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President’s Postscript | Duplex Truth & the Christian Scholarly Calling


by President J. Derek Halvorson ’93

 

Last May, I spent some time with Covenant students in China. I listened in to their conversation on a Beijing subway as they chuckled about how often they heard “both-and” assertions from one of their professors. It struck me then and it strikes me now that there is a big and important idea represented by this little “both-and” phrase. It’s an idea that makes me thankful for the scholarly work we are pursuing at Covenant College.

 

One of our core convictions is that our faith, the Christian faith, has implications for every area of our lives, that it matters for everything that we do, that Jesus Christ is preeminent in all things. In particular, in our setting at Covenant, our faith matters for our work as scholars—for the work that our faculty do, in their research and writing and in their teaching and mentoring, and also for the work that our students do.

 

One way our faith has bearing on our scholarly work is through the shaping of our intellectual habits. The “both-and” phrase students hear from Covenant professors gets at one of those scholarly practices. There are a host of truths taught in Scripture where we might be inclined to want an “either-or” decision, and instead God calls us to embrace a “both-and” coupling, a duplex truth.

 

What is the crux of the gospel call? Is it to repent of your sins—to confess your failures and to turn from them? Or is it to believe—to place your trust in the Christ who died for you? It is “both-and.” Did Jesus die to save individuals, or to save His church? Jesus died to save both individuals and His church, the universal body that is composed of believers.

 

Perhaps most significantly for an institution that has Christ at the center of its motto, was Jesus Christ God or man? Our natural inclination would be to regard these as mutually exclusive categories. God is the creator; man is a creature. God is infinite and eternal; man is finite and mortal. How astonishing, and intellectually challenging, is it that Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man?

 

This is the God we serve—the same God who has redeemed us, who is sanctifying us, who promises in Scripture that He is reconciling all things to Himself. And He has called us, as those who bear His image and have been enlivened by His spirit, to see the rich complexities in the world that He has created, not to be satisfied with simplistic or reductionist solutions. He has called us to embrace the “both-ands.” For, as He says in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”