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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

“My Debt to Covenant Theological Seminary” (essay: CTS 50th Anniversary publication)

Covenant’s 50th Anniversary Publication
2005
Robert Case (’73)

In l968, Kathy and I spent our first wedding anniversary with Francis and Edith Schaeffer at L’Abri. We were with Campus Crusade for Christ in Europe at the time. In l969, I was working as a radio news announcer in Seattle and wrote Dr. Schaeffer to ask him where I should go to seminary. In his reply, he recommended two seminaries. I wrote both seminaries. One sent me a form letter; the other, Covenant, sent me something quite different. John Buswell, Dean of Students, hand wrote a note encouraging me to apply. That was the first indication that Covenant was a different kind of school.

I joined about 40 new students in the fall of 1970, just in time to be part of a new congregation in downtown St. Louis, Grace and Peace Fellowship. Covenant was not yet accredited, but the intellectual firepower in upperclassmen such as Jerram Barrs, Jack McNeill, and Egon Middleman set a standard of excellence that lasted my time at CTS. I missed the great Oliver Buswell by several months, but I was able to sit under the little Buswell – David Jones – for my entire time in St. Louis. Dr. Jones was a part of the stable of stellar scholars such as Elmer Smick, Laird Harris, Robert Raymond, David Wells, Wilber Wallis and the new one, George Knight. Later, Will Barker and Barton Payne joined in my education. All these theologians were led by that astonishing leader of men, Robert G. Rayburn, still after all these years, one of my heroes.

I was admitted to Covenant on probation because I had squandered my years as an undergraduate at the University of Washington. Never intending to enter the pastorate, I was a blank slate for Covenant to imprint its worldview. I worked hard at Covenant and did well, but I could never match the extraordinary brilliance of my Argentinean colleague and fellow Schaefferite, Juan Mesas, who was working out of his native language!

As a new Christian convert in college, I was thrilled by the stories of the great missionary pioneers. I was blessed to witness a school started and sustained by men of courage and self-sacrifice, who gave up secure positions and reputations to found an upstart seminary in the Midwest. To this day, these early Covenant men inspire me. I met CTS board member Max Belz then, and almost thirty years later his son would hire me to begin a journalism school.

As the years since 1973 recede into the past, I find myself still indebted to Covenant for the education I received. As a young man, Covenant took me in, educated me, and gave me and my family an ecclesiastical home. For the last thirty plus years, as my life has taken twists and turns, the plumb line of my thinking has consistently been what I learned at seminary. For twenty years, I raised my family in a city without a sound church, and year after year I called upon my theological training at Covenant to sustain me and my family.

My daughters have long since graduated from Covenant College, become members of the PCA, and continue to integrate their theology with their life experiences – a further bequest of my Covenant education.
To put a finer point on my obligation to Covenant Theological Seminary, it is a permanent obligation.

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4 Responses

  1. Dear Rev. Case,

    As the Director of Alumni and Career Services for Covenant Seminary, I am deeply moved and encouraged by your reflections. I notice the recollection of friends, fellows, and mentors. This type of life-on-life ministry preparation is being discarded by some in exchange for online-on-life preparation. You testify to the working of the Spirit in and among (and especially through) people. Thank you for sharing that reality with the world.

    Your servant,

    Joel Hathaway
    Covenant Seminary
    Dir. of Alumni and Career Services

  2. David Harrington says:

    Is the Juan Mesas you mention the Juan Carlos Mesas I took from Paris to L’Abri around 1968/69? If so, do you have any news of him? Thank you very much.

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