Scot McKnight announced on his blog today that he is leaving North Park University to teach at Northern Seminary. McKnight wrote:
For at least five years I have had an inner yearning to teach in a seminary, to concentrate on leaders, pastors and preparing folks to work in churches and in God’s mission in this world, and in fact almost left North Park some time back to join a seminary faculty. It seems increasingly that my natural audience has become pastors and leaders in churches, though I will continue to write for church folks — including a book on Paul (my next project).
Northern Seminary in Chicago has a great history, (here’s the announcement on their site). It began in the early 20th century as an alternative vision to the liberal move in what became the American Baptist denomination. More recently they have been innovating with DMin. programs, including a DMin. in Missional Leadership, tapping some of the fathers of the missional church in American to help teach: David Fitch, Craig Van Guelder, and Alan Roxburgh. McKnight will fit right in.
McKnight has been at North Park for 17 years, where he has been a Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, occupying the Karl A. Olsson Chair in Religious Studies. McKnight’s early publishing was in biblical studies, writing mostly for an academic audience. This all changed when he wrote The Jesus Creed (Paraclete, 2004), especially when he began a blog under the same name. Jesus Creed one of the most popular Christians blogs, allowing him to comment on a wide range of issues regarding theology and the church. McKnight moved his blog to Patheos, which has become a unique hub of Christian thinking and dialogue. Jesus Creed has become the gold standard for a kind of “beat-writing” version of theological engagement via electronic media and blogs. McKnight has continued to write books for both the academy and the church, thereby leveraging his unique ability to take difficult theological/biblical concepts accessible and more importantly practical for the reader, in order to draw an incredibly large following for a theologian and scholar.
McKnight has become widely respected for his ability to work with theology in a post-modern context without falling into the ditch of fundamentalism on one side, or a warmed-over 19th century liberalism on the other. This ability has landed McKnight many speaking and teaching gigs in mega-churches nation wide, including regular appearances at Willow Creek in Chicago, and Northpoint in Atlanta, and Saddleback in CA – appearances which have fueled his popularity, and that of his blog.
McKnight self-identifies as an anabaptist. McKnight has written that his anabaptist faith centers on three main commitments. 1) The essence of Christianity is discipleship, which involves a commitment to Christ in all areas of life. 2) A belief in the church as a brother/sisterhood or fellowship, not a legitimating belief system for the state (a Christendom model). 3) Finally, the unequivocal embrace of Non-violence, and the refusal of coercion.