Sundoulos - Spring 2010

Dean's Column

Is Faculty Scholarship Important, Really?

by Dr. Dennis Dirks

To the typical person, faculty scholarship (research and writing for presentation and publication) is unexciting, a pointless waste of time, nothing more than scholars talking to other scholars. It’s seen as a meaningless exercise with little value for believers’ daily life and challenges. In this issue of Sundoulos, the reader has opportunity to examine examples of recent Talbot faculty scholarship, and perhaps gain a different perspective on the value of scholarly material for the church, as well as for other scholars.

Scholarship’s value is not merely its utilitarian worth or pragmatic application to ministry and life. Its significance also lies in deepening knowledge, in enhancing understanding. As faculty research and writing contributes to what we know and understand about God, His Word, His mission for the world, and application of these truths to the spectrum of human experience, the church and the faith of believers in the church are enhanced. This occurs through what might be described as a “trickle down” effect. Learned ideas over time are collected and translated into common language, moving through various levels, and eventually flowing into the mainstream of evangelical thought and practice.

Good scholarship helps accomplish and sustain the mission of a school like Talbot.1 It assists faculty to remain fresh as academicians, as the fruit of research and writing finds its way into classroom lectures and activities. Sound scholarship has an added benefit of informing the efforts of other scholars and helping keep them on track.

The work of scholars likewise has a guardian function. The Apostle Paul emphasized how essential it is to “guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Tim 6:20). Peter warned that there will be “false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies” (2 Pet 2:1). Scholarly work assists the church to avoid the deadly spiritual dangers of counterfeit teaching. Peter Williams puts it this way: “Investing in Christian scholarship is a long-term strategy and will usually seem less appealing than more obvious and apparently pressing needs. However, if the church does not have robust scholarship then it will be highly vulnerable to false ideas.”2

Talbot faculty are actively occupied in meaningful research and writing for the benefit of the church, individual believers, and the world of ideas, all of which have consequences. In 2009, they wrote or co-authored 32 books and 97 scholarly journal articles, and presented 26 papers at academic conferences. The influence of these contributions is worldwide.

Is faculty scholarship important? Really? We think so.

Notes

1 Talbot’s mission statement: “The mission of Talbot School of Theology is the development of disciples of Jesus Christ whose thought processes, character, and lifestyles reflect those of our Lord, and who are dedicated to disciple making throughout the world.”

2 Peter Williams, Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge, UK


Dr. Dennis Dirks is Dean of Talbot School of Theology and Professor Christian Education. He has been with Talbot for more than 27 years as a faculty member and administrator after serving on the staff of two churches.

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