Perkins School of Theology will offer a new course, Contemporary Issues in the Philosophy of Religion: The Work of William J. Abraham (TC 8308) during the Spring 2022 semester.  The course will be open to Perkins students as well as to anyone with an interest in Abraham’s life and writings.

Instructors will survey the work of Abraham, a Perkins faculty member emeritus who died suddenly October 7, 2021. Abraham joined the faculty in 1985, and was the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies from 1995 until his retirement in May 2021.  Abraham was a prolific author, a sought-after lecturer and an evangelist who helped plant churches in different parts of the world.

Bruce D. Marshall

“He is one of the most important Christian thinkers of his generation,” said Bruce D. Marshall, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine at Perkins. “Not only was he a very productive scholar but also a very creative one who had a tremendous impact among theologians and beyond the academy.”

Marshall will co-teach the course with Rebekah Miles, Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology and Ethics, and Dallas Gingles, Site Director of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston Extension Program.

Rebekah Miles

The class will meet on Mondays 1 p.m. to 3:50 p.m., January 24 through May 2, with the first hour taught via lecture in the Great Hall of Prothro Hall. A seminar will follow in Prothro 209.  Recorded lectures will also be available for viewing afterward. The course will also be available via livestream. Course leaders also hope to incorporate guest lectures from Abraham’s former students via recorded videos or Zoom. For non-students, Perkins will offer the option of auditing the course at a reduced fee.

Dallas Gingles

The class will study several of Abraham’s works, including: Divine Agency and Divine Action (Oxford University Press), the third volume of which is Abraham’s Systematic Theology; Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers to Feminism (Oxford University Press); and Among the Ashes: On Death, Grief, and Hope (Eerdmans), a reflection on the nature of death and Christian faith, written after the death of Abraham’s son Timothy. The instructors also plan to cover at least one of Abraham’s books on Methodism/Wesley studies in the course.

“His writing covers an extraordinary range,” said Marshall. “He wrote for theologians, engaging theological questions at the highest intellectual level, but he also wrote works for lay Christians and even nonbelievers. Many of his books published 30-40 years ago are still in print.”

The fee to audit the course and attend the lectures is $310. Space permitting, anyone auditing the course may also choose to attend the seminar portion of the class, at a fee of $930. Persons interested in auditing the should contact Joe Monroy, Registrar and Director of Academic Services, at jmonroy@smu.edu or call 214-768-2152.

“This is an opportunity for people outside of Perkins to encounter his work and to understand the impact he made on the church, the academy, and the world,” said Marshall. “Everyone is welcome.”