The Long Journey Home -- By: Thomas C. Oden

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 34:1 (Mar 1991)
Article: The Long Journey Home
Author: Thomas C. Oden


The Long Journey Home

Thomas C. Oden*

I. What It Means Just To Be Here

Honored to be invited to the Evangelical Theological Society, I bring warm greetings from the postliberal underground. It seems fitting that this be the place to note that this is the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of James Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which has been so often reprinted by evangelical presses and used by evangelical teachers for a century and has served as basis for numerous Biblical helps and textual aids. My office for many years at Drew University is in the very room where Strong’s Concordance was labored over and where his advanced seminars were held. Few books are still in print after one hundred years. Drew joins with the community of evangelical scholars in remembering the durable contribution of James Strong.

For many decades a steady stream of splendid evangelical doctoral students has sought out the Drew graduate program from evangelical centers like Westminster, Fuller, Gordon-Conwell, Asbury and Regent to undertake doctoral studies, returning to teach in various evangelical institutions. This has greatly enriched the learning ethos in which I teach. Among my predecessors in the teaching of theology at Drew are scholars still being appreciatively read by evangelicals. I think especially of Olin Curtis, John Faulkner and Edwin Lewis. It is now time for my tradition to find its way back into classic Christian orthodoxy after some years of dubious experimentation and fitful wandering.

Basil observed that “the athlete does not so much complain of being wounded in the struggle as of not being able even to secure admission into the stadium.”1 I am grateful for admission into this theological stadium.

Just being here means a great deal to me, a partial bridging of the wide gulf that stormily remains between the two wings of evangelical Protestantism, between the sons and daughters of Dort and the Remonstrance, between Calvinist theology and Wesleyan revivalism. These two evangelical wings are now being called to learn again how to fly in a single rhythm of coordination. Since you have invited me particularly to speak personally, I shall try not to be apologetic about self-reference. I welcome this occasion as a candid moment of self-examination.

* Thomas Oden, professor of theology and ethics at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, delivered this address at a plenary session of ETS on November 16, 1990, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

II. Scripture As Word Of God

For any who might wonder about my own view of the authority of Sc...

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