There are so many great pieces of literature that we read as a part of the degree program here at Southwestern. The program is designed so that the student will have a strong working conceptual grasp of the great books and how major ideas have changed throughout history. The great books include all the books that have contributed to the Western Thought, everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Freud’s Civilization and it’s Discontent. In my degree program, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Plato’s Republic, and Aristotle’s Metaphysics. During the Medieval period, I found Augustine’s City of God, and his book entitled, Confessions to be an absolute wonderful devotion for the soul. Aquinas’ refreshing Aristotelian blend of theology and reason in his Summa Theologica offered me a serious and thought-provoking avenue into the world of religious philosophy.
From there we read Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, as well as Pascal’s Pensées. Descartes was the dawn of the rationalist, and there I entered a journey into unexplored areas that questioned the absolute authority of a God who is objectively good. Writings of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume followed afterward in my metaphysics, and epistemology courses. Including bits of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Not long after we read Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I finished Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (an excellent anthropology study). And finally, I just finished this year off with William James Pragmatism and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five to name just a few.
These are a few of my favorite texts that I have read while studying at Southwestern, but still there has never been a text more meaningful, and more powerful than the Bible. The Bible continues to speak to me in ways that these great books could never speak to me. When I read of Adam and Eve being kicked out of Eden, my heart breaks. I rejoice over the success of the judges and the great battles that the Kings of Israel won, but still my heart was broken. While reading the Old Testament I longed for the day, a day when a King would come and never fail me. So knowing, however, where sin lies, death, and destruction always follows I waited like all the prophets and the Kings for the KING. I read in the Jeremiah of when God rose up a prophet to speak to a generation of Israelites who profaned the name of God by worshipping idols. In the Minor Prophets, Malachi teaches us that the people of Israel were offering to God empty sacrifices. And still my heart was torn apiece, and my soul wasted. Where was the King to come, the one I looked for my liberation?!
After Malachi, we know there is nothing but silence. 400 years go by then all of a sudden we hear the sounds of a baby crying in a manager to two totally unsuspecting parents. We read of Persian Star Gazers from the East, who come to Herod to elicit information concerning a KING who is to be born so that they could worship him. Jesus is his name, and fast-forward a few years later, John the Baptist is proclaiming in the wilderness, “Behold the Son of God.” Thus indicating that he is the chosen one, long and expected, the one prophesized of Old, who would one day travel into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to die on behalf of all men. The story goes on, and Jesus dies on a cross, was buried for three days, and on the third day he rose again from the GRAVE!
This is the greatest story in the world. I want the world to know that if Josiah were known for anything it was his relentless desire to proclaim this great and awesome love story! Would it be said of Josiah, on his epitaph that he never ceased to proclaim Jesus on his lips? My friends, there is no greater story to die for then the message of the cross.
And yet, sadly I see so many graduating seniors who forget their first love! As the Church in Revelation, oh great church of Ephesus how great you are except you forgot your first love! It is forever the shame of the Ephesians that they have forgotten their first love.
Graduating seniors do not forget your first love. Yes, you can die to many great pieces of literature and spend a lifetime unpacking the rich nuances in every little sentence but never stop reading your Bible. Never stop praying to God on your knees, and never stop sharing the Gospel.