“What does academic excellence mean at Asbury Theological Seminary?” If I were giving simply a technical definition, I would remind us that “academic” is usually seen as something primarily hypothetical or theoretical, and that “excellence” has from the time of the Greek poets been associated with hard work and with that which is eminently good.
I will never forget the day when Bob Kerr, the District Superintendent of the North Georgia Conference called me on the telephone and told me about my very first appointment. He said, “Congratulations, Tim, the bishop has appointed you to the Nacoochee Valley Circuit.” I was told that I was the new pastor of a “four point” charge of four churches nestled in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. I was fresh out of seminary. I had probably preached less than a dozen sermons. I had never conducted a funeral or a wedding and, of course, had never given communion.
Dear Asbury Theological Seminary Community,
Across nearly four decades in theological education, God has blessed us with scores of wonderful friends and colleagues. While we treasure each one of them, Tim and Julie Tennent claim a special place in our lives and affections. Although we certainly rejoice with everyone at Asbury as you welcome an amazingly gifted new president, we also want you to know how deeply Tim and Julie will be missed here at Gordon-Conwell. Quite simply stated, you have chosen two of our very finest colleagues and two of the most outstanding Christian educators we know.
For over 1,000 years the Western hemisphere has been the heartland of the Christian faith. For example, when William Carey, the humble cobbler who would later be called the father of the modern missionary movement, arrived in India in 1793 to preach the gospel, ninety-five percent of the world’s Christians lived in the Western world. Even one hundred years later, at the dawn of the 20th century, nearly ninety percent of all Christians still lived in the Western world. 1 Is it any surprise that 19th century Africans often referred to Christianity as the “white man’s religion”? After all, most Africans had never met a non-white Christian in their entire lives. For much of the world, Christianity seemed inextricably bound up with the rise and fall of Western civilization.
Dr. Tim Tennent’s response to Dr. Kinghorn’s article:
Reading Dr. Kinghorn’s article is a wonderful and refreshing experience. In this lucid and insightful article, Kinghorn reminds us all why the Wesleyan tradition is such a rich and beautiful tradition. There are two things which I deeply appreciated in the article: First, his emphasis on Wesley’s commitment to historic Christian faith. We live in a day when many in the church take delight in the novelty of their new doctrinal positions. It is all too common to sit in a church today and hear novel doctrines expounded from the pulpit. Kinghorn reminds us that Wesley advocated no “new” gospel, but the historic Christian faith which was “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Wesley was unshakeable in his commitment to the authority of Scripture, the supremacy of Christ and the sole sufficiency of the Christian gospel. This is a message for all time and every culture.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously said that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams.” How true this is! In fact, the longer I live the more I have come to recognize that nothing important happens apart from prayer. I grew up in a home where prayer was central. My mother, in particular, was (and continues to be) a great prayer warrior. She begins every day with a focused, extended time of prayer and intercession before God. Only in heaven will we realize how many glorious things have happened and how much evil has been restrained because of my mother’s prayers. Let me share just two examples of how her prayers have changed my life.
For many Christians, the Bible feels like the federal tax code: complicated, contradictory, and awkwardly cobbled together over many years. Small wonder that our libraries are filled with commentaries promising to decode the puzzles we stumble over as we read.
But if we press on, we will discover that the trail sometimes rises up to a high point, to a lookout with a panoramic view of everything below. Standing above it all, we can now see that the maze of twisting trails actually makes sense. A meaningful, unified landscape emerges.
Every year thousands of Christians make their way on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. There is something awe-inspiring about walking where Jesus walked and seeing places from the Bible come alive in fresh ways. To re-trace the steps of Jesus from the Praetorium where he was falsely condemned and scourged, to the traditional site of the crucifixion outside the city gate is an unforgettable experience.
In 1755, John Wesley wrote, “I want to know one thing–the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O, give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God. I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”
We first met Tim and Julie Tennent in 1987 while they were serving as pastors of four small Methodist congregations in north-eastern Georgia. This was their first pastoral appointment. At the very first meeting, I knew that these were special people. Though very young and new in ministry, Tim and Julie impressed me with their spiritual maturity and love for the Lord and His Church. I still vividly remember going for very early morning prayer with Tim to one of the sanctuaries, just the two of us. It was February and very cold and the sanctuary was not heated! When I saw Tim kneeling and praying in that cold sanctuary at 5 AM or so I knew he was serious about serving the Lord.