BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Douglas A. Sweeney from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has been named as the second dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., succeeding Timothy George who will retire at the end of the academic year.
At Trinity, based in Deerfield, Ill., Sweeney is distinguished professor and chair of church history and the history of Christian thought department and founding director of the Jonathan Edwards Center.
Having served on Trinity’s faculty since 1997, Sweeney was the founding director of the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding from 2000-2012, raising nearly $4 million for the center. Sweeney previously served at Yale University, where he edited “The Works of Jonathan Edwards” and was a lecturer in church history and historical theology.
J. Michael Hardin, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Samford University, where Beeson is located, announced Sweeney’s selection April 5 after a national search. Sweeney will become Beeson’s dean effective July 1.
Sweeney “brings together internationally renowned scholarship, academic administrative experience and a deep love and commitment to the church of Jesus Christ,” Hardin said. “In addition to exceptional academic credentials, Dr. Sweeney also possesses a humble spirit and a servant’s heart which make him uniquely qualified to lead Beeson Divinity School in its next chapter.”
His book “Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment” was awarded a Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology (2014-2015). He is the author and editor of more than 20 books, five of those forthcoming, from such publishers as Oxford University Press, Yale University Press, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Baker Academic and InterVarsity Press.
In addition to his work at Trinity, Sweeney serves on the advisory board of H-AmRel: History of American Religion and on the editorial boards of Didaktikos, The Works of Andrew Fuller and Congregational Bulletin.
Sweeney holds Ph.D. and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University, a master’s from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College.
He is an active member of the Chicago-area St. Mark Lutheran Church, an evangelical Lutheran church affiliated with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, serving as both an elder and vice president. He is a longtime Sunday School and Bible teacher whose ministry extends beyond the Lutheran Church into Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Free and many other churches. He and his wife, Wilma, have one adult son.
Sweeney said he has “long been an admirer of dean Timothy George. … My approach to theological education meshes well with Beeson’s guiding confessional documents, academic culture and personal approach to teaching and mentoring students. In fact, for me, moving to Beeson is like moving to a school that was designed to facilitate the kind of academic work, ecumenism and ministry I have done all my life.”
Jennifer Rash, president and editor-in-chief of The Alabama Baptist, Beeson alumna and search committee member, said Sweeney is “a solid evangelical and theologically sound leader” who will represent Beeson well to churchgoers across Alabama and the nation.
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said Sweeney is “ideally prepared to provide wise, visionary leadership for Beeson Divinity School. His commitment to the relevance and authority of Scripture, his strong record of scholarship, his devotion to equipping those called to ministry and his engaging, irenic spirit will serve him and Samford well in the years ahead.”