While at Fuller Seminary one of my favorite professors was George Marsden. George wasn’t on the regular faculty, he was just a visiting professor, nevertheless it was cool to have him come in every year and teach an intensive on Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism or Jonathan Edwards & C.S. Lewis. Learning about Edwards from him was an absolute pleasure, after all he is the number one authority on the life of Edwards.
George was a really nice old guy. Old guys tend to be super cranky (especially if they are really smart) but this old guy was so nice and caring. He loved his students and he loved Jesus. You could really tell that he had a very intimate relationship with Jesus by the way he prayed. I remember walking over to the coffee shop everyday we had class, we would talk about Edwards, Notre Dame football and Duke Basketball, and of course we would talk about the California winter weather. He loved winters in California. I suspect that the only reason he came to teach at Fuller each winter quarter was so that he could escape the freezing cold Michigan winters. I don’t blame him…. I guess that is a perk of being such a distinguished professor; “Hey how about we pay you to come vacation in Southern California for five weeks, oh and by the way can you teach a week’s worth of classes on the thing that you know like the back of your hand? That would be great. Thanks!”
I look up to George Marsden, not only because of his character but also because of his knowledge of Jonathan Edwards, my favorite theologian/philosopher.
I recently picked up his small biography on Edwards, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, and in it he starts out by doing something that he really likes to do when working on history, comparing and contrasting contemporary figures. He starts out his bio of Edwards by comparing and contrasting Edwards and the other colonial intellectual giant, Benjamin Franklin.
Next time I’m going to highlight some key differences between these two colonial figures.