Garrett Biblical Institute
Garrett Biblical Institute is now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. When I graduated I received a B.Div. (Bachelor of Divinity), but years later (for a small sum of money) this was elevated to a M. Div. (Master of Divinity). Seemed only fair for three more years of academic work.
At some point in my time there, I ran for President of the student body. There were three candidates. One was attacking the administration heavily, I was supportive of the administration and a third candidate was African-American or Black. In the course of the campaign, it was obvious I would not win, so I withdrew and threw my support to the Black candidate. He won! I don’t remember all of the issues involved, but the President had been rather hard on some students who left their wives at home in the parish all week and were very friendly with some of the single women on campus. The President had shined some light on that practice by having a talk with the husbands. I was on the side of the wives at home.
When Barbara came to Garrett, she got the support of the President in receiving a scholarship from her home church in Birmingham, Michigan. That church gave scholarship help to persons going into full-time Christian service and her pastor refused to authorize such help for her. The President, Dr. Dwight A. Loder (who later became a bishop) write a letter to the pastor and Barbara got her scholarship. When she left school to marry me and go to Alaska, the pastor asked for a refund. Dr. Loder wrote another letter and life went on. After all, she was a commissioned missionary. That counted for something.
One of the fun things at Garrett was playing basketball in the tower. I remember playing with the Cone brothers. One went on to become a prominent theologian. When he applied for the doctoral program, a possible racist on the faculty (from the south) refused to vote positively on his application. His name was Dr. Henry Kolbe. Dr. William Hordern, a Lutheran on the faculty, announced that if James Cone was not allowed into the program, he would resign from the faculty and state his reason. Dr. Cone was admitted and the rest is history. He is on the faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Dr. Kolbe was the ethics teacher and for some reason he loved to say that it could tell if a term paper was written at the last minute and he would give such a paper a very bad grade. I don’t know that I deliberately tested that opinion, but I wrote one paper at the last minute (I was a very good typist then) and I got an A minus on the paper. Part of me wanted to tell him and part of me wisely kept my mouth shut. I ended with a B. Much better than a F.
Dr. Hordern was a very nervous lecturer and he also lectured with a pointer in his hand. One time I hid the pointer and he literally could not begin his lecture until it appeared. Fortunately, he also had a good sense of humor and I didn’t flunk that course. In fact I got a B.
Dr. Samuel Laeuchli was a teacher of history and he insisted on memorization. I hit the point where I resisted that stance and as a result I got my first “D” in my academic career in History of Early and Medieval History. That was at the beginning of my second year. When my last quarter of work came, I was in a course that didn’t require any homework (Clinical Training at Cook County Hospital for 8 credits), so each evening I would say goodnight to Barbara at 10 p.m., return to my dorm and play pinochle until 1 or 2 a.m. Probably one of my more helpful learnings in seminary – how to pay pinochle. It is skill (?) that is still with me today. When Bishop Everett Palmer frowned on our playing at Pastor’s School in Alaska, we played on.
Comprehensive exams was an ordeal for all students. Each student spent one hour with 3 professors who could ask any questions they wished to ask. After the hour they would either approve the student for graduation or success remedial work in areas of weakness. I took this oral exam on Friday, October 13, 1961. When I got up that morning, being very nervous, I flirted with a student at breakfast named Barbara Dadd. I was smitten.
I had spent the summer in Alaska and some of my hour was taken up with questions about my experience. They asked some question completely out of my academic work, but I was able to answer the questions from my experience as a Sunday School teacher at my home church in Ludlow, Illinois. Especially questions related to Wesleyan theology. One of the professor noted that my Christology was a bit weak. If he only knew!
To this day, I enjoy reading about what happened to the Christian faith in the first 500 years when the faith was changed in a way that Jesus would not have recognized or desired, in my opinion. Books titled: “When did Jesus become Christ?” are recommended by me. Check out the first five centuries. I was born at the right time. No one kills me for what I believe. They may stop coming to listen to me. They may stop paying my salary. But they do not kill me. Thank you, God.
We were married in the Chapel by Dr. John Irwin, who taught preaching.
One New Testament professor was Dr. Ed Blair. Flash forward to the end of my career in Stanwood and I was his pastor for eight years. He was kind. He retired in 1971. The late 1960’s were not kind to him, as he was open to dialogue and some of the students were into something else. Woe to any professor who said the wrong “word” in a lecture.
Dr. Wise was challenged by a student once and it was interested to see him handle the situation, shall we say “wisely”? We also sang with gusto the song: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” whenever he preached.
I took LOTS of preaching courses: seven to be exact.
One class took us to New York and Washington D.C.: Travel Seminar in Public Affairs. Met Eleanor Roosevelt. One of my few “A’s”. In fact, I got 4 “A’s”. In addition to the Travel Seminar, Sermon Workshop, Preaching & Contemporary Literature and Educational Ministry to Children. Completing this approach, I got 26 B’s and 7 C’s and 1 D. Sometimes I claim that I wish I had majored in history in college, but I got 2 C’s and a D in history in Seminary. I still like historical novels. History with sugar coating?