Gordon Henry Lovik made the transition from this world to the glory of heaven early on the morning of November 19, 2021. He was well prepared for the change of address!
I do not remember my initial meeting with Gordon Lovik, but could never forget him. He is one of a small group of men who made a significant impact on my life in the most formative years. His influence in my life began in earnest when I matriculated to Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis in January, 1966. He was thirty years old, had earned three Masters degrees following graduation from Bob Jones University, and was a friend to all whom he met. He may have been called “Dr. Lovik” in the classroom, but everywhere else he was “Gordy.”
I knew Gordon Lovik first as a professor in the seminary classroom. His primary field was New Testament studies with a specialty in teaching koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. Richard V. Clearwaters, the founder of Central Seminary, claimed on more than one occasion that Gordy “could teach Greek to a fence post!” He also taught biblical Hebrew when the Old Testament professor, Warren Vanhetloo, was on sabbatical. In addition, I enrolled in his course in New Testament History and a variety of New Testament book studies. Each of those courses honed my skills or deepened my understanding of God’s Word invaluably.
As time passed, Gordy became my mentor. Watching him teach provided an education in pedagogy. When I began to teach courses on the seminary level he provided helpful coaching. We spent many hours in discussion of biblical linguistics, theology, praxis, and ministry, often while eating sack lunches on “Seminary Row” where the professors’ offices were located. I had become his colleague. He treated me as an equal in spite of my relative youth. Along that path, we became friends. That friendship never died though we were separated by many miles when he joined the faculty of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, in 1976. I made numerous trips to Lansdale in the later 1970s and early 1980s for a variety of ministry-oriented purposes. Gordy and I had an instant connection whenever we reunited. It was as though the previous conversation had not been interrupted though our reunions were separated by months or even years.
Gordy was athletic—and an avid golfer. He and Warren Vanhetloo initiated me to the game. Gordy could drive a ball off the tee farther than I ever hoped to do. He was patient with this duffer, providing helpful advice when asked. We played courses around the Twin Cities metro area in the summer months, sometimes sneaking in a second round when time permitted. A fond memory is of playing a course in New Prague, MN, late in the season as the wind drove snow flakes horizontally and made finding a ball challenging! The club handle truly stings one’s hands when hitting a ball in those temperatures. Gordy had a smile on his face when we finished.
Gordon Lovik loved his wife and children deeply. He was genuinely concerned for the marriages and families of the seminary students and all believers in his sphere of influence. He often addressed biblical and practical matters relating to family relationships in chapel messages, classroom discussions, and private conversation. Gordy loved God’s Word—and he loved teaching it. Students enjoyed sitting under his teaching and benefited from it immensely. While the Holy Spirit did not lead him into pastoral ministry, Gordy had a pastor’s heart. That affective quality crossed the pulpit into the hearts of listeners whenever he preached in a church service or chapel service. He genuinely cared about people. Above all, Gordy loved God and honored Him with his life.
Dr. Charles McLain enjoyed a similar relationship with Gordon Lovik, beginning a few years later than mine. He served as a local church pastor for several years after completing his studies at Central Seminary, following which he joined the faculty of Calvary Baptist Seminary. After hearing of Gordy’s death, Dr. McLain wrote,
I remember those first months after accepting the invitation to join the faculty at Calvary —it was like living in a fog of unbelief and total inadequacy that I would even be considered to be on the same faculty as Dr. Lovik and Dr. Vanhetloo! The step from student to co-worker just had to be something that I was dreaming and not actual reality!
Gordy’s [and Van’s] instruction and helping hand did not stop with the seminary student, but extended to the green faculty member who was following a new, uncertain path of ministry. Gordy helped guide me those first few years while I was getting my feet established on the path of professorship. His constant availability, guiding hand, his encouragement, his example will never be forgotten.
Perhaps my clearest memories are from sitting in Gordy’s office during my Ph.D. studies. He provided a dose of ‘biblical reality’ as I was inundated with modern, academic philosophies and methodologies…a lifeguard in the turbulence of my academic studies and a guiding hand through my thesis process. Along with that are memories when I couldn’t sit down and talk with my own father due to miles between or his Alzheimer’s, I would sit down and talk with Gordy.
I shall forever count Dr. Lovik, along with Dr. Vanhetloo, as valued mentors for the ministry that God led me into—my teaching ministry would have been less without them. I shall forever count Gordy as a dear friend—he saw me and treated me as an individual and not as another student or another question to answer. He was personable, genuine, helpful, and is missed. His door was always open. His advice was always true to God’s Word. His example was always worth following. His friendship was true.
I spoke with Gordy by phone in October. Quite a bit of time had passed since we visited previously. I believe both of us relished the opportunity. Though age and injury had slowed him down physically, it had not dampened his ardor for the Lord or for ministry. He made a practice of looking heavenward throughout his life. I am certain that it was an easy transition for him on November 19.
This essay is by Don Odens, Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every one of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.
Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose
Charles Wesley (1707–1788)
Thou hidden source of calm repose,
Thou all-sufficient love divine,
My help and refuge from my foes,
Secure I am, if thou art mine:
And lo! from sin, and grief, and shame
I hide me, Jesus, in thy Name.
Thy mighty Name salvation is,
And keeps my happy soul above;
Comfort it brings, and pow’r, and peace,
And joy, and everlasting love:
To me, with thy dear Name are giv’n
Pardon, and holiness, and heav’n.
Jesus, my all in all thou art;
My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
The medicine of my broken heart,
In war my peace, in loss my gain,
My smile beneath the tyrant’s frown,
In shame my glory and my crown:
In want my plentiful supply,
In weakness my almighty pow’r,
In bonds my perfect liberty,
My light in Satan’s darkest hour,
My help and stay whene’er I call,
My life in death, my heav’n, my all.