Rev Dr Jason Byassee joins us as a Visiting Fellow
(10 January 2019)
Rev Dr Jason Byassee joins us as a Visiting Fellow until the end of July from Vancouver School of Theology. Jason studied at Davidson College, did his Master of Divinity at Duke Divinity School, and got a PhD in religion at Duke University. Find out more about him in this interview.
What is your area of teaching specialty?
I teach homiletics and biblical interpretation for the sake of the church’s life. I also do historical theology with an eye to how the minds and lives of the saints can help renew the church’s life today. I’ve also taught about writing, discerning God in popular culture, technology, and theological conversation between Jews and Christians.
What makes you passionate about teaching?
All teachers teach for that moment when students’ eyes come alive, when the penny drops, and they see things they couldn’t see before. Of course it happens just as often that the students see us teachers do the same. Jesus calls his students “friends,” and ever thereafter the line between teacher and taught has been thin indeed.
What inspires you about teaching at VST specifically?
I’m fascinated by how creative pastors and other faith leaders have to be to grow something in this part of post-Christendom North America.
What kind of student do you love having in your class?
Students haunted by Jesus, delighted by his habit of showing up in surprising places, being coopted by the Holy Spirit in God’s renewal of the cosmos (and this all may be happening while they’re perfectly unaware!).
Current academic projects
Two projects are at press—a framing of John Buchanan’s “From the Editor’s Desk” essays for Christian Century (Westminster/John Knox) and a coedited volume on Mentoring for Ministry (Cascade). I’m writing a commentary with Brazos on the last third of the Psalter, a project on the Duke Clergy Health Initiative with Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, and a project on fast-growing Methodist church plants with Matt Miofsky. Future projects include a volume on biblical hermeneutics with Eerdmans.
What do you see the future holding for you in your academic profession?
The church is going to have to take back more of its theological and catechetical training from the academy where we’ve about ruined it.
What challenges do students face today that may represent new challenges with respect to changes in practices of education?
Nobody has figured out how precisely to do education via technology. We all know we have to incorporate distance and web-based ways of learning but nobody’s doing it quite right yet.
What gives you hope for church?
Jesus, and the reign of God he is soon bringing, signs of which are breaking out, if we have eyes to see.
What advise or guidance would you give to students thinking about coming to VST?
Don’t come if you don’t want to be challenged. Most schools talk about their theological diversity—we actually have it. And it’s scintillating, maddening, but never boring. Sort of like church.