Interview with Dr. Nicholas Perrin

02.02.2021  |  Season 2  |  Episode 10



SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. Madison Pierce and Dr. James Arcadi interview Dr. Nicholas Perrin, President of Trinity International University.

James and Madison ask President Perrin about his work in the gospels, especially on the historical Jesus, his current “trilogy,” as well as his commitment to Christian service and his more recent administrative work.

Tune in to hear our passionate President share about his life.

And before the interview, you’ll get an update on the hosts’ New Year’s resolutions…

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro
[00:00:00] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

James Arcadi
Madison! Hey! It’s good to see you today. How’s it going?

Madison Pierce
Oh, it’s good, James. How are you doing?

Arcadi
I’m doing just great, thanks!

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Pierce
Oh, good! Well, so, on Twitter the other day—

Arcadi
Yeah.

Pierce
—we tweeted about New Year’s resolutions and—

Arcadi
We did.

Pierce
—it’s into January at this point. I was kind of wondering—how are you doing? Drinking lots of water?

Arcadi
You know, I…I’m hydrating. I really…I really am. You know, I…I set the resolution to drink a full glass of water, and then Josh jumped onto Twitter and said that he actually drinks—I think it was a full 20 ounces, which was more than I was anticipating. So I…I took that challenge [PIERCE LAUGHS] and I upped myself to 20 ounces because Josh Jipp does 20 ounces. And I’ve got to say, I haven’t missed a day so far.

Pierce
Hey, that’s pretty good! Yeah, I think I mentioned on Twitter—so…I keep…I keep this by my bed. Woops! And basically I, like, have it very full at…at night, and it is the case that sometimes I drink it through the night. Like, if I wake up in the middle of the night and I feel kind of parched or something like that, and I wake up and I have, like, *this much* left, but usually I chug it in the morning, so…

Arcadi
Are you…are you so healthy that you can actually consume water in your sleep? You’re like doing two things at once. [PIERCE LAUGHS] You’re, like, hydrating and you’re getting rest? [LAUGHS] Man, that’s…that’s…that’s upper-level self-care.

Pierce
No, but, I…we are a thirsty people. My…my dad drinks a lot of water. Isla drinks a lot of water. I…I mean, I’m just always drinking. And so, um, and…and often feel dehydrated if I don’t. So, it’s…it’s kind of weird. I mean, I’m not, like, uber healthy or anything like that, I just feel like that’s what my body needs for whatever reason. So, I don’t know. Yeah.

Arcadi
Hey, I’m into it. Now, your, um…remind me what your New Year’s resolution was. I think it was a little bit more serious than…than mine. [PIERCE LAUGHS] It was more, like, being a better human being or something like that—not just drinking water.

Pierce
Not remotely. Um, but it was really funny to me that it seemed like I had, like…I had taken this very seriously. Normally, I would just kind of write something quickly or whatever. Everyone else wrote, like, a sentence or something, and I was like, “How is…how is this that I’m the serious one?” [LAUGHTER] I just can’t imagine! Um, yeah. So I had two. One was to do…um, to improve my Spanish, because, um, I…I’ve been wanting to—

Arcadi
Hmm. ¡Que bueno!

Pierce
Yeah! I’ve been wanting to for awhile, um, but, you know, we…we’re…our church is located in a neighborhood with, um,  a large Hispanic population. And I tried to use my Spanish with some, uh, locals one, uh, day that I was there, and I figured out that my Spanish is even worse and more rusty that I remembered. But it’s also the case that Isla loves Spanish. She’s super into it. She keeps asking me what things are called, and she actually means, like,  “What’s the Spanish word for this?” And so—

Arcadi
Cool!

Pierce
—um, our two year old is, like, into it. Um, she…Curtis jokes that she knows more Spanish than he does. [ARCADI LAUGHS] And although he’s joking, he may actually…[LAUGHS] that may actually be true!

Arcadi
He may not be joking!

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah, it’s like a subtle…whatever. But the other one—and I think this is the one that, um, that you will find a little funny—is that my resolution is to be more structured. [LAUGHS]

Arcadi
Whoa.

Pierce
And I’m really surprised no one has said, “Really, Madison? You want to be more structured?” [LAUGHTER] But it would be a fair…fair thing to say.

Arcadi
I…I…I can’t personally, being a rather unstructured person, I can’t imagine being more structured than—well, I can’t imagine being more structured than I am, and I’m unstructured, so…[LAUGHS] that’s my…that’s my thing.

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah, so my…my way of structuring is, like, setting aside chunks of time for certain things. Like, once a semester starts, I do really poorly at prioritizing just sitting and reading—like, just picking up a monograph and, like, reading it straight through and stuff like that. And I really think it’s an important practice and so, um—

Arcadi
Yeah.

Pierce
–I’ve carved out, you know, an hour to an hour and half a day. Like, that’s what I do, is I read. And what’s interesting is, um, although you might think, like, “Well then  how in the world do you get anything else done?” But certainly with my writing, if I set aside reading time, then the shorter writing time is far more productive, because I actually have things going into my brain and out of my brain. So, I don’t know. That’s what I’m thinking.

Arcadi
Hmm. Yeah. Well, hey! That’s cool. I mean, “You do you,” as we say [PIERCE LAUGHS]—or as someone says, I guess, but—

Pierce
That’s what they say.

Arcadi
—I think that…that’s great. And we’ll…we’ll check up on you a little bit…maybe we’ll…we’ll ask you about how—you’ll have to respond in Spanish as to how structured your life is these days. [LAUGHTER]—

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah, and I don’t think I can say that yet.

Arcadi
—And I’ll just…I’ll just drink some water! [LAUGHTER]

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Más agua. Um, yeah. So we’re about to jump into a conversation with President Perrin.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Pierce
I do want to give a slight disclaimer: so, my internet is terrible today, so if I…I…I may interrupt uh, Dr. Perrin and Dr. Arcadi. So, y’all forgive me out there, Foreword listeners, so…

Arcadi
We’ll…we’ll make do. Whatever works—whatever happens.—

Pierce
Alright, thanks James.

Arcadi
—That’s how we roll here at Foreword.

Pierce
Amen. Yep.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Arcadi
[00:05:41] Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m James Arcadi.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce.

Arcadi
We are delighted to have a very special guest with us here today—the fearless leader of Trinity International University, the one, uh, where at Trinity, the buck and the denarius stops, the captain of the good ship Trinity, a man who is equally comfortable, I think, parsing Greek verbs and benching 225, the 16th president of Trinity International University—Dr. Nicholas Perrin.

Nicholas Perrin
[LAUGHS] What an intro. Thank you.

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Wow. [LAUGHTER]

Arcadi
Well, we’re so excited to have you with us here, Dr. Perrin, and, um, in some sense, you might be, uh, the guest who needs the least introduction to the Trinity community, but I wonder if you might just share a little bit about…maybe about your life kind of coming—prior to coming to Trinity, what particularly interested you, maybe, in joining academia, and just a little bit about, you know, your background bio.

Perrin
Sure, sure. So, I…I grew up in New Jersey, and grew up in a secular home, essentially, so to this day, my parents will declare themselves agnostics, although I think they are drawing near to the Kingdom after many, many years of prayer. Um, and so that was…that was just…God was not really on the table at all, but I sensed my…coming up to high school that there was something missing. And I went to boarding school and I started searching—um, started reading. I just thought, like, “Maybe the answer’s in a book somewhere.” I started reading about religion, um, started reading about Zen Buddhism, started practicing Zen, but also started, uh, parsing Greek for the first time ‘cause I was taking Greek. And that was my first intro in the Bible. So, uh, the first time I ever read the Bible—it was Mark, chapter 1, uh, in the Greek, and one verse at a time. So eventually, I got an English Bible and came to Christ through Navigators my sophomore year at Johns Hopkins. And then uh, got into campus ministry. But, before—while I was at Johns Hopkins, though, I…I thought I was on the track of going into academia, because I had some professors who just had…had a profound impact on opening up vistas of understanding liberal arts and so on and so forth. Um, and I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t that be cool?” So, it was a bit of a struggle whether to go into ministry or whether to go into academia. And now, lo and behold: I’m a little bit of both.

Arcadi
So it was…it was kind of, like, a liberal arts, like, uh, entrance into both, like, the faith and studying the Bible? Was that kind of how it came about?

Perrin
Yeah that, I mean…I…I came to Christ my sophomore year of college at Johns Hopkins University. I was in the English department. At the time, Hopkins had one of the leading English departments in the country. I think Standish was there, um, you know, I had the…the medieval guy, uh, Lee Patterson. And just, you know, the ability to…how he handled the text was such an inspiration to me. Um, I really felt that somehow I was going to end up with a life of learning. But I also just had a passion for ministry. Um, after I came to Christ, I…I just…God gave me this heart for evangelism, for sharing the Gospel, for making disciples, and, um, you know, eventually God brought me to a place where I could do both.

Arcadi
Mmm. That’s cool. Yeah, and I know you’ve done a bit of work on, like, the historical Jesus in New Testament. Was it, uh…was it that kind of like, entrance into just kind of studying Greek and studying the New Testament in Greek that led to that particular area of study, or was there…was there something else?

Perrin
You know, I think…so from—ok, so I did campus ministry for eight years. Um, the last three of those years I was doing my MDiv, did some…did some work at Trinity, ended up getting my full MDiv at…at Covenant Theological Seminary, and, uh, then was in the pastorate for a couple of years…I…I…Cami had come into my life at that time, we had our first kids. And she just said, you know, “You…I think you should work on a doctorate because you just seem to gravitate toward that kind of stuff,” you know, not knowing what she was getting herself into. [LAUGHS] Uh, so I went up to Marquette, and I was going in really interested in Paul, um, but then ended up with the Gospels. And I…I wrote on the Gospel of Thomas—the Gospel of Thomas was this kind of hot new commodity and I just said, “I just want to figure this thing out.” And it was still early on the Gospel of Thomas discussion. So I got in on that…you know, I had a good time, um, interesting time, and yet, working on Thomas really put me in Gospel studies.

Arcadi
[00:10:22] So I guess, uh, was it—and sorry…and sorry, in the Gospel of Thomas, just on that particular point right there, I mean, kind of, what was the—I mean, it was a hot button issue in academia at the time there—

Perrin
Yeah.

Arcadi
—but did you see it as intersecting in kind of your own thinking about the Gospels themselves, or the historical Jesus, or maybe what gravitated you to that particular area?

Perrin
Well, yeah, I…I think with the historical Jesus piece, I think, to me, I…I got interested in that, um, partially through—uh, this is going to be true for a lot of scholars who write on the historical Jesus today, especially of the Evangelical stripe. Uh, –ring Tom writes Jesus and the Victory of God and, um, you know, with his careful engagement with alternative voices and…and scholars from the Jesus Seminar, I thought that was just a fascinating conversation that I wanted to be a part of. And I felt like he was…he…he did so much in that book, but it really had more heuristic value than anything—and kind of, like, hardcore payoff. So anyway, I…I just felt like, “Now that’s a conversation I wouldn’t mind coming back to.” Uh, the…the difficult thing about the historical Jesus studies stuff is really methodological. And it can be so methodologically overwrought that it’s hard to write for multiple audiences, because on the one hand, the scholars want, you know, about four chapters of methodology before they listen to you, but then, you know, your lay readers are like, you know, they’re not going to sit through all that. [LAUGHS] But I think it’s… to me, the historical Jesus is important not because we get theology from the historical Jesus—I think we get theology from the canonical Gospels, both, you know, as unitariate works and also as a kind of corporal canon within a canon—but because historical Jesus is part of the background, as, say, archeology would, or the, you know, “How much was a denarius worth?” and a pretty important part of the background. So we…so to the extent that our Gospel research has to be responsible to history, we can’t just treat Jesus like a “no-fly zone.” I know, like, some scholars like to do that, and, like, “Oh, we can’t know Jesus, so let’s not talk about him or talk about his aims or whatever,” but that…but that just seems to me, ultimately, docetic. Um, like, you know, either he was human and…and had, like, cognitive processes like the rest of us and was trying to actually do something when he flipped over tables in the temple, you know, or it was just, like, one kind of bizarre uh, you know, blip in history. So I…I tend to believe the former.

Pierce
Very helpful. I don’t know, James, if you want to follow up with a systematics question. You’re…you’re probably…this is probably piquing your interest talking about the incarnation and everything, but…

Arcadi
Yea and amen. [LAUGHTER]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah. Um, we’ll…we’ll stick with research for a minute, um, President Perrin. I’m interested…I mean, um, it is sort of rare for Evangelicals, as you say, to do good, um, historical Jesus research. Um, so why is that? And, you know, maybe why do you feel like this is an important, um, avenue or kind of subdiscipline for Evangelicals to be engaged?

Perrin
Yeah, it is…it is true, there’s not many Evangelicals who go into it. I…I…and I think the Evangelicals who do go into it, um, historically over the past, say, 30 years, have done…done so from an apologetic point of view—so a kind of case-by-case salvage job on one pericope at a time:  “Here’s why it’s historical”—which is…which is useful, um, but I…I think on the left, scholars would say “Well, that’s kind of fairly predictable and…and feels tendentious. And, um, and then how…how do we really do anything constructive with that, except—and is this just a way of kind of ending up with a canonical Jesus again?” Um, so I…I think we need to do the careful spade work about thinking  about, you know, the really difficult epistemological issues, like “How do we know?” Like, “How do we know this is historical, and on what basis? Do we make that claim?” And I think that’s always a conversation worth having. I think we’re…we’re kind of at an impasse, though, and so part of what I’m interested in is…is trying new avenues of talking about Jesus and what he was up to, um, outside of the typical categories. And I think…and I think it needs to be done, again, because if…if in Evangelicalism, we treat historical Jesus as this kind of “no-fly zone,” I do think we end up with kind of docetic…implicit docetic Christology, where we say, “Oh, well we can’t really know about that stuff, so, um, we’ll…we’ll just work with the idea of the cross or the idea of the resurrection.”

Arcadi
Yeah, great! Thanks!—

Perrin
I don’t know. James, feel free to shoot me down as a systematician. I…I don’t know. [LAUGHS]—

Arcadi
No, no.

Perrin
—But that’s…that’s my theological hunch.

Arcadi
No, I think it’s good. I think these are good…these are good things, and I appreciate the being able to, you know, see the theological implications for the work that’s being done and trying to see those, you know, disciplines as working with each other and…and what have you. I think that’s…I think that’s great. You know, I guess as I understand some of the way you’ve, uh, been thinking about your writing on the historical Jesus, is it’s…it’s been kind of a trilogy—or it’s kind of a trilogy that you’re sort of focusing in on here, like many good works of writing out there in the world. I wonder if you maybe could give us a little bit of an overview, or a sort of précis of…of that work and kind of the shape that it’s taking for your own thinking.

Perrin
[00:15:47] Well, sure. So I wrote Jesus the Temple a long time ago, like, so that…that came out in 2010. And Jesus the Temple is where I make the initial argument that the historical Jesus considered his own body, um, sacred territory, and then by extension, the space he occupied. And…and Jesus the Priest, which is the sequel to that, um, is really the kind of theological next step. Is if…if Jesus’ body is sacred space, do we go on to say that he had acquired priestly functions, and of course, I argue he did. And then, you know, I’m not going to go, like, to the 6th series of Star Wars or anything, but we’ll stop at three, and then just say, Jesus the Sacrifice, um, it’s going to, you know, go into—and here’s where I’m going to, like, need you theologians to kind of bounce off on—is, um, you know, the idea of atonement and “What did Jesus have in mind?” What were his categories when he was thinking about atonement and how did all that work? So…

Pierce
I—

Arcadi
If I can follow up briefly—

Pierce
No, please. Please, James.

Arcadi
—I mean, I…I can’t let a conversation like this go without some kind of Eucharistic connection, at least, or at least sort of baiting a Eucharistic connection—

Perrin
Yeah, totally.

Arcadi
—do you…do you see that playing out there, you know, in a sort of systematic fashion?

Perrin
Totally. I mean I…I think most…I think a good chunk…I anticipate a good chunk of the book is going to be focused on the Lord’s Supper. And I…I just find that moment with the disciples fascinating for so many reasons. And, um, you know, what’s interesting to me is—ok, so and you have to create…have the extra step of saying, “Ok, we got what the Gospel writers say. What can we reconstruct about what actually happened?” And I think what you can get to is Jesus doing some kind of equation between the bread and himself, you know? Uh, “This bread,” like it was in Aramaic, “This bread—I; this bread—me,” you know, without the—since the Aramaic doesn’t have a…a linking verb. Um, and…and then he breaks it, and…and in some ways, I think what’s—and I’m going to do…jump to theology here—but in some ways, what’s striking to me in that moment is Jesus is breaking the bread, identifying with the bread, and then having them eat it. He’s almost asking the disciples to participate in his identity as broken. And I think it’s in afikoman [ἐπικώμιον]. I think it’s the…the bread that’s set apart as the messiah. I…some scholars will say that’s, you know, anachronistic because our earliest dating for that is toward the end of the first century. Um, I would make…I would make a…a plausible argument that he’s identifying with the afikoman—that is, the bread set aside for the messiah—he’s…by saying…calling himself that bread, he is the messiah—and he’s the broken messiah. And that defines his ministry.

Arcadi
Hmm. I love it. I can’t wait.

Pierce
Yeah.

Perrin
Well, yeah, and then with all kinds of engagement with—James, the kind of work you’re doing, so I would… you know, I’m not sure how that will plan out. We’ve got to get COVID to end so I actually have time to work on some of this.

Pierce
Yeah. Uh…well, and obviously, talking about Jesus and cultic ministry is right up my alley—talking about Hebrews. Because I think that what you’re seeing in the Gospels is what’s so explicit in Hebrews.

Perrin
Yes.

Pierce
And so, I…I…you know, I obviously don’t think that the author of Hebrews has pulled this idea of “Jesus as priest” out of thin air, and I think that what you’ve done in your work is to show that there’s a…there are even more plausible connections. I mean, people have picked up on hints before of Jesus’ priestly ministry and all of that, but, uh, what you’re doing is showing that that was pre…you know, was prior. And then, the other thing that you do that’s so interesting is, um, is show how we can conceive of David as a priest, and that’s something that I would love for our listeners to hear more about—if you don’t mind us doing a little bit more of a deep dive. Can you tell us a little bit more about “David as priest?”

Perrin
[00:19:55] Sure, sure. Yeah. And…and boy, we could just talk about Hebrews and…I mean, I think if there’s a center of the New Testament theology, it’s probably Hebrews, um, so… just for the record, ok? [PIERCE LAUGHS] Um, but, uh, as far as “David the priest” goes, um I…you know, if you read the David cycles carefully—you know, especially in 2 Samuel:6. David builds a tabernacle, he blesses the people, he performs a sacrifice, and then he wears the ephod, which is really a technical term for being the priest. So he takes on all of these roles that are distinctively and indeed uniquely priestly. We all know the story about Abiathar and the bread, and…and, you know, we’re all…everyone’s trying to scramble saying, “Well, was David really supposed to eat the bread? What happened with that?” And, “Maybe he was really hungry and so God said, you know, ‘It’s ok if you’re really hungry,’” which is just nonsense. David was a priest, and he had a right to the bread, but uniquely so—I shouldn’t say “uniquely so.” The other king that falls into that category is Solomon. Now that presents a real puzzler, because when we think about the concepts of kingship and priesthood in Israelite history, we have these outliers of David and Solomon. Um, the way…like, why are they able to perform these priestly duties and then it’s verboten for just about everybody else? Um, the way I’ve resolved that is because I’m pretty convinced—and this…this piece I don’t write so much about in my book Jesus the Priest, but, boy, I would love to elaborate on it some day—is because they are unique in redemptive history in that they were the only kings that ruled over a united kingdom. And so they could converge both the royal role and the priestly role together because there were twelve tribes, worshipping in one place, um, under one king, and for whatever reason, once the wheels come off on all that, we have the dispersion of the tribe—the Northern and Southern Kingdom—and then multiple worship sights, which ultimately compromised the monotheistic faith. Right? So to me—this circles back to David—when you read text like Ezekiel and Ezekiel 34-37, and in other, you know, lots of other prophetic texts about the tribes coming back together—and especially in Zechariah—the main deal is the reunification of Israel and of the twelve tribes. It’s not just that, “Hey, we got the property back. Isn’t that cool?” It is that, and that’s not unimportant, but it’s this…this “one people for one God.” Um, and, you know, the Shema is compromised until the return from exile comes back in full. Um, so David’s main significance, I argue, is not that he rules politically—that’s a means to an end. The means…he needs the political power in order to exert sacral power, so that he can be the real priest. And you read texts like Sirach; um, that’s exactly the point the writer is trying to make with…with Simon, is that, not that he’s essentially the king, which he was, but that he was the priest. That was the more kind of edgy claim that someone could make in the first century, and that he’s a proper high priest—how’d he get there by being king? But the kingship is a means to the end of exerting priesthood—not the other way around. And the reason…I think we’ve got ourselves in a little bit of a mess here—maybe because of the scholastic distinctions with the triple office: prophet, priest, and king—and we’ve got to be really careful not to think of these as silos, because, you know, Moses was clearly—I mean, Psalm 99 says, “Moses was a priest.” He was clearly a king, you know, when he was up at Sinai—Jewish tradition will say he essentially became a king there. Um, and then…what am I missing here? Well, he was also a prophet. So, so there—

Pierce
Yeah, he was a prophet. Yeah. [LAUGHS]

Perrin
Right? Right? So…so the thing is, we have these, like, “Well, you know, here is Jesus being a prophet and priest and king and whatever.” And the way I think that’s boiled down into a lot of Protestant, um, thought is, “Well, the priest is what he did on the cross, and that’s it.” Right? Rather than thinking of his priesthood in more holistic terms—and here’s why it’s important, I think, theologically: is because if the cross remains kind of an isolated priestly work, and not being attached to his whole life, I think that…that’s a theological problem. And, you know, you essentially don’t know what to do with Jesus’ life. But I think an account that basically says, “He was priestly from the beginning to end,” you know, “from cradle to…to the ascension and beyond,” that…that helps us out on a lot…on a lot of levels.

Pierce
Yeah.—

Arcadi
Yeah! I think that…I think that’s really rich, and —

Pierce
Yeah. I agree, I…Oh, sorry, James—

Arcadi
Oh, sorry. Oh, go ahead. Please, Madison.—

Pierce
Oh, no, I was just going to say… we might have to talk about how that fits with Hebrews, because there’s a current debate right now about whether Jesus was a priest on earth in Hebrews,  and so that…that does raise some questions, so—but we’ll nerd out about that another time. [LAUGHS] Go ahead, James. Sorry.—

Perrin
Ok, so you’re with me on that one, though, Madison, huh? Alright.

Pierce
[00:25:19]—Oh, I don’t know. I think…Hebrews…Hebrews says that he can’t be a priest on earth, so—because he’s not a Levite. But…but I think that there’s some wiggle room there. I think he doesn’t make an offering on earth, and so he…I think that there’s the kind of an “already”—or I don’t want to bring in inaugurated eschatology—but that I think he is identified as someone who will be a priest. And I…I think that allows him to kind of do these different things. But I think it’s really important to Hebrews that he does this kind of offering in heaven. So, but…yeah. Again, we’ll have dinner about that another time, probably. [LAUGHS]—

Perrin
Totally. Very comfortable that—and I think that’s actually—I know, James, that you want to get in, but I think the Son of Man business with the…so, one of the chapters in Jesus the Priest, I talk about the Son of Man, and I go with the interpretation—it’s a minority interpretation—which says, “Jesus essentially becomes the Son of Man in the process.” Um, so he’s saying “That Son of Man,” he’s not first and foremost talking about himself—it’s going to sound scandalous—the president of Trinity is saying the Son of Man is not Jesus. That’s not what I mean. He’s saying, “You know that guy in Daniel chapter 7? That’s the Son of Man, and I’m going to become him by the…the things I do. And I will kind of come into my fullness in that priestly role. So, Madison, I’m with you. I think that it’s not like, “Oh,” you know, it’s like, “on and off switch.” There’s a sense in which he ramps up and realizes his priestly office, um, in process.

Arcadi
I think that’s totally cool. And I was just going to offer another sort of point of systematic theology, like, as a conjunction here—something I’ve been thinking about—which is having to do with the image of God from, you know, from Genesis, and thinking about our theological anthropology. And…and we’ve seen an interpretation of the Imago Dei being this functional interpretation, but I’ve been, you know, pondering whether or not we can have, like, both a royal-functional interpretation and a sacerdotal, or priestly, functional interpretation. And so—and we see those two as coalescing—

Perrin
Right.

Arcadi
—and I was seeing it as coalescing in Jesus. Hadn’t thought about seeing it coalesce in…in David as well, but I think that’s a really, you know, provocative point, and, you know, one that is more grist for my mill, I suppose, in thinking about theological anthropology. So, thanks!

Perrin
Cool, cool. Boy, we could go on for hours on this stuff.

Pierce
Oh yeah. And in Second Temple literature, you definitely see Adam, uh, or like a return to like an “Adinic state”—

Perrin
Yeah.

Pierce
—um, as a big highlight, because Adam is…is certainly envisioned as a priest. So I think that’s…that’s not just a Jesus/David thing, but I mean, it’s from the beginning, so, yeah.

Perrin
Totally. Right. So wherever you see Adamic Christology, you could argue—I mean, I think that’s what’s going on in…in Luke chapter 3 with the geneology: “son of…son of God, son of David.” I mean, “son of, you know, Adam—[LAUGHS] Adam, son of God.” And then you…he’s…the baptism, in a sense, is basically conferring on him Adamic-type status.

Pierce
That’s cool. Yeah.

Perrin
Yeah.

Arcadi
Well, I mean…I love the…the academic conversation here, and this is really rich and…and insightful as…as well. Um, I wonder just maybe—shifting gears a little bit: I mean clearly, you’re an accomplished scholar, you’ve been doing a lot of teaching, a lot of writing over the course of your career, and…and now you’ve had this move in the last couple of years into university leadership and administration. I’m just kind of curious about how that came about—just your openness to that kind of a move. How does that fit with your past work and sort of what your vision is for moving as a, you know, as a scholar, teacher, writer, into…into leading an institution like Trinity?

Perrin
Yeah. Great question. You know, um, I…I was a pastor first. So when I…and I…my first job out of college was Campus Minister and then Head Pastor. So those are…those are obviously leadership roles. And when I went into academia, I always found myself pastoring here or there, either as a temporary pastor or as a preaching pastor. And so, that was always kind of—I always felt like that was a necessary component, and…and for three years, I was a chaplain in an assisted living home. And, um, and that was actually…it felt like such a key piece, but always, like, in a leadership role. And, you know, and then in 2010, my wife and I started a non-for profit. And then, that…that…so the leadership piece and the “starting something new” piece has always kind of been in my wheelhouse. Um, when…and 2012 just threw, actually, a weird chain of circumstances…I became, like—not that weird—but I became Dean of the…of the Grad School at Wheaton and did that for five years, and really enjoyed it, and just really enjoyed moving the vision forward. And..and I think, you know, what jazzes me about scholarship is similar to what jazzes me about administration and higher ed leadership. And I think what I really like about scholarship is a chance to be creative, to…to like, see new patterns in the same old data—to be constrained by data, like, you can’t just make stuff up—um, but to see things that people haven’t seen before, and maybe, actually, it works. And I think higher ed is in such a place where, actually, we have to do really similar things, where we know that God has given us this mission to educate men and women—to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world. That’s what we do at Trinity. But the old models are really being challenged by disruptions, and the pandemic has really accelerated that disruption. I don’t think the pandemic is actually bringing a new reality so much as bringing us much more quickly to…to zed. And then we have to figure out what to do from there. So…what…I think what we have is we have to be data-driven in our decision making, but it’s a time to really be creative, and you know what? I really…I enjoy that piece. And, um…and there’s a pastoral piece to it too. So that’s kind of how I connect the threads there.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Pierce
[00:31:14] That’s excellent. Yeah. Well, um, so you and I, President Perrin, I think we started within a month of each other here at TEDS. And that means that both of us have the distinctive privilege of having our first year at Trinity—

Perrin
Woo!

Pierce
—or, you know, for me, back at Trinity—marred by the pandemic in some way. I think we should definitely get some kind of patch or something.

Perrin
Right. Yeah, really.

Pierce
Um, and as you’ve said, I think that it is kind of apocalyptic. You know, COVID has…has revealed so much of what was already there. Um, I…I wonder—and we’re probably acutely aware of all of the difficulty that has come in this—but I wonder, what are some of the things that COVID has done that will shape us for the better—some of the things that will push us in good directions, at least in your opinion? Like, this can be in society more broadly, or Trinity—whichever way you want to take the question.

Perrin
Well, yeah, good question. And I…and I think in the educational sector—um, you know, we educators tend to be very conservative, in the sense that we can be…we get really attached to certain modes of pedagogy. And, “Oh, this,” like, you know, “I had a favorite podium, and this was the, like, dry erase marker I’d always use,” and, like nothing. And we can say, “But I can’t imagine teaching any other way,” right, “without my dry erase marker.” Well, what COVID has done is actually disrupted us to the point where we’re forced to teach, you know, synchronously or different ways—some faculty, even at Trinity, have never, you know, taught that way before—and then found out it wasn’t so bad, and actually, that there’s…there’s some advantages. Now, there’s some disadvantages, but it’s…it’s not the end of the pedagogical world. And so that…so that forces us to be, uh, more flexible. And I think that flexibility is going to be necessary going into the future. Because, you know, um, the thing about the future is we don’t know what it’s going to look like. But I do know this: we’re going to have to be flexible in…in figuring this out. Like, how do we continue with our mission going forward?

Pierce
Yeah.

Perrin
So I…I appreciate the pandemic for that. I also think, you know, the pandemic—it’s almost like a test of character in some ways. And for some people, it’s—um, you know, with the…maybe it’s partially result to the isolation—it’s, um, made people more, uh, insensitive to other people, or actually revealed insensitivities. But I think for a lot of us, it’s like, you know, I’m sure that each of you have experienced where you’re approaching someone you haven’t seen for awhile, and you don’t know; is…does this person bump elbows? Does this person want to stand at ten feet from you? Like, the awkward, kind of COVID greeting—like figuring each other out. And what it does, kind of on a personal level, is makes…heightens your sensitivity to other people, just on one and one encounters, and like, what they’re comfortable with. Like, you know, we all try to be safe at…at Trinity, but it’s…but everyone’s on a different spectrum in terms of their, you know, comfort level. And I think that’s a good thing. And I think that’s actually, you know, what Christ calls us to, is just to always be thinking about the other person and what makes them comfortable, not what makes you comfortable.

Arcadi
Yeah. That’s…that’s great. I mean, maybe just looking in your crystal ball a little bit, or maybe not even yet into details, but looking into the future—what are some things you kind of…you kind of hope for…for TEDS specifically, or Trinity International University in…in general? What…what do you kind of hope for the future for us?

Perrin
Yeah, well I think…I think one thing that I really hope for the future is that we could do more to…to bring, like, this great TEDS experience that you guys are part of, and partially responsible for, to the world. And we know that the world’s coming to us—you know, one out of every five of our TEDS students is international, and that’s great, but think of all of the countless, uh, internationals who would love to be TEDS students, but just don’t have the resources for that. How can we, um, come to them? How can we, like, bring this great education that you guys bring to them, without in the least, you know, diminishing the quality? I think we can do that. I think God’s calling us to do that. I think the North American market has really changed radically in the last 15 years, and I think it’s God’s email to us to say, “Hey, why don’t you think more about outside of…of the traditional, like, North American market.”—

Arcadi
Oh, that’s great, I mean—

Perrin
—And…and I’ll say…let me say one more thing—

Arcadi
Oh, please!

Perrin
—and it has to do with—in order to really bank on that, we have to do…we just have to be better on diversity. Um, you know, uh, and that has to do with ethnic diversity, racial diversity, gender diversity, um, and we…we just have to keep working at that, and I see encouraging signs, but we have not arrived.

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Arcadi
Yeah, I think that’s great. That’s a great…that’s a great vision. That’s a hopeful vision for…on a number of those points, there. Well, we’re coming to the end of our time, President Perrin. Thanks so much for speaking with us today. It’s been a…a pleasure to…to chat about academic stuff as well as the, uh, you know, the personal stuff and the professional stuff as well, so thanks very much.

Perrin
Alright, guys. Thanks for just this…this show and everything you do. So appreciative of you on so many levels.

Pierce
Well, thank you. Thanks for joining us.—

Perrin
Thanks for having me on the show.—

Pierce
Oh, absolutely. Thank you!

Arcadi
But that’s…but that’s just the Foreword. So, do be sure to check out President Perrin’s numerous publications, which you can find listed on his bio page on the TIU website. You can also check out some of Dr. Perrin’s wonderful chapel sermons on our YouTube channel—the Trinity YouTube channel. Um, so we’re very grateful to President Perrin for taking the time to chat with us today. We’re grateful to our phenomenal producer, Curtis Pierce, uh, our unflappable graduate student, Lauren Januzik, and we’re especially grateful to you, our listeners, who join us so often here on the podcast and on social media. I’m James Arcadi.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce.

Arcadi
Thanks, everyone!

Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

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