Dr. Stanley J. Grenz 1950-2005
Written by Santosh Ninan for Relevant Magazine
and Etc. (the Regent College student newspaper)
My friend died today. Stan Grenz suffered a brain aneurism and
died within 24 hours. Stan was one of the pre-eminent theologians
of our time. He was a professor at Carey College. We worshipped
at the same church where his wife, Edna was also the worship pastor.
He was a sought after speaker. He has written some of the most cutting
edge books on the challenge of postmodernism for the church. He
was also my friend and I miss him
Stan was so humble and endearing. He was always accessible to students.
I remember when I was struggling with criticism I had received from
someone. Stan advised me to look at the source of the criticism,
evaluate what has been said and then learn from it and move on.
I always thought that was such wise counsel.
My Dad had read Stan’s book on post-foundationalism and Stan
was quite thrilled at that fact, commenting – “He’s
probably the only person in North America who has finished it!”
When I heard the final news of his demise I sat on the couch in
our apartment and felt my stomach just sink. I was (I still am)
in such shock. I had seen Stan at school just hours before the aneurism.
He looked fine. How was I to know that that was the last time I
would ever seen him? We usually exchange greetings but that day
I was chatting with someone else when he walked by me.
The obvious question of “Why?” comes lurking out from
wherever I keep it buried. Why did God take Stan when he was contributing
so much to the global church? Stan was a mentor and guide to many
young pastors in the Emergent church movement in North America.
He was sought after for his insightful thoughts on how the church
should respond to the challenges of post-modernism. In the academy
he was publishing books and journal articles that were causing waves
and provoking discussion.
Why did God take such an asset to His kingdom here on earth? I
have no answers, just difficult questions that gnaw at me. I count
it a privilege to have known him over the last few years. It will
take me some time to truly integrate this loss into my life. I pray
that Stan’s family will find the comfort that they need not
just from the God of all comfort but also the community of faith
to which they belong.
Bruce Cockburn is one of the greatest lyricists of our time. When
his friend Mark Heard died he wrote a song called “Closer
to the Light.” Cockburn captures how I feel about Stan’s
Death's no stranger
No stranger than the life I've seen
Still I cry
Still I begged to get you back again
Gone from mystery into mystery
Gone from daylight into night
Another step deeper into darkness
Closer to the light
Stan has stepped into the light of Christ’s presence. We
remain on the other side longing to join him. Those of us who love
the same God that Stan loved will join him someday. The tears we
shed now will be wiped away for all eternity. But this in-between
time is difficult. I guess that’s why Christ made such comments
as “blessed are they who mourn” and “in this world
you will have trouble.” C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is hard
to see clearly when your eyes are blurred with tears.” I am
still waiting for my eyes to clear so I can see again.
We do mourn and we feel hurt and we get angry and we are confused.
We question God’s wisdom and God’s timing and God’s
goodness. And then we stumble into his mercy and the pain we feel
is redeemed into something better.
Stan – we miss you. Your legacy will live on in the
hearts and minds of your students and colleagues and all those who
were impacted by your lectures, sermons and books. You are where
we will be someday and we will meet again. See you then.
Santosh Ninan is an MDIV student at Regent College in Vancouver
BC. He has authored several other articles for Relevant magazine.