Andrew Vis ‘Rudder hard over‘ The Crown 21 (11) March 2004
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“Rudder Hard Over!” was the title of a speech that the late H. Evan Runner gave in 1953, at the inception of the Calvinistic Cultural Association. In this speech, Runner advocated a radically different approach for Christian engagement with culture, an approach that called for Christians to network together to create organizations that could effectively shape society. Runner’s vision, which started the movement that has made institutions like Redeemer possible, is deeply rooted in the conviction that Christ is Lord of all of life. So, who was this Runner? Why is he important to us?
Born in 1916 in Pennsylvania, H. Evan Runner grew up as the only child of Howard and Sarah Watterson-Runner. After graduating with honours from high school, he began studying at the University of Pennsylvania in 1935. It was here that Runner came across Henry Bradford Smith, a professor who advised his students to leave their various faith commitments at home and to accept rationality as a common starting point. Though faced with this attractive proposition, Runner decided that he could not let go of his faith – a decision which profoundly affected the course of his life. He later went on to study at Wheaton College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam, where he was taught by both Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. After receiving his doctorate in 1951, Runner got a job teaching philosophy at Calvin College, where he taught until his retirement thirty years later. After a two-year bout with cancer, H. Evan Runner passed away in 2002.