Sundoulos - Summer 2012

Dean's Column

by Douglas W. Geringer

As Drs. Dennis H. Dirks and Michael J. Wilkins reflect in this issue on the past and future of Talbot School of Theology, I would like to focus some attention on a key element of the present. There is a special kind of unity at Talbot School of Theology that results in a particular disposition: each Talbot employee pays attention to the needs of others.

Now one might suspect mindfulness of the needs of others is commonplace and assumed. The Stoic philosopher Musoni- us Rufus reflected upon this topic about 2000 years ago: “Tell me, is it fitting for each man to act for himself alone or to act in the interest of his neighbor also... and that the common good may best be served? If you say that each one should look out for his own interests alone, you represent man as no different from a wolf or any other of the wildest beasts which are born to live by violence and plunder, having no part in a life in common with others” (fragment 14). But the great problem for Musonius Rufus then and for humanity today is not the identifica- tion of this correct way of living, but the ability to live it out. Humanity might know that each person should pay at- tention to the needs of others, but often humans act quite differently. Each of you need not look far in your cultural context to see self-absorption and self-promotion and self-exaltation.

So how is it that Talbot is different? How is it that the members of this community are not only aware of their own needs but also aware of the needs of others. How are they able to exercise humility by reckoning the needs of others as important? How is it that Talbot can be a place where strife and rivalry caused by selfish ambition is replaced by a humility that seeks to serve rather than be served? Can any academic institution really be characterized by humble service?

If the branches are producing fruit, they must be connected to the vine. Beginning with Dennis Dirks and Mike Wilkins, the members of the Talbot community have received the love of God, life in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And the fruit has been this disposition to serve one another in humility. We imitate Jesus when we use our positions for service rather than self- exaltation, when one’s own status is less important than the needs of others, when one intentionally “lowers” oneself for the purpose of loving service to others.

So this special unity at Talbot, this corporate disposition to serve, is a vital component for our future. We must cling tenaciously to it, in the same way that we grip the Biola University doctrinal state- ment and our conservative theological convictions, and in the same way that we doggedly pursue educational discipleship, effective degree programs that bless the church, and scholarship that serves the advance of the Gospel.

I am very thankful for the Biola Uni- versity Board of Trustees, for President Barry Corey and Provost David Nys- trom, who serve with wisdom, diligence and humility. And thank you Dennis Dirks and Mike Wilkins, my bosses, who have given me examples of servant leadership in living color.

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