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http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 1)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Corban University?

I teach Bible exposition courses beginning with a Bible survey class. I also teach Hermeneutics classes and the Life of Christ. One of my favorite courses that I teachis Daniel and Revelation together. I also serve as the Department Chairman for the Bible and Theology Department within our School of Ministry.

When did you decide that you would get involved with Bible and theology teaching?

When I was on active duty in the Army people kept asking me why I was in the Army and why I wasn’t a preacher or a counselor or a teacher. One day someone challenged me to pray about it and so I spent a year praying. I loved being in the Army as I was having a successful career, and after six months of prayer I felt like I would stay in the Army and teach Sunday School or lead Bible studies. Every time I said something like that, the Army sent me off for a month of training and upon my return the Sunday School class or Bible study was gone.

After a year of prayer I came to the realization that when I was an 8-year-old child I felt called by God to ministry and that call was still alive, still real. I resigned my commission and went to Dallas Seminary to study, where initially the idea was to go back into the military as a chaplain. Through my studies I became interested in Archeology, so after my Master’s degree I tried to get into an Archelogy program at Southwestern and was rejected. As a result, I stayed at Dallas to study Bible Exposition.

While I was finishing up my doctoral program, I was invited to come out to Oregon and teach and I’ve been there ever since. I discovered that that’s where God wanted me. So I ended up a teacher through a series of decisions essentially to obey God’s call, but I didn’t know where he was taking me. The author of Hebrews talks about entering into God’s rest and I can say I’ve entered into the place where God wanted me to be.I know that I’m doing what He wants me to do and it’s exciting.

I wanted to talk to you some about your commentary on 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. I am a Logos user and very early on signed up for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentaries and I was thrilled to get this first commentary by Dr. Gary Derickson. This is the same guy that co-authored The Disciplemaker. What was involved with producing this work? What motivated you to write the commentary?I have greatly appreciated my reading and study from this book.

I learned that the commentary series was being launched and at the initial time it was going to be written at the lay level. My dissertation had been on 1st John and I knew the general editor, Dr. Wayne House. I told him that I was available and he said “OK well why don’t you do this one?” and so he invited me to write it. I took on the project because of my love of 1st John and the desire to extend my impact beyond a classroom and hopefully help the broader body of Christ.

I think we’ve seen that reviewers with an alternate perspective on some of your views have been very complimentary. In the commentary, you used a theological method in writing it that exhibits and kind of an unfolding of researching concepts. Can you describe the method that you used as you wrote the commentary?

First, I personally performed exegesis and outlining to decide on what I felt the passages meant and then I began consulting the commentary tradition. In commentaries, I went back at least a couple hundred years and I also researched everything that I could find from modern times, both in commentaries and in journal articles and various other books to see what the different views were. One of my goals was, on every verse, on every issue, to honestly reflect all the alternatives and then to defend my view.

In addition to that, I presented the evidence when it came to my views because I knew that some of my views are minority views. My views are a grace view and not Reformed nor Lordship, and I knew that my view would bring challenges. I made sure that when I took a position I understood why I took the position and could also explain and show that I knew the other positions. I wanted to demonstrate that it wasn’t out of ignorance that I took my view. Also, one of my goals was to make the commentary a resource. As I studied, I saw the different ways commentaries were done and I wanted to make mine a useful tool for study and research.If someone wanted to study an issue then they could use my commentary to find all the sources and it would be a good tool even if they disagreed with me. In the end, I wanted the work to be a good tool that that could be used for personal studies.

Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Dr. Derickson.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona