Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Pepperdine Waves

Thanks to the kind invitation of Jerry Rushford at Pepperdine University (yes, that’s a good picture of what it really looks like), I gave two lectures Tuesday — one to local pastors about my spiritual autobiography and one to the students on the Jesus Creed. Not sure where to begin…
I’ll try with this: Pepperdine is a Jewel of the Churches of Christ. The Churches of Christ “denomination” (forgive me, Jerry) is a local-church directed Christian movement of some 1.25 million Christians. One of its only organizational centers is Christian colleges (like Pepperdine — but there isn’t anything quite like Pepperdine). Pepperdine sits atop a mountain ascending from the ocean in Malibu with a natural, beautiful architecture, and maintains a rigorous academic standard. When I got up Tuesday morning there were deer (little guys) in the back yard and a red-tailed hawk swooping down the slope.
It was good to see Randy Chesnutt, a NT scholar and professor there who has made contributions in pseudepigraphical studies, and to meet his son who stayed up the night before to read Jesus Creed. I met so many that I’ll stop there.
It is easy to gush about the spectacular setting — and I haven’t even mentioned sitting outside the lecture hall after the lecture under the stars, but what most impressed me is that Pepperdine is succeeding at something many Christians schools aspire to: to maintain rigorous academic standards and to keep the Christian mission of a school central. It is much easier to talk about than accomplish.
My hosts were Jerry and Lori Rushford, and Jerry (an old basketball coach) was sensitive enough to schedule the BCS football game as part of my time there. (What a disastrous game though.) I stayed in the Mallman house up the moutain with Darryl and Anne Tippens. (Darryl is Provost, and a Milton scholar — and we had great breakfast conversation.)
This was the first time I was asked to give my spiritual autobiography. It shows my age that I was asked not to give a “testimony” but an autobiography. It was fun thinking about, and I developed four themes: the importance of personal faith, a commitment to biblical orthodoxy, the centrality of the local church, and the significance of maintaining catholicity in our spirtual formation.
The evening talk about Jesus Creed went well; it was delightful to see so many students arrive and they were a very responsive and alert group.

Comments read comments(14)
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Scott D

posted January 11, 2007 at 5:48 am

Any of your talks taped or published on web?

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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2007 at 7:26 am

Scott D,
Thanks. Eventually they’ll post something. I did an interview as well.

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posted January 11, 2007 at 10:06 am

The idea of a spiritual autobiography is intriguing – especially with the connotation of pathway, process, and, presumably, growth.
“Testimony” on the other hand carries, for me from my background, the image of the Hymn – Love Lifted Me: “I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more. But the Master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I.” As if the whole gospel was contained in the statement: I was depraved, now I’m saved – end of Story. (And of course the more depraved the better the story.)

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Mike Cheek

posted January 11, 2007 at 10:59 am

Did you get to enjoy the hot tub that’s built into the side of a hill overlooking Malibu bay? Ah, my friend, that is a most transcendent moment, I can assure you. At one time I lived in Pasadena and had some friends who lived in staff housing on campus, and so they could invite me over and I was able to enjoy the tub and the most magnificent view.

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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2007 at 11:22 am

I didn’t hear about the hot tub.

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Tim Gombis

posted January 11, 2007 at 1:39 pm

This post really brought us back. One of our favorite spots from our So-Cal days was a little set of shops just a mile or two down PCH from Pepperdine that had a little ice cream shop. There was a lovely fountain outside of it and we’d sit there and eat ice cream while our kids (very young at that point) got more and more soaked while playing in the water. What a great spot, have a blast!

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John Alan Turner

posted January 11, 2007 at 2:25 pm

Like several others, this post brought back wonderful memories for me. I had Dr. Chesnutt for OT Survey my Freshman year (M-T-Th at 8:00am — I don’t remember a thing!).
It is truly an amazing location, and I have tremendous respect for what men like Jerry Daryl and President Andy Benton are doing — maintaining solid academic standards, great athletic programs and a real sense of Christian mission.
I’ll be out there in May as part of the annual Pepperdine Lectures. My wife is already counting the days!

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posted January 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

I hope one day you will post your spiritual autobiograph & encourage other posters to do so as well. BANG! You have a new book!

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Sean Cannon

posted January 11, 2007 at 5:43 pm

yes, disastrous BCS game, indeed. i almost cried. almost. after seeing the cowboys lose in such a heartbreaking manner, that game just added insult to injury.
anyway, glad to hear about your stay at pepperdine.

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Dana Ames

posted January 11, 2007 at 5:58 pm

LOL, J-Marie!
Here’s a Pepperdine-related story: When we lived down that way, we were acquainted with a couple who had met while they were students there; he was an effusive Frenchman, and she was a beautiful blonde who had grown up in Pacific Palisades. She became interested in a more-than-nominal Christian life and began to attend our church and make friends. He started to come along to see what it was all about. Pretty soon he gave his life to Jesus and got baptized (in a hot tub- it was either that or a swimming pool or the ocean, as we didn’t have a building). Then this very remarkable thing happened: He went to the appropriate people at Pepperdine and admitted to them that he had falsified his French academic records and lied about having earned his bachelor’s (he didn’t finish it before he emigrated) in order to be accepted into their MBA program. He made this confession fully expecting them to disallow his MBA, which would have gotten him fired (since it was a requirment for his job)- with three kids to support and LA living expenses looming. After discussion, the Pepperdine folks decided that because of his honesty as evidence of God-grounded change in his life, and because some years had passed, all they would require of him would be to pay some kind of fee on top of taking one or two additional classes.

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Pat Arnet

posted January 11, 2007 at 6:46 pm

How lucky for some of you to have lived there!
What a great spot. Glad it went well, Scot

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Rick Gibson (From Pepperdine)

posted January 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Scot, we were blessed by your visit and challenged by your presentations. Thanks for noting that Pepperedine takes its Christian Mission seriously. We strive everyday to strengthen the bond between faith and academic excellence.
By the way…Your interview with Jerry Rushford will be online shortly.

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Darryl Tippens

posted January 16, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Dear Scot, It’s heart-warming to read the generous comments about your recent experience at Pepperdine. I am also enjoying reading various readers’ reminiscences. We’re not perfect here — far from it — but we are trying to be a light to the world. Your message to students, faculty, and staff last week is helping us to become what we have been called to be. Many thanks. Darryl

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Hilary Rushford

posted January 18, 2007 at 10:47 pm

I am always honored to say I went to Pepperdine and humbly refer to it as “the greatest school in the country” as I travel the country and meet new people. Both Pepperdine and the Churches of Christ are unique and amazing communities, and I am so blessed to have grown up with them.
Scot, I know my family was honored by your visit, and that my dad especially loved watching the game with you. Thank you for taking the time to travel to Malibu (before the fires and the snow!)
Hilary Rushford

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