Prominent evangelical scholar, author, and missiologist, Ed Stetzer, is leaving his position as executive director of Wheaton College’s The Billy Graham Center to become dean of the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.
In a statement, Biola President Barry H. Corey said that Stetzer will “bring the virtue of imagination through his creative ability to convene, inspire and commission a wide range of students called to live out their Christian witness full of truth and full of grace.”
Located in the Los Angeles suburb of La Mirada, Biola University offers over 300 academic programs and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading evangelical schools.
Prominent scholars affiliated with Biola include philosophy professor J.P. Moreland, theology and philosophy scholar Scott B. Rae, apologetics author J. Warner Wallace, and sociology professor Nancy Wang Yuen, among others.
The statement notes that Stetzer will assume the role of dean on July 2.
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Stetzer had been executive director of the Billy Graham Center since 2016. The center’s managing director, Andrew Cook, is currently listed as interim executive director. Wheaton College has not issued a public statement and did not immediately return an inquiry for comment.
According to Biola’s statement, university leaders began a “national search” for the dean of theology position after the previous dean, Clint Arnold, “stepped down to return to teach in the classroom.”
Announcing the news online, Stetzer added in a Facebook post: “I’m finishing a book until I start at Biola University and Talbot School of Theology in July.” His website notes he is currently living in England and teaching at Oxford University.
Known for bringing mission-minded academic insights to lay leaders, Stetzer hosts a weekly show, Ed Stetzer Live, on the Moody Radio network. He is also editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine and its affiliated websites, including Church Leaders. He has earned multiple degrees, including two doctorates, and authored a dozen books.
Within the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, Stetzer has been a prominent voice for decades. He served as executive director of SBC ministry Lifeway Research for nine years, starting in 2007. Prior to that, he held positions at two SBC-affiliated seminaries.
A preacher and church planter, Stetzer recently served as interim pastor at The Moody Church in Chicago prior to a new senior pastor being confirmed in 2020. He is currently listed as visiting teaching pastor at the Wheaton campus of multi-site Highpoint Church in Illinois.
Stetzer also serves as North American regional director of The Lausanne Movement, a network of influential church leaders.
Controversy with Harvest Bible Chapel
Stetzer also had a long-standing relationship with Harvest Bible Chapel and its disgraced former pastor James MacDonald. Stetzer was a guest preacher and paid consultant for Harvest.
As previously reported by The Roys Report (TRR), in April 2018, MacDonald gifted Stetzer a classic VW worth $13,000. The VW was bought with funds from Walk in the Word, MacDonald’s broadcast ministry. Stetzer said a year after receiving the gift, he learned that the vehicle had been purchased with ministry funds and then reimbursed the church for the purchase.
Stetzer was a contributing editor at Christianity Today (CT) at the time he received the gift, raising questions about his journalism ethics. The Code of Ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists states that journalists should “refuse gifts, favors, fees, free and special treatment . . . that may compromise integrity or impartiality.”
Stetzer also arranged a phone call between MacDonald and a CT editor, which resulted in CT publishing an editorial by MacDonald on “Why Suing Is Sometimes the Biblical Choice.” At the time, MacDonald and Harvest had just filed a lawsuit against Julie Roys and four other defendants. MacDonald and Harvest eventually dropped the lawsuit and compensated the defendants for their legal fees.
TRR reached out to Stetzer for comment but did not receive a reply.
Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.
2 thoughts on “Ed Stetzer Named Dean of Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology”
Monique Duson of Center for Biblical Unity posted a YouTube video commentary on the appointment of Mr. Stetzer as Dean at Talbot, entitled “Monique Comments on Talbot’s New Dean”. She was politely yet firmly critical of Stetzer’s apparent stance on critical race issues such as the BLM organization and the book White Fragility. He seems to accept the ideas of CRT uncritically, and has not articulated the orthodox historical Christian view on these issues. For example, the “ministry of reconciliation” in the Bible is between sinful man and holy God, not between oppressor and oppressed racial groups. She expressed concern that Talbot will increasingly incorporate critical race theory teachings into the school’s programs, which would be at odds with Biblical teachings on unity. I agree with her, and I highly recommend the video.
Ed Stetzer does not support CRT. His current position show that he will maintain biblical view.
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