Sundoulos - Winter 2007

Dean's Column

God's Unshakable Faithfulness - 100 Years

by Dr. Dennis Dirks

Biola University has flourished for 100 years because of God’s unwavering faithful commitment. God has proven steadfast in a world of ever-shifting loyalties, a bedrock of constancy and trustworthiness. Our response can be nothing short of trusting faithfulness in return. Paul speaks of the “obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; 16:26). Inseparably linking a life of trust with a continuing state of conforming to God’s Word, Paul’s point is that one without the other is contradictory. Faith and consistent obedience go hand-in-hand; it is the only appropriate response to God’s covenant loyalty.

What keeps an institution faithful? Frequent, intentional, prayerful rehearsal of commitments at momentous milestones such as school beginnings, anniversaries, and presidential inaugurations. When the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A.) was established in 1908, its directors declared that the Institute’s “chief textbook is the Bible. The management holds to the divine Origin, Inspiration, Integrity, and Supreme Authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.” One hundred years after its founding, Dr. Barry Corey in his inaugural address as Biola’s eighth President similarly proclaimed that “our commitment to the authority of God’s Word has held us firm, and this conviction must remain at the core of Biola’s vision to be an exemplary Christian university.”

Equally important in sustaining faithfulness are year-to-year and day-to-day decisions that cumulatively mark a school’s direction. They signal intentional commitments. One of my most thrilling moments was viewing a bound volume of the annual signatures of

Board of Trustees members since the earliest days of Biola, signifying the commitment of each to Biola’s statement of faith and to theological authenticity. Core, bedrock truths of God’s Word were articulated in 1912 in Biola University’s Doctrinal Statement, unaltered in the intervening years, and in its Explanatory Notes.

Talbot’s faculty and administrative staff profoundly cherish Biola’s doctrinal legacy. And it is a heritage that Talbot routinely assists in sustaining. Each new Biola faculty candidate must respond in writing to the University’s Doctrinal Statement and Explanatory Notes. A member of Talbot’s faculty reviews each response and personally interviews each candidate. For as faculty go, so goes an institution.

Educational “experts” claim that an academic institution cannot maintain explicitly strong theological fidelity and sustain growth. Yet God continues to send students in significant and growing numbers to be equipped and prepared at Talbot. Seminary student enrollment increased from 762 in 2002 to 1,119 in 2007, 47% in five short years. Similarly, Talbot faculty expanded from 43 in 2002 to 62 today, an increase of 46% in the same five-year period. Particularly striking has been growth in Talbot’s undergraduate Biblical & Theological Studies Department that added 10 new faculty since 2002, for a total of 16 full-timers.

Talbot’s programs have likewise expanded with these recent additions: Institute for Spiritual Formation, addressing a well-spring of evangelical hunger for intimacy with the Savior and growth toward His likeness; Talbot Kyiv (Kiev) Extension in Ukraine, helping stop the loss of leaders who come West for seminary preparation; Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies in Manhattan, NY, equipping Messianic leaders with theological foundations and an understanding of Jewish history, culture, and ministry; partnerships with Campus Crusade for Christ to provide training for staff, and with Nairobi International School of Theology to offer mutual support and encouragement.

At the heart of all this is God’s remarkable, unshakable faithfulness. Our only appropriate response can be trusting faithfulness and obedience in return.

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.

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639