THE FIRST DAY OF NOVEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.
We had looked forward to this visit for at least six months, so when our friends Bruce and Joan Edwards landed at Bush Intercontinental Airport last Wednesday we were naturally excited. They had flown to Texas from Alaska, where they moved four years ago to be nearer to grandchildren after Bruce retired from a fruitful career as a university English professor and C. S. Lewis scholar. Our plans for Thursday included the International Quilt Show for Joan and Sara Faye, and a visit to Lanier Theological Library for Bruce and Edward.
Wednesday after dinner we were preparing to enjoy a restful visit, beginning with a look at books Bruce had written about C. S. Lewis and had brought to donate to the Lanier Library in person on Thursday. Suddenly Bruce collapsed to the floor, and remained unresponsive. We summoned EMS, and an ambulance took him to nearby Methodist hospital where, despite best efforts, the cardiac team at the hospital could not restart his heart and within an hour he had passed away. (Cause of death was later determined to be a ruptured aortic aneurysm.)
Bruce and I bonded deeply and forever more than 40 years ago. A young preacher, he had sent me a series of questions carefully designed to expose me as a false teacher. Despite the obvious intent, his letter struck me as from the heart of a sincere and thoughtful person, and I responded accordingly. After sixteen letters during thirteen months of earnest correspondence, Bruce occupied the ground he had first attacked and he was rejoicing in the grace of God. Our letters were later published as A Journey Toward Jesus (read free at: www.edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/online-books/a-journey-toward-jesus-2/ ).
Because of his new convictions, Bruce was fired from his preaching job, so he earned a PhD and enjoyed a distinguished career as an English professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Over the years, he and Joan did mission work in Kenya and other African countries, and Bruce made substantial contributions to the popular and scholarly studies of C. S. Lewis. Besides individual titles (Further Up & Further In, A Rhetoric of Reading: C. S. Lewis’s Defense of Western Literacy, Not a Tame Lion), he edited a four-volume series examining the life, works, and legacy of C. S. Lewis. Through the years he also served as an elder in a vigorous Reformed charismatic fellowship near the university.
Reflecting on life a few years ago, Bruce wrote: “God has provided me much in the journey: a tolerant and magnificent partner in Joan, four faithful and generous children in Matt, Mary, Justin, and Mike, marvelous comrades and most importantly, His abiding presence, inestimably kinder, ever more real, and ever deeper. His spirit counsels, comforts, and confronts. God is merciful: He gives us, like manna in the wilderness, the faith we need for today, the faith required to dream today’s dreams, and the faith sufficient to guard tomorrow’s. May you, too, have the faith to begin and to continue the journey on to its glorious destination.”
Rest well in Jesus, my friend. I look forward to continuing our conversation in immortal bodies in new heavens and earth, before which even Narnia will pale by comparison.