Lecturer Focus- Matthew Gray

Tell us a little bit about yourself (include your church involvement):

I’m the Church historian at Tabor. I absolutely love that stuff. I love the amazing people who, despite their frequent foibles and brokenness, have been able to accomplish some astonishing things with Jesus: beautiful nutters like Francis of Assisi, Antony of the Desert; brilliant minds like Anselm, Calvin, and GK Chesterton; spine-tingling mystics like Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila, and… oh, wait, I forgot, this is meant to be about me…

I’ve loved history since I was a kid, and I’ve loved Jesus for just as long. When I grew up and did my Bachelors in Communication at Melbourne’s Monash Uni, I also became heavily involved with the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students. I went on to work with them for two years, before coming to Adelaide to do a Masters of Divinity at the Baptist College here. I expected to become a pastor, but half-way through, they suggested I become a Church history lecturer instead. So I went to Regent College in Canada to do a Masters of Theology, doing my thesis on Billy Graham. I came back and started teaching here at Tabor in 2008. Along the way, I’ve also started a PhD at Adelaide University.

I’m an elder at a Baptist congregation here in Adelaide, preaching regularly, and often speak at other churches or Christian camps. I have a wife and two kids, and a sad obsession with the St Kilda Football Club. I also love to over-analyse superhero films.

Why do you lecture at Tabor?

Because they let me.

Seriously, it is a rare and wonderful privilege when somebody will pay you to do what you are designed to do. For me, I feel that God has designed me to talk – a lot – about His Church and His Word. Tabor allows me to do that, and even gives me this fantastic bunch of people called “students” who’ll listen!

What are your teaching areas?

I mainly teach in Church history. I can cover any era within the last two thousand years of the Church’s existence, having taught a survey course of that whole period for nearly a decade, as well as specialised subjects in the Early Church period (so 100AD-600AD…ish), the Medieval Church (600AD-1500AD… ish) and the Reformation (1500-1700…ish). I also teach a couple of introductory theology and ministry subjects, as well as apologetics.

What has been your highlight for 2015?

In first semester, I ran a class called Effective Community Engagement – a technical phrase for Christians serving and empowering people in the areas that they live. I only taught two of the thirteen classes, and in the other eleven, I organised for practitioners to come in and tell their stories: we heard from pastors, social workers, church planters, people working in foreign aid, and so many others. They were all amazing, and it just inspired me to see the way God is working to transform and empower people in their communities, many of whom are ignored or undervalued by the rest of our society.

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

I am very much hoping to finish my PhD, by God’s grace and through His Spirit’s empowering, some time in 2016. And hey, I always look forward to working with my students, whether they be brand new, or been here for a while.

What are your current areas of research? What are you currently thinking about?

When I’m “being good”, the only area of research I’m thinking about right now is my PhD. That’s quite enough for my brain to be wrestling with. And anyway, it’s actually really fascinating stuff, about how religious minorities have been treated in the past, and also about their views on gender.

Still, occasionally I allow myself to indulge in other areas, such as apologetics, Spurgeon’s preaching, and the state of the Church and the world.

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