Ronald H. Nash, R.I.P.

News is circulating about the death Friday of philosopher Ronald H. Nash. I had the privilege of taking two of Dr. Nash’s classes when I was in seminary: Introduction to Philosophy, and Worldview Analysis. He was by far one of the most memorable teachers I’ve ever had, and consequently one of the most effective — I can still recall some of his lectures verbatim.

He was full of those idiosyncrasies that make a great professor. He did a mocking hip-shake whenever he spoke of an outlandish liberal idea. When speaking of the charlatans of our time, he was not afraid to name names and speak on a wide variety of ideas (economics government were especially helpful). I once heard someone call him the “Rush Limbaugh of Christian philosophy.” A more apt title would have been to label Limbaugh the “Ron Nash of talk radio.” Nash was a tour de force.

Dr. Nash commuted from his home (a labor of love for Nash — he certainly didn’t do it for the money or frequent flyer miles) in Florida to teach the classes I took, so the lectures were held once every two weeks for 6 hours at time. It was a brutal undertaking to cover so much material in one shot, but somehow Dr. Nash made it bearable (his exams, which routinely exceeded the allotted exam time by an hour, were somewhat less bearable).

In class, Dr. Nash usually expressed contempt for falsehood, yet he often choked up when speaking of the Truth of the gospel. He was a man obviously moved by Christ. He will be missed and remembered fondly. If you’re unfamiliar with Ronald H. Nash, check out one of the many books he left behind.

2 thoughts on “Ronald H. Nash, R.I.P.”

  1. Say It Ain’t So!

    I am holding in my nacho-stained fingers some very sad news. My teacher and mentor, Dr. Ron Nash, has died.

    Among his many gifts to me was introducing me to the delights of Amigos fine Mexican cuisine (which has finally made its way north to my home in the Tennessee Valley). (I mean, WHAT do you have to DO to get some good NACHOS around here!!!)

    I first stumbled across Dr. Nash’s book The Closing of the American Heart while I was an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His insights into the personally and culturally destructive results of unbiblical worldviews were cultivated from his firsthand experience teaching students at Western Kentucky University. The Lord graciously used his passion for truth and for teaching to enlighten and invigorate my own calling to a ministry of teaching. For that I am very thankful.

    While I was his student and TA at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, he taught me to love God with my mind, as well as my affections. He taught me to, along with Augustine, cry out to God in confession of my sin and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ for His gracious and abundant redemption. Dr. Nash wisely recommended an annual reading of Confessions for every Christian. (One semester, the doltish publisher had edited out the conversion scene in our edition of this classic. What an idiot!!!)

    The Lord powerfully worked in the life of my family during my final year of seminary: restoring my relationship with my stepmother and drawing her and my father to Christian baptism. The Lord significantly used Dr. Nash’s prayers and encouragement as He bestowed these powerful blessings to my family.

    Among his writings, Freedom, Justice and the State is a particularly clear and perceptive deconstruction of statism and the human misery it leaves in its wake. His courage in defending human dignity and biblical freedom while they were (and still are) widely under assault on campuses – both secular and religious – was inspiring. Poverty and Wealth introduced me to the biblical foundations for free markets and the human creativity and humane values for which they provide space. Many gospel principles that Christ had planted in me as a child through my father’s produce business were brought to fruition and kingdom applicability through Dr. Nash’s instruction on economics. For this, I am most grateful.

    Nash was a tough pill to swallow for the overly sensitive or the proponents of a more enervating spirituality. His persistent courage to induce rigorously thoughtful analysis and application among his students was of enormous benefit in the discipleship of our minds. He deeply loved his family, his church, and his Lord. We, his students, are their debtors for sharing him with us.

    Faith and Reason and Worldviews in Conflict are of immense assistance in our ministries of apologetics and evangelism, especially his treatment of the problem of evil (with much help from his friend Dr. Alvin Plantinga). Sub-biblical worldviews offer no solace in the practical and pervasive circumstances of suffering, temptation and failure. Neither do sentimental spiritual vagaries. God’s sovereign and personal redemption through Christ offers singular hope for the sinful, broken and weary. God be praised.

    Refusing to deal with affliction only in the abstract, Dr. Nash was deeply affected by personal experiences of pain in the lives of his students. When a Baby Dies was a thoughtful and compassionate attempt to tackle the tough questions that ensue from the most difficult of situations for hurting parents.

    The deficiency of writing skills among the future leaders of church and society was of great concern to Ron Nash. He realized that a lack of rhetorical proficiency often represents a grave paucity of reasoning skills, contributing to many disturbing trends in our culture. And the self-serving “teachers unions” (insert a swivel of hips here) bear significant blame for diminishing educational achievement for the past several generations and, regrettably, for the foreseeable future.

    Hope, however, springs eternal. Dr. Nash’s formerly nacho-stained fingers are now embraced by the nail-pierced hands of our Savior. And the seeds of the gospel, planted in a variety of difficult places where Dr. Nash walked by faith, have reaped (and in due season will continue to reap) an abundant harvest of spiritual blessings. The Lord Jesus is eminently faithful in keeping His covenant promises. I am thankful to Him for the opportunity to know His inductive, sowing servant, Ron Nash. Requiescat in pace.

    Ron Lowe, RTS-Orlando Class of 1995

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