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In Thy Light
O. P. Kretzmann

Dusk was falling beyond my window yesterday after noon and I turned from the printed page toward the north… A leaf was falling from the soft maple near the fence and I suddenly realized that I was once more face to face with September and the beginning of another academic year…

I thought again of the motto of the University — In Thy Light We See Light — and its meaning for our troubled time… Certainly an institution must live by the ideas and ideals which are set forth in its objectives… There must be some continuing light by which we may hope to find our way through the dark irrationality of our times… There must be some profound convictions which determine our attitudes over against the fundamental issues of life and death…

In our day there is considerable underbrush which must be removed before we can clearly see the light which governs our days and years… We must also guard against the fatal heresy that there is a contradiction between spiritual objectives and intellectual ideals… the life of the spirit and the life of the mind… the delusion that we cannot be intellectually responsible men and women and at the same time spiritually responsible children of God…

This basic dichotomy appears regularly in times of transition and decay… when we confuse the permanent and the impermanent… when men cling to the changing and lose the light of the unchanging…

Basically there are three groups who fall into this latter day confusion… There is the theologian who fears the life of the mind because it has so often gone so far beyond its proper boundaries into fields where it does not belong… History demonstrates that this is particularly true of colleges and universities… There must be a constant fusion of the intellectual and the spiritual… Paris in the time of Abelard… Naples and Cologne at the time of Aquinas… Wittenberg with Luther and Melanchthon… the Scandinavian universities in our own time… all of these and many more united the highest spiritual loyalties with the free critical operation of the mind…

Then there is the materialistic scientist today who fears the life of the spirit and denies it because he can not find it in the test tube or laboratory… He had his day during the first six decades of the twentieth century and is no longer an immediate danger to our life…

In the third place there is the pseudo-sophisticated intellectual who dislikes and fears anything old just because it is old… who wanders around under the wings of God not quite liking this or approving that in the arrangement of the universe until he reaches mans ultimate impertinence — man criticizing God because he does not like some of the things God does…

From all these heresies the University must separate itself completely… It must affirm that in the light of God and His Word we can see light… light in the past, the present and the future… light in every field of human endeavor, in every corner of the universe, and in every activity of the mind and the soul of man…

H. G. Wells said at the end of the last war: The immediate future will be a race between education and catastrophe. Now catastrophe has almost won, and it may be later than we think… It is a great task there fore to stand in one of the midnight hours of the world and say to God: In Thy Light We See Light.

This is the conclusion of the matter: The more passionately we believe in God the more critical and skeptical we should become of all human achievement… The more we see of His perfection the more impatient we shall be with all imperfection… The more we see of His light the more we shall be discontented with all shadows…

It has been said that history is a struggle between the paralytic and the epileptic… between no change and change without a purpose… It is our task in our time to join neither, to have our inherent tendency toward paralysis or epilepsy touched by the healing hands of the living God… changed by the light of Heaven so that we shall know and cling to Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. This is the ultimate meaning of all intellectual and spiritual endeavor…

Finally the light of God comes to us through Him who once was here with us in the dark ways of time… who said He was the Light of the world… who walked where we must walk… suffered where we must suffer… died where we must die… and that in Him we would know the truth and the truth would make us free…

Having said that He went to a cross and proved the truth of what He had said by redeeming us from the first and last darkness… the darkness of sin and shame and unbelief… giving us the incredible power to live with Him, the Light of Lights, our bright and shining morning star…

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