Dr. Mouw delivers sermon about not forgetting the past while moving forward
President Richard J. Mouw
delivered a sermon, “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” in the first All-Seminary Chapel of the spring quarter on Wednesday, March 28, in Travis Auditorium. Continuing with the year’s focus on Philippians, Dr. Mouw preached on 3:12-16, where Paul emphasizes the importance of forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead for him in Christ.
Mouw, however, pointed out that there is also something to be said for not forgetting what lies behind us, and listed three ways that we as Christians must not forget the past. First, we must not forget our past learning—an especially important lesson for students at the beginning of a new academic quarter. “Don’t press the delete button and forget everything you learned during the winter quarter,” Mouw joked. “It is important to remember what we learned and to build on it.”
Further, he noted, there is a “collective forgetfulness” that must be warned against. It is easy for some Evangelicals to forget and fail to learn from our Christian past. But it is important to know the Church’s history and to be familiar with the development of orthodox theology. “We ought not to foster ‘Evangelical amnesia’,” Mouw said.
We also must not forget where we came from—our own particular history, culture, and tradition. Recently Fuller held the annual Asian-American Symposium, and this year the theme was the “healing of memories.” Such healing is necessary, stated Mouw, so “we can draw on the strength of our own past,” like the Asian-American immigrant experience, as it illuminates specific aspects of biblical teaching and the Christian faith.
However, Paul teaches us that dwelling on our accomplishments in the past is unhelpful, saying that his past achievements no longer define him. “By remembering his past, Paul is saying he does not allow those things to count as he presses on,” explained Mouw. It is not anything in our past that drives us, he pointed out, but “that hope of being with Christ that keeps us going, and ought to motivate us at the beginning of this term.”
Recounting a conversation he had with a student leaving for a personal retreat, Mouw said that the student complained he had been so busy with school that he had no time for the “things of the Lord.” But Mouw disagreed with his statement, arguing that writing papers, completing client hours, and conducting research—as well as quiet contemplation and prayer—are all “the things of the Lord.”
“We press on in this term to do the things of the Lord,” concluded Dr. Mouw, “as we press on toward the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”