Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Appreciation of Old Values

I'm currently doing something I've done little of: re-reading books I've read before. Somehow it seemed I never had time to re-read things; I was always too busy pressing forward with a new author, a new book, or a new interest. That, like the writing of books is, as the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote so long ago, endless ... of the writing of books there is no end. How thankful I am for the accumulated wisdom of the ages.

One such re-read was AS THE RIVER FLOWS by former AU president J. A. Morrison. Now one of those hard-to-find books, it was a delight to reacquaint myself with Dr. John's recollection of his Ozark days on the Meremec River and his adventure in Anderson, IN, where he became the longest standing college president in America. That is a delightful story in itself, but later ...

Rereading Dr. John prompted me to pick-up a book entitled AS I RECALL... THE WILSON-MORRISON YEARS, by Linfield Myers. I was spending an overnight with Dale and Cheryl Stultz, and getting ready to depart for MI. Dale had a stack of books on his down-sizing table and I picked up this copy of Myers' book. I remember when it was published but never gave it much thought; Myers was a banker and Wilson a GM Exec; I was more interested in theological perspectives, but I carried Mr. Myers paperback home and determined to read it.

I don't know what faith community Banker Myers comes from, but he was obviously a thoughtful man, appreciative of enduring values, and a friend of the church. Truthfully, author Myers lifted my perspectives to a new level, giving me an area of thought that I am still cultivating. As a servant of the church, I carry a life-long conviction of the church's worth. I have immersed myself in the history of the church, both the church catholic and universal, and that body sometimes called the Church of God Reformation Movement.

I am fascinated with the discipleship of the Radical Reformation (Anabaptist), and increasingly convicted of the worth of the Wesleyan holiness movement. I came into Grand Junction, MI only thirty years behind D. S. Warner, so I have a deep loyalty to his journey, even when I view some of his judgments with a jaundiced eye. It is no secret that the ministry of the Church of God has been in a state of transition, so it comes as no surprise that some wonder at the lasting value(s) of our movement. I have many such questions myself, after more than sixty years in church ministry.

One thing I learned long ago, was the worth of doubting. "Lord, I believe!" said the father of the boy the disciples could not heal, but "help my unbelief" he said as Jesus brought healing to that situation. And here, Mr. Myers started the juices flowing and I am still casting about in those waters, intrigued with the fish to be caught.

Myers' narrates a story of Anderson, IN that reveals a banker, a business man, and a preacher becoming friends. Their friendship forms a structural history of that bedroom community to Indianapolis. The banker befriended the young business man, whose business acumen became the driving economic force of the Anderson community for many years. That launched the career of the man that would become CEO of General Motors, Detroit, but as Anderson transitioned from rural to industrial economics, Remy et al became the paycheck that gave life to the citizenry of the community.

But time swiftly transitions ... economics change. Today I drive through Anderson and see factories that once were, but are now restructured elsewhere. The third man in Myers' book saw a very young pastor from Delta, CO, come to Anderson in 1919, not quite fresh from the Meramec, deep in the Ozarks of MO. That youthful and hardly-educated preacher picked up the dream of the President of the Gospel Trumpet Company and ran the ball for a touchdown by growing a university of which the church can be justly proud.

John Morrison couldn't run like Adrian Peterson, one of my NFL favorites, but he carried the ball for thirty-nine years becoming the longest-term president of any college in America--1919-1958. The point being, that today Anderson is probably best known as the home of Anderson University, rather than "little Chicago", or Delco-Remy and Guide Lamp, or GM and industry, or even Warner Press Inc.

Anderson University started as the leadership training department of a struggling publishing company, founded by a dedicated young religious zealots that were as poor as Job's turkey. They didn't add much to the Anderson economy and they were not always greatly beloved. And although some of the church saints tried to disrupt the educational process, Dr. John et Company pursued the course, flowing "As the River Flows". As a result, the future of Anderson Indiana builds today "Faith, Learning & Life" that exist in our Christian University.

I don't know if it is true, but I suspect Anderson University might be the biggest payroll in the Anderson economy today. I understand how its educational progress plays a pivotal role in the business and economic future of Anderson today, not to mention its religious influence.

The Church of God Reformation may not have converted the world ... yet, but its ministry is global. We may not preach "come out" quite like the pioneers did, but we have a better relationship with, and a better understanding of, the field in which we are called to work. I for one am deeply thankful and appreciative of my heritage, and the privilege of being part of a church tradition that values education, that dares to allow diversity, and that does not shun the doubter.

It was Dr John who said religion is more important than education BECAUSE: education may, or may not, produce religion (much of it does not today). On the other hand, religion does produce self-improvement and education. The American religious establishment created the core of American secondary education. The not-all-that-educated Church of God produced a University system that includes Anderson ... Warner Pacific ... Mid-America Christian ...  Warner et al ...

Beyond institutions, the Church of God is today educated people who are highly developed personalities that can think rightly, feel deeply, will strongly, love truth passionately, hate evil vigorously, imagine vividly, sympathize warmly, enjoy greatly, and serve unstintedly. This kind of person, said Dr. John, "knows the truth and loves the truth and does the truth. He is an alumnus in whom any alma mater may justly take pride" (Faith, Learning & Life/Callen/24).  

From Warner's World, this is
with another Morrisonism: "the soul of education is the education of the soul."

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