Office of the President

Dr. Nicholson: Let those Lamps Shine Brightly

Let Those Lamps Shine Brightly
[Editor's Note:  Excerpts from President Nicholson’s inaugural address, October 8, 1983. Included in Faith Learning & Life:  Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University. Callen, Dr. Barry L.  Anderson, Indiana: Warner Press, 1991.]

President Nicholson in his officeYou may recall the story told by Harry Lauder, the Scottish bard, recounting his Edinburgh boyhood experience of watching the lamplighter.  At dusk this man would place his ladder against the lamp post, climb it to light the old-fashioned gas street lamp—and then go down the ladder and move on to the next lamp—and then to the next—until finally his form was lost to sight. But even though the lamplighter could no longer be seen, the course of his journey was evident by the lamps which he had lit.

If we look with discerning eyes, we can see lamps lit through the sixty-six year history of Anderson College—often in alien territory. They were lit by John Morrison, Russell Olt, Earl Martin, Adam Miller, Robert Reardon, Amy Lopez, Candace Stone, Walter Haldeman, Carl Kardatzke, Gene Newberry, and a host of others. What lamps did they light?

They lit the lamp that declares that to join education and religion was right and authentic and essential. John Morrison stated in his unique, pungent manner: "Education without religion is damnation; religion without education is a mess."

They lit the lamp that reaffirms that an educated ministry and laity can be a Spirit-filled ministry and laity. That truth had to be forged out afresh in this religious communion; but today we accept it and build upon it.  

They lit the lamp that clarifies that we are whole persons who must deal with whole truth. Russell Olt taught and talked about psychology and religion. Carl Kardatzke taught and talked about Christian marriage, family life, and sex. Candace Stone taught and talked about Christian faith and social obligation. We are whole persons; we must pursue whole truth. 

They lit the lamp that insists that it is not the signing of creeds that counts, but the fact and quality of discipleship.

Many of the persons I have cited are now gone from this campus and this life. But the burning question for today—in this time, this place—is, "Does the light still shine?" Those lamps lit in earlier days are still visible and are crucial to light our way.  But are there more lamps still to light? We say Yes—there are more lamps to be lighted. There is more essential territory yet to be illuminated.  

We are called to "sing unto the Lord a new song." We are called to build on the past, to move into the future. We are not called to stand where they stood, but rather to stand on their shoulders, to seize the strength of their steadfastness, to peer farther out into the unknown where, with God’s help, we shall light our lamps. What lamps shall we light in the days, months, and years ahead?

  1. We shall pursue excellence. Our mission statement sharply illumines a beginning definition:

    Our mission is to be an institution of Christian higher education at its best. We understand this to mean building that quality program that will enable each member of the campus community to become stronger in body, mind, and spirit; to experience what it means to love God and neighbor; to purposefully adopt a style of servanthood in all of life. 
  2. We shall aspire to an education of breadth and depth and experience. In this faculty are scholars who can and will stretch and extend students in their pursuance of their disciplines. But they also believe in an education that is not one-dimensioned. They hold to the spirit and the substance of the liberal arts. And they believe in the strength and reinforcement that experiential learning brings to traditional learning. 
  3.  We believe in working actively at crossing points. It is easy to take a discipline—or a conviction—and work single-mindedly on it. But when two lines of integrity can be followed and, at the point of their intersection are seriously examined, we may discover truth and wisdom that is more than surface truth, more than single-dimension wisdom.
  4. We shall light that lamp which breaks down barriers between people—barriers of racial, national, cultural or theological pride which separate us one from another. We must work at breaking down these barriers in our recruiting, in our classrooms, in campus life, through our Tri-S program half way around the world, or wherever there is opportunity to talk and to probe.