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Courtesy | Cody Stecker

Eleven years after grad­u­ating from Hillsdale, Cody Strecker has returned to Hillsdale as a vis­iting assistant pro­fessor of the­ology. 

After grad­u­ating in 2008 with a major in Classics, Strecker worked at the college for three years, two in admis­sions and one in the president’s office. But he always knew he wanted to teach. 

“I’d known for a long time that I wanted to teach, but at dif­ferent times I felt it could be preschool, it could be high school, or should it be under­graduate level?” Strecker said. “In those years it became really clear that I just loved being around college stu­dents and teaching those stu­dents who are beginning to make their studies their own.” 

Strecker had to decide in what capacity he wanted to teach. As a Classics major, he loved the com­bi­nation of studying soci­o­logical study with reli­gious study and pol­itics, law, and lan­guage. 

“But it was the­ology that I was thinking about and reading in my own time and I thought this is what I’m really pas­sionate about,” Strecker said. “With the back­ground in classics, my studies began in early Christian the­ology and that’s been a con­stant atten­tiveness I’ve had.” 

As Strecker was in graduate school studying the­ology, he saw how his training in classics, espe­cially with Pro­fessors of Classics David Jones and Joseph Gar­njobst, really pro­vided him with a good foun­dation to pursue his studies, even though he was con­tinuing his studies in the­ology and not classics. 

“Their ability to unpack a text and to attend to the formal fea­tures as well as the important tra­di­tional content has stuck with me, specif­i­cally with my approach to poetic the­ology, which has been a real passion,” Stecker said. “To learn from them how to combine lin­guistic atten­tiveness with lit­erary capacity has been an important skill that has been foun­da­tional, although I have gone in a dif­ferent direction, it is all funded by those skills.” 

Strecker went to Duke Uni­versity Divinity School for his master’s degree. It was a two-year program which he extended by par­tic­i­pating in the exchange program which allowed he and his wife Mary and their two oldest boys to move to Reut­lingen, Germany, where he studied at a uni­versity and sem­inary for nearly 11 months. 

After fin­ishing the program in Germany, Strecker moved to Waco, Texas to get his doc­torate at Baylor Uni­versity. 

“I chose that program because of the way that, par­tic­u­larly my dis­ser­tation director Natalie Carnes, com­bines his­torical atten­tiveness with con­structive con­tem­porary con­cerns. And that’s what my own passion is,” Strecker said.  

And now Strecker and his family have returned to Hillsdale and love being back in the Midwest, in a familiar place that is much closer to family and friends. 

“We lived in four dif­ferent places in the first ten years of our mar­riage and feel like our lives are irrev­o­cably frac­tured because of that, because we have com­mu­nities in each of these places but none of them is entirely home because we can’t be every­where at once,” Strecker said. “So it’s really nice this time to be coming back to a place where we have family but also good friends.” 

Strecker is enjoying being back in Hillsdale and getting to be on the other side of things as a pro­fessor, teaching both younger stu­dents in the core the­ology classes and older stu­dents in his upper-level the­ology class. 

Strecker likes that the the­ology course has been added to the core in recent years and enjoys teaching some of the freshmen as they are adjusting and “over­whelmed with changes but asking the question, how have Chris­tians spoken about their God? Which is an important question whether they are them­selves Chris­tians or not,” Strecker said. 

In his upper-level the­ology course, he got to watch older stu­dents wrestle with the ideas of jus­ti­fi­cation and sal­vation and what dif­ferent Christian thinkers have said about it over the cen­turies. 

“Pro­fessor Strecker is very knowl­edgeable and it is clear to see as a student in his class that his every answer is well thought out and thor­oughly grounded in orthodox Christian writings and teachings,” Senior Samuel Musser, who was a student in Strecker’s upper-level the­ology course, said. 

“He is very bal­anced and open-minded in his approach to Christian doc­trine, while remaining grounded in scrip­tural truth.”

Strecker enjoys being back at Hillsdale and being able to again par­tic­ipate in a place that had such a large impact on his for­mation and edu­cation. 

“Hillsdale was so for­mative for me intel­lec­tually, morally, and socially that to have the oppor­tunity to give back to the college and seek to par­tic­ipate on the other side of things in the great work that the college is ded­i­cated to is a great honor,” he said.