Category: News

William J. Abraham 1947-2021

Last week many in the theology community gave voice to sorrow at the sudden passing of theologian William J. Abraham. Abraham was a winsome philosophical theologian, Methodist scholar, and philosophical theologian. Among his many publications are books on divine revelation, the Christian canon, evangelism, divine action, and grief. Abraham was one of the editors for the Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology. This year, the fourth of his four volume set on Divine Agency and Divine Action was released. Comments appeared quickly across social media about how “Billy” Abraham impacted lives as a teacher, scholar, and friend. We have included links to some tributes to Abraham below.

You can read about William Abraham’s legacy at the Eerdman’s blog here.

A United Methodist News article on Abraham’s life and passing can be found here.

A “Tribute to William J. Abraham” can be read on the Wesleyan Covenant Association website here.

Frederick Schmidt’s memories can be read here on Patheos.

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Prof Christoph Schwöbel  (1955-2021)

We regret to report that friends of professor Christoph Schwöbel have shared news, online, of his very recent passing away. Professor Schwöbel was the 1643 Chair in Divinity at University of St. Andrews. Some of Professor Schwöbel’s distinguished career includes being professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Tubingen since 2004, teaching at the University of Heidelberg (1999-2004), the University of Kiel (1993-1999), King’s College London (1986-1993) and the University of Marburg (1981-1986). You can access a list of his sixty plus publications online here at the University of St. Andrews website. During a 2019 recording of Logos Summer Institute, here, Schwöbel was introduced as one who enriched the theological community where he worked with a brilliant mind and humble disposition.

Image Credit: (Image from https://theology.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/people/staff/ )

TheoPsych Academy

In our TheoPsych project, we provided training in the psychological sciences for theologians from around the world in 3 small, private learning cohorts. We brought in psychologists, skilled in interdisciplinary dialogue, to inspire conversations around using the psych sciences as a tool for developing theology.

But now, we’re excited to share that the material from the seminars we hosted, is now available to anyone who wants to access it. We’ve adapted material from our 3 events, into a series of courses that you can explore for free in something we’re calling TheoPsych Academy.

These courses include short lectures from psychology experts working in many subfields including: Robert Emmons, Justin Barrett, Pamela Ebstyne King, Mari Clements, Peter Hill, Lindsey Root Luna, Brad Strawn, Joey Fung, William Newsome, and more! In addition to this group of psychologists, there are also conversations with theologians from the project, discussing how they’re using psychology in their work.

JOIN THEOPSYCH ACADEMY NOW

If you decide to work through a course with a group, there are opportunities for great interactions as the courses are highly customizable, including options for discussion questions, quizzes, and “dig deeper” supplemental sections to help you take the material in different directions.

Those who enroll within our launch year will have access to private online events, for live interaction with psychology experts, to get their burning questions answered. It’s our hope that theologians, ministry leaders, and those just curious about how psychological science might interact with our understanding of God and the world will benefit from these courses! Enjoy!

University of York Launches a New MA in Analytic Theology

University of York Department of Philosophy has launched a new MA in Analytic Theology: https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/ma-analytic-theology/

Apply the study of philosophy to theology and engage with some of the most complex and historically significant questions that have shaped Western and Middle Eastern civilisation.

Move from studying philosophical and theological problems to investigating them as a researcher in your own right. Focus on Philosophy and the study of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic analytic theology in conversation with each other, informed by analysis of the spiritual practices that these faiths incorporate.

Our department has a strong research profile in analytic theology and we’ll provide support for you to pursue your own research project. 

The department is offering one David Efird Masters Scholarship to the sum of £5,000 (https://www.york.ac.uk/philosophy/postgraduates/funding/#:~:text=For%20September%202021%20entry%2C%20the%20Department%20of%20Philosophy%20is%20offering%20the%20David%20Efird%20Masters%20Scholarship  ). 
Anyone holding an offer for this MA in Analytic Theology by April 30th will be automatically considered for this scholarship.

The department is also also offering funding for MA students to attend Philosophy of Religion / Analytic Theology conferences (once conferences begin to be held in person).

David Fergusson appointed as Regius Professor of Divinity

The faculty of divinity at Cambridge have announced the appointment of a new Regius Professor of Divinity:

After a long search process, we are pleased to announce that Prof David Fergusson (Edinburgh) has accepted the appointment as Regius Professor of Divinity. Prof Fergusson is a leading specialist in Christian Theology, with much experience of academic leadership, supervising PhD students and running grants. He can offer teaching in core areas of the field and will be a wise mentor for all in the Faculty. He will take up the post on April 1st 2021 and is currently planning a move to Cambridge with his wife.

Blueprint 1543 – A New Science & Theology Venture – Launches

Justin Barrett and Rebecca Dorsey Sok have co-founded a new venture, Blueprint 1543, with a mission to integrate Christian theology and the sciences to answer life’s biggest questions. The Knoxville-based organization is focusing on three broad initiatives—leadership development, sciences-engaged theology, and science stewardship—supported by a portfolio of programs and projects. Blueprint 1543 will be developing their own projects, as well as consulting and coaching for partner organizations. Sok and Barrett have managed over $16 million in grants with multiple funding partners (such as the AT project, and TheoPsych: Bringing Theology to Mind). This new venture signals their exit from running Fuller Theological Seminary’s Office for Science, Theology, and Religion (STAR), which also supported interdisciplinary research and programs in faith-science integration. Sarey Martin Concepción joins Barrett and Sok as Blueprint 1543’s Director of Communication. BP1543 is currently building its roster of partners from the fields of theology, philosophy, and the sciences. To stay up to date on projects and opportunities, follow on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up for their newsletter. More information at www.blueprint1543.org

James I. Packer is with the Lord. (1926-2020)

J. I. Packer —”One of the most influential evangelical leaders of our time” (Christianity Today)— passed away yesterday at age 93. Across the web, tributes are pouring in about his life, ministry, and sprawling legacy. Below are links to some of them:

“Remembering J.I. Packer” – Regent College

“J. I. Packer, ‘Knowing God’ Author, Dies at 93” – Christianity Today

In Memoriam: J. I. Packer” – Catholic Herald

“Don Carson Pays Tribute to J. I. Packer” – the Gospel Coalition (see also “J. I. Packer 1926-2020” – Justin Taylor (Gospel Coalition).

“Reformation Theology in the Hands of a Servant” – Desiring God

J. I. Packer, ‘Knowing God’ Author, Dies at 93″ – Christian Post

“Now He Truly Knows” – Sydney Anglicans

“J. I. Packer Goes on to Glory” – Michael Thomson via Ben Witherington (patheos)

William J. Abraham Named Inaugural Director of the Recently Established Wesley House of Studies at Truett Theological Seminary (Baylor University)

June 24, 2020 – “Following extended conversations with and consultation of seminary faculty, alumni and friends, Dean Todd D. Still, Ph.D., announced today, with strong support from university administration, the formation of a Wesley House of Studies at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. In conjunction, he announced that Dr. William J. Abraham, a theologian, philosopher, author and minister, will serve as the founding director of this strategic initiative. 

In this role, Abraham will ensure that students attending Truett from Wesleyan traditions are nurtured and networked for the ministries into which they are being called. Additionally, Abraham, who will regularly teach courses at Truett pertaining to Wesleyan thought and practice, will collaborate with individuals, congregations and organizations in the Wesleyan tradition in the recruiting, training and placing of students and in supporting and educating ministers who are already engaged in gospel service.” Read more…

(This post was recopied from an announcement on Baylor Universities website. Click here to read more)

ETS Selects Ken Magnuson as New Executive Director.

On May 4, 2020, the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Theological Society accepted the recommendation of the Executive Director Search Committee and unanimously selected Ken Magnuson as the Society’s second Executive Director.  David S. Dockery, chair of the search committee remarked that the committee reviewed applications and nominations from a large group of qualified individuals. “It soon became clear,” he noted, “to every member of the committee that Ken Magnuson, based on his outstanding education, years and breadth of experience, scholarship, administrative gifts, relational abilities and people skills, as well as his Christian character and commitment, was extremely well suited for this key role in the life of ETS. We are thankful for the fine leadership that Mike Thigpen has provided and are extremely hopeful about Ken Magnuson’s guidance for the Society for the years ahead.”  ETS President, Craig S. Keener, commented, “All of us on the Executive Committee affirm Ken Magnuson and are grateful to the Lord for the prospect of leadership that will continue the wonderful legacy we have already experienced with Mike Thigpen.”
 
Ken Magnuson has been on the faculty of Southern Seminary since 1999. He has served as Professor of Christian Ethics, Chair of the Department of Worldview and Culture, and as Director of The Commonweal Project on Faith, Work, and Human Flourishing. He serves as a deacon in his church, on the editorial board for Themelios, and as a board member for the American Friends of Tyndale House (Cambridge, UK). Magnuson holds a PhD in Theological Ethics from Cambridge University, and MDiv and BA degrees from Bethel Seminary and Bethel University (MN). He teaches and writes on discipleship and moral issues, including marriage and sexuality, singleness, and infertility and reproductive technology. He has published journal articles and contributed chapters to several books, and has recently completed Invitation to Christian Ethics, published by Kregel (forthcoming in 2020). He serves on the steering committee of the ETS Christian Ethics program unit. Ken and his wife Katherine have four children.

Photo of Ken Magnuson from Twitter.com
Picture taken from Twitter.

Magnuson will begin this new post June 15, 2020.  He succeeds J. Michael Thigpen who has served the Society as Executive Director since 2009.  Thigpen is leaving the position to serve as Executive Vice-President and Provost of Phoenix Seminary.  On hearing the selection, Thigpen noted, “I believe Ken Magnuson is the right person to lead ETS in this next season.  Ken’s temperament, experience, godly character, and outlook on the role of the Society in the church and the academy are a wonderful fit to move us forward.”

This post was repasted entirely from https://www.etsjets.org/node/11574

Ken Magnuson’s photo was used from his Twitter account.

In Memoriam: Keith Yandell

From the Henry Center for Theological Understanding,

Keith Yandell is gone. After a long battle with multiple health problems, on the morning of April 28, 2020 he drew his last breath. He is now “absent from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8).

Keith was the Julius R. Weinberg Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for nearly four decades. He also taught philosophy of religion and philosophical theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from 2000-2014. It was in this capacity that I (Tom) knew him; when I joined the Trinity faculty in 2004, Keith immediately welcomed me with two things: his characteristically warm and merry smile, and philosophical arguments. I enjoyed his company immensely, and I learned a lot from him. One of the highlights of my academic ministry was participating in a debate with him in the ATO Chapel in 2008; it was an honor to be there with Keith, and, frankly, it was also just a lot of fun. I’ll never regret the time I spent with him. I only regret that there wasn’t more of it.

For the entire story see, https://henrycenter.tiu.edu/2020/05/remembering-keith-yandell/ .

In Memoriam: Geoffrey Wainwright

Born in Yorkshire, England, and a cricket player in his youth, Geoffrey Wainwright studied in Cambridge, Geneva, and Rome. He is an ordained minister of the British Methodist Church, and after serving a circuit ministry in Liverpool during the heyday of the Beatles, he went for six years as a missionary pastor and teacher to Cameroon in West Africa. In the mid ’70s he taught Scripture and doctrine at The Queen’s College, Birmingham. In 1979 he moved to the United States, first to Union Theological Seminary, New York, where he held the Roosevelt chair of systematic theology, and then (in 1983) to Duke. He has devoted much of his energy to the wainwrightg20030211bcause of ecumenism, understood as unity in the truth of a gospel that is to be preached to the world. As a member of WCC Faith and Order, he played a leading part in the production of the Lima text on “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” (1982); and from 1986-2011 he co-chaired the dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church.

Geoffrey Wainwright has served as president of the international Societas Liturgica (1983-85) as well as of the American Theological Society (1996-97). He was honored by the publication of Ecumenical Theology in Worship, Doctrine, and Life: Essays Presented to Geoffrey Wainwright on his Sixtieth Birthday (Oxford University Press, 1999). He received the 2005 Johannes Quasten Medal from the Catholic University of America for “excellence in scholarship.” (From the faculty bio at Duke Divinity School.)

Wainwright passed away on March 17, 2020.

Hardin-Simmons University Trustees Vote to Close Logsdon Seminary

From Baptist Standard:

ABILENE—Hardin-Simmons University’s board of trustees voted to close Logsdon Seminary.

President Eric Bruntmyer announced the board’s action in a letter released about 9 p.m. on Feb. 7.

“The board approved new programs, and it closed other programs at the undergraduate and graduate level including Logsdon Seminary and its programs,” Bruntmyer stated. “In the next week, the appropriate deans and vice presidents will be communicating the details of these actions.”

He went on to write the trustees “made these decisions with prayerful consideration and spiritual discernment, emphasizing that Hardin-Simmons will continue to hold to the Christian values on which it was founded.”

Students will continue to participate in chapel services and weekly Bible studies, and they will have “expanded opportunities to participate in ministry events locally and abroad and to take additional Bible courses,” he wrote.

Financial considerations noted

Bruntmyer noted the board had adopted The Way Forward, a strategic financial plan that calls for an annual evaluation of all academic programs and provides “a sustainable framework” that positions the university favorably in “an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

“Under The Way Forward, Hardin-Simmons University will always pursue financial excellence, which will allow us to maintain our academic excellence,” he wrote. “In the coming weeks, months and year, the HSU campus will change. Structural adjustments like these are important as we strive toward achieving financial excellence not only for ourselves, but for those to come.”

In Oct. 2018, HSU trustees voted to close four Logsdon Seminary extension campuses in Coppell, Lubbock, Corpus Christi and McAllen, along with other cuts in programs and personnel.

At the time, Bruntmyer noted “some external revenue sources are evaporating,” pointing particularly to decreased Cooperative Program support. He also noted the Baptist General Convention of Texas was eliminating pro-rata funding for all its partnering universities.

Current students offered ‘teach-out’ program

In a subsequent statement from HSU issued Feb. 8, the university clarified that the trustee decision affects Logsdon Seminary and its graduate programs, but the Logsdon School of Theology will continue to provide undergraduate Christian education.

“Current seminary students will be provided a teach-out program to finish their degrees,” according to the statement.

In Memoriam: James Leo Garrett Jr.

From Christianity Today (Wyman Richardson):

James Leo Garrett Jr. was Distinguished Professor of Theology, Emeritus, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, until his death several days ago.

He was a graduate of Baylor University (BA in English, 1945), Southwestern Seminary (BD, 1948, and ThD, 1954), Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM, 1949), and Harvard University (PhD, 1966). Dr. Garrett is beloved and revered by countless students and faculty members at the institutions at which he taught—Southwestern Seminary (1949–59, 1979–97), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1959–73), and Baylor University (1973–79)—as well as by many others who benefited from his scholarship and Christian devotion.

Dr. Garrett was a fascinating mixture of Southern Baptist loyalty and ecumenical fervor.

While perhaps few theologians and churchmen have thought, written, and engaged so carefully with the inner-workings and trajectory of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Garrett was equally active in his engagements with the wider Christian world.

He was very involved in the Baptist World Alliance, for instance, and was, from 1968–1975 part of the Study Commission on Cooperative Christianity, a commission for which he served as chair. He also contributed substantial pieces to BWA publications.

In 1965, Dr. Garrett attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council in Rome as a guest of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Furthermore, he engaged Christians of other traditions in substantial ways, as when, for instance, he presented papers before the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Instanbul, Turkey, in 1994 and 1996.

His voluminous writings include his two-volume Systematic Theology (originally published by Eerdmans and currently published by Wipf & Stock), his monumental Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study (Mercer University Press), and numerous other authored or edited books and articles.

Dr. Garrett was married to his beloved Myrta Ann Latimer Garrett for 67 years before her passing in 2015. He is survived by three sons and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Dr. Garret passed died Feb. 5 in Nacogdoches, Texas. He was 94.

[Image from: Baptist Press ]

 

 

St John’s College, Nottingham, to close after 156 years

Theological college in Nottingham ‘no longer financially viable in the long term’

 

After 156 years, St John’s College, Nottingham, is to close, it was announced this week.

The majority of the 28 employees at the former theological college, including tutors, will transfer to new posts in institutions that have agreed to continue the college’s distance-learning and youth-ministry work; but there will be redundancies by the end of next summer. Students have been reassured that their courses will continue until they have completed them.

A statement issued this week said that the college’s council had agreed, on 11 November, “that the operation of the current configuration of St John’s is no longer financially viable in the long term”, and that the process of closure would begin.

The Principal of the Eastern Region Ministry Course, the Revd Dr Alex Jensen, suggested this week that there was “great fear” in the Theological Education Institutions (TEI) sector that other closures could follow.

“Hardly any college or course is financially sustainable,” he said. “I think there is a recognition in the Ministry Council that there is something wrong. . . The question is if changes will be made before the next college or course falls by the wayside.”

The broader context for theological education was illustrated by figures from the Ministry Division seen by the Church Times this week (News, 6 December), which suggest that the Renewal and Reform target of a 50-per-cent increase in ordained vocations is unlikely to be met by 2020 (News, 2 September).

There have been signs of trouble at St John’s for some time. Last year, there were 60 students at the college, compared with 108 in 2016-17, and 223 recorded in June 2016, according to a report from the Quality Assurance Agency.

For the full story by Madeleine Davies see: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/6-december/news/uk/st-john-s-college-to-close-after-156-years

St. Andrews Encyclopedia of Theology

Press Release: The School of Divinity at the University of St Andrews has secured its largest ever research grant of £3.4 million from the John Templeton Foundation to support the creation and launch of a free, online encyclopaedia of theology.

The Encyclopaedia will grow to include material from the world’s major religions, beginning with Christianity and expanding to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, offering articles written from within the faith traditions they describe.

Brendan Wolfe, Honorary Reader at the School of Divinity, will serve as the Encyclopaedia’s Principal Editor, with Dr Steve Holmes, Senior Lecturer, as Chair of the Editorial Board.

Read the full story here. Don’t miss the advertisement for Academic Editors. The Encyclopedia’s home page is saet.ac.uk

 

Johann Baptist Metz, Theologian of Compassion, Dies at 91

Johann Baptist Metz, one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century and a pioneer of Jewish-Christian dialogue in the aftermath of the Holocaust, died on Dec. 2 in Münster, Germany. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by the University of Münster, where he taught for many years.

Professor Metz, an ordained priest, believed that the church must be aligned with the victims of history, and he devoted his work to building solidarity with the oppressed. He challenged German Catholics to face the reality of Auschwitz when many did not.

For the full obituary see: https://nyti.ms/2LI7Pcx

In Memoriam: Larry Hurtado and Jaegwon Kim

Larry Hurtado (Emeritus Professor in New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, Edinburgh) and Jaegwon Kim (Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Brown) have passed away this week. Although Hurtado’s work was mainly in the field of early Christianity and Kim’s work was mainly in the field of philosophy of mind and metaphysics, and not in systematic theology, both scholars’ contributions made a significant impact on those working on doctrinal theology, specifically in the areas of Christology and theological anthropology.

Hurtado and Kim will be missed.

Larry Hurtado Annoucement

Jaegwon Kim Annoucement

 

Willard M. Swartley, AMBS Professor Emeritus Remembered for Prolific Scholarship, Faith and Humility, has Passed Away

ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) community is grieving the sudden loss of a beloved colleague, teacher, mentor and friend. Willard M. Swartley, Ph.D., professor emeritus of New Testament, died of natural causes at age 83 on Nov. 6, 2019, in Goshen, Indiana. He had lived with a heart condition for many years.

Swartley, who retired from the Elkhart, Indiana, seminary in 2004 but continued to be a regular presence on campus, will be remembered for the ways in which he lived out his deeply rooted faith in Jesus — both within and beyond his academic work. Those who knew him speak of his gentle and humble spirit, his pastoral presence and his consistently encouraging nature, in addition to his intellectual curiosity and numerous contributions to biblical and peace scholarship.

“Willard was an exceptional and widely respected biblical scholar and a committed teacher,” said Beverly Lapp, Ed.D., acting president and academic dean. “He lived his faith, looking after those who were struggling in life, and he believed in the work of Christ and the church to increase God’s kingdom here and now. He loved AMBS so very much.”

Willard Swartley portrait. Credit: J. Tyler Klassen.From 1978 to 2004, Swartley was a professor of New Testament at AMBS. During his tenure, he also served as academic dean (1979–81; 1995–2000), acting president for half a year (1996), and director of AMBS’s Summer School (1990–93; 1995–2000). Swartley was actively involved in fostering scholarship for the church, serving as director of the Institute of Mennonite Studies (IMS), AMBS’s research agency, for more than a decade (1979–88; acting, 1997–99). At IMS, he was also editor of the Occasional Papers series (1981–88) and co-editor with Ben C. Ollenburger, Ph.D., retired professor of biblical theology, of the Studies in Peace and Scripture series (1990–2006). His final book, Jesus, Deliver Us — published earlier this year — is the 16th volume in the latter series.

Full announcement here: https://www.ambs.edu/news-events/news/1669196/professor-emeritus-remembered-for-prolific-scholarship-faith-and-humility