giants still walk among us

I mentioned two posts ago that Neal Plantinga was retiring from the presidency of Calvin Seminary, and today I received my seminary magazine devoted to his ten years of leadership. Even if you have never met Neal or attended Calvin Seminary, you will enjoy reading about the man behind the books you love so much. If you are not acquainted with his work, just read his opening letter “From the President” and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

What I appreciate most about Neal, besides his ridiculous ability to spin a phrase so that it torques its truth deep into your heart, is his extraordinarily common touch. There are moments when I’m around him that I think, “Oh, he’s just like me.” And just about that time he utters something so profound and yet simple that I remember that he is a Plantinga, which means that he will never be quite like you and me. 

The magazine quotes Chuck Colson, who said that he was hesitant to speak to the seminary in front of Neal, “because I was afraid I will quote Neal without knowing it. Neal has so shaped my thinking, that I cannot separate what I think from what Neal thinks or writes or says. I have adopted his thinking for so long, I now assume it is my own.” A lot of us feel that way.

The best part of the magazine for me was when Neal tipped his hand about his next writing projects: a book on the Christian virtues (appropriately entitled, The Way It’s Supposed to Be) and a book about the Christian view of aging. These books will be wonderful gifts to the church, bestsellers that will transform the way we think about such topics. If you have already begun one of these projects, you may want to consider stopping where you are and picking something else. If you are already working on something else, breathe a sigh of relief and write quickly before Neal changes his mind. Neal is no longer encumbered with the responsibilities of being president, and we all are going to learn a lot from him in the years ahead.

One Comment

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  1. Jonathan Shelley May 20, 2011 — 1:31 pm

    Can we start a rumor that Neal decided to retire after mentoring Jeremy’s dissertation?

    With Neal and Al, Nick W and George Marsden all retired now and hanging around West Michigan, perhaps some of their mojo will be transferred to those of us fortunate enough to cross their paths.

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