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04/06/2018

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David R Larson

Gerald Winslow. Here, best I can recall, is the brief history of the beginning of WCTR and the relationship to the Earl Lectures.

The first meeting of what became the WCTR was on the eve of the Earl Lectures in 1972. The Earl Lecturers that year were Jose Miguez-Bonino and Langdon Gilkey. (I had attended the Earl Lectures for the first time in 1971 when Martin Marty was the lecturer. Here’s a link to the early history of the Earl Lectures: https://psr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/1902-1985Lecturers.pdf With names like Paul Tillich (1963), John Coleman Bennett (1967), and Paul Lehman (1971), you can see what people like Jack Provonsha found attending the lectures to be valuable.

We met the first time in Dr. Leslie Hardinge’s home. Jack and Carl Coffman had arranged the meeting. As I recall we also met on Sabbath afternoon. I remember that Paul Heubach was also present, and was introduce by Jack as one of the most influential theologians at LLU. I believe that John Brunt was also there. (I’m checking with him.) I believe that the second meeting, still rather informal was at LLU. In fact, the main meetings were on March 24, 1973, and Vern Carner had a major hand in organizing the. The reason I’m fairly sure of the date is because it was that Sabbath that Robert E. Cleveland, who had welcomed us to LLU on Friday evening, died in a tragic fall in Joshua Tree. (And I looked up his obituary in the S.B. Sun.)

I’m fairly sure that the third meeting, now rather more formal, with a printed program and with papers from people like Rick Rice and others was here at LLU in 1974. After that, I believe we started to rotate to the various campuses, i.e. PUC, WWC, and LLU (but not LSU because there wasn’t any LSU at the time, having merged with LLU in 1967). Eventually, Canadian Union College joined the rotation, but only every other time through the participating institutions. And when LLU and LSU split in 1990, I think we started having LSU in the rotation.

Most of this is from memory. So take heed. John Brunt, who has a much more reliable memory, may correct some of this. I think he was present for all of the above-mentioned occasions. And I think I only missed one or two weekends for the first 25 to thirty years. I was then on an extended recess, but now glad to be “back.” Rick should also have early memories, at least of the 1974 and possibly 1973 meeting.

David R Larson

Richard Rice. I remember that 1974 mtg, the first one I attended. I had written an article on “The knowledge of faith” while a student at the University of Chicago. It came out in Spectrum with replies from a couple of people, including James Londis, as I recall. I took the position that faith is irreversibly prior to reason, a view which departed noticeably from the faith-is-reasonable position that was popular with Graham and Dalton. I was invited to speak on the topic at the 1974 WCRTC, and flew out for the weekend, just a few weeks before I finished my degree and moved to La Sierra. The exchanges at the meeting were memorable for me and a nice introduction to my academic career here in socal.

I enjoyed the WCRTCs that followed at PUC, WWC, and after the divorce at LSU, along with an occasional one at CUC. Another notable WCRTC was the one at PUC where Hackett, Eva, and Hammill representing the GC read a couple of doctrinal-policy statements they were circulating on our campuses. We faculty members grew somewhat restless, and Wayne Judd finally interrupted to ask, When do we stop reading and start discussing? During the vigorous conversation that followed the academics voiced their reservations and the administrators seemed somewhat taken aback.

Anyway, a great tradition!

David R Larson

James Walters. My first WCRT conference was at WWU in 1981, as I recall. I'd just joined the LLU religion faculty as an ethicist the year before (having received my PhD in 1979), and now I'd been invited to respond to a paper on angels that Chuck Scriven was to present.

What was I to say about angels? I read widely on the topic, and stumbled on a post-modern perspective--and it appealed to me. I'd heard something about how post-modern thinking was an advance on modernist approaches to perceiving reality, but I didn't know much about this perspective. The upshot is that from that initial presentation on angels, I began my increasing fondness for a metaphysics that transcends the thorough-going modernism that I'd inherited from my religious and philosophical forebears. An acceptance of the historical conditionedness of all human ideas and institutions freed me from the need to have the final rational word on everything.

In a word, postmodernism saved my Adventism--and it all began in preparation for a WCRT conference 37 years ago!

David R Larson

David Larson. I will post one memory now and others later. I attended my first WCRT meeting about 1975. Although I am not certain of the exact year, I have very clear memories of where it was, who spoke Sabbath morning, what text he used and what he said. The place was Walla Walla University. The speaker was Paul Heubach. His text was John 14:12 His message was: "In my ministry I have seen many great things; however, you will see even greater things in yours." We became good friends over the years. I was grateful for this for many reasons. One of them is that I regarded him as among the very best SDA theologians of his generation. Jack Provonsha, Graham Maxwell, Wilber Alexander and Dalton Baldwin did too. Although he never earned a doctorate, he dared to ask the hard questions and he risked offering his own answers. The course "God and Human Suffering" is one of his most important contributions to Loma Linda University Health. His contributions to Walla Walla University are still deep and wide.

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