In the time that I've been writing here, I have had a lot of critiquing to do laced with some not infrequent praise for good ideas and commendable individuals. It's been pretty rare, however, that I've expressed specific appreciation for people who have had positive influence on me. They don't deserve the blame for my failures, but if there is anything good God is doing in me, there are human instruments involved for whom I am immensely grateful. I thought this might be a good time of year to express that gratitude in a public fashion. I thought it might be prudent first to recap who the winners of the awards would have been in years previous had it been in existence. So next week sometime I'll reveal the winners for 200–2004 and then announce the 2005 Paleoevangelical of the Year.
The criteria is simply this: the person or people that God has used most to incline my thoughts, affections, and life most towards the gosepl in any given year. So, here goes nothing.
1974-1994: Ken and Jean Wright, my parents.
There is no way anyone else could compare here. These were the years when I was a resident in their home. They deserve something just for putting up with my unregenerate heart, so this is small thanks. I can't even begin to describe how much I owe them for their unconditional love, unrelenting discipline, and unceasing prayer.
1995: Mike Manor
Evangelist Manor preached the service after which I was saved. This was during staff training week at Northland Camp, where I was serving (ironically) as a counselor. Without his watchful shepherding eye over the rest of the summer, I'm sure I would have melted down. He also gave me some tremendous help at the end of the summer with some major decisions.
1996: Bryan Tanis
Pastor Bryan was then the youth pastor at the church I joined after college. To make a long story short, he sacrificially invested a great deal of time and energy in me and poured into me his love for ministry, young people, and discipleship. I was fortunate enough to serve under him again for two years when he was the Dean of Men at Maranatha, before he later returned to the church where we had been.
1997: Larry Oats
I took two classes from Dr. Oats in the fall semester when I began grad school in Bible at Maranatha. Homiletics introduced me to the rationale for expository preaching. It seemed instinctive to me that this method was right, but I'm sure his teaching was responsible for that immediate conviction. A systematic theology class that semester lit a fire in me to understand and apply God's Word. He didn't even disagree with my main paper, which argued for a multiplicity of elders.
1998: John Pratt
New Testament Introduction and Romans with Dr. Pratt were definitive classes for me in my understanding of biblical studies, justification, and progressive sanctification. He had just written his dissertation on Romans 5–8, and this passage is still my favorite portion of the Word of God. These two classes probably stretched my theological mind more than any others. A high honorable mention for this year goes to Dr. Ed Williams for Hermeneutics.
1999: Jason Wredberg
After I finished my M.A., I started focusing more on coaching and started to take it easy academically and maybe spiritually, too. God was taking Jason, one of my close friends, through some circumstances that made him wrestle tenaciously on some theological issues. He started reading voraciously books by men who helped him deal with these issues by exegeting the Word. His new-found passion spilled over onto me (I couldn't let him get too far ahead), and by the grace of God it has never left.