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Runner, Howard Evan (1916-2002) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Runner, Howard Evan (1916-2002)

Historical Note:

Howard Evan Runner, known as H. Evan Runner or simply Evan Runner, was born in 1916 in Oxford, Pennsylvania, to Howard Clinton Runner and Sara Mabel Watterson. In his early years Runner had a love of philosophy and language-and a desire to be a missionary. He graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1932; from Wheaton College in 1936. Although he received a scholarship to study at the University of Illinois, he went to Westminster Seminary for advanced studies. Cornelius Van Til of Westminster convinced him to learn the Dutch language so he would be able to pursue some significant thinkers of the Netherlands. Runner went to the Netherlands in 1939 and studied with Klaas Schilder and Seakle Greijdanus at the Theological School in Kampen. He returned to the US in early 1940 and went to Harvard, studing with Werner Jaeger and was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University from 1941-1943.

After leaving Harvard he taught English and Latin at Eastern Academy in Paterson, New Jersey. He returned to the Netherlands in 1946 to study at the Free University and began to appreciate the work of reformational philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Hendrik Theodoor Vollenhoven. He received  his doctorate in1951 cum laude.

In 1950 he joined the Philosophy Department at Calvin College. He taught with zeal and gathered students from various disciplines into the Groen van Prinsterer Society.  These students became his friends and collegues. His dedication and teaching a new vision of Christian Philosphy earned Runner the Faith and Teaching Award from the  Calvin Alumni Association.

He developed a program of study which included "who the Puritans were, the meaning of the Enlightenment, its influence in America, the basic ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the nature of Scholasticism, particularly as manifested in Reformed theology, the concept of natural law, the religious ground-motives that have successively given order to the experience of Western man, the origins of capitalsm, the rise of the labor movement, etc."

Runner was instrumental in formation and leadership of the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship. Many of his students established their own careers, often at Christian colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

Runner was married to Elisabeth Hendrika Wichers. They had three children, Evan, Cathy, and Jocelyn. He died in 2002.

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