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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3 | Features

In God Alone
Theologian Miroslav Volf Challenges Graduates to Lives of Trusting
and Loving God

On June 7, the Seattle Pacific University Class of 2003, and nearly 5,000 family members and well-wishers, converged on the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to celebrate a great achievement. They also gathered to hear a Commencement challenge by Miroslav Volf, author and professor of systematic theology at Yale Divinity School.

"We were made to trust, and we were made to love, but our trust and our love must find the proper object. Our true hope comes from placing our faith and love where they belong, in God alone." Miroslav Volf, SPU Commencement, June 7, 2003

Considered one of the world's most insightful theologians, Volf spoke to the graduates on "Crisis of Faith — Crisis of Love." He said that at the heart of our many cultural problems lies a crisis of misplaced faith and misplaced love. "The core content of the Christian calling," explained Volf, "is to make God the object of our faith and love" and "to order our lives around trusting and loving God, rather than power and possessions," He urged the graduates to find "the motivation and strength to prefer losing power by doing what is right to possessing power by doing wrong."

Volf was born in Croatia and came of age in communist Yugoslavia. After the 1991 fall of communism in Eastern Europe, he witnessed ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs escalate into a bloody war. His entire seminary had to escape and live in exile, crammed together as many as seven to a room. "We could see on TV the destruction of our own homes in a war that was raging some 100 miles away," he remembers. When asked whether he could embrace a cetnik, one of the notorious Serbian fighters who were destroying his country and his people, he responded, "No, I cannot — but as a follower of Christ I think I should be able to."

Though he went on to earn a master's degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and two doctorates with highest honors from Germany's University of Turbigen, Volf continues a commitment to his homeland by lecturing for several months of every year at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. He writes extensively on church in the world and its relationship to culture, economics, democratization, totalitarianism, human enmity, justice and liberation theology.


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