When we look back and think of the people who have a great impact on our lives, we generally think of people who walked with us for an extended period of time. In my life, there are certainly those people. Interestingly, there are also those whose path intersected with mine for only a short time, and yet their influence was considerable. Mike Andrus (Mike Andrus, Council member emeritus of The Gospel Coalition) was such a person.
I was a freshman student at Miami Christian College (Florida) in 1974, the only year Dr. Andrus taught at the school. Mike recently wrote to me, “More than once I have wondered why God led us from Kansas to Miami and back to Kansas in one year’s time.” I would say that having an impact on young students like me is why.
I believe my first encounter with Dr. Andrus was him presenting a message in chapel during freshman orientation week. He spoke from Isaiah 40 about God’s transcendence and immanence, using terms like “microcosm” and “macrocosm” to exegete the text. I readily admit that I have shamelessly “borrowed” his thoughts here as I’ve preached that passage. It even became the basis for the first chapter of my book, Take Root, Bear Fruit, and ultimately why the book is dedicated to him. His ability with the text of Scripture was like nothing I had seen before, and I was immediately drawn in.
My fellow students and I loved the way he didn’t just follow typical explanations in his teaching. I remember one time when we were discussing the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ, and the textbook said something pretty basic like, “Jesus was unable to sin, but was truly tempted to sin.” Mike read that and said, “Fat! What kind of temptation is that?” (“Fat” was a localized expression, probably native only to our small campus, that was a kind of “Christian cussing.”) Not only did we love his use of the colloquial, but the fact that he would question a typical understanding of a doctrine was a fine example.
At the beginning of my second semester, I was buying books for my classes. I picked up one – A General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix. As I thumbed through the contents, I saw chapters like, “Writing Materials” and “Manuscript Transmission, Preparation, and Preservation.” I groaned. This didn’t look at all interesting. Turns out that if I could retake any class from my college days, it would be that one taught by Mike Andrus.
Classes from Mike were more like dialogs. I can recall several times when someone would raise a question or challenge a point, and Dr. Andrus would rest his chin in his hand while he contemplated what we had suggested. We felt listened to and respected. I felt that with all my profs at MCC, but none more so than with Dr. Andrus.
There was the time that he taught on eternal security, and per usual, came at the standard “once saved, always saved, no matter what” expression because he didn’t think it jibed with the overall tenor of Scripture. He wasn’t denying the security of the believer, but that expression didn’t sit right with him because, as he said, “It does matter what.” Somewhat confused, I approached him after class to discuss further. Eventually he offered to lend me his notes. I thought that was the most amazing thing, to be loaned the personal notes of one of my profs. And it may have taken years, but I think I eventually “got” what he was trying to say that day.
The relentless pursuit of biblical understanding from the text of Scripture itself is the mark he made on my life. My passion for God’s Word and for God’s people to learn it, obey it, and teach it comes from the many teachers I have been blessed to sit under. But the most memorable was Dr. Michael Andrus. And it all testifies that God has a purpose for even those smaller encounters.
Take Root, Bear Fruit is the new book from author Mark Knox. It is a book of theology from the standpoint of key passages of Scripture. Look for details soon on how to get a copy.