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Ronald Nash, ‘bold and brilliant’ in defending the faith, dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Theologian, philosopher and apologist Ronald H. Nash whom R. Albert Mohler Jr. remembers as a “brilliant and bold defender” of the Christian faith, died March 10 at his home in Orlando, Fla., after a long illness. He was 69.

Nash taught theology and philosophy for four decades at three schools. He was chairman of the department of philosophy and religion and director of graduate studies in humanities at Western Kentucky University, where he was on faculty from 1964-91. He was a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary from 1991-2002 and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1998-2005.

Mohler, Southern Seminary’s president, said Nash was “a man of ideas who believed that ideas really mattered … [and] that the right ideas were necessary in order for Christ’s church to be preserved.” His legacy will endure through his many writings and through scores of students Nash taught, Mohler said.

“Dr. Ron Nash was a brilliant and bold defender of Christian truth, he was a great apologist, a wonderful intellect devoted to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Mohler said. “His writings reach thousands and thousands of persons, many of whom never met him. His classroom teaching was life-changing in several different institutions.

“I have spoken to many across the country who had him at the undergraduate level at Western Kentucky University and they speak about how he shaped their Christian worldview at that stage of education. Students here [at Southern Seminary] had the benefit of his knowledge and his teaching in the final phase of his teaching ministry.”

Nash wrote more than 35 books on philosophy, theology and apologetics, including “Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith,” “Life’s Ultimate Questions” and “Is Jesus the Only Savior?” Nash received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University; his master’s degree from Brown University; and his undergraduate degree from Barrington College.

Russell D. Moore, dean of the Southern Seminary’s school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration, said Nash was far more than just a brilliant classroom orator.

“Ronald Nash was more than just a scholar …,” Moore said. “He understood that scholarship is a matter of spiritual warfare.

“Professor Nash didn’t simply convey his assertions about the intelligibility and truthfulness of divine revelation or about the exclusivity of the Gospel through faith in Christ. He conveyed the gravity and seriousness of the issues for the church.”

Nash was ever-ready to challenge a theologian or philosopher over a dangerous heresy. Said Moore: “In an age of cowardly academics and tentative philosophers, Ronald Nash played the man. We are all in debt for it.”

Nash is survived by wife Betty Jane and two children, Jeffrey and Jennifer. A private funeral will be held March 14 in Tennessee and a memorial service is scheduled March 18 at the Orlando campus of Reformed Theological Seminary.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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