Winter 2002 Rapport: Faculty Words
Back to Table of Contents
Download this page of the Winter 2002 Rapport
(PDF, 886K, 2.5 min. at 56K)
Ministering through the gift of
Who will I be today? I frequently wondered as a young Bible college instructor
in the late l960s. If well prepared for a lesson (perhaps on the threshold of being profound),
I might feel like Stanley Horton, one of my former professors. When passionately explaining
a point, I briefly fancied myself as William Menzies, another mentor. A profitable interchange
of ideas with students over the biblical text would transform me into Donald F. Johns.
And if my Greek class went well, it would seem that Anthony Palma had addressed the students
that day. But who was I as a teacher?
Ministry or teaching? These terms had seemed antithetical when I enrolled in college.
Three vocations enjoyed the limelight: pastor, evangelist, and missionary. But while I
soon learned that ministers of music and Christian education also counted, the calling
into Christian higher education rested under a cloud of suspicion. In fact, one had to
justify this as a valid ministry because it appeared to be so far away from practical
church work. Several years into teaching, however, I discovered a wonderful book that
significantly influenced my thinking: E. Harris Harbisons The Christian Scholar
in the Age of the Reformation. Harbison explained that great teachers of the faith from
Augustine to Luther to Calvin viewed scholarship as a ministry and indispensable to the
healthy growth of the church.
The twin ministries of teaching and Christian scholarship have never had more importance
for the Pentecostal movement than they have today. Issues related to Pentecostal spirituality,
the mission of the church in the world, and the discipleship of believers require the
attention of teachers with solid academic credentials, disciplined study habits, encouragement
from church leaders, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Always concerned that doctrine
have practical application, Paul wrote to Timothy, What you have heard from me through
many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well
(2 Tim. 2:2 NRSV).
Reading The Christian Scholar marked a joyful event in my pilgrimage. Although I could
never be a Luther, or a Horton for that matter, I knew that God had called me to the ministry
of teachingas Paul said, to prepare Gods people for works of service
(Eph. 4:12 NIV). In time I discovered my own gifts in the classroom. As I begin my 34th
year of teaching this semester, I am grateful to the Lord for His calling and blessing,
to the wonderful teachers who prepared me, to the thousands of students that I have been
privileged to teach at home and abroad, and to the Assemblies of God for the increasing
value that it has placed on Christian higher education.
Thursday, August 7, 2003 3:31 PM