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.