Full of biblical and intellectual passion, the young Strauss
reminded his readers during that time of great discord and violence
that "righteousness as well as sin has its social aspects." That was
the driving force of Dr. Strauss' life —
a Christ-centered, invigorating and wondrous righteousness that he
knew would change the world.
Strauss died recently, on March 19,
but hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues and students
have been paying their respects to the beloved professor through
visits, phone calls, email and social media.
Strauss served as professor of theology and philosophy from 1967
to 1994 at Lincoln Christian Seminary, now part of Lincoln Christian
For years, his intellectual capacity and wide academic interests
amazed both his students and his colleagues. Those who knew him
understood that his mental energies always pointed toward fulfilling
the mission of Christ in the world. His appetite concerning the Word
and world of God was insatiable as he wrote extensively in books,
articles, papers and presentations. He once taught 47 courses in a
single academic year, and it was said that his course summaries were
100 pages long.
Strauss graduated from Butler University and Christian
Theological Seminary in Indianapolis (BA, MA, MDiv) and the Chicago
Graduate School of Theology (ThM). He received a Doctor of Ministry
in 1975 from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, where he
majored in contemporary theology. He studied with the late Francis
Schaeffer in Switzerland and took additional work at the University
of Strasbourg in France, Tubingen University in West Germany, the
University of Chicago Divinity School and the Institute of Christian
Studies in Toronto, Canada.
In a speech to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, Bill
Redmond, an LCU alumnus and then representative for the state of New
Mexico, called attention to Dr. Strauss' recognition from LCU as
professor emeritus. Distinguishing Strauss as "one of America's
living treasures," Redmond went on to note that the honor of
"emeritus" was one that Strauss "in his humility, would deny that he
has earned," and yet his "vigor and quest for service to God will no
doubt give new meaning to the word emeritus."
Strauss was described by many to be the "Einstein" of the
Restoration Movement, a Christian movement for unity that began in
the early 19th century under the leadership of Barton Stone, Thomas
Campbell and Alexander Campbell. The Restoration Movement promotes
world evangelism by practicing church unity based upon the
restoration of biblical authority and the essential elements of New
Strauss was a scholar and proponent of Christian apologetics, the
branch of theology concerned with the defense and proof of
Christianity. A collection of essays was published in Strauss' honor
in 1997, entitled "Taking Every Thought Captive," a life theme of
his, based on 2 Corinthians 10:5.
"What many discovered," wrote the editors and contributors, Drs.
John Castelein and Richard Knopp, "was that for Dr. Strauss, it did
not matter whether it was theology, anthropology, archaeology,
psychology, sociology, biology, epistemology, logic, law ... it was
Strauss has been credited with introducing the concept of a
"biblical worldview" years before it became a common phrase in
Christian academic circles.
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A living testament to the scope and depth of his apologetics and
worldview is the Strauss Institute at Lincoln Christian University.
The institute sponsors lectureships each October to reinforce
Strauss' convictions by inviting some of the finest minds in the
Christian arena to address a variety of disciplines in the
marketplace of ideas and the Christian response to them.
Through his life and teaching, Strauss' influence has spread
both generationally and geographically.
Stephen Collins, interim dean of students and professor of Bible,
knew Strauss for nearly five decades. "There are thousands like me,"
he said. "We are day care workers and university presidents. We are
local preachers and world evangelists. We have written books and
started institutions. We have fed hungry children and taken care of
the elderly. We have ministered in the halls of Congress in
Washington, D.C., and the slums of Nairobi and Port Au Prince. We
minister around the world. We have started new churches and
faithfully preached in the oldest congregations in the nation. We
have started mission works all over the world and yet served right
here where we first met him. We have taken on the world with the
Word as he taught us."
A roster of LCU leaders bearing Strauss' mark would include men
and women like Castelein, professor of contemporary theology, who
said he was immediately comforted by "the person of Dr. James
Strauss because he understood my questions ... and knew the
resources to begin constructing answers."
Dr. Dinelle Frankland, seminary academic dean and professor of
worship, called Strauss "an immense intellectual with a big heart."
Knopp, professor of philosophy and Christian apologetics, summed
Strauss' impact to be "incalculable," while Dr. Robert Rea,
professor of church history and historical theology, believed
Strauss to be "foundational to LCU, and especially to the seminary."
Amid the unending appreciation and praise of his work and
ministry, Strauss lived contentedly with his wife, Jewel, for 60
years. Their union gave them two daughters, Joye and Jeaneen, both
graduates of LCU, married, and living in the Illinois communities of
Ashley and Lincoln, respectively. Jeaneen is the wife of LCU
President Keith Ray, who is retiring from higher education at the
end of May.
Jim Strauss was loved for his quick and lively sense of humor, a
trait he used to his advantage as he engaged and awed his students
and audiences for nearly 60 years.
In the months following the Strauss article on "Race, Redemption
and Responsibility," riots raged, the Freedom Riders were attacked
by mobs, and buses and churches burned. A man named Wilt Chamberlain
made history by becoming the only NBA player to ever score 100
points in a single game. That's what many will remember about 1962.
But a few Christians may remember a two-part article by a
forward-thinking young scholar who challenged them regarding the
cultural climate of their day: "This is one area in which we are
daily being put to the test. Shall we succeed or shall we fail?"
[Text from file received from
Lincoln Christian University]
Established in 1944, Lincoln Christian
University's mission is to equip Christians to serve and lead in the
church, the workplace and the world. Today, LCU offers a variety of
degree programs for undergraduate, graduate and seminary students.
Classes are offered on campus, at extension sites and online. To
learn more, visit www.lincolnchristian.edu.
James D. Strauss