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Spring 2003 | Volume 26, Number 2 | From the President
What the World Needs Now Is Hope

In the Midst of Volatility and Bloodshed, SPU Must Offer Students a Vision for the Future

At a Church Leaders Forum on the topic of religiously inspired violence, President Philip Eaton exchanged ideas with guest speaker Vinay Samuel. Samuel, director of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians, addressed church leaders about the ways in which Christians are called to “anticipate the kingdom of God by practicing kingdom principles and values.”

I WAS TALKING some time ago on the phone with Paul Gigot, the editorial-page editor of The Wall Street Journal. This was before the war with Iraq commenced. Mr. Gigot was the featured speaker for our annual downtown community breakfast, and he had called to find out about the breakfast, what SPU is like and what counsel I might give for his address. There was a month between our conversation and the event, and Mr. Gigot said, “Who knows what the world will be like by the time I speak.”

I have that feeling every time I write something or show up someplace to speak. ?e world seems to shift minute by minute, and the words you may have crafted yesterday just might be out-of-date today.

We are used to change. Rapid change was one of the great distinguishing characteristics of the 20th century. For so long, we marveled at the rate of change that new technological wonders brought into our lives almost daily. Rapid change, day by day, with no end in sight — each step along the way promising some new comfort for our lives or efficiency for our work.

But now it seems that change is measured in blood and violence and threatening chaos. And I have been asking the question: How should leaders lead in such a world? Specifically, I have been thinking hard, as have all Americans, about how America, with our unparalleled power and prosperity, should lead in such a world.

The big question is where we can find an anchor, steady and sure, in a rapidly changing environment. Leaders cannot lead without some sense of continuity, some steady, credible center to the chaos that swirls about and seems so threatening.

I have been thinking hard as well about our students at Seattle Pacific University. How should we help them envision the world ahead? How should we be educating and preparing these students to become leaders in that world? I love our students. They are so winsome, so gifted, so capable and so smart. Their hearts are very big. These students, as they become our graduates, will be the ones to carry our vision of engaging the culture and changing the world into what seems to be a divided, bloody and chaotic future. The stakes are very high for our vision and for our graduates.

And so do we model for them resignation or hand-wringing in the face of this troubled world? Could we possibly tell them to look the other way? Do we model anger, cynicism, fear or constant suspicion? When they are asking for ways to make a difference, do we give them a stone when they are asking for bread?

This is the time for a Christian university to dig down deep into its formative foundations, down into its rich heritage, down into the biblical teachings that have anchored our kind of learning from the beginning, and decide quite clearly what bread we have to offer.

We must give our students the bread of hope, and we have to tell them quite emphatically from where our hope comes. One of my favorite biblical texts in this regard is from 1 Peter: “Always be ready to make your defense when anyone challenges you to justify the hope which is in you. But do so with courtesy and respect. …” This is our task as a great Christian university: to tell our students, our community, our world, the source of our hope and to tell them winsomely and convincingly, with courtesy and respect. This is our task for such a time as this.

We have to craft a vision of hope on the ground-point of our faith in Jesus Christ. Eugene Peterson’s interpretive transla-tion from 1 Corinthians 13 is so very helpful: “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

Squeezed right there in between steady trust and extravagant love is unswerving hope. Hope against the odds. Hope even in the midst of horrific bloodshed. Hope in the midst of complexity and confusion and volatile change. That’s the vision we must lift up to our students. That’s the vision that will ultimately change a very frightened, chaotic world.



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Volumes of Volumes
SPU Library resources will top 22 million items in 2003. Starting this summer, materials can be ordered online from the new “Orca” catalog through the Orbis Cascade Alliance. [Campus]

Homecoming 2003: The Weekend in Photos
From fast-paced hoops to class reunions where former classmates reconnected, Homecoming 2003 was a picture-perfect weekend. See the action here. [Alumni]

The World of Teng Chiu
Seattle’s Frye Museum spotlights an art collection owned by an SPU professor and her husband. Chinese artist Teng Chiu’s work has largely been forgotten, but Joanna Poznanska is helping to reintroduce him to the West. [Faculty]

Playing With Joy
After an incredible season, the unbeaten Falcon women’s basketball team lost the championship game but won the hearts of the Puget Sound fans. [Athletics]

My Response
“The soldier and chaplain are each unique callings fulfilled by those who respond to the call of the nation and to the call of God,” says Chaplain (Major General) Gaylord T. Gunhus, U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains.