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The above are icing on the cake. The cake at Whitworth is the classroom, and the outstanding colleagues in the theology department with whom I am privileged to work. This past year I introduced a new course on the Gospel of Luke in conjunction with the writing of my Luke commentary. Teaching and preaching from scripture take me a step further than simply writing about it, forcing me to get to the heart of the matter and express it with clarity, insight and application. Students are wonderful teachers, and my commentary will be the better for their teaching. I also taught Romans, Paul's forceful presentation of the gospel, which yet again reached into the lives of students with transformative effect. What a joy to see the word of God come alive in the lives, hearts and minds of students.
A unique and remarkable experience this past year resulted from inviting a man who played a major role in political life in communist East Germany to speak with our Jan Term students in Berlin. We pressed him to explain how, in the name of creating a "workers' paradise," communist East Germany resulted in a repressive political system that violated human rights. Surprisingly, we heard no defenses or excuses, but rather an admission that the system had failed . . . miserably. His closing confession, "I'll have to bear the guilt of my deeds until my dying day." Since returning to the States I have been corresponding with this former influential communist party official, attempting to broach subjects like the cross of Christ, forgiveness and transformation. We all know we live in "a post-Christian era," and this man is a bona fide member of it: no concept of God, eternal life, grace or forgiveness. What a challenge to attempt to present the gospel to an individual who until now has never met a Christian in his life. Yet another day at Whitworth.
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