Hoffmann Lecture 2018

The 2018 Hoffmann Lecture was given by Pastor James Wetzstein from Valparaiso University and was titled “Now We See as in a Mirror Dimly…”.  Pastor Wetzstein spoke on the provisional nature of truth and what it means for Christians, particularly Lutherans.  Faith was one of the main topics of the lecture, and Pastor Wetzstein addressed three things faith can be: convictions, creeds, and confessions; presuppositions; or hope.  Faith is central to the understanding of freedom Christians have through the resurrection of Jesus.  Because of this freedom, Christians can recognize they are not saved by scholarly knowledge, giving them the freedom to investigate and to be wrong.  As people living in a world of no uniformity of thought and provisional truth, Christians can recognize the imperfections in all areas of life.  Pastor Wetzstein argued that because things such as faith, hope, and love cannot be perfectly fulfilled here on earth, perhaps things such as history and sciences also cannot be fulfilled, and imperfections will remain.  With this approach to the world, Christians can look for and acknowledge wisdom while also add their own wisdom to the world.  They should be wary of those claiming to have final answers and certain truths, unless those come from the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This lecture reminded me not of something specific we have discussed in Honors, but of the whole Honors program.  In Honors we study multiple disciplines, but these are all rooted in the knowledge that Jesus is our Savior and died and was raised for us.  From this truth we conduct our other research and studies.  The freedom we have through faith gives us the opportunity to study a variety of things and use our faith and critical thinking to determine what we think is best, or closest to truth, recognizing, as Pastor Wetzstein pointed out, that we can know only half-truths while here on earth.

Pastor Wetzstein eloquently spoke on the provisional nature of truth.  It seems silly that a campus pastor would be speaking at a university about provisional truth, and how nothing we have on earth can be absolutely true, other than the truth we have in the Bible.  However, Pastor Wetzstein provided a good reminder of what our real truth is in Jesus, and how we as Christians have the freedom to explore scholarly knowledge.  In our culture, it is important to know your own beliefs and be firm in those, but also to acknowledge the wisdom others share.

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