No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets


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These three iconic phrases have long been rumored to have been found scribbled on the inside of William Borden’s Bible after his death. Various versions of the story are told, even by well-known preachers such as John MacArthur, Tim Keller, and Billy Graham. The basic plot is that Borden recorded each phrase in his Bible at a pivotal point in his journey.

“No Reserve” – when he forsook his wealth to become a missionary
“No Retreat” – as pressure arose to remain in America
“No Regrets” – from his deathbed after falling ill in Egypt

A bit of research will reveal that much has been written, and countless talks given, using this framework as a one-of-a-kind illustration. However, there is no evidence that Borden ever wrote those words himself, and many of the accounts have twisted his testimony almost beyond recognition.

The only place where these phrases can actually be found in connection to the real life of William Whiting Borden are in his definitive biography, which you now have before you. The myths seem to have originated from a clever turn of phrase by his biographer, Mrs. Taylor.

In summarizing the life and testimony of her subject, she penned the following: “No reserve, no retreat, no regrets had any place in Borden’s consecration to God.”

Some people might be disappointed to find out that there is not more to this story. However, I would argue that these words written in this context carry an even greater weight than if Borden himself had scribbled them with his own pen inside the cover of his Bible. How so?

It is one thing to declare one’s own consecration to Christ, dedication to the mission, and sacrificial love. It is quite another for an impartial observer to study your life and make those conclusions based on the actual evidence of your words, actions, and interactions with others.

No, Borden did not write those words. His biographer, however, did carefully choose them to describe his life. And this book will clearly show that she was not mistaken.