2016 Western Faculty Spotlight “Best Of” – Part 1

Each Friday this semester, we have been placing a spotlight on one of Western Seminary’s faculty members. Today we are running the first of a two-part post of high points from the 2016 interviews we have published so far this year. This week features E.D. Burns, Bob Krupp, Chad Hall, Ken Logan, and Ron Marrs.

Passage of Scripture that has Particularly Impacted Your Life

Burns: Psalm 73:25-26. It regularly recalibrates my soul to look heavenward.

Krupp: Habbakuk 2:4. The just shall live by faith.

Hall: Genesis 1:27. Beneath all of our failures, sins, shortcomings and ungodliness is a deep and dangerous truth that God has created us in his image.

Logan: John 1:14. God went to such great lengths to repair and re-establish relationship with us.

Marrs: Isaiah 55:8, 9. This has helped me live with life circumstances that were and are difficult and impossible to understand.

Theological Topics that Warrant Additional Attention

Burns: More work needs to be done in areas such as: (1) developing a practical ecclesiology and a theology of the family for the persecuted church, (2) articulating the gospel for honor/shame-based cultures, (3) communicating the gospel for cultures entrenched in demonism and animism, and (4) outlining the theological and historical significance of martyrdom.

Hall: I have seen much needed growing attention to the peculiarity of the gospel and the church, especially in America where citizenship and Christianity have too often been muddled. Theologians as diverse as Stanley Hauerwas, Tim Keller, and Russell Moore are (each in his own way) helping us recognize that the church must be intentionally other than the prevailing culture.

Logan: Based on my experience of working with pastors and missionaries in the counseling ministry, I think practical theological training could involve a deeper and more critical dialog with themes in soteriology, Christology, sin (especially total depravity and the nature of suffering), the Trinity, and pneumatology (as it relates to sanctification and how we all grow, heal, and mature in the face of living as justified people in a fallen world).

Marrs: Vocation and call with the theology of work.

What The Church Needs More And Less Of

 Burns: I am convinced that every church could use more devotion to the Christ-centered Scriptures and to fervent, desperate prayer. We can never know, love, and keep the Word of God enough, and we can never avail ourselves enough to the promises of God in prayer.

Krupp: The church needs more: (1) members who read through the Bible each year, (2) members who pray each day, and (3) songs and hymns that can be sung by the entire congregation. The church needs less music that can only be sung by a small group while everyone else listens.

Hall: The church needs less razzle dazzle, less celebrity, and less love for all things big and glitzy. We also need less greeting card theology. I think we need more leaders who are down-to-earth, pack your lunch and go to work types who are committed to loving and serving a body of believers in a local setting and for the long haul.

Logan:

  1. Plan less, do more
  2. Idealize the past less, anticipate God in the future more
  3. More support and love, less judgment and avoidance
  4. Less fear in risking what “is” for what “could be”
  5. Trust God more, worry about provisions less
  6. Listen more, talk less
  7. More God, growth emphasis less
  8. More water/tea, less soda
  9. Play more, worry less
  10. Have more that you show, speak less than you know

Marrs: It needs more Christ-followers transformed by the Word, Spirit and community leading to many people coming to Christ. It needs less leaders motivated by hubris.

One Piece of Advice to Seminarians

 Burns: When you are tempted to complain about the workload, the professors, or the tuition, remember your brothers in other countries who have no access to quality seminary education, whether because of political hostility, inadequate resources, no Bible in their native language, financial constraints, familial pressure, religious persecution, or illiteracy. No country in the history of the world has had so much access to theological training/resources as has America. Make it count.

Krupp: Maintain your spiritual base by praying each day, reading through the Bible each year apart from your academic work, and serving in your local church.

Hall: Focus on learning, not grades. At their best, grades indicate how much learning has occurred, but that’s not always the case. At their worst, grades can be a distraction and a source of pride or shame. Also, see assignments not as hoops to jump through or even primarily as a way to prove what you know; instead, treat them as a means by which you learn, grow and develop.

Logan: Don’t forget to cultivate a healthy private spirituality through prayer, worship, and contemplative Bible reading. Ironically, this seems to be one of the first things that gets put on the back burner in seminary training and active ministry.

Marrs: Don’t neglect your personal intimacy with God.

What Makes for a Model Student

 Burns: I think the best students are characterized by self-motivation, integrity, diligence, critical thinking, biblical thinking, humility, and love.

Krupp: A commitment to personal piety, local church ministry, and a curious openness to different ministry settings.

Hall: They make great sacrifices to grow the character and develop the competencies needed to serve the church well.

Logan: Students who prioritize personal transformation before moving into the active work of people helping. It is always a good thing when I see students demonstrate personal growth with a peaceful response, self-honesty, and sober confession.

Marrs: Model students are characterized by an eagerness to learn from a variety of sources (books, lectures, others, experience), and then put into ministry practice that which they have learned.