Note from Theron: This post is the third in a three-part series giving tribute to professors whose teachings and lives have been a godly example to my life and ministry. (The first post honored Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski and can be found here, and the second post honored Dr. Mark Eckel and can be found here). This last post in the series gives tribute to Dr. Charles Ware and Professor Hosea Baxter.
The famous line goes, “Ignorance is bliss”. The problem is such a statement fails to tell the truth. Ignorance is not bliss. Especially in my case. My ignorance led me to respond with a heart of apathy. That is until God brought me to Crossroads Bible College. The Lord used one particular course to open my ignorant eyes and expose my apathetic heart. The course? Culture, Race, and the Church.
The semester I took the course, Spring 2011, Dr. Charles Ware and Professor Hosea Baxter served as co-teachers of the course. Reflecting back on my time learning, I was the lone Caucasian student with three African-American classmates and two African-American professors. I am grateful to the Lord for how that turned out. The course revealed racism in historical perspective while also pointing out how the church has been guilty of racism as well. Culture, Race, and the Church also showed how racism is not an issue of the past; it still goes on today, even in subtle ways. Observing the events of the last couple of years, Dr. Ware and Professor Baxter’s assessment was and is on-point.
However, this Bible college did not just highlight the problem facing our culture and facing our churches. It put forth the solution. The resolution is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To work toward racial reconciliation we must engage in what Dr. Ware calls GRACE Relations. We must understand how the gospel of God’s grace impacts our discussion on race. For me, I’ve learned the gospel calls for me consider others before myself (Philippians 2:3-4). To imitate the attitude of Jesus, I must pray for the Holy Spirit to enable me to display humility in my conversations, recognizing the privilege I may receive unknowingly as a white while my black brothers and sisters in Christ receive suspicious looks or more, simply because of their skin color. I pray I would listen to their concerns. My stance is not to a political party. My posture is to stand with my black brothers and sisters in Christ. We are together in Christ. We are one in Christ. I thank Dr. Charles Ware and Professor Hosea Baxter for instructing me from God’s Word. A heart once containing apathy is now a heart ready for action in GRACE relations!
Note from Theron: This post is the second in a three-part series giving tribute to professors whose teachings and lives have been a godly example to my life and ministry. (The first post honored Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski and can be found here). This second post gives tribute to Dr. Mark Eckel.
The teacher who taught me how to think, not what to think. The instructor who impressed upon me the importance of incarnational ministry. The moviegoer who ruined watching movies for me, in the best kind of way. The practitioner, always connecting truth and wisdom to life. This is how I would describe Dr. Mark Eckel and the impact he and his teaching has had on my life.
My first Bible college course was taught by Mark Eckel. My second favorite course during my undergraduate, Introduction to Philosophy, was led by Mark Eckel (for the curious, my favorite course was Hermeneutics!). In this course on philosophy, God used Dr. Eckel’s teaching to stir in me a passion for thinking deeply and sharing the truth. However, that semester in his class was only the beginning. In the Lord’s providence, I would receive the blessing to learn under Mark Eckel again in seminary. His personal style allowed for much discussion in thinking through cultural analysis and engagement. These discussions were not abstract for Dr. Eckel. He was living out the truth on a public university campus he was teaching us in a seminary course.
He has been my professor. I am grateful to call him my friend. Dr. Mark Eckel now serves as the president of Comenius Institute, interacting with students on the IUPUI campus to discuss where Christian wisdom and college life meet. I can assure you the students who come in contact with this man are blessed. In his life, Dr. Mark Eckel’s own words ring true: Legacy is not what you leave behind; legacy is who you leave behind.
Note from Theron: This post is the first in a three-part series giving tribute to professors whose teachings and lives have been a godly example to my life and ministry. This first post honors Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski.
A Passion for the Word
2011 served as a year of spiritual growth. However, my sophomore year of Bible college began with a struggle. I had begun to take a hard look at my spiritual life. My time in the Word of God seemingly had run dry, where I merely spent time in the Scriptures for college assignments. This time in the spiritual desert forced me to evaluate the genuineness of my Christian faith. During my time of introspection, the Lord brought me to confess of my spiritual dryness and ignited a passion within my heart for His Word.
One of the main means God used to give me a deeper passion for His Word came through Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski. In the Spring of 2012, I registered for a course in hermeneutics, which is the science and art of interpreting the Bible. The professor teaching the course: Nicholas Piotrowski. Little did I know how much this course would transform my study of the Bible, and I could never have expected how God would use this professor in my life. The Lord used that Hermeneutics course in 2012 to ignite a passion in my heart to know and study the Word of God, seeing how all of Scripture points to Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25–27, 44–47). Moreover, His providence blessed me with taking at least one course per semester with Dr. Piotrowski throughout the remainder of my undergraduate studies. Nicholas Piotrowski became much more than a professor. He was and is someone I consider a dear friend and mentor.
Entrusted with Teaching the Word
Yet, he is more than a friend and mentor. Now, I call him my boss. I have for the last two years. Up until this summer, I served as his assistant at the Bible college. While my tenure in the staff role ended in June, Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski remains my superior. He is the Associate Dean of Academics and I am entering my second school year as Adjunct Professor at Crossroads Bible College. One of the courses I have the responsibility and pleasure of teaching for the second straight year: Hermeneutics. The course which transformed my life and ministry, taught by a man who continues to bless my life, has been entrusted to me. What a call! As I prepare to teach another group of students this semester how to study the Bible, I reflect and thank God for Dr. Nicholas Piotrowski!