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Dr. Timothy Tennent: I Came, I Saw, I Loved – Final Charge to the ATS Class of 2024

Published Date: June 3, 2024

Julius Caesar famously wrote to the Roman Senate in 46 B.C. in the wake of his stunning victory in the east: veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered. That famous phrase veni, vidi, vici has become almost the summarizing motto of the confident, unbridled triumphalism of the Roman era. If their motto was “I came, I saw, I conquered,” what would be the 21st century counterpart? I think the 21st century counterpart would be… I came, I saw, and I twittered. I came, I saw, and I posted a picture on Instagram? What an apt metaphor for today! We live in a reductionistic world with little patience for serious reflection. The whole glorious gospel has been reduced to simplistic phrases, bumper stickers, a Twitter feed or an Instagram or TikTok post.   

We live in a Googlized and AI world which is inundated with information, but which resists serious, long-term reflection. We live in a time when Jews, Palestinians, and Ukranians are dying and the next morning’s headlines are still about Taylor Swift. The trivialization of information, the reductionism of all things sacred, and the shockingly short attention span all confront you as bearers of the sacred eternal gospel in the 21st century. But, in any age, and whatever the challenges, the gospel is still good news! 

I charge you, graduates of the 2024 class of Asbury Theological Seminary to go forth and inhabit a robust, deeply rooted, apostolic gospel. Go forth with renewed confidence in the Word of God, the supremacy of Christ, the glorious witness of the church through the ages and to all the world! It will not be quick or easy – discipleship never is. It will take sacrifice and some long nights of holy lamenting. You must be prepared to occupy not the long enjoyed cultural center, but the more perilous prophetic margins. You must wake up to the new reality that to be a Christian is to be despised and hated, not lauded and revered. Jesus, by the way, did promise that to us (Matt. 10:22). But, through it all, never forget that the true church of Jesus Christ is indestructible! Christ has promised to build His Church and it is being embraced by men and women from every tribe, tongue and language.  

If you lose your courage and start entertaining people, or compromising on the Word of God, or losing your focus on Jesus Christ, then like Toyota, I will declare a “class of 2024” recall for Asbury putting out a defective product which could be dangerous to the health of the church! Instead, you are called to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world! There are lost sheep to be found; wayward sons who need to come home; poor who need to hear the invitation to the Banquet; disenfranchised workers who need to be paid in full; lost coins to be found; lepers to be healed; pearls of great price to be discovered; great debts to be wiped out! None of this happens through an exercise of power, but through humility, patience and love. In the eschaton, when God’s people have been vindicated and we are reigning with Christ, and all things are under his feet, even then, our motto will not be veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered; but, through the gospel it has always been veni, vidi, amavi:  I came, I saw, I loved.  So, class of 2024, you may be reviled and misunderstood, but be prayerful and faithful and keep on loving! The night is far spent, the day is at hand when all things will be revealed and God will set all things right. In the meantime, God is at work in your lives and in the world, so let’s roll up our sleeves, and get on with the hard, but glorious, work of loving. Amen.

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6 responses to “Dr. Timothy Tennent: I Came, I Saw, I Loved – Final Charge to the ATS Class of 2024”

  1. William Garrard says:

    Inspirational and prophetic. All tired and discouraged laborers in the vineyard need to hear this exhortation. Thanks for blessing us!

  2. Michael Mwangi says:

    This is a very deep message. A great challenge not only to the graduating class, but to the Alumni as well and indeed to all the ministers of the good news. Blessings to you Dr. Timothy Tennent. Will miss your articles from this forum.

  3. john t conklin says:

    Thank you for these powerful words of encouragement to the class of 2024. These are also powerful words of encouragement for those of us who have been “working in the trenches” being bombarded from all sides from the evil one and those who work for the evil one: within families, congregations, denominations and respective Conferences. Your words of encouragement have brought tears of joy to my eyes as I seek to be faithful to Jesus, my ordination vows (going on 40 years now), and the other of life’s vows. Thank you. JTConklin Class of 1986

  4. Reniel Joel A. Nebab says:

    Stimulating, penetrating and reflective discourse. Helps to remind me of why I am a servant and what I need to continually do in the ministry of the Lord. Thank you Dr. Timothy Tennent.

  5. Donald Burnett says:

    I feel that this article gives expression to your faithful years as President of ATS. Though I graduated 62 years ago I still expect by God’s to go forward in the spirit of this article.

  6. Donald Burnett says:

    May we all go forward in the spirit of this article.

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