Wednesday, January 23, 2008

L Russ Bush

I learned this morning that one of the most gentle men and fierce defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints, Dr. L. Russ Bush, went home to heaven. See

I remember my first class with Dr. Bush at SEBTS. Before the class began I did a little research on the man, to prepare myself. I found out that he had come to SEBTS at a very, very hard time. The SBC was changing -- hard and fast. Dr Bush was then a professor of philosophy at Southwestern, writing scholarly about inerrency of Scripture and Baptists and the Bible. He knew where he stood, and so did everyone else. While Patterson and Pressler, et. al, were taking the headlines and many of the pot-shots, Bush and Nettles and others were winning the minds.

The much-loved, and very liberal President of SEBTS, Randall Lolley, was gone. The new president, Lewis Drummond, came along and then had the gall to ask Dr Russ Bush to come east and be a professor and dean of faculty at SEBTS. Who in their right mind would take this assignment? A faculty on fire, the future uncertain.

Only a man gifted and called clearly of God -- Russ Bush. He came to SEBTS, and that has made all the difference.

Dr Bush was the author of two books that have meant a lot to me personally, Baptists and the Bible and The Case for Inerrency. Like their author, the books are clear and straightforward.

When I walked into that first class with Dr. Bush, I learned real quick that here was a man who took things seriously. His faith and his position as a professor, who was paid by the members of Southern Baptist Churches, were of utmost importance. I remember his going over the syllabus -- no tape recordings of any kind, no laptops, the paper you used to turn in papers were to be of a specific weight, the staple was to be angled just so, and when we did class work to be turned in, only black or blue (preferably black) ink was to be used. Dr Bush was old-school. Coat and tie everyday, coat buttoned. He lectured from his prepared notes. He did not seek feedback from students, and grew flustered if someone asked him more than once to repeat something so they could write it all down. He never, however, lost composure or his dignity. I remember him bringing his Bible to class, an NIV Study Bible, everyday -- still in the box it came in to protect it -- I guess.
I had to go to his office a time or two, and both times I approached with great trepidation. Knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, this man could chew me up and spit me out intellectually. He, I am sure, forgot more than I will never know. However, when I visited him in his office he was extremely gracious and accommodating. He listened closely to what I had to say, and answered me with sincerity.
I remember thinking when it came time for tests in his class -- they were open book. "Piece of cake" I thought. WRONG. He would take a sentence from a book, change one word, and ask a True or False question. I found that I studied more for his open book exams than I studied for other closed-book exams. Also, you used up ALL the time for one of his exams, and left the room exhausted. This man took loving the Lord with all of your mind seriously, and he wanted to pass that along to his students. He did. I remember walking in one day and the teacher who had been in the room before him had drawn a curve on the board -- a grading curve. As Dr Bush erased it, I heard him say -- "I don't use these -- you get what you get." Clear & straightforward, honest.
One other thing that he passed along to us that I will never ever forget -- and wished more people would get -- he said, "If a person believes that Jesus Christ is the one Savior for mankind, that He died and rose again the third day, then I can go a long ways with that person." A long ways in walking side-by-side in Kingdom work. This I have never forgotten, as some of my dearest friends and I do not see eye-to-eye on every jot and tittle of theology.
Dr Bush made an impact on this young, naive seminary student. I appreciate him and am sorry that more young, naive students will miss all that he taught.
I rejoice that his faith has now ended in sight.


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