My first semester at Johnson Bible College, I took Basic Christian Beliefs with a wonderful, gentle, and encouraging man named Bob Martin. He made quite an impression on me that semester. I remember the first day of class Bob told us, "You can call me Bob, not Professor Martin or Dr. Martin--just Bob. For the teacher student relationship is one between brothers and sisters in Christ."
Bob also told us that in his class, he would rather us get an F and grow closer in our relationship with God than get an A and not grow in our faith at all. While I did in fact get an A, I also grew closer to God and to the church because of that class. Bob introduced me to the theology of Karl Barth (among others) and embodied in his life, through his "rejoicing in the Lord," Barth's famous phrase: "The theologian who has no joy in his work is not a theologian at all."
Because of the great experience I had that semester, I took his class on the Gospel of John during summer school in 2004. During those three weeks, I had the opportunity to spend more time with Bob and since that class, everytime I have seen him on campus at JBC, he has encouraged me in me studies. Bob was the first person who told me "You're a theologian." My love for God and for theology grew due to my relationship with Bob.
Last week at homecoming, I found out from Bob's grandson that he had been sick in the hospital. I got home from the office and found out on Facebook that Bob died today. I will miss seeing him on campus from time to time. I will miss hearing his stories about his time studying at Butler, his experiences in ministry, and his book recommendations. I hope that in the future, I can teach and study theology in a way that honors him.