In a Home in Oxford There Lived a Hobbit

Oxford is J. R. R. Tolkien’s home.

And, as The New York Times has reported, a group of Tolkien scholars and aficionados have banded together in a fellowship in an effort to purchase and restore the home Tolkien owned when he wrote The Hobbit.

“Project Northmoor” rightly recognizes that there is no formal literary center for Tolkien studies nor a home in Oxford dedicated for this purpose like there is at “The Kilns,” a former C. S. Lewis home owned and maintained by the C. S. Lewis Foundation. In fact, Tolkien’s papers are housed in the United States at Marquette University, and many of his letters and other items are preserved and studied at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College.

While “Project Northmoor” is a noble effort to acquire perhaps the key Tolkien home in Oxford, Tolkien lived in several locations in Oxford spanning from 1911, when arrived as a college student at age 19, to his death in 1973 at the age of 81. What follows is a brief introduction to those locations.

Exeter College

Tolkien studied as an undergraduate at Exeter College from 1911 until World War I took him and many of his classmates away from Oxford. Before departing for war in France, Tolkien married Edith Bratt in 1916.

50 St. John’s Street & 1 Alfred Street

When Tolkien returned from the war, he gained employment at the Oxford English Dictionary and lived nearby on St. John’s St and then Alfred St until 1920. Incidentally, Alfred St was later renamed Pusey St and it is thought his flat was in the space now occupied by Regent’s Park College.

1 Alfred Street was the first recipient of a “letter from Father Christmas” on December 22, 1920, to John Tolkien, age 3. These letters started a tradition that would continue for the next twenty-three years arriving at the various Tolkien homes and to the Tolkien children: John, Michael, Christopher, and Pricilla.

50 St John’s Street

22 Northmoor & 20 Northmoor

Tolkien moved to the University of Leeds in 1920, but returned in 1925 to Oxford to teach at Pembroke College and to live at 22 Northmoor Road.

In 1926, Tolkien would make a new friend and start a new society. Meeting first at an English faculty meeting, Tolkien found that C. S. Lewis shared his interest in Norse literature. By 1929, their group expanded and met regularly and were known as the Inklings.

Tolkien moved to the house next door, 20 Northmoor, in 1930 and remained there until 1947. This the home “Project Northmoor” seeks to revitalize as a Tolkien literary center, and with good reason.

22 Northmoor Road

While Tolkien had been thinking of Middle Earth and the world that his stories would one day inhabit, it is clear that during his time at 20 Northmoor Road is when he began to write The Hobbit. As he did not have rooms at Pembroke, he officed at home in the front room. Sometime prior to or during the Summer of 1930, while grading papers, Tolkien had an idea, a first line that would bring to life the world of Middle Earth to house his created language:

“All I remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual tasked forced upon impecunious academics with children. On a blank leaf I scrawled: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ I did not and do not know why.” (To W. H. Auden, June 7, 1955, Letters, 215.)

20 Northmoor Road

The Hobbit would be published in 1937, when Tolkien was 45 years old, and he immediately started work on the sequel.

Also, during his years at 20 Northmoor Road, Tolkien’s friendship with Lewis continued to grow. on September 19, 1931, Tolkien and Lewis were walking and talking on the grounds of Magdalen College wherein Tolkien explained his belief in the truth of the Christian “myth.” This led to an extended conversation into the early hours of September 20 where Lewis would relate later to a friend that:

“I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ – in Christianity …. My long night talk with … Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.” (To Arthur Greaves, October 1, 1931, C. S. Lewis Letters, Vol. 1, 974.)

3 Manor Road & 99 Holywell

In 1945, Tolkien began to teach at Merton College and the Tolkiens moved to two homes owned by the college. First on Manor Road from 1947-1950 and then on Holywell from 1950-1953. (The door to 99 Holywell has appeared in the Inspector Lewis television show).

During these years Tolkien completed the writing of The Lord of the Rings. As Tolkien was a noted perfectionist who had difficulty finishing a project, he needed constant encouragement. The chief encourager of the value and necessity of this project was C. S. Lewis.  Writing after Lewis’s death, Tolkien said:

“But for the encouragement of C. S. L. I do not think I should ever have completed or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings.” (To Clyde S. Kilby, December 18, 1965, Letters, 366.)

76 Sandfields

In 1953, Tolkien moved out to Sandfields Road (closer to C. S. Lewis’ home at The Kilns). While there, The Lord of the Rings was published during 1954-1955 when Tolkien was 62-63 years old.

76 Sandfields

Tolkien retired from teaching in 1959 and in 1968 he and his wife moved south to Bournemouth.

21 Merton St

Following Edith’s death in 1971, Tolkien returned to Oxford and lived on Merton St. until his death in 1973.

Other Homes

The church home Tolkien regularly attended was St. Aloysius Catholic Church at 25 Woodstock Road and, of course, his frequent eating and fellowship home with the Inklings was The Eagle and Child pub at 49 St. Giles.

St. Aloysius Catholic Church

In his later years, he would spend a good deal of time sitting under a large tree in the University Botanic Garden off High St, but sadly, the tree was removed in 2014. 

Resting Place

The Tolkiens final earthly home is in Wolvercote Cemetery at 447 Banbury Road.

Hats off to the organizers and supporters of “Project Northmoor” as they seek to revitalize the study and presence of the life and work of J. R. R. Tolkien in Oxford. May they succeed in their aims to acquire one of Tolkien’s homes so many can travel there and back again.

For further reading:

All photos taken by Jason G. Duesing (2018).

Creeds added to the Bible? Defining and Defending Baptist Confessionalism

This week I presented a paper for the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society that gives a survey of the history of Baptist confessionalism. What follows is an excerpt from that paper. The entire paper will function as the introduction in a new textbook that chronicles the formation of Baptist Confessions from Christian Focus, forthcoming in 2021.

Throughout history, Baptists have used Confessions of Faith to define and defend what they believe both for those who want to partner with them and in response to those attacking their beliefs. Further, Baptists have used Confessions to set boundaries for fellowship, especially in ecclesiological matters, and to show connection to the broader Christian tradition.  

Yet, Baptists have not been a creedal people in that they have not sought to place their Confessions in a place of greater authority than Scripture. This tension has caused confusion and misunderstanding throughout history not only by those who have sought to interpret the Baptist tradition, but also by Baptists themselves. Famously, one group of Baptist churches proclaimed at their initial organization, “We have no creed but the Bible,” even while most of the churches represented held and used Confessions of Faith in their congregations.

Have Baptists understood Confessions of Faith as creeds added to the Bible? This paper will present a survey of the history of Baptist confessionalism to alleviate historical confusion and contemporary misunderstanding as to the role, importance, and value of Confessions of Faith in the Baptist tradition.

Defining Baptist Confessionalism

Baptists have used Confessions to define what they believe both for those who want to partner with them and to set boundaries for fellowship, especially in ecclesiological matters. Confessions, in this sense, are merely summary statements of their corporate understanding of the teaching of Scripture on a given doctrinal issue. Another way to say this is that Confessions are used to define the terms by which Baptist churches include or exclude those with whom they will work.

The preamble to the Baptist Faith & Message states that this Confession of Faith “endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us” and that “We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.”

Defending Baptist Confessionalism

Baptists have used Confessions to defend what they believe both to friends and foes. Sometimes this has been done to show other believers in like-minded, but different, ecclesial traditions that there exists a significant amount of shared theological common ground where perhaps many assumed little existed. Other times, Confessions have helped a watching world to see that the claims of a false accuser simply have no rational basis of truth. Never assumed to be infallible documents, Baptists have felt the freedom to revise their Confessions as a specific context or theological crisis might require.

The vehicle that Baptists have used to defend the beliefs they “most surely” hold has been Confessions of Faith. As Baptists developed cooperating entities or pursued partnerships with one another among churches, the Confessions proved helpful in communicating to non-participants what was and was not believed and held by their groups. In addition, as Baptists developed institutions, schools, mission boards, they used confessions as “instruments of doctrinal accountability.”

To What End?

Baptists have used Confessions of Faith to define and defend what they believe. To put it another way, this paper defines and defends the historic practice of Baptists defining and defending. But to what end?  

Often lost in the history of Baptist use of Confessions is the ultimate reason for the Confessions. Beyond defining and defending, these local documents summarize the faith of Baptist churches in God himself and therein lies their power. Here Baptist historians and theologians can be helped by two Anglicans.

Dorothy Sayers, in her work Creed or Chaos? reminded that in the presentation and summary of doctrine, there is great drama. The drama, or value, is not in “beautiful phrases, nor conforming sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertation that the same God who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death.”[1] 

Alistair McGrath, describes the study of Creeds and Confessions as the windows through which we look to gain “access to a greater reality, rather than being the object of study itself.” He explains, “Christian doctrine offers us a subject worthy of study in its own right; yet its supreme importance lies in its capacity to allow us to pass through its imaginative gateway, and behold our world in a new way.”[2]  

In this sense, Confessions of Faith are lenses through which we can look to gain a fuller understanding of how other Christians in the Baptist tradition have summarized their knowledge of God that they found in the Bible. 

[1] Dorothy L. Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (1949; Sophia Institute Press, 1974), 25.

[2] Alistair McGrath, The Landscape of Faith (SPCK, 2018), 25.

Beauty for Trials from the Father of Lights – Fall 2020 Chapel Message

In 1853, a young Charles Spurgeon was invited to leave his church in the country and take up a preaching ministry at New Park Street Chapel, where he would stay until his death in 1892.

The story goes that the famous London congregation sent him a letter requesting him to come and when he read it, he passed it along to his deacons saying, “They must have another Mr. Spurgeon in mind.”

For Spurgeon was young and, like Alexander Hamilton, “didn’t have a dollar to his name.” All he had was a few years of preaching and his “top-notch brain.” 

Nevertheless, he went to London and for his first sermon there he preached on James 1:17, in a sermon called “The Father of Lights.” 

A version of the sermon is reprinted in his Autobiography, but the original manuscript will soon appear in the final version of The Lost Sermons published by The Spurgeon Library and B&H Academic in 2022.  Spurgeon reflects on the majestic aspects of the unchanging attributes of God—but listen to where Spurgeon decides to put his emphasis: 

“He is immutable. The sun changes, mountains crumble, the ocean shall be dried up, the stars shall wither from the vault of night; but God, and God alone, remains ever the same.

“Were I to enter into a full discourse on the subject of immutability, my time, if multiplied by a high number, would fail me. But reminding you that there is no hang in His power, justice, knowledge, oath, threatening, or decree, I will confine myself to the fact that His love to us knows no variation.

“How often it is called unchangeable, everlasting love. He loves me now as much as He did when first He enscribed my name in His eternal book of election. He has not repented of His choice. He has not blotted out one of His chosen; there are not erasures in that book; all whose names are written in it are safe for ever. Nor does God love me less now than when He gave that grand proof of love, His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for me.”

In a recent chapel message on this same text, it was my aim to present how this type of reflection and focus on God and His Christ is the answer for persevering in faithfulness. In James 1:12-18, James writes two paragraphs that serve to present two sides of the same issue—namely how does the believer remain steadfast in times of trial.

Titled, “Beauty for Trials: God Knows the Way Out,” I review James’ purpose and then assert that the greatest obstacle to our perseverance in trials is our sinful nature. To put it another way, we are the problem. However, while God never tempts us, he remains with us when we are tempted. He is the solution and trusting him, and all that is good, beautiful, and true about him, will lead us to persevere.

You can watch the video of that message here:

Martin Luther’s Umbrella, A Good Place for Reformation Studies

In 1536, Martin Luther published his Disputation Concerning Justification, a series of statements concerning Romans 3:28:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

From Luther’s Disputation, one passage he uses to describe the beauty of the believer’s standing before God lingers in my mind: a simple image of an umbrella.

In this one image, Luther conveys imputation, propitiation, and substitution. All fifty-dollar theological terms to be sure, but truly priceless biblical truths that give hope both those in Christ and those still outside of Christ.

Here is Luther:

Moreover, God forgives and is merciful to us because Christ, our advocate and priest, intercedes and sanctifies our beginning in righteousness. His righteousness, since it is without defect and serves us like an umbrella against the heat of God’s wrath, does not allow our beginning righteousness to be condemned. (LW 34:153).

What joy to know and have access to Martin Luther’s umbrella.

At Midwestern Seminary this fall, Matthew Barrett and I will offer again The Reformation PhD Seminar. The seminar starts August 31 and will meet for a week-long sessions during October 26-30.

For the students already enrolled we recently made the syllabus available and we wanted also to make it available here as well so any other interested students can view it and see if they would like to enroll as well prior to the start of the seminar on August 31.

We’ve offered this seminar several times at Midwestern and typically attempt to cover the entire Reformation Era in broad strokes with focused primary source readings from the major figures.

However, this time, the big take away is that we are structuring this offering of the Reformation Seminar to focus deeply on Martin Luther!

We will still give time and discussion to the Reformation movements more broadly at points, but we’ve decided to give dedicated focus to the life and thought of Luther himself to allow PhD students the opportunity to read as much Luther as possible and grow in their knowledge of the Reformation as a result.

To put it another way, this fall we will follow Martin Luther and gather together to read and discuss his works under the merciful shade provided by his glorious Umbrella.

If you are a PhD student or considering starting your PhD studies, we’d love to have you join us. You can learn more about the Midwestern PhD program here.

Study Baptist History with me this Summer

In light of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, we at Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College have now doubled the number of summer intensive courses available for our students and have sought to provide new online avenues for students to continue with their studies even during uncertain times.

As our President, Jason K. Allen, said well, “With these new offerings, students can still continue to access learning from our incredible faculty even in these most difficult times. We can think of no better way to be ‘for the church’ than by working to help students complete their degrees in new and innovative ways.”

To that end, I have joined with several of our faculty to offer a newly added class this summer. During June 1-4, 2020, I will teach a class that meets the requirements for “Baptist History” at the graduate level and “The Church” at the undergraduate level.

This is a special joy and providence for me as this is my favorite class to teach, and one I have taught regularly since 2005. However, due my need to teach other courses next year, I was not scheduled to teach it this coming fall–but now I get to offer it!

This course is our required historical theology course that gives me the opportunity to appeal to students that ecclesial tradition matters and that, in most cases, it is not what they think it is.

In fact, the history of the Baptist tradition is far more doctrinal, relevant to day to day church life, and helpful for the task of world evangelization than they’ve ever imagined. I have one course to convince them of this and I love that challenge.

Why is this the case?

For my expanded answer, you should enroll in the course!

But as a preview, you can read this short article I wrote, “For Other Churches, Baptists Assert a High View of a Low and Free Church.”

With that, here are a few final notes about this special Summer opportunity:

  • The class will meet during June 1-4, 2020.
  • The class will meet over live, interactive (synchronous) video for 2 or 3hr blocks of time, which will consist of my lectures and class discussion.
  • Students can enroll up until the day the class starts.
  • Students are encouraged to get the textbooks and start on the reading and writing assignments, but all assignments are not due until 3 weeks after the course meets.
  • Given that this is a Summer Intensive (or compressed/hybrid) course, there is no exam, but reading requirements, book review(s), a descriptive paper, and a final quiz (based on the in-class time).
  • If you’ve already taken this course for credit, we are offering this course also as a special elective HT 3140 Baptist Theology. The syllabus below has that information as well.

Are you interested in taking this class with me this Summer? You can learn more and enroll at today!

On the third day He rose again — A Sonnet for Easter

In the mornings this year I’ve been re-reading a fourth century masterpiece. 

While Athanasius’s On the Incarnation is remarkable, it was C. S. Lewis who termed it a ‘masterpiece’ in his famous introduction to a new English translation of Athanasius’s work. 

As I read through the chapters of De Incarnatione Verbi Dei, I started summarizing each of the fifty-seven sections in my own words and soon realized the helpfulness of this exercise. 

Reading this old book has served to accomplish for me what C. S. Lewis hoped it would. Lewis advised, then in 1944, that in an era of modern controversies and division within Christianity “the only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.” 

In specific, Lewis had in mind books that put forth a “standard of plain, central Christianity which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective.” Even though it is now 2020 and we are not facing the same controversies of 1944, Lewis’s commending the reading of On the Incarnation does, indeed, put our controversies in perspective.

My reflection led me to another thought: could I condense and conform my thoughts on Athanasius’s work into a poem to summarize what I had gained? As only a poetry-appreciator, not a poet, I set out to learn more about form and structure and settled on a simple sonnet.

The sonnet, I learned, allows for poems with musicality but also to be read in silence. The 14-line structure and rhyming patterns function “like a box” and since sonnets are often meant to focus on a person, I thought it a good form to follow for a poem on the incarnation of Christ.

The result of my reflections on this “old book” was, first, a sonnet for Advent, and now the following sonnet for Easter.** Thanks to C. S. Lewis, it has helped me to keep this remarkable year in proper perspective.

**Working from my summaries of Athanasius’s last five chapters, I sought to structure the three quatrains around each chapter, with the last focusing on the last three. I created a spreadsheet to aid in building each of the 14 lines in iambic pentameter and around a specific rhyming sequence and then edited to final form.

For further reading:

  • Athanasius, On the Incarnation: the treatise De incarnatione Verbi Dei, translated and edited by a religious of C.S.M.V. (Centenary Press, 1944).
  • C. S. Lewis, “Introduction,” in Athanasius, On the Incarnation (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996).
  • Peter Barnes, Athanasius of Alexandria: His Life & Impact (Christian Focus, 2019).
  • Rachel Richardson, “Learning the Sonnet,” Poetry Foundation, August 29, 2013.

Historical Theology for the Church?

This week I am in Denver, Colorado for the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society where I presented a paper reviewing the past and present of historical theology while considering what it would mean to do historical theology for the church. What follows is an excerpt from the first half of that paper. The entire paper will function as an introduction to a new volume, Historical Theology for the Church, from B&H Academic, of which I am serving as co-editor with Nathan A. Finn and Thomas White.

The Lord’s Remembrancer

When David Levin set out to describe the early years of the life of Cotton Mather (1663-1703), he dubbed him “the Lord’s Remembrancer.”[1] This title is, no doubt, taken from the oldest functioning judicial position in England, the King’s Remembrancer. Established in the twelfth century, this clerk serves the monarchy by reminding of previous business recorded. Yet, bestowing Mather with this honorific comes with some controversy given his role in the Salem witch trials. That chapter in Mather’s life often overshadows his prodigious work as historian, biographer, and biblical commentator.

Mather’s magnum opus, the Magnalia Christi Americana, is an example of his careful work and is the primary reason why Levin gives Mather the title of the Lord’s Remembrancer. Written to provide an ecclesiastical history of New England, Levin praises Mather for his faithful historical work stating that his “strength as a historian grows out of the range and number of his examples, and the persistence of his theme – the piety, the faith, the struggle, the perplexity, and the resignation in dozens of actual lives.”[2]

Such is a fitting description of the task of the historical theologian—a servant of the church who reminds present and future readers of previous actions and theological developments from earlier eras in the history of Christianity. As the Lord’s Remembrancers, faithful historical theologians have the opportunity of serving the church present and future, but what does that entail? How is this work done? This paper will present a retrospective survey of the history of historical theologies with a view toward articulating the prospects of the pursuit of the task of crafting historical theology for the church.

What is Historical Theology?

Before examining the past or considering the future, one needs first to ask whether it is possible even to arrive at an evaluation of theology in history? C. S. Lewis, as one answering this question, remarked that most history cannot be known, and asserted that “A single second of lived time contains more than can be recorded.”[3] Lewis was not saying nothing from history can be known for he recognized that “important parts of the past survive.”[4] Therefore, what is recorded is worth knowing and analyzing, and from that one can discern truths about the past to the degree that comparisons to other eras can be made, and one can track the way the authors understood various doctrines in their own time and context.

If studying the past has value, and truth from the past can be ascertained to formulate a field of study called history, what then is historical theology? The next section will examine the history of historical theology, how long historians have been studying the development of theology in history, and who are the primary figures, but for now this section aims to arrive at a common definition. Essentially, historical theology is a process of historical inquiry that serves and supports other distinct but compatible disciplines.  On the way to arriving at a definition of historical theology, a helpful approach is to set historical theology in relief against these other disciplines.

First, historical theology complements systematic and biblical theology by providing a historical context for classical doctrines whether they find their organization by a collection of biblical references across the Bible (systematic) or through each book and from the cannon as a facet of the story of the Bible (biblical).

Second, historical theology complements church history by providing a repository for the historical development of doctrines alongside the development of the people, places, events, and social factors that comprise the story of the history of Christianity. Church history reviews the history of the theologians while historical theology investigates the theologians’ ideas.

Alister McGrath notes that this teaching function of historical theology as a pedagogical tool is unique to the field.[5] The study of historical theology allows Christians and churches to make sense of what they have inherited as well as to receive instruction from those who have lived in other times and who persevered through other trials. McGrath explains, “It is virtually impossible to do theology as if it had never been done before. There is always an element of looking over one’s shoulder, to see how things were done in the past, and what answers were then given. Part of the notion of ‘tradition’ is a willingness to take seriously the theological heritage of the past.”[6]

To illustrate this function, consider what happens when a person walks up to observe two other people playing the game of Chess. The two opponents started the game some time previous and thus the onlooker is forced to survey the Chess board, make an assessment of what has happened, who is winning, whose turn is next, and who has the advantage. The onlooker observes a game in progress and, depending upon her knowledge of the game, is forced to put the pieces together in order to appreciate what is happening. The more one knows the game, the more one can adapt to this quickly, but anyone would prefer to have observed the game from the beginning to appreciate the match in full.

Second to that, the onlooker would find help if the opponents paused their game to explain to her how many moves had occurred, what mistakes had been made, and what each player was thinking at the time. A third level of intrigue and complexity could occur should one of the players leave his game and ask the onlooker to take over and play for him. At this point, for the onlooker to have a chance, she would have to have knowledge, experience, and a sense of not only what she has inherited, but also what she should do next.

Such it is with the study of historical theology. Christians of the present and future, once they start their journey in the Christian life, either as individuals or in local churches, are put in the position of the onlooker. Christians before them are playing or have played many Chess games with the Christian tradition, each developing their skills with the doctrines of the Bible as well as contributing new understanding to how the Christian life is lived in each era and under unique circumstances. The onlooker is helped if she has the opportunity not only to study and learn in community the rules of the game, that comes through the study of the Bible, but also to learn from and observe other Christians, nearby and in previous ages, how they have done the same.

Further, often in local churches or in families, the onlooker is asked to take over a game when they are brought into a church tradition, or move to a new community, or join a new Christian family. The discipleship that comes through the study of historical theology can aid the onlooker in understanding her new surroundings, what has taken place before, and how to know what should take place next. Historical theology is the pedagogical tool to aid Christians with these situations they will encounter.

In terms of formal definitions of historical theology as a discipline, this paper presents three of the most common to show a mutual understanding before concluding with an original definition.

Timothy George (1986) defined historical theology as “the study of what the church of Jesus Christ believes, teaches, and confesses on the basis of the Word of God.” [7]

Alister McGrath (1998) defined historical theology as “the branch of theological inquiry which aims to explore the historical development of Christian doctrines, and identify the factors which were influential in their formulation.”[8]

Gregg Allison (2011) defined historical theology as “the study of the interpretation of Scripture and the formulation of doctrine by the church of the past.”[9]

This section concludes with the following working definition: historical theology is the study of the development of Christian doctrine and tradition from the Bible, by the church, and for the church.

[1] David Levin, Cotton Mather: The Young Life of the Lord’s Remembrancer, 1663-1703 (Harvard, 1978).

[2] Ibid., 262.

[3] C. S. Lewis, “Historicism,” in Christian Reflections ([Eerdmans, 1967] Harper Collins, 2014), 132.

[4] Ibid., 134.

[5] Alister McGrath, Historical Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, [1998] 2012), 12.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Timothy George, “Dogma Beyond Anathema: Historical Theology in the Service of the Church,” in Review & Expositor 4 (Fall 1987), 703.

[8] Alister McGrath, Historical Theology, 9.

[9] Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology (Zondervan, 2011), 23.

Latest CV


Jason G. Duesing



Co-Editor & Contributor, Historical Theology for the Church (B&H Academic, February 2021).


“Is There A Baptist Contribution to Political Theology? A Response,” in Proceedings of the ERLC Research Institute (Leland House Press, forthcoming).

“Pre-beginnings: George Liele, William Carey, and Adoniram Judson,” in Making Disciples of All Nations: History of Southern Baptist Missions (Kregel, forthcoming, April 2021).

General Editor, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Vol. 5. (B&H Academic, forthcoming, April 2021).

The Moon Speaks (B&H Kids, forthcoming, May 2021).

Baptist Confessions (Tentative Title) (Christian Focus, forthcoming, 2021).

General Editor, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Vol. 6. (B&H Academic, forthcoming, November 2021).

“Carl F. H. Henry,” with Jesse Payne in Baptist Political Theology, Andrew Walker, Paul D. Miller, and Thomas S. Kidd, eds. (B&H Academic, forthcoming, June 2022).

General Editor & co-Volume Editor, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Vol. 7. (B&H Academic, forthcoming, November 2022).


“The Lord’s Remembrancer,” For the Church, February 25, 2021. 


“Packer’s Dusty Puritan Discovery Still Guides and Helps,” For the Church, January 9, 2020.

“The Most Important Discipline I Learned in Seminary,” For the Church, February 19, 2020

“The Great American Novel: Moby-Dick and Unparalleled Theological Symbolism,Credo Magazine, March 11, 2020.

“The Wittenberg Door of American Evangelical Missions,” ABWE, March 16, 2020.

A Fisherman in Ireland: The Enduring Relevance of Patrick,” For the Church, March 17, 2020.

“For the Church as a Means to the End at the End,” Midwestern Magazine, March 2020.

“Friendship to the Nth Power,” For the Church, April 10, 2020.

“Shepherding College Students Called to Ministry in the Midst of a Pandemic,” For the Church, May 5, 2020.

“On First Looking into Spurgeon’s Sermons,” The Spurgeon Library, May 14, 2020.

“Baptist Contributions to the Christian Tradition,” in Baptists and the Christian Tradition, Matthew Y. Emerson, Christopher W. Morgan, and R. Lucas Stamps, eds. (B&H Academic, June 2020).

“Reading Slowly to See Heaven on Earth,” For the Church, August 25, 2020.

“The Theological Educator as Sherpa,” For the Church, September 29, 2020

General Editor & Volume Editor, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Vol. 4. (B&H Academic, 2020).

Book Review: “Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind.” Eikon, Fall 2020.

“For us, and our salvation, He came down — An Athanasian Sonnet for Advent.” Credo Magazine, December 11, 2020. 


“Faith Alone” in Sola: How the Five Solas are Still Reforming the Church (Moody, 2019).

“The Picture of Hope in Suffering,” For the Church, January 29, 2019.

Book Review: “The Year of Our Lord, 1943,” ERLC (February 25, 2019).

“The Most Important Discovery I Learned in Seminary,” For the Church, March 15, 2019.

“A Fisherman in Ireland: The Enduring Relevance of Patrick,” Evangelical History, March 15, 2019.

“Henry Jessey (1601-1663)” in The British Particular Baptists, vol 1, revised Ed. Michael A. G. Haykin and Terry Wolever, ed. (Particular Baptist Press, 2019)

“Why Every Christian Should Read Mere Christianity,” Midwestern Magazine, Issue 37 (Spring 2019).

“The Silver Chair and the Solas,” For the Church, April 16, 2019.

“Glorify God: The Shared Task of Churches & Seminaries,” Baptist Press, April 18, 2019.

“Is this a Dream? Engaging Today’s Cultural Reality with Hope,” Theology for Life, May 2, 2019.

“Raising Kids in a World of Cynicism and Worry,” in Home Life, June 2019.

“Glorify God: the Shared Task of Churches & Seminaries,” For the Church, June 6, 2019.

Gentlemen Shepherds and Invisible Sherpas: The Task of Theological Educators,” Permanent Things 1:1 (2019): 58-65.

“Friendship to the Nth Power: Tolkien, a review,” Credo Magazine (June 2019).

“On First Looking into Spurgeon’s Sermons,” For the Church, July 2, 2019.

“The Wittenberg Door of American Evangelical Missions,” For the Church, August 28, 2019.

“Thankfulness Always: Reflections on Five Years as Provost,” For the Church, September 3, 2019.

Book Review: Letters to My Students, Vol. 1, The Spurgeon Library, September 23, 2019

“The Christian, Art, and Rediscovering John the Baptist,” For the Church, October 10, 2019.

“Thankfulness Always: Reflections on Five Years as Provost,” Midwestern Magazine, Issue 38 (Fall 2019).

“Hope Before a Watching World,” in Tabletalk, November 2019.

“A Biblical View of the Nations,” in David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, eds. Christian Worldview Handbook (Holman Reference, 2019), 449-452.

“Christians, Art, Rediscovering John the Baptist,” The Pathway, November 4, 2019.

“The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead,” For the Church, November 14, 2019.

“The Theological Educator as Sherpa,” For the Church, December 4, 2019.

“What did Charles Spurgeon Preach at Christmas?” The Spurgeon Library, December 16, 2019.

“Chesterton, Dickens, and Comfort in the Fog,” The Gospel Coalition, December 22, 2019.





“The Most Important Directive I Learned in Seminary,” Chapel Sermon on 1 Samuel 16, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, January 20, 2021.


“The Most Important Diagnosis I Learned in Seminary,” Chapel Sermon on 1 Samuel 16, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, January 20, 2021.

“Loving God: Mid-Winter Bible Study,” Fee Fee Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO, February 9, 2020.

“Beauty for Trials: God Knows the Way Out,” Chapel Sermon on James 1:12-18, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, August 26, 2020.

“Creeds Added to the Bible? Defining and Defending Baptist Confessionalism,” Paper Presentation at the National Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 18, 2020.

“Ask the Experts: Why Does Martin Luther’s 500 Year Old Reformation Matter?,” Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, December 8, 2020. 


“The Most Important Discovery I Learned in Seminary,” Chapel Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:11, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, January 29, 2019.

“The Most Important Discipline I Learned in My 20s: Conquering Sin by Remembering and Reminding,” Chapel Sermon on Ephesians 2:11-13, Cedarville University, February 20, 2019.

“Is this a dream? No, It’s far worse … and better,” Chapel Sermon on Psalm 73, Cedarville University, February 21, 2019.

“Mere Hope: Ministry in an Age of Cynicism.” 2019 BCI Ministry Life Retreat, April 25-27, 2019 – Hotel Renovo, Des Moines, Iowa

“The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead,” Chapel Sermon on Romans 1:18-21, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO, August 21, 2019.

“Theology in a Post-Modern World: Addressing Contemporary Challenges to Key Doctrines,” Workshop Session at the For the Church National Conference, Kansas City, MO, September 24, 2019.

“Conquering Sin by Remembering and Reminding,” Sermon on Ephesians 2:11-13, Liberty Baptist Church, Liberty, MO, October 6, 2019.

“Romans 15, Adoniram Judson, and Reaching the Unreached,” Address at the Faith Community Church Missions Banquet, Kansas City, MO, November 17, 2019.

“Who’s On First: Leile or Carey? Assessing the Implications of the Father of Modern Missions,” Paper Presentation at the National Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Diego, CA, November 20-22, 2019






“Who Was George Liele? Jason Duesing on the First African-American Missionary,” ABWE Missions Podcast, February 8, 2021.

“Fusion program trains up ‘world Christians,” The Pathway, February 9, 2021.

“Midwestern Seminary to offer online courses featuring live faculty lectures,” Baptist Press, February 11, 2021.

“Midwestern’s Spurgeon Library receives donation, releases latest Lost Sermons volume,” Midwestern Seminary, February 18, 2021.


“Midwestern Seminary announces organizational structure changes,” Baptist Press, January 30, 2020.

“Annual George Liele Day added to SBC calendar,” Baptist Press, February 19, 2020.

“MBTS expands, adapts summer offerings,” Baptist Press, April 14, 2020.

Chang hired at MBTS Spurgeon Library Curator,” Baptist Press, April 15, 2020.

“Midwestern Seminary & Spurgeon College make the most of commencement 2020,” Baptist Press, May 4, 2020.

“Schreiner to join MBTS faculty,” Baptist Press, May 11, 2020.

“Midwestern Seminary faculty contribute to ’24 Hours with Charles Spurgeon’,” Baptist Press, May 13, 2020.

“Ministry Minded Podcast with Brad Gray,” November 9, 2020.

“Q&A: Jason Duesing and Geoff Chang on Volume 4 of Spurgeon’s Lost Sermons,” For the Church, November 17, 2020.

“Christians Educators Weekly Podcast with Andy Braams,” November 30, 2020.


“MLK taught as ‘Christian hero’ at SBC Seminaries,” Baptist Press, January 18, 2019.

“MBTS introduces two new PhD emphases,” Baptist Press, February 26, 2019.

“None Greater: Matthew Barrett on the Undomesticated Attributes of God (Part 1),” Credo Podcast, March 4, 2019.

“218 degrees mark Midwestern’s largest commencement,” Baptist Press, May 9, 2019.

“Experiencing Hope and Rest at the 2019 Ministry Life Retreat,” Iowa Baptist News, May 9, 2019.

“New MBTS journal addresses cultural engagement,” Baptist Press, June 6, 2019.

“Southern Baptist scholars featured at ETS meeting,” Baptist Press, November 25, 2019.

“The 2019 FTC Book Awards,” For the Church, December 10, 2019.

    • Research Fellow, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
    • Academic Editor, Midwestern Journal of Theology
    • General Editor, For the Church Resources
    • Nominating Committee, Evangelical Theological Society
    • General Editor, The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon, Vols. 4-7 (B&H Academic)
    • Content Editor, B&H Academic
    • Editorial Board, Monographs in Baptist History (Wipf & Stock)
    • Editorial Board, The Journal of Andrew Fuller Studies
    • Member, Baptist Studies Study Group, Evangelical Theological Society
    • Board of Directors, Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
    • Review Board, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
    • Trustee, Cedarville University
    • Southern Baptist Convention, Committee on Resolutions, 2015-2018, Chairman (2018).
    • Editor, The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, 2014-2016.



Mere Hope

Life in an Age of Cynicism

How are Christians to live in such difficult times?

Unique of all people, Christians are called to embrace a hopeful outlook on life. Mere Hope offers the core, Christ-centered perspective that all Christians share, and that Christians alone have to offer a world filled with frustration, pain, and disappointment. For those in darkness, despair, and discouragement, for those in the midst of trials, suffering, and injustice, mere hope lives.

The spirit of the age is cynicism. When our leaders, our families, and our friends let us down at every turn, this isn’t surprising. But we need another perspective; we need hope. Rather than reflecting resigned despair or distracted indifference, author Jason Duesing argues, our lives ought to be shaped by the gospel of Jesus—a gospel of hope.

To read more about Mere Hope, see these excerpts, interviews, and related articles:


Mere Hope
Jason G. Duesing (with a foreword by Russell Moore)
B&H Books, 2018

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and LifeWay from B&H Books. 



For updates and more information follow Jason G. Duesing on Twitter at @JGDuesing or Facebook or Goodreads.

Prayer, Missions, and The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia

During his final years in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards received an invitation from Scotland to participate in a Concert of Prayer as a “means” of rejuvenating the revivals.

As Chris Chun deftly explains, Edwards had already come to think of prayer as an appropriate conduit for advancing the awakenings and in response he published in 1748, sermons on Zechariah 8:20-22 entitled An Humble Attempt.

In the 1740s and 1750s, Edwards’s work encouraged many both in America and Scotland, “by united and extraordinary prayer, seek to God that he would come and manifest himself, and grant the tokens and fruits of his gracious presence.”

For, he argued,

The greatest effusion of the Spirit that ever yet has been, even that which was in the primitive times of the Christian church, which began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, was in answer to extraordinary prayer.

This optimistic treatise, while not evident in Edwards’s lifetime, helped to launch the modern missions movement. In 1784, William Carey and Andrew Fuller received An Humble Attempt and read it with eyes primed for the task of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. In this sense, Jonathan Edwards served as a “grandfather” of modern missions.

Edwards’s An Humble Attempt is the subject of my entry in the newly released The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia. Edited by Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Adriaan C. Neele, this volume contains over 400 entries from over 200 hundred scholars including Midwestern Seminary’s Christian George, Michael McMullen, and Owen Strachan.

Over five years in the making, the The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia is a joint project of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University and William Eerdmans Publishing Company.


The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia

Harry S. Stout, General Editor
Kenneth P. Minkema and Adriaan C. Neele, Associate Editors

Eerdmans, 2017.


See also Owen Strachan on “The Ongoing Jonathan Edwards Renaissance” about other new Edwards publications out or to appear soon.