Timothy L. Brown
President and Henry Bast Professor of Preaching
Timothy Brown brought twenty years of preaching and pastoral experience to the task of teaching homiletics when he arrived at Western Theological Seminary in 1995. After 13 years of inspiring and teaching the next generation of pastors to preach the Word, he accepted the call to lead the seminary as president, starting in July of 2008.
Prior to coming here Tim was the senior pastor of Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan, from 1983-1995. During that time the church became one of the fastest growing congregations in the United States, as well as one of the largest in the Reformed Church in America. In recent years Dr. Brown held a joint position with Hope College as the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel. While at Hope College Tim participated in a highly charged student spiritual renewal movement that gained national acclaim.
Dr. Brown is a frequent speaker at pastors conferences, college campuses, and church renewal events. He has served on the Reformed Church in America's Board of Theological Education; the Hope College Board of Trustees; and the executive committee of Words of Hope, a worldwide radio ministry; and is currently a General Synod Professor.
The theme of my inauguration as the 11th President of Western Theological Seminary was drawn from Psalm 1: “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in season, and their leaves do not wither.” God has richly blessed WTS to be a place where men and women are like trees planted by living streams of water. We are a Christ-centered community of pastors and scholars, fed and nourished by the Word of God, and you are invited to learn and grow here.
Leanne Van Dyk
Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor of Reformed Theology
Leanne Van Dyk combines her love of teaching with a passion for the work of theology and a conviction that the teaching theologian must always keep in mind the present needs of the church. Her years in San Francisco, where she served on the faculty of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, sharpened her focus on the issues of cultural diversity that face the church today. She brings to Western an excitement for the rich resources within the Reformed tradition for speaking theologically across cultural and religious boundaries.
Dr. Van Dyk has also served as a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California; as a member-in-residence at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey; as a member of the Wabash Center's Consultation on Theological Education; and on the Catechism Committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She serves on the editorial boards of Perspectives, the Journal of Reformed Thought and the Scottish Journal of Theology.
"Theology is articulating the faith of the church for each new age. When it is grounded in scripture, responsive to the needs of the church, and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, it fulfills its task as a servant of the church. My own call to ministry is to help students see the great beauty, drama, and strength of the gospel—and then, how to express the gospel for the church today."
Professor of Old Testament
Before joining Western's faculty in 1994, Carol Bechtel taught at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. She has also served as a teaching fellow at Yale Divinity School and as interim pastor of Turn of River Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut. Dr. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America. She served as President of the RCA’s General Synod from 2009-2010.
Dr. Bechtel grew up on a farm in Fulton, Illinois. She attended Hope College, Western Theological Seminary and received her Ph.D. in Old Testament from Yale University in 1992. She now lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom Mullens. They have four children: Elyssa, Andrew, Ian, and Ellen, and a grandson, Michael. Her hobbies include singing, cooking, gardening, and the Celtic harp.
"The Bible is more than just a collection of ancient stories about strange people in faraway lands. It is, in a very real sense, our story. Watching students come to that realization is one of the most exciting things about teaching the Bible."
Assistant Professor of Biblical Languages
Ordained to the gospel ministry within the Reformed Church in America in 1987, Dawn Boelkins has ministered in local congregations. She also has taught biblical languages for over 20 years at Western Seminary to those who desire to be pastors themselves. That balance between parish and classroom—which informs and engages each other—has proven rich ground for illustrations and contemporary issues to help students wrestle with the power of the Gospel for the church today.
Most recently, Dr. Boelkins served the Second Reformed Church, Zeeland, Michigan, for seven years with her husband, the Rev. Dr. John Schmidt.
"Generally, students approach the biblical languages with some trepidation. I beckon them past their uncertainties into the humbling, exhilarating, and spiritually rewarding discipline of biblical translation and interpretation."
Dennis & Betty Voskuil Professor of Old Testament
Tom Boogaart has spent a lifetime immersed in the scriptures, as a student and teacher in the Netherlands and in England, and later at Central College in Iowa and at Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the ministry of the Reformed Church in America in 1982.
In all his scholarship and teaching, Dr. Boogaart is committed to helping the church recover the Scriptures as a spiritual resource. He tries to show his students how delving deeper into Scriptures brings them closer to God. Most recently he has worked on writing a new curriculum for teaching Hebrew in which students take the words into their hearts through various practices, such as singing, memorization, and enactment.
Dr. Boogaart helps his students to see the world through the lens of Scripture and to see more clearly God working for peace and justice. His own vision for peace and justice is seen in the ministries he has initiated at Western Theological Seminary: The Bridge, a fair trade store on 8th Street in Holland, and the Community Kitchen, a hot meal program served at noon in the Commons of the seminary.
"I help students recover the sacred in the scriptures; that is, its power to bless them and energize their ministries. Together we explore the ways Western culture has silenced the scriptures, and together we listen again to its song of peace."
James V. Brownson
James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament
What is the gospel, and how does it address and transform our lives? This is the question that has shaped Jim Brownson's academic and theological work. Jim's teaching and thinking tends to move between close and careful readings of the biblical text and wide-ranging exercises in theological imagination that bring the biblical text into conversation with life in the modern and postmodern world.
His passion is to equip students to understand the gospel both in its stunning simplicity and in its incredibly diverse applications to our lives. His scholarly and teaching interests include the Gospel of John, the Synoptic Gospels, biblical hermeneutics, contextual theology, and theology in service to the church. Dr. Brownson served Western eight years as Academic Dean and has contributed significantly to recent revisions in Western's M.Div. curriculum.
He is deeply involved in service to the Reformed Church in America, both in theological scholarship and in theological education. He is a long-standing member of the Gospel and Our Culture Network and a contributor to its ongoing research and publication. He often contributes to a variety of journals and magazines as well.
"I try to teach the New Testament in a way that helps students understand the gospel more deeply. That means understanding both the central message of Christian faith and the different ways in which that faith was lived out in the New Testament church. Understanding the unity and diversity of the New Testament is critical to understanding how Christians are to minister today."
Robert E. Van Voorst
Professor of New Testament
Ordained in the RCA, Robert Van Voorst served for twelve years as the pastor of Rochester Reformed Church in Accord, New York, while he pursued doctoral study. In 1989 he became a professor of religion at Lycoming College, a United Methodist liberal arts college, and served for three years as chair of its religion department. While teaching college, he was an interim pastor in four Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations, preached widely in north-central Pennsylvania, and was a visiting professor in Westminster College in Oxford, England. In 2014 he served as a visiting professor in Zhejiang University in China, where he lectured doctoral students in Christianity and advised them on their dissertation research.
At Western, Dr. Van Voorst researches and teaches primarily in New Testament language and literature, and secondarily in the relationship of Christianity and other world religions. He maintains an active schedule of preaching and teaching in Michigan churches of several denominations. He writes frequently on theology and ministry in a variety of scholarly journals and contributes articles to reference works, most recently The New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible. He is the author of ten books, including widely-used textbooks drawing on his teaching experience. He is also the co-author of two books, one on the death of Jesus and the other a study of Luke for pastors.
One of his research monographs, Jesus Outside the New Testament, examines traditions about Jesus from pagan, Jewish, and Christian documents before and after the New Testament and has been published in Italian. His Reading the New Testament Today textbook has been published in Chinese.
Dr. Van Voorst is a member of the Tyndale Fellowship, an international association of biblical researchers based in Cambridge, England. He has been named for more than fifteen years to Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World for his contributions to the field of religious studies and to the Christian ministry.
"The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ witnessed by the New Testament is the foundation of the Christian faith. The health of the church in every age, and the effectiveness of its ministers, is directly related to how well it builds on this biblical foundation in interpretation, teaching, and preaching. Teaching the New Testament to Western students preparing for various ministries is a high calling and a stimulating, rewarding experience."
Instructor of Biblical Hebrew
Travis West never expected to be teaching Biblical Hebrew in a seminary. When he enrolled in Western's M.Div. program in 2004, he had a commitment to studying the Scriptures and a desire to help people but no real clarity on God's particular call on his life.
The clarity came the first day of his Introduction to Biblical Hebrew class in the fall of 2005. After a riveting lecture covering the nuances of the syllabus, Travis knew he would spend the rest of his life studying and teaching Hebrew and the Old Testament. He spent the next two summers studying Hebrew in Israel and began teaching Hebrew at Western as a T.A. Upon graduation he returned to earn a Master of Theology degree and to continue teaching Hebrew in a more official capacity, first as an adjunct professor and now as an instructor.
Travis' research interests are in the oral history of the Bible in general and the performative history of the biblical narratives in particular. He wrote his master's thesis on performance criticism of the OT narratives and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he is researching for his dissertation, preliminarily titled: The Art of Biblical Performance: Performance Criticism and the Genre of the Biblical Narratives.
In 2010 Travis was ordained as a Specialized Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America for his work teaching Hebrew at Western. Rev. West attempts to bridge the gap between the Church and the academy by offering multi-week courses to the community in which he makes the Hebrew Scriptures accessible to people who have never studied the language before.
"Learning Biblical Hebrew doesn’t need to give you an ulcer. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to discover more fully the depth, beauty, and nuance of the Church’s first Testament. I believe that the character of a Hebrew classroom ought to reflect the character of the Hebrew Scriptures. In other words, learning Hebrew should be a dynamic, interactive, image-rich experience that is thoroughly theo-centric and often surprisingly playful. My hope for graduates is that they will not fear their Bible, but will love it deeply, read it carefully, and interpret it faithfully."
Dean of Formation for Ministry
Dr. John Brogan was Dean of Students and Student Life at Northwestern College in Iowa for eight years before coming to Western the summer of 2013. He was a Northwestern religion faculty member from 1997 to 2005, department chair from 2002 to 2004, and held the Marvin and Jerene DeWitt Professor of Religion endowed chair. In 2000, he received Northwestern College’s Teaching Excellence Award. At Northwestern, he served in numerous administrative roles and on a variety of campus-wide committees. Before serving at Northwestern, Brogan taught at Calvin College, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Reformed Theological Seminary – Charlotte, NC, and Meredith College. He also served as a visiting scholar at Regent College in Vancouver, BC in 2005.
Brogan has a doctorate in New Testament and Christian Origins from Duke University, a Master of Divinity degree from Bethel Theological Seminary (St. Paul, Minnesota), and a Master of Arts in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan. He is a published author and has made numerous scholarly presentations in the field of New Testament textual criticism.
Brogan loves the church and is excited to help form the next generation of Christian leaders through theological education and ministry experiences. The New Testament vision of the diversity and justice of God’s kingdom has led him to an abiding interest in racial reconciliation, social justice, and cross-cultural appreciation.
"Formation is central to the life of every Christian. God is transforming all Christians into the image of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). I believe that formation for full time ministry and Christian leadership is essential through careful study, mentoring, and self-reflection. In my own formation, I remember those people, courses, and experiences that God placed in my life that helped form me into the person I am today. I am excited about the opportunity to work with women and men who are being formed by God for lives of mission and ministry."
Benjamin T. Conner
Associate Professor of Christian Discipleship
Dr. Benjamin T. Conner had been involved in youth ministry in some capacity for over twenty years before coming to Western. He has served the Church in congregations and through Young Life staff. He currently serves on Young Life’s National Capernaum Mission Wide Committee.
Ben has earned his Masters of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary (Virginia) and his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in Mission, Ecumenics and History of Religions. His teaching and research interests include practical theology, youth ministry, discipleship and Christian practices, mission studies, evangelism, disability studies and Christian history. His wife, Melissa, works in therapeutic horsemanship and together they have four children. When he is not on campus Ben can be found playing with his family, in the weight room, on the basketball court or mucking horse stalls.
“I believe that in baptism every member of the Body of Christ is ordained to ministry—spiritually gifted and strategically placed to edify one another, to bear God’s love to a hurting world and to bear witness to the redemptive presence of the Triune God. Theological education is about forming people to participate in this calling and to inspire, encourage and equip them to do the same with others. “
Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling; Senior Fellow of the Newbigin House of Studies
Chuck is committed to spiritual and emotional formation for the sake of mission. His experience is represented in a fluid combination of pastoral ministry and seminary training for nearly 20 years. He has served several church plants as a teaching pastor and has started two church-based clinical counseling centers. Most recently, he was a teaching pastor at City Church San Francisco, where he co-founded Newbigin House of Studies, an urban and missional training center with M.Div. and M.A. offerings through Western Theological Seminary.
His academic specialization is in the intersection of psychology and the Bible, represented best in his book Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places (Square Inch) - a narrative biblical paradigm for understanding counseling, care, mission, and formation. His next book, The Toughest People to Love (Eerdmans), focuses on caring for the most difficult people leaders encounter. Wholeheartedness (Eerdmans) is due out soon. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, a member of City Classis (the RCA's urban, missional classis), and he holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.
Chuck has been married to Sara for nearly 20 years and has two daughters - Emma and Maggie. If you don't see him around campus meeting with students, he is more than likely spending time with his family throwing a frisbee, or traveling to new places, or finding a new extraordinary place to eat.
"I am excited to see women and men formed for mission, and in particular the changing realities of our culture and world. Increasing secularity and complexity in the world presents us with an important 'missional' moment, and my own unique contribution is to the formation and health of the next generation of pastors and leaders. I bring to WTS a relationship with City Church San Francisco, a thriving urban center-city congregation whose partnership with WTS makes me hopeful for the future of the church."
Kristen Deede Johnson
Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation
Before joining the faculty of Western Theological Seminary, Kristen Deede Johnson was the founding director of the Studies in Ministry Minor and the Center for Ministry Studies at Hope College, programs dedicated to upholding the significance of theological formation, spiritual growth, cultural engagement, and vocational discernment. Through her teaching and writing, Kristen seeks to help Christians become increasingly aware of the importance of theological formation and cultural discernment. She has written Theology, Political Theory, and Pluralism: Beyond Tolerance and Difference (Cambridge University Press) and an array of articles and book chapters. She is currently working on a book with Bethany Hoang of International Justice Mission entitled,Justice that Perseveres.
Kristen grew up outside of Washington, DC, with a few of her growing up years spent in Germany and England. She met her husband, Tryg, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland while in graduate school. Together they have two young children, Trygve and Ella, and a big dog named Whidbey. They are grateful to be able to serve God through their different callings at home, work, and in the community and to worship God through Christ and the Spirit at Pillar Church in downtown Holland.
Our gracious God calls us to live as God's children through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In Christ and through the Spirit, we are able to respond to this gift with gratitude as we are formed more and more into the people of God. All that we want to do for God in ministry and through our different callings is motivated by love and gratitude to God for all that God has done for and in us and this world, and by the amazing realization that this God who lived, died, and rose again in the person of Jesus Christ continues to be alive and active in us and in this world.
Theresa F. Latini
Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care
In 2014 Theresa Latini returned to WTS after teaching for six years at Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN) in pastoral theology and ministry as well as congregational and community care Leadership. Dr. Latini taught at WTS from 2005-2007. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and served as parish associate at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church (Minneapolis, MN). Prior to becoming a professor, she worked as an associate pastor in a Presbyterian congregation and as a spiritual care coordinator serving adults with developmental disabilities. In all these settings, Dr. Latini sought to cultivate communities of compassion and care in response to God’s ongoing ministry of listening, healing, and reconciliation.
Theresa Latini is extensively trained in Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication, a set of life-giving practices for connecting to God, self, and others across differences and in transforming conflict. These skills of compassionate communication are vital to her own practice and study of pastoral care, and she shares these skills in the classroom as well as outside of the seminary.
In recent years, Dr. Latini has conducted social scientific research for multiple projects on vocation and vibrant congregational life. She has written many articles and two books: The Church and the Crisis of Community: A Practical Theology of Small-Group Ministry (Eerdmans, 2011) andTransforming Church Conflict: Compassionate Leadership in Action (Westminster John Knox, 2013). This most recent book, co-authored with Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary), interprets and applies Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication to a whole host of challenges in communities of faith.
Dr. Latini regularly preaches, teaches, and consults with non-profit organizations, congregations, presbyteries, synods, CPE (clinical pastoral education) sites, and seminaries throughout the United States. Her speaking and consultation are grounded in real-life experience.
"The Body of Christ is the central context for pastoral care. As we participate in the inner life of the church, koinonia, we are connected to God, one another, and our truest selves. Transformed again and again, we are thrust into solidarity with the world as witnesses to this in-breaking reality. My own call to ministry involves equipping students to participate in and practice redemptive koinonia in their own lives and ministries."
Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship Arts
Since his ordination in the RCA in 1993, Ron Rienstra has lived and ministered at educational institutions in Iowa (Central College), Michigan (Calvin College), and California (Fuller Seminary), pursuing his primary interest: helping preachers, congregations, worship teams, and individuals learn to deepen and enliven their gatherings with God. All the while he remained active in local church life as an interim pastor, preacher, worship leader and consultant.
He is currently finishing his dissertation while advancing a number of diverse research projects: exploring postmodernism and its affect on worship and preaching, mapping the place of corporate worship in seminary education in North America, and developing a homiletical pedagogy based on the Suzuki music method.
"I often tell my students that worship is like sailing: we work hard at preaching and presiding, but we aren’t in control of what happens. The Spirit blows where it will; our joyful task as preachers and worship leaders is to let out as much sail as we possibly can. When we trim the sails well – when we preach with clarity and vividness, when we celebrate the sacraments with richness and vitality, when we enact the church’s liturgy with authenticity and faithfulness – then we cooperate in God’s transforming work, bringing our full presence into the presence of the Triune God who meets us on Sunday and shapes us for Christian living all week long."
Sue A. Rozeboom
Assistant Professor of Liturgical Theology
Sue Rozeboom grew up in a rural region south of Holland, Michigan. Upon graduating from Holland Christian Schools, she pursued a degree in music from Calvin College, then an MTS from Calvin Theological Seminary while working in the Office of the Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, and finally a PhD in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She is the co-author, with Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., of Discerning the Spirits: A Guide to Thinking about Christian Worship Today (Eerdmans, 2003) and an essay on John Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper in Calvin's Theology and Its Reception edited by J. Todd Billings and I. John Hesselink (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012). In general, Sue's reading, research, and teaching interests are in the areas of the history of Christian worship, the work of the Spirit and Christian worship, and enriched sacramental theology for refreshed sacramental practice.
Sue, her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters, Liesl and Annemarie, live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Together they enjoy reading, gardening, hiking, the arts, and museums. On Saturdays in the fall they "cheer, cheer for ol' Notre Dame," and on Sundays throughout the year they worship with those who gather at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. There Sue currently serves as an elder, a liturgist and Children & Worship leader, a study group leader, and a sometime organist.
"In worship, God gathers us to reorient us as children of God, Christ meets us in Word and Sacrament to nourish our souls, and the Spirit renews us in our hope for the renewal of all things. It’s a gift to participate in such worship, and a high and holy calling to prepare it and to lead it. Courses on worship allow students to unwrap God’s gracious gift of worship, and to explore their calling to open it to others."
Kyle J. A. Small
Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Church Leadership
Rev. Dr. Kyle J.A. Small is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church. He and his wife, Lindsay, served as co-pastors for more than 12 years. They have three children. Kyle enjoys life most fully at the intersections of father, pastor, and professor.
Kyle earned his M.Div. from North Park Theological Seminary (Chicago) and his Ph.D. from Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN). He has served congregations in South Dakota, the Chicago Suburbs, Minneapolis, MN, and Michigan. His life as pastor and teacher finds resonance as he explores the church as a socio-theological community. Kyle's teaching and research focus on ecclesiology, spiritual formation, leading Christian communities, and theological education. He has a passion to discover the world through theologically shaped social research as a way to empower the church to live as the community of God's people in the world. Kyle blogs semi-regularly a www.pilgrimshome.blogspot.com and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
"The Church is calling for leadership that lives at the intersection of the Word and the World through the power of the Holy Spirit. The formation of leadership prepares students to interact at these theological and sociological intersections in such a way as to encourage and mobilize God's people toward the Kingdom of God."
J. Todd Billings
Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology
Dr. Billings approaches the discipline of theology with a commitment to the ministry of the church. His varied experience in Christian ministry includes work in community development in Uganda, teaching theology in Ethiopia, working on staff at a Boston-area homeless shelter, and serving his local church in various leadership roles. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America.
Dr. Billings' special interests include Reformed theology, the sacraments, salvation, and theological hermeneutics. His first book, Calvin, Participation, and the Gift: The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ (Oxford, 2007) won a 2009 Templeton Award for Theological Promise, awarded internationally for the best first books of scholars in theology and religious studies. His second book, The Word of God for the People of God (Eerdmans, 2010), won the 2011 Center for Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue Book Prize. His third book, Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church (Baker Academic, 2011), is a 2012 Christianity Today Book Award winner. He is also co-editor of Calvin’s Theology and Its Reception: Disputes, Developments, and New Possibilities (Westminster John Knox, 2012).
Dr. Billings has lectured in Europe, South Africa, and the United States, and has published in a variety of journals, including Modern Theology, Harvard Theological Review, Missiology, and International Journal of Systematic Theology, as well as periodicals such as Christianity Today, The Christian Century, and Sojourners.
"In a time when churches are pressured to become pragmatic and self-centered in the face of many challenges, Christian theology can mediate a rich theological heritage that is deep enough to nourish the church and dynamic enough to be open to God's ongoing work. For the church, the study of the Bible and theology is not just an academic exercise, but a part of a transformative encounter with the triune God who is shaping people into the image of Christ by the Spirit’s power."
Bernard "Chris" Dorsey
Assistant Professor of Theology and Preaching
Professor Bernard "Chris" Dorsey first came to Western as the 2011-12 Faculty Fellow, teaching in the areas of theology and urban ministry. An ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Graduate Certificate in African Studies from Northwestern University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Chicago, where he is completing his dissertation on traditional medicine in Senegal with a focus on exploring the hermeneutics of healing.
Professor Dorsey has served in a variety of ministerial capacities including: VP of Development and Marketing at Chicago Theological Seminary; University Chaplain at Clark Atlanta University; Senior Pastor of Woodlawn United Methodist Church, Youth Pastor at Park Manor Christian Church and Lead Chaplain for a Cook County clinic servicing patients affected by HIV/AIDS. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Dominican University, McCormick Theological Seminary, and Clark Atlanta University. His teaching experiences have included Theology, History of Christianity, African American Religion, Homiletics, Religion & Medicine, African Studies, and Intro to World Religions, to name a few.
“In my endeavor to serve the present age, I am firmly committed to church, academy and society. For me, ministry is about engaging in faithful stewardship of Christ’s church; reflecting intellectually on the nature, conditions and contexts of our faith; and working with all of humanity to create a more just and peaceable society. It also my fervent belief that God calls us not to silos, but to open pastures where we might encounter, and be formed by, the multivalent expressions of God’s creation.”
Han-luen Kantzer Komline
Han-luen Kantzer Komline is a faculty fellow at Western Theological Seminary for the academic year 2014-2015 while she completes her Ph.D. in theology at the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation is on Augustine’s conception of the human will. Though Augustine’s thinking on will is often treated as just one page in the story of the history of philosophy, her dissertation makes Augustine’s conception of will the subject of a story unto itself, a story with changes and chapters of its own that are important to unpack if we are to grasp the complexity of Augustine’s thinking on this topic. Ultimately, she argues, it is impossible to tell the story of Augustine’s thinking on will without reference to the story of Christian scripture. Augustine is convinced that events like creation, fall, redemption and eschaton all have drastic consequences for how human willing works, and even what it “is.”
When she is not busy with the Bishop of Hippo, Professor Kantzer Komline enjoys running in beautiful Holland, reading the New Yorker, listening to classical music and learning foreign languages. Teaching English for a year at Yantai University upon her graduation from Wheaton College gave her an opportunity to reconnect with her Chinese roots. After completing her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, she studied at the University of Tübingen in Germany on a Fulbright fellowship. Last year she returned to Germany, living in an ecumenical community at the foot of the castle in Heidelberg. She has also lived for short periods in Berlin, Paris and Siena. Intercultural exchange is one of her passions.
“And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground (Heb. 11:32-38, NRSV).” We don’t have time for all the stories, but we do have time for some. Life is short. Be like the author of Hebrews and do church history while you may.
David L. Stubbs
Professor of Ethics and Theology
A central interest of David Stubbs' scholarly work is the impact that different philosophies and cultures have had on the church's theological and ethical imagination. That interest finds particular focus in his continued work on the concept of participation in Christ and sanctification in the modern Reformed tradition and in making links between contemporary theology, our Jewish roots, and the early church in order to better understand both Christ and the life and worship of the Church.
His interest in theology and ethics has not been purely academic, however. David is ordained in the PC(USA), has worked in college ministries and worship leadership for many years, served as a construction manager for Habitat for Humanity, taught English in China, participated in and led several mission service projects in the U.S., Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala, and works with Holland Restorative Circles to bring processes of restorative justice into the community.
Dr. Stubbs recently published a theological commentary on the book of Numbers with Brazos Press and is working on a project exploring the influence of Israelite worship on the Lord's Supper. He is also co-chair of the steering committee of the Christian Systematic Theology Section of the American Academy of Religion, a contributing editor of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought, and a member of the Heidelberg Translation Committee of the PC(USA). Dr. Stubbs has published and presented in areas such as sacraments, ethics, the theological ethics of Karl Barth, Christian views on war, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Jewish roots of Christian worship, and the impact of Anglo-American postmodernism on ethics and theology.
"Christian ethics and theology are about making connections—connections between the patterns of God's activity, the shape of our living, and the patterns of our thinking. What a privilege it is to help students at Western better discern those connections. Students must develop such discernment as they prepare to lead the people of God further into ways reflective of God—and as they learn to protest and strive against ways within our church and society that are not."
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
Suzanne McDonald was born and brought up in Australia and came to faith as an undergraduate through studying English 16th & 17th century literature. After postgraduate studies in literature at Oxford, she lived in the UK from 1998 until 2007. While there, she began training for ordained ministry in Cambridge, but an inspiring professor and mentor encouraged her to consider whether she might have a calling to theological teaching and writing. He was the catalyst for Suzanne to discover that this is indeed the calling that holds her deepest joys and best gifts together. She did her Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews on the doctrine of election and then taught for a year as an interim professor of theology at her former seminary in Cambridge before joining the Religion Department at Calvin College in 2007. She taught there for seven years until joining WTS in 2014. She is the author of two books and several essays and articles on topics in systematic and historical theology.
Suzanne is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church and is an elder and "theologian-on-tap" at Alger Park CRC in Grand Rapids, MI. In her spare time, she is likely to be out watching and photographing birds. She also loves reading, art, and music, is a life-long cricket fan (not an easy sport to follow in the US!) and has somehow become an NFL fan too.
"I’m passionate about teaching theology because of the powerful ways that the Holy Spirit has used studying theology to deepen my relationship with the Triune God and transform my life in Christ. I pray that this will be true for every student, too, so that by doing theology together, we may grow in knowledge and love of the Lord, our ability to share that with others, and our desire to reflect more fully in our lives what we learn of God’s promises and purposes for us and all of creation."