Southern Seminary adds Justin A. Irving and Stephen O. Presley to faculty

Communications Staff — July 30, 2020

Two scholars are joining the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for the new academic year beginning in August. President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced that Justin A. Irving and Stephen O. Presley will serve on the faculty in the areas of leadership and church history. Irving, who will serve as Professor of Leadership, has served for nearly twenty years in several academic and administrative capacities at Bethel Seminary, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Presley, who joins the faculty as Associate Professor of Church History, brings nearly a decade of academic experience and twenty years of pastoral experience to his new position at Southern Seminary.

“These are two fine scholars and proven professors,” said Mohler. “Justin Irving has lived and thrived and led in the world of ministry and leadership for years, and he will bring that wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom and into the lives of our students.”

“Stephen Presley is an accomplished scholar, historian, and servant of the church. He is well respected in the world of evangelical scholarship, and he has committed his life to the education and preparation of young ministers. Both of these new professors will teach in critical areas in the Seminary curriculum. This is good news, and these new professors add even more strength to the Southern Seminary faculty.”

Justin A. Irving, Professor of Leadership

Justin A. Irving earned his doctor of philosophy in organizational leadership from Regent University in 2005. He earned a master of divinity from Bethel Seminary and a master of business administration from Bethel University.

“Those that would serve the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are called to lead in a way that looks different from the world,” said Matthew J. Hall, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration for the Seminary. “And those that would teach on the subject of leadership are entrusted with a remarkable stewardship, as they influence not only the ministries of their students, but indirectly the local churches those students will serve. Dr. Justin Irving’s appointment is a significant moment for Southern Seminary. His impact on a generation of students will be tremendous, as he brings his many years of teaching and scholarship to the classroom. He is a man of steadfast theological conviction and a proven commitment to the local church.”

Justin A. Irving, Professor of Leadership

In 2000, Irving began working at Bethel Seminary, and in 2003 he was appointed Professor of Ministry Leadership. During that time, he has also served as the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and the interim Co-Vice President and Dean of Bethel Seminary.

“It is such a privilege to invest in pastors and ministry leaders as they engage in focused study related to the development of their ministerial competencies,” Irving said. “I look forward to bringing my years of experience together with the legacy of excellence in theological education that is represented by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s history since 1859.”

“I have great respect for Southern Seminary. The institution’s commitment to the truth of God’s Word, the hope of the Gospel, the mandate of the Great Commission, and the importance of faithful local church ministry is compelling. I am thrilled to partner with Southern in these core commitments and this vital mission.”

A prolific author, Irving is often featured in academic journals and evangelical magazines, including Christianity Today, Proceedings of the American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, and others. He co-wrote Leadership in Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leaders (Baker Academic) with Mark L. Strauss. His writings can also be found at Purpose in Leadership.

“I find deep joy in equipping ministry leaders,” Irving said. “I want to see people of Gospel faith empowered as effective and faithful servant leaders. I want to see leaders who are empowering individuals, churches, and organizations to be all that God is calling them to be and to do all that God is calling them to do in this world for the glory of God.”

Irving was ordained in 2006.

Stephen O. Presley, Associate Professor of Church History

Prior to joining the faculty at Southern, Stephen O. Presley taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 2011–2015, he served as the Assistant Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Southwestern, and most recently he was Associate Professor of Church History. In addition to his academic role, he also served as the Director of Doctoral Studies and Director of the Center for Early Christian Studies, both at Southwestern.

“We live in an age marked by what C.S. Lewis termed ‘chronological snobbery,’ starving ourselves of the riches of wisdom from previous generations of Christians,” said Matthew J. Hall, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration for the Seminary. “Theological education must include the best teachers of church history and historical theology, so that ministers of the Gospel are equipped with that wisdom and steeled in their commitment to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Dr. Stephen Presley is precisely the kind of teacher, scholar, and churchman that Southern Baptists expect of those that would teach at their flagship seminary. He is broadly respected as a premiere historian of the patristic era and known as a master teacher. I am delighted by his appointment to the faculty.”

Stephen O. Presley, Associate Professor of Church History

In 2012, Presley earned his doctor of philosophy from the University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom, and his master of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2006.

“I look forward to becoming part of an academically serious and spiritually vibrant learning community that is dedicated to deeper and richer theological education, the kind of theological education that helps train pastors to lead their people through whatever challenges our churches face,” Presley said. “I am grateful to be able to work with Southern Baptist pastors who are actively planting churches, shepherding God’s people, and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth”

Presley is the author of numerous academic articles, including contributions to The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Academic), Intertextuality in the Second Century (Brill), and The Encyclopaedia of the Bible and its Reception (Walter de Gruyter). His doctoral thesis, entitled The Intertextual Reception of Genesis 1-3 in Irenaeus of Lyons, was published with Brill in 2015. In his research on the early church, Presley aims to complement the academic work already taking place at Southern, he said.

“Southern is renowned for a long tradition of exceptional research and instruction in church history and I am honored to join them in that endeavor,” Presley said. “I am also excited to strengthen the work being done in the field of early Christian history and the exciting ways that the church continues to rediscover the spiritual vitality of those who have gone before us and held forth the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Presley was ordained at First Baptist Church of Mckinney, Texas, in 1999.

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