Mentoring at a Distance

I occasionally get asked how much good ESN’s mentoring program can really do, since mentors and mentees are generally on different campuses and rarely, if ever, meet in person. A great example of the potential of long-distance mentoring appeared in my inbox this morning.

ESN partner Books & Culture recently published a review of the new biography
of theologian Cornelius Van Til. This passage, the second paragraph of the review, jumped out at me:

Full disclosure, for what it is worth: as a college student, I wrote letters to Cornelius Van Til on several occasions, and he always responded. This book even mentions my name in passing as one of the people with whom he had maintained a correspondence. Van Til not only answered my letters, he also sent me free of charge many of his books, syllabi, and pamphlets. And I read them all.

The “I” of this passage and author of the review: Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Here is Mouw’s description of Van Til’s influence on him:

Reading the things that Van Til sent me was my introduction to Reformed theology, especially of the Dutch Calvinist variety. That’s how I first learned the names of theologians—Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Klaas Schilder, Benjamin Warfield, Herman Dooyeweerd, E.J. Carnell and others—who, along with Van Til himself, came to influence my theological development in signficant ways. While I did not remain a consistent “Van Tilian,” he set the agenda for many of my key theological and philosophical interests, and I still detect his influence on my way of viewing things.

Have you been blessed by a long-distance mentor, or know someone who has? Any stories to share?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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