Coordinating the Head, Heart, and Hands

New president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary seeks to hold together what others pull apart.

Veteran administrator Dennis Hollinger takes over August 1 as president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, relieving interim president Haddon Robinson. Hollinger, who previously led Evangelical Theological Seminary in Myerstown, Pennsylvania, will also serve as professor of Christian ethics. Charlotte pastor James Emery White, who preceded Robinson, lasted only one year, leaving in June 2007. Hollinger spoke with CT editor at large Collin Hansen about contemporary challenges for theological education.

What experience and insight do you bring to Gordon-Conwell after your stint as the president of Evangelical Theological Seminary?

One of the things I bring is a combination of higher-ed administration, including the last four years as seminary president, 11 years of pastoral ministry, and 11 years of full-time seminary teaching.

Tell me a little bit about your personal formation. What theologians have influenced you?

The writings of C. S. Lewis have been very significant. I'm eclectic in my theology. I have drawn from the wells of Wesley, Calvin, Augustine, and the Anabaptist tradition. One thing that characterizes my own life and my approach to ministry and theological education is holding together what people tend to pull apart. My book Head, Heart and Hands reflects that approach. Those oriented toward the head have said that if we get our biblical and theological knowledge down, that will really put us in the good spot for the rest of our lives. The heart-oriented folks say that if our hearts are strangely warmed by God, that will develop Christian maturity. Others focus more on the action side. What I do in that book is argue that not only must all three be present, but also that they really need to nurture each other. ...

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