Mike Holmes lecturing in CWC
Mike lecturing this morning in CWC

I’m writing from CC 313, a room number familiar to every Bethel student who has taken GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) during its nearly thirty years of existence. As I tap away, University Professor of Biblical Studies and Early Christianity Mike Holmes is lecturing on the history of European imperialism.

Mike has been filling in for a colleague on sabbatical, and will probably not return to CWC before he completes his time at Bethel. So this makes his imperialism lecture rather historic: not only Mike’s last bow in CWC, but the last lecture given by one of the course’s four founders — Neil Lettinga (History) having left Bethel in 2003 and Kevin Cragg (History) and Dan Taylor (English) having retired in recent years.

It’s been a pleasure and an honor to teach with Mike — and a relief to find that he feels that the course he helped to create is in good hands. It says a lot about Bethel in general and CWC in particular that first-year students not only can learn about the Bible from one of the world’s leading experts on the New Testament, but that they can hear him as part of a multidisciplinary team, teaching on the chapters in history that — as Mike likes to put it — fill the space in his Intro to Bible syllabus between Acts and Revelation.

And as a younger professor, it’s wonderful to get to learn from a senior colleague who remains engaged and encouraging even while teaching outside his field of expertise so late in his career.

CWC's four founders, January 1985
Unfortunately, Mike’s back is to the camera is this iconic photo of the CWC founders planning the course in January 1985

Joined by about ten former CWC professors, we took a few minutes at the end of lecture to applaud Mike and his contributions to one of Bethel’s signature courses. If you’d like to join us in celebrating our colleague, please leave your thanks (and perhaps favorite Mike Holmes-in-CWC memory) in the comments section below.

– Chris Gehrz

5 thoughts on “The End of an Age: Mike Holmes’ Final CWC Lecture

  1. Mike will never really retire. His knowledge and scholarship will go before him and enrich students and Bible scholars for years to come.

  2. Say it ain’t so! I taught CWC with Mike from 1998-2006 and as a newly minted philosophy professor, I had a great deal to learn about teaching and about the history of ideas. Mike was a key mentor for me. After each CWC lecture, the faculty would stay after class to offer feedback on what had just been presented. Honest feedback was always provided for all and nobody blew smoke, especially Mike. My favorite comment from Mike after I had just given a lecture on the scientific revolution was this: “That lecture occurred in a vacuum.” He was right. I had only delved into the philosophical issues that I found interesting (the rejection of Aristotelian/Scholastic teleology), but not much else. He was spot on and that kind of feedback was essential for a new faculty member (for more of Mike’s parsimonious style of critical feedback, look up any of his book reviews). Teaching CWC was like a graduate course in pedagogy and has been singularly formative for me as a professor. How many folks get to sit under Mike as un undergraduate (I am a 1988 Bethel alum) and then get schooled by him as a colleague? Thank you, Mike, for your contribution to this key course and for the effort that you put into junior faculty like Jenell and me. I use, on an almost daily basis, stuff that I have ripped off from CWC (I recently searched my computer for something on the Renaissance thinker, Ficino, and what popped up was a Mike Holmes CWC lecture complete with references to Greer). Nicely done, Mike!

    David Williams

  3. Truly the end of an era…well done good and faithful servant! I remember Mike’s engaging lectures very well as a student in GES130 in the late 80s. But as he wasn’t my small group leader I didn’t fully come to appreciate his wisdom and kindness until a decade later when I was part of the teaching team in the fall of 1998. He was a gracious and kind mentor to a very green team member. I was so excited and terrified! I will be forever grateful for his encouragement, wisdom & expertise! Blessings on your journey Dr Holmes!

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