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We hear a lot these days about the impending demise of print media. Isn’t it remarkable that in such a difficult market, Perspectives keeps chugging along? There are two secrets to our success: On the expense side, the writing and production of the magazine are labors of love. Our writers don’t get paid, and our co-editors, review editors, poetry editors, board of editors and contributing editors all are volunteers. We pay a proofreader, and we do pay our managing editor because without a managing editor, the magazine would never get published – but the amount we pay is scandalously modest.
On the revenue side, we have a number of faithful subscribers, and many of them also make donations to help keep Perspectives afloat. Our primary sources of revenue, though, are the academic institutions of the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church in America. We’d be sunk without them. This issue of Perspectives is entirely made up of content from one those institutions: Western Theological Seminary, the Reformed Church in America institution in Holland, Michigan.
Sadly, print media isn’t the only venture with dim prospects in today’s world. The same can be said for schools of theology. Three-fourths of North American seminaries are in decline. Some have closed, and some have been absorbed into larger institutions. Yet here is Western Theological Seminary, chugging along a la Perspectives, enjoying its largest enrollment ever.
OUR LEGACY AND OUR FUTURE
Why is that?
Western is a remarkable place, filled with remarkable faculty, staff and students. My hope in guest editing this issue is to pull back the curtain and let you see inside our school by hearing from a number of different voices connected to Western. My hope also is that Western is throwing down the gauntlet to the other CRC and RCA institutions that support Perspectives to do their own issues. I hope a “Voices from …” issue would be a regular occurrence for the magazine.
These pages contain articles from some of Western’s newest faculty, such as Duane Loynes and Han-luen Kantzer Komline, and our most senior emeritus faculty member, I. John Hesselink. When I started seminary in 1981, Hesselink was Western’s president, and I was intimidated by him. He had done his doctoral work in Basel under Karl Barth. (Karl Barth!) And before going to Basel he’d studied in Japan with Emil Brunner. (Emil Brunner!) That was the theological equivalent of an aspiring popular songwriter learning the craft from John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Then I met Hesselink and found him to be patient, kind, generous, wise and compassionate. I delight now, 35 years after I met this giant of the Reformed faith, that we are good friends. We go to baseball games together, and he comes into my office frequently and gives me books and articles to read. At age 88, he has a mind and theological acumen that are as sharp as ever. I am so happy that this issue of Perspectives contains a new memoir by Hesselink on his friendship with Brunner. Hesselink was first approached by someone in Hungary to write this article, and he has gladly shared it with us.
I also want to highlight the book excerpt from The Justice Calling, by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson. Publishing this is a major coup for Perspectives. The book should be released about the time this issue is in print, and it promises to be the definitive evangelical work on the topic of justice. Perspectives, the little magazine that could, has it.
I hope you enjoy those articles, as well as all the voices from Western Theological Seminary.
Jeff Munroe is vice president of operations and advancement at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan.
Photo courtesy of Western Theological Seminary