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President’s Postscript | Rightly Ordered Loves

by President J. Derek Halvorson ’93


This is the first time I’ve had opportunity to write this column in View, and I regard it as a tremendous privilege to do so. Life in the several months since I assumed the presidency of Covenant College has been filled with little blessings like this, which I do not take for granted.


Many times in the past year people have asked me how I like my new job. Almost always, my first response is, “I love it.” It’s wonderful to work among the faculty, staff, and students of Covenant, and it’s a delight to connect with the many alumni, parents, pastors, and friends who support the work of the College. It’s also a rich blessing to return to a place and a community that I love for the manner in which it shaped my life.


St. Augustine held study to be an act of love. (The Latin verb studeo literally means, “to be zealous for, dedicate oneself to, strive after.”) He pointed out that right Christian living can be summed up under Jesus’ injunction in Matthew 22:37-39: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On this basis, Augustine asserted that learning was an act of loving God with one’s mind, and that teaching was an act of loving one’s neighbor.


There is another respect in which Augustine is helpful when thinking about what we do at Covenant. Augustine taught that human beings are defined by our loves. As a consequence, education cannot be a purely cognitive activity. Rather, it is an activity that involves the shaping of our affections, or our loves, by means of the formation of habits of mind and heart and body. He writes in his treatise Teaching Christianity that we must be capable of objective evaluation, so that we can love things “in the right order.”


At Covenant, we desire that our students would love their Triune God. We desire that they would love His truth, and would delight in discovering it in whatever field of study and endeavor He calls them to. And we desire that through their study at the College and their life in this community, their loves would be rightly ordered—that they would be passionate and zealous for those things that their Heavenly Father cherishes, and that those rightly ordered loves would be made manifest in their lives.


This is energizing work, and it’s important for our witness and work as the body of Christ in the world. Know that we are grateful for your interest in (and perhaps even love for) this work, and we ask for your continued support as we pursue this calling that we love so much.