The Marlin and Elizabeth Jeschke Scholarship for Religious Studies

Marlin Jeschke, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Goshen College, taught Bible, Religion, and Philosophy there for 33 years, from 1961-1994. Having done his PhD in theology, with minors in biblical theology and philosophy of religion, Professor Jeschke sought to formulate a genuinely Christian theology that was at the same time credible. He introduced a course in Asian Religions to examine the relationship between Christian faith and other faiths, also a course called Religion and Science to review the conflicts in Western history between science and faith, and to show that science was a child of Western Christianity, not its enemy. He was also aware of the modernist fundamentalist controversy in American Christianity that was open to an authentically Christian resolution. Like the medieval theologian Anselm, Jeschke saw theology’s task to be “faith seeking understanding.”

Jeschke began his theological education at Goshen seminary (now part of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary), where he took two courses with the noted Mennonite historian and churchman Harold S. Bender and was inspired by Bender’s articulation of “The Anabaptist Vision,” which guided him in his subsequent theological study and lifelong research. Jeschke’s Anabaptist-Mennonite convictions influenced his first book, Discipling in the Church, a constructive theology on the church’s ministry of reaching out with help to people who are in spiritual or moral trouble. And it helped shape his third book, Rethinking Holy Land, a review of the biblical promise of the land to Israel and in effect an examination of the central Middle East problem.

In 1968-69 Jeschke received a grant from the Society for Religion in Higher Education to study Buddhism and Islam, first at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School and then during five months of travel in Muslim and Buddhist areas of the Middle East and Far East. This year of study helped equip him to more effectively teach a course on Asian Religions. The course on The Christian Faith remained the one he taught most often, however, and theology remained his central focus. From 1979 until his retirement in 1994 he served as Book Review Editor of The Mennonite Weekly Review, and from 2004 to 2009 served as President of The Mennonite Historical Society.

In his retirement Jeschke undertook a weekly six-minute talk on WGCS, The Globe, 91.1 FM. It was called The American Religious Landscape, and ran for well over a dozen years. It covered a wide range of topics of interest on the American religious scene – from church controversies to famous preachers to parachurch organizations. In 2013 an editor of The Goshen News invited him to do a weekly column on global faiths for that newspaper’s Saturday Religion page.

The Marlin and Elizabeth Jeschke Scholarship Fund offers financial aid to Bible, religion, or philosophy majors with the hope that they too might articulate a credible biblical Christian faith that provides them personal satisfaction and equips them to support the church’s witness in the world.