Archive for ‘ACU’

No Obstacle is Too Big For God

2 Commentsby   |  12.04.17  |  ACU, Prayer, vocation

No Obstacle is Too Big For God

As graduation draws closer, I often find myself reminiscing on the past four years. Those sentimental moments elicit a multitude of emotions ranging from tenderness to downright gratitude. But what strikes me the most is how each year has brought a host of teachable moments, culminating on the theme of faith amid uncertainty. Anyone that knows me well could tell you I’m equally terrible at making decisions as giving directions, which is why I find it telling, and slightly humorous, that such flawed attributes serve as such robust metaphors for my life in graduate school. And so, for the purposes of this blog post, I want to tell you a story.

It was the summer of 2013. I was busy juggling two jobs, just trying to make ends meet. Life wasn’t glamorous by any means, but it was comfortable. I lived in a modest apartment shared with my two inquisitive, endearing cats. I had caring and funny coworkers that could strike a joke at a moment’s notice, turning a frown upside down after a measly sour interaction. I even found satisfaction in helping customers find the materials they needed to complete their latest home improvement project. But, it didn’t take long for me to recognize my life lacked meaning and purpose. It wasn’t my job, necessarily. There are plenty of people who work in retail and make a career out of it. The pressing issue was my spiritual life, which had grown stale like an expired box of half-eaten crackers. Most days I was too exhausted to do anything but indulge in some greasy fast food, a ‘feel-good’ chick flick, and a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

It was the desire for something more and my fading spiritual life that led me to apply to graduate school. How I heard of ACU is straightforward and unimpressive; but how I got to ACU, that was complicated and noteworthy. Applications were not a guarantee for acceptance; and acceptance, for me, was not assurance ACU was where I needed to be. I didn’t want to make such a life-altering decision, like leaving my job and moving across the country, without God’s blessing. So, I decided, on what was either an act of faith or fear I’m not certain, that if I got accepted into graduate school, and housing and employment were lined up prior to arriving in Abilene, I would go to ACU. In my mind, these were huge obstacles. Along with the fact that I applied just two short months before the semester started, I knew finding housing wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Not only do most places want you to have some sort of income before you sign a lease, I had cats, and on-campus housing didn’t allow pets. Employment was hard to find at a distance, and I had zero connections in Abilene. In fact, I had never visited the city or stepped foot on ACU’s campus.

As soon as I hit send on my application, my anxiety hit the roof. The odds seemed stacked against me. I felt insecure and ill-equipped with no ministry experience and little education in biblical studies. In an application essay I revealed my faith was hanging on by a thread, which left me feeling exposed and vulnerable to rejection. Those weeks of waiting for an answer were long and hard. When the day came and a letter arrived in the mail, my heart was pounding. My hands trembled as I opened the thin white envelope only to find, to my surprise, I had been accepted. I was dumbfounded. Obstacle number one, check.

Before I got too carried away, I remembered there were still a lot of logistics to work out.  And so I began the arduous search for housing. One day I was browsing various websites, and this house popped up on Craigslist. It was just a few blocks from campus and within my price range. It seemed promising, but there were no photos and it didn’t say anything about whether they allowed pets. Then, there was the looming question about what they would think about me not having a job. But I decided it was worth a shot, got out my phone, and dialed their number. Part of me questioned whether this ad was real. It was found on Craigslist, after all, so that was a legitimate concern. To my relief, however, I found out the landlords were former GST students. They were ok with cats, and they normally wouldn’t do this, but they said I could rent the house. They understood me moving and needing time to find a job, and were willing to make an exception. When I got off the phone it hit me. Second obstacle down, and what once seemed like a distant dream was becoming a likely possibility. Within 48 hours I got contact about not just one, but two part-time jobs on-campus, both offering me interviews. After dealing with the initial shock, I put in my notice at work and began preparations for a move to Abilene. Maybe these obstacles weren’t as big as I thought, because God sure showed up and blew my expectations out of the water.

After many tearful and heartfelt goodbyes, I packed up my belongings in my trusty, blue Dodge Neon, and my dad and I commenced on the two-day trip from Michigan to Texas. Leaving a life of comfort and familiarity, and a state I lived in since birth, you’d think I’d be terrified. But for reasons beyond comprehension, I had peace. The trip was tiring, exciting, and memorable. Especially with two tranquilized cats. I was nervous, but through most of the trip I maintained my resolve and composure. The only time I questioned my decision was when we were only a few hours from Abilene. Our GPS took us on some wonky route. It was the middle of the night and we turned onto this dust-laden, dirt road. It was pitch black, no lights in sight. The only sign of civilization was a mailbox shining in our headlights every couple miles. I started to panic wondering if ACU was planted in the middle of a desert wasteland. But before my imagination got too carried away, we saw the glow of city lights ahead—we were about to reach the edge of Abilene. My dad and I shared some laughs, and I some quiet sighs of relief, and we settled into our hotel for the night, getting one last bit of restless sleep before my next phase of life began in the morning.

There are so many things I’ve learned since I’ve been at ACU. Things I never dreamed those fateful four years ago. I could have shared multiple different stories about how God has showed up and brought healing and meaning to my life since I moved here and how Abilene has some of the nicest, thoughtful people I’ve ever met. And all those things are true. But I wanted to tell this story, because it’s one that’s been on my heart and one that needs to be shared. I can’t take credit for God’s provision four years ago, but what I can declare is that God still works in unimaginable ways. Look for it, seek it, expect it. God just might surprise you.

 

 

About the author: Renee Paul is a house church member, native Michigander, and adoptive mother of two cats. She is currently pursuing a M.A. in Christian ministry from ACU, serves as administrative coordinator for ACU’s Siburt Institute for Church Ministry, and lives in Abilene, Texas.

GST Faculty Update 2017

by   |  10.11.17  |  ACU, Church, Ministry

I am continually amazed how our GST faculty engage in local church ministry. Of course, there are the obvious activities that everyone sees including church consultations and seminars, interim ministries, Elderlink, writing curriculum, and publishing articles and books that serve the life of the church. Yet, there are also those week-to-week engagements with local churches working as elders, Bible class teachers, and ministry leaders. For example, Fred Aquino can be found most Sunday mornings preaching at the Avenue B Church of Christ in Ballinger. Chris Flanders is often found these days preaching at the Maryneal Church of Christ. Mindi Thompson is a frequent Bible adult class teacher at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. And the list continues.

For the past four years, Jeff and Linda Childers were High School Huddle leaders for the Highland Church of Christ. Jeff recently told me, “Having the same batch of teenagers into our home every week during their high school years has been a highlight. From the silly to the sublime and the very serious, my wife Linda and I have been privileged to walk alongside an extraordinary group of youngsters on their journey into young adulthood.”

Mark Hamilton talked with me about his work as an elder at University Church of Christ. While being an elder at a church has many demands, he shared with me one part of the work he found especially joyful.  “Samjung and I have served with the campus ministry at UCC, spending a lot of time with students, mentoring some, teaching as needed, and trying to encourage our various campus ministers. We met with those students every Sunday evening for over five years. Last year was a transitional year for us as we stepped back from campus ministry (though we ran a small group chapel on campus on Thursdays for about a dozen UCC students and their friends).  We transitioned to the 20-somethings group, which Bradley Steele [GST alum] is leading.”

I appreciate working with world-class scholars. Spending time with them on a weekly basis for twenty years has shaped my thinking about God and the church in profound ways. More importantly, I am blessed to watch how they integrate the life of the mind with their daily walk with God and the church. I hear them pray and watch them pastor others. I am a witness to how my fellow GST faculty commit themselves to academic pursuits and the vocation of scholarship as a service to the church. How much more so is that service blessed as they also serve the church with their hearts and hands.

Peace,

Tim Sensing

Student Spotlight- Morgan DeBoer

by   |  10.09.17  |  ACU, College of Biblical Studies, Students

Morgan DeBoer is beginning her first semester studies at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, pursuing master degrees in both Christian Ministry (MACM) and in Social Work (MSSW). She is originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa and graduated from York College, where she earned an undergrad degree in English.

Where you have seen God working recently?

I had not considered a formal degree in theology or ministry until recently, so the decision to begin this program was in several ways an uncertain one. But now that I am here, and immersed in my classes, I know that there is no place I would rather be, and nothing in the world I would rather be learning about. So I can’t help but wonder how God may have been at work this past year in ways I didn’t understand.

What made you decide to do a MACM & MSSW? 

There are some fairly broken contexts that I wanted to serve in, but I felt that I wouldn’t be truly equipped to do so without deeper training in discipleship, and a deeper understanding of God. So when I saw that ACU offered both a MACM and a MSSW degree, I was interested in how that might allow God to mold both my heart, and my skillset.

What would you like to do in the future/what do you feel is your calling?

I am somewhat of a vocational disaster, and wouldn’t say that I have ever sensed a clear calling. But that is one reason (among many) that I am grateful to be part of the GST, where it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to flesh out vocational direction with great teachers, mentors, and fellow students by my side.

Is grad school like what you had originally expected? If not, how is it different?  

I think before coming, I equated graduate school theology professor with untouchable magic wizard, so the accessibility of GST faculty caught me a little off-guard at first. The professors here are not only ten times cooler than any wizard but are clearly committed to GST students, challenging us in the classroom and engaging with us outside the classroom. Within my first two weeks I met several through church, GST hosted events, and my Mentor Group, and on all occasions they were so encouraging, asking about my move to Abilene, and reminding me they were glad I was here. So I am not exactly sure what I expected, but I am so grateful for what I have found. 

GST Author Highlight

by   |  10.09.17  |  ACU, Alumni, Bible, Church, College of Biblical Studies, Ministry, Professors, Theology

The Graduate School of Theology has many gifted authors who are using their talents to minister to the church & the world. Below are four books that have recently been published by either GST faculty or alumni. We hope they will be an inspiration to you.

 

Meditations for the Lone Traveler written by Mark Hamilton

“In writing this book, I wanted to speak to those who feel alone in their faith. Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Faith is not purely intellectual, but comprehensive in its impact on life. In the pursuit of faith, we are not alone.”

These twenty-two meditations on the songs, prayers, and stories of the Bible invite readers to imagine themselves as part of a world in which human beings may fully live into their sufferings and joys as part of a vibrant while still critically searching faith in God. Here we see prophets and  poets, as well as ordinary men and women, embrace the realities of life without apology or fear. For more information, click here.

 

The Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology edited by Fred Aquino

This volume brings together leading scholars in the fields of theology and epistemology to examine and articulate what can be categorized as appropriate epistemic evaluation in theology. Part one focuses on some of the epistemic concepts that have been traditionally employed in theology, such as  knowledge of God, revelation and scripture, reason and faith, experience, and tradition. Part two concentrates on concepts that have received significant attention in contemporary epistemology and can be related to theology, such as understanding, wisdom, testimony, virtue, evidence, foundationalism, realism/antirealism, scepticism, and disagreement. Part three offers examples from key figures in the Christian tradition and investigates the relevant epistemological issues and insights in these writers, as well as recognizing the challenges of connecting insights from contemporary epistemology with the subject of theology proper, namely, God. Part four centers on five emerging areas that warrant further epistemological consideration: Liberation Theology, Continental Philosophy, modern Orthodox writers, Feminism, and Pentecostalism. Learn more here.

 

Among the Early Evangelicals written by James Gorman 

Among the Early Evangelicals charts a new path showing convincingly that the earliest leaders of this Movement cannot be understood apart from a robust evangelical and missionary culture that traces its roots back to the eighteenth century. Leaders, including such luminaries as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, borrowed freely from the outlook, strategies, and methodologies of this transatlantic culture. More than simple Christians with a unique message shaped by frontier democratization, the adherents in the Stone-Campbell Movement were active participants in a broadly networked, uniquely evangelical enterprise. Find more information here.

 

Pray Like You Breathe: Exploring the Practice of Breath Prayer written by Houston Heflin

Pray Like You Breathe: Exploring the Practice of Breath Prayer chronicles the history and practice of this unique spiritual discipline focusing primarily on the Psalms as a reservoir of language for prayer. The book can be used as a 28-day experience of prayer for individuals or it can also be used as curriculum for small groups and Bible classes. Purchase your own copy on Amazon here

Summit Review 2017

by   |  10.06.17  |  ACU, Bible, Church, Ministry, Theology

ACU Summit 2017, “Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve,”  focused on Deuteronomy, the ways this ancient text informs the future of the church and the choices we make as we strive to serve God. Approximately twenty eight GST faculty, staff, current students, and alumni spoke at this year’s Summit lecture series! People traveled from all over the world to attend the lectures and to a partake in many valuable conversations. Below are four all day tracks where GST faculty, staff, students or alumni spoke about throughout the week.

 

Ancient- Future Bible:

The Word of God is living and active, and it has been so for millennia. The rich heritage we have from our predecessors in the faith, from manuscripts to art and from reflection to action, can be a profound source of spiritual strength today. This track, hosted by Curt Niccum, empowers Christians to engage God and his creation in new ways by going back to the future. Those who spoke on this topic were Wendell Willis, Jeff Childers, Glenn Pemberton, David Kneip and Curt Niccum. Our speakers shed light on topic such as recovering the Words of Jesus, interpreting the text about Jonah and the war over women in the Word.

Congregational Leadership:

With today’s complexities of congregational leadership, church leaders must seek wisdom as they navigate the winds of change. This track, hosted by Eric Gentry, will explore healthy leadership practices, pastoral ministry, spiritual discernment, and future

imagination for congregational leaders. Speakers included Colin & Barry Packer, Kasey McCollum, Jovan Barrington and Chess Cavitt. Topics explored included congregational grief and loss, what the church’s purpose is in this new era and leadership models for God’s Mission.

Ministering in the Small Church:

Although there is no official number that makes a congregation “small” or “large,” there are definite and noticeable differences between the two.  Most books, lectures, conversations, etc. are geared toward larger congregations. This track, hosted by Shawn D. Johnson, is intended to provide encouragement, guidance, and lessons specifically for small (but equally important) churches and those who minister to them. Tim Sensing, Shawn D. Johnson, Wes Horn and Trent Tanaro spoke wisdom about this topic throughout the week. These speakers explored conversations about size and location in relations to Churches of Christ, ministry in small towns and finding treasure in the big but also small things.

Business and Mission:

Sometimes, the mission field looks like a foreign country. Other times, it looks like the world of business. Tuesday of Summit, Dodd Roberts will host an all-day track examining “Business and Mission,” a track that will hopefully provide inspiration for potential Christian business-owners and employees as well as encouragement for those already operating as Christians in the world of business. A variety of speakers came to speak about Business and Mission in our world, which included Walter Cunningham, Chi-Ming Chien, Jarrod Brown, Gary Ginter, Lauren McAfree, Jan Martinez, Julie Sullivan, Don Simmons, Jason Fisher, Bill Job, Courtney MIlls, Matthew Rohrs and Mats Tunehag. Topics these guests spoke on included things such as “Business and Missions Abroad”, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the Marketplace” and “From Non-Profit to For Profit.”

Download MP3 files of all the lectures for free on itunes! www.acu.edu/itunessummit

(D)evangelism & Healing after the Rwandan Genocide

by   |  09.26.17  |  ACU, Bible, Ministry, Mission

missionary familyMy name is Caleb Beck. I, along with my wife and two children, live in Kigali, Rwanda. My son Adin is ten, and my daughter Caris is seven. We moved to Rwanda in 2007 as missionaries hoping to work with those struggling to heal the wounds of genocide, and to be a part of the rediscovery of Christianity after its failure in the form of a thin Christendom version of faith in 1994.

We are a part of a team of missionaries and Rwandans who founded a Non-profit organization that works with a number of different holistic ministries with the vision of seeing “Kingdom communities of obedient disciples transforming and redeeming Rwanda”.

We live just outside of the capital city in a small rural community called Gahanga. Jenny home schools our children because we live just far enough outside of the capital that the commute through urban African traffic isn’t realistic. Our community is a mix of animism and cultural Christianity, of survivors of the genocide living next to perpetrators of the genocide, and of a modern city set right next to an ancient village. We are living in the midst of the tensions of village and urban, rich and poor, wounded but healing. However, God is becoming even more alive to us as we grow closer with this community.

Rwanda scenery

A couple of years ago, I found myself sitting amidst 5000 or so Rwandans singing hymns in cohesion without a songbook to be seen. It was not at a church Christmas vigil, but rather at a government sanctioned memorial of genocide remembrance.

This was in a section of Rwanda that had no electricity or running water, but where everyone knew the lyrics of “Come Thou Fount” in Kinyarwanda.

Rwanda was welcomed into the Christendom club last century; and they came willingly. The statistics say that 88% of Rwanda was “Christian” before the genocide of ’94.

Unfortunately, Rwanda’s evangelistic ‘success’ was also its failure.

Evangelism, as it was done, utterly failed Rwanda. It ungraciously exposed our misunderstanding and malpractice of what we thought our mission was.

To be clear, the modern English word ‘evangelism’ does not occur in the Bible and I believe that Jesus did not send his disciples out to do ‘evangelism’ as we understand it.

A disclaimer before we continue. I do believe in evangelism. The word gospel is ‘evangelion’.  I believe we have a new narrative to announce to the world which is GOOD. However, I don’t believe in (d)evangelism, the kind that campaigns and crusades for converts. The kind that idolizes “personal salvation transactions” belittling said narrative above. From here on out we will differentiate accordingly.

Jesus could be considered the worst (d)evangelist in history. In the gospels, instead of just laying it straight, he frequently chose to tell stories that required decoding. Of all the questions he was asked, he gave a straight forward answer for only two of the questions, often responding in parable or with another question.

Evidently, the practice of giving information about a particular doctrine or set of beliefs to others with the intention of converting them to the Christian faith wasn’t very high up on Jesus’ list.

Jesus did not practice (d)evangelism as we know it and did not make converts. Jesus made disciples and sent his followers to do likewise.

(d)evangelism as we know it is wrought with problems:

1.)  (d)evangelism can be done in the absence of relationship, discipleship absolutely cannot.

2.)  (d)evangelism is about converting ‘believers’, discipleship is about becoming followers.

3.)  (d)evangelism is about transaction where as discipleship is about transformation.

4.)  (d)evangelism makes “faith” about the head, discipleship makes it about the heart and body.

5.)  (d)evangelism leads to separateness, discipleship leads to union. It rejects the idea that our faith is about the transmission of correct ideas or doctrines rather than authentic life and love.

6.)  (d)evangelism distorts our gospel into a commodity.  It makes our gospel competitive instead of cosmic, something that can be sold and bought instead of a story to be lived into; making our gospel small.

7.)  (d)evangelism over emphasizes the spiritual as separate and above, discipleship integrates the spiritual and physical.

8.) and ultimately (d)evangelism has confused our soteriology (beliefs about salvation) and our mission (missiology).

(d)evangelism is not our mission, however discipleship is.

…and that starts with us, because what happened in Rwanda is not just an embarrassment for Rwanda, it is also a reflection of the inadequate conversion of the western mind, too.

It is a failure of our “references”, a failure of our “metrics”, and in some ways a failure of our “missiology”.

And, it is an invitation to once again think about these things. And maybe, if we are lucky, rediscover them for the first time.

 

About the Author: Caleb Beck is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Global Service through Abilene Christian University’s Graduate School of Theology. Beck & his family are living in Rwanda & serve as missionaries through Africa Transformation Network.

Discovering My Vocation: The Fanning of the Flames

by   |  09.05.17  |  ACU, Ancient Languages, Bible, CSART, College of Biblical Studies, Students, Theology

Recently I was browsing my TimeHop (which, for those who are blissfully unaware, is a cell phone app that mercilessly displays your unfiltered social media posts from today’s date in years past) when I came across a Tweet from four years ago that read something like this: “Is it weird that I’m actually really excited to learn Greek???” If I could talk to this four-years-in-the-past Ryne, I’d tell him that although it is quite weird for you to have shared such an arbitrary thought with the entire Internet, you will be delighted to know that your desire to learn Greek is not weird at all but will in fact be quite fruitful.

That naïve version of me couldn’t have really understood how rewarding the study of this ancient language would be. Indeed, only now in retrospect am I able to fathom the many doors that were opened to me through my study of Greek (and, eventually, other ancient languages) at ACU.

At the outset of my undergrad time at ACU I had only a vague sense of vocation. Something to do with the Bible, something to do with ministry. I was sure that the arc of my career would involve these two aspects, but I had no clearer direction than that.

The story of how my vocational understanding eventually crystallized is long and multifaceted, but for the purposes of this post, you only need to know the primary catalyst and the new ministerial yearning that it sparked within me. The catalyst was Greek; the yearning was for a ministry conducted not in a church building, but in a classroom.

The long and short of it was that I absolutely loved learning Greek. Before college, I had no particular interest in language learning, but Greek opened my eyes not only to a new skillset that I possessed, but also to new doorways through which to study the biblical text that I held so dear. My first taste of Greek was sort of like a baby’s first bite of chocolate cake at their first birthday party—I wasn’t quite sure what this new thing was, but I was absolutely sure that I wanted more.

Luckily for me, I happened to choose a university with a faculty that was uniquely and diversely equipped to give me more. Languages were a huge part of what brought me to the Graduate School of Theology for my master’s work. I had drank deeply from the well of Greek in undergrad and had dipped my toe in the waters of Hebrew, and the GST offered an opportunity for more of the same as well as an expansion of my linguistic horizons.

In my first year at the GST I got involved with CSART—The Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts. I’ve spoken above about the doors that language learning at ACU has opened for me, and this has been one of the biggest. In CSART, students (undergrad and grad) have the opportunity to partner with experts in textual scholarship in the study of primary biblical and early Christian texts. The project that I’m currently on, for example, is working with a seventh century monastic text called The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

studying ancient artifacts

Ryne examining books & artifacts at the Matthew Parker Library in Cambridge.

My involvement in this project, as well as in another one during my time in undergrad, opened two very tangible doors for my academic career: two summer trips to a conference in Oxford, England. The Logos Conference is hosted by the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative, with which CSART partners in its projects. Because of the generosity of the Green family (the owners of Hobby Lobby, who founded the Museum of the Bible and the Scholars initiative) as well as the work that CSART does, I was able to spend a couple of weeks each of the past two summers in Oxford with other students from all around the world listening to and learning from internationally renowned biblical scholars.

Those experiences in Oxford were especially formative for me, not just because of the academic interest they held for me but for the way they affirmed my sense of vocation. I’ve spent most of this post spotlighting the way language learning at ACU has opened doors for me, but now I want to turn briefly to that ministerial yearning I mentioned before. My affinity for ancient biblically related languages has not only been fruitful in scholarly opportunities, it has also instilled in me a deep appreciation and passion for the importance of these ancient languages in studying the Scriptures.

At those conferences in Oxford I was able to look around and see professional scholars engaged in an academic sort of ministry as well as many students like myself aspiring to do the same. My paradigm for ministry had been shifting and I was beginning to wonder if teaching the Bible and its languages in a higher education context could actually be considered ministry. For my whole life I had thought of ministry as something that was done in either a church building or a mission field, so this idea that it might also be done in a classroom was foreign and frankly a little difficult to wrap my head around. But it was in Oxford that I finally settled into this vision of ministry and fully accepted that my passion for the biblical text and its languages could and should be leveraged into a teaching ministry conducted in the classrooms of a university.

So now as I reflect back on that tweet from four years ago and I think about the excitement that preceded my first day of Greek class, I realize that that enthusiasm was pregnant with something much weightier than academic curiosity. It was dripping with divine purpose, and though I couldn’t see it yet, that purpose would dramatically reorient my world. It would open academic doors that I didn’t know existed, it would deepen my connection with the biblical text that I loved, and it would define the shape of my ministerial vocation.

I had a déjà vu experience a few days ago that helped put this all in perspective for me. As I walked into my last class of the week, I realized that it was next door to an old familiar room. I glanced inside at the handful of youthful faces—a few of which were fresh with the excitement of a new academic challenge. I recognized that look in their eyes. And I recognized the voice of the professor, introducing another batch of students to the wide world of New Testament Greek. I remembered fondly the first time I had sat in that room, excited for the challenge but naïve to the opportunity.

And then I walked through another door. With the voice of my first-year Greek professor still barely audible, I sat down in the midst of that old familiar anticipation. And with thankfulness for the way that spark of intrigue in Greek had been fanned into a full-fledged flame of passion for ancient languages, I pulled out my syllabus for Elementary Syriac. Another new door that will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities—academic, spiritual, and ministerial all.

Doctor of Ministry Graduates Present at National Conference

by   |  04.26.17  |  ACU, Alumni

The Academy of Religious Leadership is an international academic guild of professors, scholars, and practitioners who gather for an annual conference each spring to read papers, interact about what is new in the field of leadership, and deepen theological reflection and innovative theory for the sake of healthy churches and religious organizations. This spring’s conference, held April 20-22 in a downtown hotel in Chicago, also witnessed a rather significant gathering of alumni from Abilene Christian University’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program.

Dr. Carson Reed (’95), the director of ACU’s D.Min. program is also on the board of the Academy for Religious Leadership. Some months ago, when a new initiative was announced to reach out to various Doctor of Ministry programs and Doctor of Philosophy programs in leadership with a call for papers from recent graduates, Dr. Reed submitted about a dozen recent graduates from ACU’s program. The call for papers went out and out of the submissions received, a committee accepted five papers from ACU graduates—along with past students from places like Duke University, Fuller Seminary, Luther Seminary, Trinity Evangelical, Seattle University, and TCU. No other program had as many representatives among the 20 papers presented.

Pictured left to right are Dr. Carson Reed, Dr. Jimmy Hensley (’16), Dr. Stephen Shaffer (’12), Dr. Ben Pickett (’13), Dr. Randall Carr (’15), and Dr. Jason Locke (’11).

Each of them had a presentation that came out of their doctoral project/thesis. Of particular import is that every presentation demonstrated thoughtful theological and theoretical reflection that led to specific ministerial intervention and action.

In additional news, Reed was elected to serve as a co-editor for the Academy’s peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Religious Leadership. Serving with Dr. Stephen Sprinkle of TCU’s Brite Divinity School, Reed and Sprinkle begin their work with the fall edition of the journal.

Carmichael-Walling Lectures

by   |  10.07.16  |  ACU, Announcements

You are invited to join us for the inauguration of ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts and the 30th annual Carmichael-Walling Lectures at Abilene Christian University on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Father Justin of Sinai will give the Carmichael-Walling Lectures –Encounters in the Desert: Holy Books and Sacred Texts – as part of an inaugural celebration featuring special events, distinguished speakers, and an opportunity to see rare book and manuscript treasures.

Schedule: 

  • 10 a.m.: Father Justin (St. Catharine’s Monastery) — “Illustrating the Ladder of Divine Ascent: An Illuminated Manuscript of a Spiritual Classic (Sinai Greek 418)”
  • 1 p.m.: Dr. Mark Hamilton (Abilene Christian University) — “Who’s Afraid of Ancient Texts? Rediscovering Old Words for a New Era”
  • 2 p.m.: “Texts as Teachers: Reports on Current Scholarship at ACU” (CSART researchers)
  • 4 p.m.: Father Justin, “Newly Recovered Manuscripts of the Scriptures from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai”
  • 7 p.m.: Father Justin, “‘For Moses Wrote of Me’: Reflections From Mount Sinai”
  • 8 p.m.: CSART reception

In collaboration with the Museum of the Bible and the Special Collections and Archives of ACU’s Brown Library, a select number of rare books and ancient manuscripts will be on display.

Father Justin (pictured at left, top) is librarian in the Monastery of St. Catharine at Mount Sinai, Egypt, one of the oldest Christian institutions in the world. He studies and cares for some of the most important manuscripts and artifacts in existence anywhere.

Mark Hamilton (pictured at left, bottom) serves as the Onstead Professor of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles focusing on Israelite conceptions of society within their ancient Near Eastern context, as well as on biblical theology.

Lectures are free, open to the public and will take place in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building on ACU’s campus. For more information, contact Jeff Childers at childersj@acu.edu.

We hope you are able to join us for this historic event.

Dr. Jeff Childers
Director, Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts

ACU Dallas by Mindi Thompson

by   |  08.21.15  |  ACU, Announcements, Distance Education

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.  

Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,

for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News

about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,

will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:3-6

 

No one works alone.  We all need partners.  The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of faithful people partnering with us in the mission God has called us to do.  Whether it’s a church sending their minister for advanced training, a family donating scholarship funds for deserving students, or an alum providing an internship opportunity, every partner strengthens us and brings us both one step closer to fulfilling our purposes in the Kingdom of God.  

This past year the GST added another partner to the list:  ACU Dallas.  Led by former GST faculty member Dr. Stephen Johnson, this new extension campus provides expanded recruitment and enrollment/student management services for our online degree programs:  the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and Master of Arts in Global Service.  We are excited about the ways that this partnership will allow our Abilene recruiter to focus on residential programs while the Dallas student services advisors give greater attention to our distance students.  Everyone will benefit from this partnership.

Another benefit of the partnership comes in the form of course design and development.  The course format for ACU Dallas – which caters to the busy schedules of working adults – utilizes 7-week courses offered year-round to allow students to focus on one topic of study at a time while making consistent progress toward degree completion.  The new format requires our faculty to adjust their traditional semester-long classes to fit a compressed schedule while meeting the same learning objectives and outcomes for students.  ACU Dallas provides instructional designers to help with this daunting task.  The newly-designed courses utilize some of the best practices in adult learning theory.  Our faculty provide their expertise to ensure that the course content is exactly what our students need;  the instructional designers build the courses to ensure consistency and functionality.  This allows our faculty to spend their time providing feedback to students while the class is underway, confident that everything is already in the course site.       

Like all true partnerships, it’s taken time and effort to work out shared responsibilities.  ACU Dallas is starting their other online graduate programs from scratch while we’ve been serving nonresidential students for many years.  Group conversations have allowed us to share our experience while also discovering more efficient procedures.  We’re learning together.  And we’re growing together.  Like the Apostle Paul, I give thanks for this partnership in fulfilling the GST’s mission.  May God continue this good work and bring it to completion in Christ.          

Introducing Kester Smith

by   |  06.29.15  |  ACU, Alumni, Announcements

The ACU Graduate School of Theology is pleased to announce that Kester Smith has joined our staff as the GST Recruiter.

Kester is a recent GST graduate, having completed his MDiv. in May. Prior to pursuing an MDiv, Kester worked as a teacher, youth minister, and, most recently, a bi-vocational church-planter and bookseller in Austin, TX. This combination of ministry and GST experience make Kester an invaluable asset for understanding the calling of those considering theological education and how the GST might best serve that calling.

Kester is married to Rachel Smith, who works as an Instructor and Clinical Supervisor in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Kester and Rachel have one son, Harrison, who will be a 6th grader at Craig Middle School this coming fall.

We asked for an informal interview with Kester, in order to get to know him a little better.

Favorite…

  1. Food – When I was still eating meat, it was my mom’s chicken potpie. Now that I’m a vegetarian it’s either a spicy yellow tofu curry (Krua Thai serves a great one) or my chickenless version of my mom’s pot pie. My favorite “on the go” food is a potato, egg, and cheese breakfast taco.
  2. Song – People that know me will be shocked that it isn’t a Bruce Springsteen song, but they probably wouldn’t be considering my love for hymns. My favorite song is either “Amazing Grace,” “Come Thou Fount,” or “Be Thou My Vision.” Were Springsteen to record acoustic versions of any of those songs, my head would explode.
  3. Book – Not to give the obvious answer, but the Bible truly is my favorite book. With that as a given, my favorite novel is either Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov or Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. My favorite authors (besides Dostoevsky and Robinson) include Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Flannery O’Connor, Abraham Heschel, Toni Morrison, N.T. Wright, and pretty much every member of the Inklings. I’m also partial to the writings of Maximus the Confessor and Julian of Norwich. I like books a lot.
  4. Movie/television show – My favorite film is It’s A Wonderful Life. My favorite television show is probably The Simpsons, as long as we’re talking about the early seasons.
  5. Vacation spot – I was raised in Chicago and it is still my favorite place to visit, when I have the chance to travel. I’d like to visit Ireland, England, and Scotland some day, but haven’t yet been able to afford the trip.

Either/Or

  1. Kindle or bound book? – Bound. I like how it feels to turn a page.
  2. Indoors or outdoors? – Indoors. I’m a city kid. I don’t mind walking in the outdoors, but I don’t want to sleep or bathe in them.
  3. Coffee or tea? – Tea. Earl Grey. But a cold glass of ice water over either of them.
  4. Time with a group or time alone? Alone. I like to have time with people, but I have to have time to myself.
  5. Big city or small town? Big city, though small town has grown on me a bit.

Have you ever…

  1. worked in a restaurant? – Yes. Pizza Hut. First job I ever had and it led me to the conclusion that everyone should have to work in the service industry at least once.
  2. been horseback riding? – Yes. Once. Never again.
  3. climbed a mountain? – Yes. Twice. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I’d say it was worth it.
  4. performed on stage? Yes. I’ve performed in plays, as the lead singer of various bands, and as a stand-up comedian.
  5. run a marathon? – No. Though I imagine I’d feel about it the same way I do about mountain climbing.

What’s a particularly interesting skill or hobby that you have?

  • I used to be a pretty decent mimic and impersonator, back when I did stand-up. I’m probably still not half bad. I’ve got a head full of pop culture trivia. And I make amazing mix tapes. Unfortunately, no one listens to mix tapes anymore.

What’s something distinctive (or even weird) not many people know about you?

  • I can pop both of my shoulders out of joint. My right eye is prone to dryness and then squeaks when I scratch it. And Kester is a nickname I’ve had for just over a decade.

What excites you about your work in the GST?

  • I am very much a pastor more than a salesman, so it excites me to help students discern their calling and to introduce them to a program that is as committed to academic excellence, spiritual formation, and preparation for vocation as the GST is.

Differences that Shape Us–Becca Kello

by   |  05.23.15  |  ACU, Interfaith Dialog, Mission of God

It was around a Panera table that I realized that I needed to pursue ministry. We were sitting around the table, sharing our stories, our lives, our beliefs and doubts discussing national and global events, how our faith shapes our worlds, and how our wounds, particularly our religious scars, make us better people. We met once a week to have a meal and a conversation, but this was about the only thing we had in common. This table in Panera, just outside of Nashville, was where an agnostic Muslim, a practicing Daoist, a few non-religious folks, an atheist, a secular humanist, and a handful of Christians became my community; the unlikely community that helped me discern my call.

Around this table I experienced the good in humanity; we regaled each other with beautiful, and occasionally horrific, stories of our faith communities as we tried to figure out how to live life and be people of faith and integrity. Around this table I saw vulnerability and openness that was tender and inspiring, and I laughed at stories that were comical and too bizarre to be made up. And around this table I first came to fully know the rewards and challenges of interfaith dialogue as I was beginning to shape my ministerial identity.

While some of the challenges are obvious, occasionally they are quite subtle. Generally, we define and understand God differently, religious garb seems unfamiliar and perhaps unnecessary, and we have a different religious vocabulary and often different cultures, but to let these overt differences be the sole focus of our understanding of interfaith dialogue is to see it dimly, through a glass.

Around this table, with these people, I learned what it looks (and feels) like to firmly hold a belief in conversation with someone who firmly holds an opposing belief. This, especially in our social climate today, is incredibly invaluable. The skill of being able to not only articulate what you think and believe and why, but also to hold a real conversation with someone who doesn’t automatically agree with you because of the shape of your religious necklace is sharpened through interfaith dialogue.

Interfaith dialogue is important to me and to my call not simply because I like people and diversity, but because it makes me a better Christian minister. It teaches me compassion and grace; it teaches me what aspects of my faith are central to who I am as a Christian, which aspects are central to the institution of the Christian religion, and which are matters of opinion and tradition. Interfaith dialogue teaches me conflict resolution in some very real and concrete ways. It teaches to me to see people and stories first, labels and dogmas second.

IMG_3759_2Here in this photo, I am with my friend Manel, who also serves with me on the Abilene Interfaith Council Board. Manel, along with many others in my work with the Abilene Interfaith Council, has taught me so much about being gracious in the face prejudice. Through hearing her story, I learned that she was inspired to start wearing her hijab by seeing the faith of Christians in our community, and I’ve been reminded that, in this largely Christian nation I will rarely, if ever, be treated the way she does for faithfully living out her beliefs and moral convictions. Truly, I have seen the embodiment of kenosis because of my friendship and partnership with her in our challenging work of pursuing interfaith dialogue.

There have been many things that have, and will continue to, shape my formation both as a Christian and as a minister, everything from the flannel graph VBS lessons to the friends and family who fostered in me a discerning and inquiring heart. The one that stands out, though, as I’m on the cusp of beginning my life’s work, is how I have been shaped by those who look and act differently than me and all the lessons that we have learned from each other as we seek the betterment of our community while being continually shaped by our differences.

 

Becca Kello is a third year M.Div. student and is serving as the President of the Abilene Interfaith Council.

A Sabbatical in Korea

by   |  05.11.15  |  ACU, Sabbatical

Ham 3What does a sabbatical have in common with a vacation? Absolutely nothing. And that’s a good thing too. Let me explain.

This spring, I have the privilege of living and working in Seoul, Korea with my wife Dr. Samjung Kang-Hamilton. Our apartment overlooks the Han River in the western part of this great city of almost 25,000,000 people, the sixth largest metropolitan area in the world. The energy of a city that never sleeps (or even dozes) makes life here the very opposite of dull.

Ham 2What does one do on a sabbatical in Seoul? For my part, I am teaching five courses on four campuses of three different universities. Two of those courses are at our host institution, Korea Christian University, where I teach one class on Israelite history and another on Old Testament theology. At the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, I am privileged to offer a doctoral seminar on divine kingship, working with excellent PhD students. And at Yonsei University, I teach an undergraduate course in Israelite religion on the main campus in downtown Seoul and a graduate (master’s and doctoral students in practical theology) course on Job and the Literature of Faith and Doubt (one of my ACU standbys) at an experimental seminary in the brand-new city of Songdo, involving a dozen or so students from many parts of the world. The teaching load, plus the hours of riding buses and subways to get from one place to another, makes for a busy week, but a very fulfilling one. It is always a privilege to be able to use one’s gifts fully. In addition to the (almost) daily teaching, I have given two major public lectures, one on Jonah and Lamentations at the Presbyterian University and the other on Psalms 93-100 for the Korean Society of Old Testament Studies, meeting this semester at the Seoul Theological University. I have also preached several Sundays at a number of congregations.

Ham 5Teaching students outside one’s native culture forces a teacher to work hard on his or her craft, to be disciplined not only with respect to content (which should always represented the state of the art), but also with respect to method. Good teachers are never satisfied with their work and always look for new ways to help students learn, and I have sought to do this as well as possible.

Ham 4Teaching biblical history and theology at three institutions in one of the world’s great cities offers a marvelous opportunity to gain a very broad picture of the possibilities of Christian education today. The old boundaries of denomination and heritage matter far less than the common interests and challenges we all face. And learning alongside such a wide range of people verifies the statement of Thomas Campbell two centuries ago:

[A]ll that are enabled, thro’ grace, to make such a profession, and to manifest the reality of it in their tempers and conduct, should consider each other as the precious saints of God, should love each other as brethren, children of the same family and father, temples of the same spirit, members of the same body, subjects of the same grace, objects of the same divine love, bought with the same price, and joint heirs of the same inheritance. Whom God hath thus joined together, no man should dare to put asunder. (Declaration & Address, Proposition 9)

Surely this vision, so central to our identity in Churches of Christ, is true, and it is important that we both believe it and act upon it. Living in a city in which God clearly works inspires us to think about how we are doing our part.

Ham 1During this time, Samjung has also been teaching courses at Korea Christian University in childhood development and multicultural education. For me, probably the greatest joy of this entire trip is the opportunity to see her use her gifts fully to make a difference in the mindset of students. It has been a pleasure to see her receive the honor and respect that her work deserves. In addition, she has also spoken in churches and exerted a positive influence on a wide range of people. And later this month, we will give a speech on theological aspects of immigration together at a conference of the East-West Theological Forum, an international group of researchers meeting this year in Seoul. Again, we have stayed busy.

Yet, staying busy is not really the goal of life, nor is it the real purpose of a sabbatical. The main goal is to learn. One does this by meeting many new people, listening to their questions and ideas and concerns, and opening up one’s own mind to the possibilities of new ways of thinking. Living in a foreign country in which many things are unfamiliar is of course an excellent way to learn new ways of thinking, because the only way to avoid learning is to work very hard to stay in the old patterns of thinking. Learning simply is the course of least resistance. I have been privileged this semester to meet students, professors, church leaders, and just plain regular people who have tried to teach me not just a little more Korean, but also how to relate to a culture with different rules than my own.

A sabbatical of this sort, most of all, teaches many lessons about faith. The vulnerability that comes from being outside our comfort zone at almost all times forces a close examination of the shape ministry is the ministry itself – the work, the plans, the goals, the big ideas driving everything – or the One whom we trust with our entire lives. If we really believe that God’s strength is shown most perfectly through our weakness, we must confront our own mixed motives, fears, excessive deference to other people, unreasonable expectations, and pride. None of this is easy. But it can be done.

So, does our sabbatical resemble a vacation? Not really. But it has been something much more valuable – a time of renewal. For that I am truly grateful.

–Mark W. Hamilton

Jacob of Serugh

by   |  01.24.15  |  ACU, Announcements

Dr. Jeff Childers, the Carmichael-Walling Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU, has been invited to participate in a special workshop occurring at Princeton University in January 2015. A group of eight scholars from places such as Holland, Israel, and the U.S. will gather as guests of the university for a workshop-conference on Jacob of Serugh. Jacob (d. 521) was a Christian bishop whose extensive writings greatly influenced Christianity in the Middle East. Jacob wrote in Syriac and worked in a district now located in southeast Turkey near the Syrian border. Although his surviving works number into the hundreds and his legacy left a deep impact on Christianity in the region, our knowledge of Jacob is still at an early stage. A growing number of researchers, students, and even a popular readership are taking an interest in this creative author and leader. In an effort to help put our knowledge of this important figure on a more solid footing, specialists are gathering at Princeton this month to discus key topics related to Jacob’s legacy. Childers has been invited to present original research on Jacob of Serugh’s treatment of the New Testament text. Jacob’s sermons and letters are saturated with references to scripture and his brilliant treatment of the biblical text remains one of the most attractive features of his work.

Master of Arts in Global Service

by   |  05.31.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Contexual Education, Mission

MA web banner
 

The Mission Alive team is excited to announce a partnership between Abilene Christian University and Storyline Christian Community – a Dallas, Texas church planting in the Mission Alive community.

See original website here.

Storyline will serve as one of seven global “missional partner sites” for the Master of Arts in Global Service (MAGS) degree. The 48-hour MAGS degree is a cutting edge approach to education that combines online coursework, focused face-to-face learning within a cohort of peers, and mentoring in a particular ministry context.

 

Charles Kiser, Mission Alive Director of Training and Storyline Missionary, will mentor students as the Dallas MAGS Site Supervisor. MAGS students in Dallas will have many learning opportunities in mission and discipleship:

 

  • Experiencing the life of an extended family on mission (missional community) in a particular neighborhood or relational network
  • Equipping for the way of Jesus in a discipleship huddle
  • Identifying, befriending, and sharing faith with those who are searching for God
  • Leading a discipleship huddle for others
  • Seeing searchers take steps toward Jesus through the Alpha Course in missional community
  • Working for justice among the downtrodden in Dallas
  • Deepening prayer and spiritual discernment
  • Helping to start new missional communities
  • Participating in Mission Alive’s Mission Training for discipleship and mission
  • Receiving coaching and mentoring from practitioners in the trenches of mission

For more information, visit  www.acumags.org or call Charles Kiser at 214.471.5722.

 

July 1, 2014 is the registration deadline for the Fall 2014 cohort.

 

Bridging the Gap in Distance Education

by   |  05.16.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Ministry, Students

The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of educating students while they serve in local congregations.  Whether it’s a youth minister across town, a preacher in the Metroplex, or an intern working part-time for a rural congregation, we’ve always tried to provide flexible class options.  We have one-week intensive courses in August, January, and May.  We offer two-weekend short courses in the fall and spring semesters.  We even schedule our full-semester classes as three-hour blocks once a week so students who commute to campus can take classes on their day off.

This year, class options for our non-residential students got a lot more flexible.  Our accrediting agency – the Association of Theological Schools – approved our petition to offer up to 75% of the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) in an online format.  For this 48-hour degree, that means only 12 credits – the remaining 25% – must be taken in a face-to-face setting.  That’s just four classes.  Students can take residential intensive classes when it best fits in their schedule while the majority of their coursework is completed online.  They don’t have to wait for required courses to be offered on the right day or in an intensive format.  They don’t have to spend so much time away from their families – or their ministries – taking classes on campus.  Students can serve congregations at a greater distance from Abilene, whether that’s across the country or around the world.  And all the while they’re still getting a world-class theological education from full-time GST faculty.  How’s that for the best of both worlds?  Serving students, serving the church – that’s what we’ve always done.

For more information about the MACM or our other degree options for non-residential students, contact Dr. Melinda (Mindi) Thompson, Director of Distance Education:  mlt11a@acu.edu, (325) 674-3706.

 

Congratulations to Mark Hamilton

by   |  04.11.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Sabbatical

Dr. Mark Hamilton (http://www.acu.edu/academics/gst/faculty/hamilton.html), professor of Old Testament for the Graduate School of Theology, was named the Seymour Gitin Distinguished Professor, Albright Institute for Archaeological Research for Fall 2014. The honor is open to internationally recognized scholars of all nationalities who have made significant contributions to their field of study. During Dr. Hamilton’s sabbatical leave, he intends to work on publications related to divine kingship and divine embodiment.

The W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (AIAR) in Jerusalem is the oldest American research center for ancient Near Eastern studies in the Middle East.  Founded in 1900 as the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR), it was renamed in 1970 after its most distinguished director, William Foxwell Albright.  Today, the Albright is one of three separately incorporated institutes affiliated with ASOR, the others being in Amman and Nicosia.

For more than a century, Albright/ASOR has provided scholars with an unparalleled international cultural environment and a unique program that spans the broad spectrum of ancient Near Eastern studies.  Each year, Albright Fellows, primarily from the United States, Canada, Europe and also from Asia, Australia, and South Africa, as well as Israelis and Palestinians, exchange information and ideas with hundreds of researchers from countries in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.  Dedicated to the advancement of the study of the literature, history and culture of the ancient Near East, including the disciplines of the Archaeology of Palestine and Biblical Studies, the Albright continues to be a major research center and to strive for excellence in scholarship.

Now, as in the past, the Albright Institute provides annually a wide range of programs and facilities for doctoral and post-doctoral research, as well as information-sharing, internship and field work programs for more than 3,000 persons.  These include a series of eighty-five scholarly presentations, study tours and social events, and support for twenty-five ASOR-affiliated/AIAR-assisted excavation, survey and publications projects.  It also includes a publications program, an extensive research library, workshops and living accommodations.  The Albright Institute jointly sponsors with the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem the long-term Tel Miqne-Ekron excavation and publications project.  It also initiated and administers the international research project, “The Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 7th Century BC: A Study of the Interactions between Center and Periphery,” involving fifty researchers working in thirteen countries in the Middle East and Mediterranean basin.

Congratulations Mark!

Congratulations to Carson Reed

by   |  02.12.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Ministry, Uncategorized

For thousands of years religious communities have depended on scholars to read, interpret, and analyze faith and the scriptures it is based on. The field of theology is highly academic, but it also influences peoples’ lives on a deep, spiritual level, and the most respected theological scholars can have profound effects on the many faithful people that read their work. The idea of participating in theological research and scholarship is appealing for many seminary students. Becoming a professor and teaching the next generation of theological scholars is an attractive career choice both from a spiritual and an intellectual point of view. However, it is not necessarily an easy path. Any theology student considering becoming a teacher or professor should look to those who have come before them for guidance and inspiration.

The professors and scholars mentioned here have not only contributed to the body of theological knowledge with their research, but they have also contributed to the preparation of a new generation of theologians. Each of these individuals can serve as a remarkable role model for current theology students who aim to become educators. These are listed in no specific order, and are categorized by the general region of the most recent institution they taught at. This list focuses on theological scholars who work and teach in the United States, though many of them are known and respected internationally.

100 Remarkable Professors

 

Carson E. Reed

Carson E. Reed

Carson E. Reed is the Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Ministry Program at Abilene Christian University. He often looks at congregations, spiritual music, ministerial callings, as well as theology and practice.

  • Teaches At: Abilene Christian University Graduate School of Theology

Two Upcoming ACU Events

by   |  03.22.11  |  ACU, Broom Colloquium, Evangelism, Theology

We are excited about two upcoming ACU events.

First, you are invited to hear Dr. Abraham J. Malherbe, Buckingham Professor Emeritus of Yale University, on the topic “What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem” this Thursday, March 24, at 3:00 p.m. in room 114 of the Onstead Packer Biblical Studies building. Dr. Malherbe is one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars; he is the author of many books and articles, including major commentaries on the Thessalonian and Pastoral epistles.

Also this Thursday, at 7 p.m., Professor Elaine Heath, McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism at Southern Methodist University, will give the annual Broom Lecture in Hart Auditorium. She is the author of, among other works, The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach. She will offer strong reasons why we need to rethink evangelism and its central role in Christian practice. The word has fallen on hard times, in part because of the ways in which Christians have abused it. But her lecture will help us think in fresh and exciting ways.

I am sure you will want to be part of these events. Admission is free, but the learning will be priceless. We hope to see you for both of these outstanding speakers!

Mercy Project

by   |  12.17.10  |  ACU, Change, Christianity, Contextual Theology, Contexual Education, Hope, Jesus, Justice, Learning, Ministry, Mission of God, Students, Theology, Video

At ACU Graduate School of Theology, we are convinced that deep learning requires real-world engagement. Contextual education–the phrase we use to describe this approach–reimagines the “classroom,” and “study;” and it means that we get to watch students partner with God in truly amazing ways. Working on behalf of enslaved children in Ghana, West Africa, Chris Field (Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Executive Director of Mercy Project) is one such student. These are his words:

His name is Tomas, and he is about nine years old. He sits perfectly still in the middle of a small wooden fishing boat and watches my every move closely. I reach my hand out to him, and he slowly reaches back. As his small, dark hand embraces mine, these incredulous words form in my mind: “I am holding the hand of a slave.” Tomas lives in Ghana, Africa where he fishes on a boat fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. Tomas was probably sold by a desperate mother, for about $20, to a man she hoped would be able to send Tomas to school and feed him three times each day. Instead, his life is miserable, full of dangerous work and only enough food to keep him alive.

Unfortunately, Tomas is just one of an estimated 7,000 children working as slaves in the fishing industry of Ghana. These are the children we are working to help. These children are the reason we started Mercy Project. Our initial focus was to raise as much money as we could to help the children in slavery. But it didn’t take us very long to realize that the scope and depth of the problem would require more of us. Long-term solutions to the issue of child slavery in Ghana would have to include economic development- economic development that attacked the poverty and lack of economic opportunity that “forced” men to buy children like Tomas in the first place. This is why we are working to transform Ghana’s economy by creating new industry and businesses that are not dependant on child slavery. This economic development and opportunity gives viable alternatives to the country’s current economic choices. We believe this transformation is what will help us save Tomas and the other children working as slaves in Ghana.

This Christmas season, in the midst of all the celebration, I keep catching myself thinking about Tomas. I am sad that–on the outside–he has little reason to celebrate. But I am grateful for the chance to work on his behalf, and I am hopeful that his next Christmas will be full of joy. We invite you to join us in praying for Tomas and all of the hurting people in our world. Could there be a more fitting way for us to celebrate the humble birth of our Lord Jesus?

Ghana Benefit Concert

by   |  11.30.10  |  ACU, Christianity, College of Biblical Studies, GST Events, Worship

Ghana Benefit 2.0(3)

A free Christmas Benefit Concert for Heritage Christian College of Ghana, West Africa will be held in the Chapel on the Hill on December 6th, 2010 beginning at 7pm. This event is being sponsored by United By Faith.  The fund raising goal is $5,000.00 to help Heritage Christian College complete their building program. Many in the ACU Graduate School of Theology community will be participating in the Concert, and everyone is welcome to attend!

Theology, Technology, and Innovation

by   |  11.29.10  |  ACU, College of Biblical Studies, David Kneip, Learning, Students, Theology, Video

ACU Graduate School of Theology, the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry (DBMM) are all a part of the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University.  In the video below, DBMM instructor David Kneip speaks about theology, technology, and innovation at ACU.