When you enter the front doors of the Samuel D. Press Educational Center at Eden Theological Seminary – if you happen to look up – you may notice that two words are carved on the left and right hand side into the limestone. The words are in Koine Greek and they read “charis” (grace) and “gnosis” (knowledge).
Maybe it is just that, as a professor of biblical studies, I have an affinity for ancient languages, but I think the founders of this campus, now more than 75 years ago, made a very wise choice in framing the school with these words. Of course as an academic institution, Eden is a school committed to the pursuit of knowledge. Leadership in the church requires vast amounts of knowledge – knowledge of tradition, knowledge of the world, knowledge of ourselves. And yet, this school is not geared to the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but knowledge tempered with, grounded in, and oriented toward God’s grace.
This combination of grace and knowledge is at the root of Jesus’ wisdom; it grounds the church’s work for justice; it is at the heart of the gospel. In this grace-filled knowledge we acknowledge our own limitations, we seek out relationships that help us know God more fully, and we trust in God’s love above all of our own certainties. In short, we are always ready to learn more!
When I think of our various educational programs, our talented and faithful faculty, our dedicated staff and our deeply committed students, the balance of grace and knowledge comes to mind. Theological education for the church requires a readiness to learn and an openness to God’s grace. That is what ministry is all about. Goodness knows that the Eden community, like any part of the church, does not get this balance of grace and knowledge right all the time! But as our founders knew, this is a framework that gives us purpose and guides us as we live out and attend to the life of God in the world.
Being a part of such a grace-filled and challenging community is a privilege and blessing. As you discern your calling, we would be gratified to have you visit with us and join us as we live out our calling to be a school of Christ’s church.
God’s grace be with you,