Tuesday, May 19, 2015

God Loveth Adverbs

This morning I had the chance to sit in on a conversation with a hero-of-sorts for me: Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff. I've been reading things written by Dr. Wolterstorff since I was an undergraduate student 20 years ago, and it was fascinating to hear his thoughts on Christian Higher Education in this rather informal session.

Dr. Wolterstorff (right) in conversation with President Hoekstra.

Dr. Wolterstorff taught most recently at Yale Divinity School, but he has a long history in Reformed circles having taught at Calvin College for 30 years. He is a son of my home denomination as well, the Christian Reformed Church. He is a brilliant, brilliant man--a deep thinker and expressive writer and eloquent speaker. But he had no arrogance about him--his wisdom was matched by his humility.

There were so many things that came up in this short, 75-minute window that I might like to blog about in the coming days, but there was one that stood out for me.

Almost in passing, Dr. Wolterstorff mentioned an old Puritan adage: (thus within the Reformed tradition...)

"God loveth adverbs."

I was struck by this, because I heard it said before that "Christian" is great as a noun, but pretty lousy as an adjective. The idea that there is one, singular "Christian" perspective on...pick your topic...is challenging. Because the umbrella of Christendom is wide, to say the least!

I love the idea of describing our approach to things instead as thinking about our work "Christianly." Using the adverb instead of the adjective here may be helpful. One of my very first posts on this blog was about this concept of "teaching Christianly"--and I owe a tremendous debt to my former professor and mentor, John Van Dyk, for this idea. But here I note that Wolterstorff and Van Dyk are cut from the same cloth!

This idea of a Christian college preparing young adults to conduct their work in this world "Christianly"--in harmony with biblical truths, in consonance with faith, following the example of Christ--rings true. How can I best submit my will to the will of Christ in all things?

I seek to serve Christianly.

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