Evangelical Theology—Challenges and Opportunities

Many theologians, pastors, and lay people who have used the term “Evangelical” to describe themselves recently have become quite wary of the designation.

This is largely due to the way the media has hijacked the term to describe a certain segment of the American population who are typically identified with a narrow range of political and ideological views.

But “Evangelical” was not always a term with such a narrow meaning.

On October 20-21, 2017 (Friday evening, all-day Saturday) Northeastern Seminary will host a theology conference to explore the full-orbed meaning of “Evangelical.” This conference will be co-sponsored with the Canadian-American Theological Association.

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Mouw, Professor of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary (where he previously served as President for twenty years).

Dr. Mouw is the author of numerous books, including Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World (rev. ed. IVP, 2010), Called to the Life of the Mind: Some Advice for Evangelical Scholars (Eerdmans, 2014), and his autobiography, Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground (Brazos, 2016).

Dr. Mouw’s will give two lectures on the theme of the conference: Evangelical Theology: New Challenges, New Opportunities.

These lectures will explore the continuing value of the term “Evangelical” in the twenty-first century, while tracing the history of its meaning and usage over the past hundred years.

  1. A public lecture on Friday evening, October 20: New Challenges for Evangelical Theology
  2. The keynote lecture for the conference on Saturday, October 21: New Opportunities for Evangelical Theology

Besides Dr. Mouw’s lectures, we are expecting to have a wide range of papers related to the conference theme.

Our first such conference in 2013, on New Creation, had 65 papers presented; and our more recent conference in 2016, on Participation in God’s Mission, had 45 papers.

Interested scholars, pastors, and students are invited to propose papers for the conference. You may download the call for papers here. The deadline for proposals is June 1, 2017.

Once the conference program is decided, further information will be made available on the dedicated Northeastern Seminary website for the conference. The site will include online registration as we get closer to the conference.

Graduate students, post-docs, and pre-tenured faculty are invited to submit finished papers by September 15 for the Jack and Phyllis Middleton Memorial Award for Excellence in Bible and Theology.

In a follow-up post, I will describe something of the history and mission of the conference co-sponsor, the Canadian-American Theological Association, which began in 1990 (under the name the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association) specifically as an alternative to the narrowness of the way “Evangelical” was being used in the USA.

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Congratulations, Dr. Esau McCaulley!

Esau McCaulley, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Northeastern Seminary, successfully defended his PhD thesis on Monday, April 3, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland (his supervisor was N. T. Wright, pictured below with Esau, after the defense).

The full title of Dr. McCaulley’s dissertation is: Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance: Davidic Messianism and Paul’s Worldwide Interpretation of the Abrahamic Land Promise in Galatians.”

Northeastern Seminary is proud of you, Esau, and we are delighted that you are part of our faculty. Congratulations!

For more on Northeastern Seminary, see my earlier blog post, “Northeastern Seminary—A Hidden Gem.

Kudos to My Colleagues at Northeastern Seminary (Rochester NY)

I am privileged to be part of a wonderful Seminary, and I work with excellent faculty colleagues.

Here I want to highlight three faculty members in particular, with a focus on their recent (and upcoming) accomplishments. Indeed, the first is still future at the time of writing this post.

Esau McCaulley

Esau McCaulley is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity.

Prof. McCaulley will be defending his PhD dissertation on Monday, April 3, at the University of St. Andrews (his supervisor is N. T. Wright)—that’s tomorrow, as of this writing. The defense is scheduled for 1:00 pm UK time (7:00 am EDT).

The defense was successful!

Prof. McCaulley’s dissertation topic is Paul’s application of the Old Testament idea of Israel’s inheritance to Jesus in the letter to the Galatians.

Last year (November 2016) he presented a paper based on his dissertation in the Biblical Theology Research Group of the Institute for Biblical Research. His paper was entitled Exile, Restoration, and the Inheritance of the Son: Jesus as Servant and Messiah in Galatians 1:4.

Josef Sykora

Dr. Josef Sykora (PhD, Durham University) is Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and Assistant Professor of Biblical Interpretation.

Prof. Sykora’s 2016 dissertation on the elect and non-elect in the Old Testament (supervised by Walter Moberly) has just been accepted for publication by Eisenbrauns publishers, in their prestigious series called “Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures.” His forthcoming book is tentatively titled “The Unfavored: Judah and Saul in the Narratives of Genesis and 1 Samuel.”

Rebecca Letterman

Rebecca Letterman (PhD, Cornell University) is Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation.

Over the last few years Prof. Letterman has been hard at work with Susan Muto (executive director of the Epiphany Association and Dean of the Academy of Formative Spirituality in Pittsburgh, PA), co-authoring a book on spirituality and the developmental process of human life, based on the brilliant work of Christian psychologist and spiritual director Adrian van Kaam.

The co-authored book, called Understanding Our Story: The Life’s Work and Legacy of Adrian van Kaam in the Field of Formative Spirituality, has recently been published by Wipf and Stock. Both Doug Cullum (Vice President and Dean of Northeastern Seminary) and I have written endorsements for this intellectually and spiritually stimulating book.

Congratulations to my three faculty colleagues for these accomplishments. I am proud to know you and to work with you in theological education for the Kingdom of God.