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Whitworth Theology Department Annual Newsletter 2018

Adam Neder (2004-present), Professor of Theology, Bruner-Welch Chair in Theology

My life this year has been full of many good things, including the unusual gift of working here at Whitworth. It has also been the worst year of my life. My beloved brother Josh died on Sept. 8. I am grateful that his life is "hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3), but his absence is a continual presence. I miss him terribly. Thankfully, I have been blessed with the most supportive family and friends imaginable, and the Whitworth community has been a constant source of light and life during this dark season. So too has our heavenly Father. 

As you might imagine, the experience of losing Josh has been a continual source of reflection on the question of what it really means to have faith in God. Nothing that I have read this year has rung as true or helped me as much as the following passage from John Calvin’s commentary on Hebrews. I hope it will be a source of encouragement to you too.

"Grace has always the appearance of contradiction. The foundation is faith. For faith is the pillar and possession upon which we are able to plant our feet. But what, in fact, do we possess? Not things that are present, but what is set far distant under our feet – no more, what is beyond the comprehension of our spirit. Faith is therefore named the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN. But evidence means that things emerge into appearance, and is applicable only to what concerns our senses. In the realm of faith the two apparent opposites – evidence and things not seen – struggle with one another and are united. It is precisely the hidden things, inaccessible to sensible perception, that are displayed by the Spirit of God. He promises eternal life – to those who are dead. He speaks of the blessedness of resurrection – to those who are compassed about with corruption. He pronounces those in whom sin dwells – to be righteous. He calls those oppressed with ceaseless tribulation – blessed. He promises abundance of riches – to those abounding only in hunger and thirst. God cries out to us that he is coming quickly to our aid – and yet he seems deaf to every human cry for help. What, then, would be our fate, were we not powerful in hope, were we not hurrying though the darkness of the world along the road which is enlightened by the Spirit and by the Word of God?"