. I’ve heard numerous complaints from attendees about how unapproachable most speakers are. The Bible says “knowledge puffeth up” and experience confirms it. However, Dr. Lee was cognizant of where his gifts came from. He was careful to always give God the glory for his attainments in life. These were no vain words as he certainly “walked the talk” without a hint of condescension.

7. He was uncompromising. He stood his ground. I did not mention all of the causes Dr. Lee undertook in his life. His position on topics was not always the popular one, yet he was never one to falter. He tenaciously held to his beliefs and fought for them when necessity beckoned. How many of us stand up for the things we wholeheartedly believe in?

8. He was a staunch Trinitarian. For some odd reason, I have always been fascinated by “things in threes.” You have length, width and depth. You have solid, liquid, and gas. You have Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The tripartite list is a interesting one. Nigel Lee took me down the road of pondering trinitarian aspects of civil government. By this we mean, the three branches of executive, legislative and judicial government. You might want to check into in…

9. He was enthusiastic. You couldn’t help but love this about Dr. Lee. My friend, Rev. Joe Morecraft, likes to tell the story of the time he and Dr. Lee were out together camping. Nigel was talking intensely while they were eating, so Joe passed him a hot dog bun loaded with a pickle rather than a hot dog. Joe swears Nigel ate that loaded bun without a flinch and never missed a beat in what he was saying. I do not doubt it at all as Lee was a very enthusiastic man.

10. He was himself. Lee wasn’t a phony. He was serious yet he was jovial. He was uncompromising yet he was kind and unapproachable. If Lee wanted to remove his jacket and tie during formal speaking engagements, then fashion be damned.

Francis Nigel Lee left his mark on the world. If there was one parting lesson to add it would be that of leaving one’s mark. True, not everyone can contribute as much as Dr. Lee did. He left a treasure trove and knowledge and wisdom. However, we can each leave something for posterity. What is it that you will leave?


Dr. Lee’s daughter Johanna Lee writes:

It is with great sadness, that I need to inform you all on behalf of my family, of the passing of my father, Francis Nigel Lee. Dad died peacefully on Friday morning after a prolonged struggle with Motor Neuron Disease.  Although the disease gradually robbed him of his speech, mobility and ability to write, he conducted himself with dignity and grace to the end.  When I took him to a neurology appointment in October, he was already wheelchair-bound. The panel of specialists sympathised with his condition and remarked that it would be natural for him to be angry or hope for a less devastating diagnosis.  He calmly replied, “Whether I die in 2 years or 2 months, is in God’s hands. My hope is in the next life.”
 
On December 5th, Dad celebrated his 77th Birthday.  Two days later marked my parents’ 48th Wedding Anniversary.  My mother, Nellie, who was his full-time career during his illness, was at his bedside when he died.  Her resilience and selfless commitment to Dad’s needs were inspirational.
 
Thank you to all who have expressed their concern for his health and well-being in recent months.  His suffering is over now.

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