October 24, 2011
Arthur Holmes, 1924-2011
Yesterday I attended the memorial service for Arthur Holmes, IVP author and beloved professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, who died earlier this month. Born in Dover, England, in 1924, Art has influenced generations of students since he started teaching there in 1947. Among those who came under his tutelage were many who have gone on to significant academic careers of their own in philosophy, history and biblical studies--David Lyle Jeffrey, Merold Westphal, Marianne Meye Thompson, Mark Noll, Roger Lundin, Walter Hanson and C. Stephen Evans among others. The last three of these offered their memories of their beloved teacher at the service.
Steve Evans recalled how Art communicated that philosophy was not to be merely an intellectual pursuit but involved the whole person. He had an uncanny ability to enter the mind of whatever philosopher he taught about, expressing that person's thoughts in the most winsome and compelling way he could. There were no straw men in Art's world. As Roger Lundin put it, he never spoke of those he disagreed with in the dismissive way that comes so easily to us in our jaded days.
Art's sons and eldest grandson gave tribute too to a father and mentor. He was the first to jump into a cold Minnesota lake for a swim and the one who could hardly get through a prayer at any meal without tears in his eyes. He taught them that life has purpose, the importance of discipline, the need to pay attention to detail and what a real marriage looks like. Art's wife, Alice, was the love of his life as well as his partner, critic and greatest supporter.
At IVP, of course, we knew Art as the author of a number of important books. We were privileged to reprint All Truth Is God's Truth in 1983 after its first life came to a close with Eerdmans. We also published one of his first books, Christianity and Philosophy, in 1963, later revised as Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. His book Ethics in the Contours of Christian Philosophy series (developed by Steve Evans), is still selling vigorously in its second edition. It will continue to teach and mentor even further generations of students, living on as Art's influence continues to live on in the lives of so many that he marked so deeply.