Dr. Shuster speaks on “Hidden Hand of God” at installation service
A special service was held Tuesday, February 10, at First Congregational Church in Pasadena, marking the installation of Marguerite Shuster into the new Harold John Ockenga Chair of Preaching and Theology.
A member of Fuller’s School of Theology faculty since 1992, Dr. Shuster, whose areas of expertise are systematic theology and homiletics, is the inaugural occupant of the new chair, which is named for Fuller’s first president. Ockenga was president of the seminary from 1947 to 1954 and again from 1960 to 1963, while also serving as pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts.
“It is so appropriate that you have been chosen to fill this chair named for Harold John Ockenga,” said Provost Sherwood Lingenfelter to Shuster in his Charge to the Candidate. Central to Ockenga’s work was preaching based on sound theology; and the same, said Lingenfelter, is true for Shuster. “I charge you to challenge your students to go deep theologically and to preach with intelligence and passion,” he said.
Shuster, in opening her installation address, similarly offered comments on her commonalities with Ockenga. “Like him, I care very much about intellectual integrity,” she said; “about integrating sound theology with preaching.”
Her address, on “The Hidden Hand of God,” spoke to the issue of God’s providential work in our lives. God’s governance as well as his sustaining hand have been called into question by many today, she said—in a world that, with so much suffering and moral decline, “doesn’t give plausible evidence of being governed by God in its daily goings-on.”
We can look at some of the different types of locutions we find throughout Scripture, she proposed, to see how God does, in fact, carry out his purposes—though often this “divine activity is intentionally hidden” in the workings and activities of his people. A close look at the frequent use of the Greek word dei (“must” or “ought”), for example—and use of the “divine passive” throughout Scripture—reveal, though often in veiled terms, God’s providence: that is “hidden under the vast array of human activity…hidden under seemingly fortuitous events.”
“God is anything but an absentee landlord,” she said. As it was not clear for Joseph and his brothers until the end of their story—“What his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good”—God’s hand may be concealed, yet his will is being accomplished. Operative always, she stressed, “for his own will and purpose, is the hand of God—fully to be revealed only in the last day.”