DEERFIELD, IL — Professor Joshua Jipp is the new Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
For nearly twenty years, the Henry Center has sought to bridge the gap between the academy and the church by cultivating resources and communities that advance Christian wisdom. Jipp is the center’s fourth Director, following the leadership of Douglas Sweeney, Thomas McCall and, most recently, Geoffrey Fulkerson. “I believe the theological academy operates best when it is informed by and invested in addressing the challenges that face our churches,” Jipp commented. “I have seen how the Henry Center has helped foster meaningful relationships between the academy and the church, and have witnessed first-hand the rich benefits of such relationships.”
This dual commitment to the academy and the church is one reason why Fulkerson is pleased to have Jipp as his successor: “With his scholarly record, interdisciplinary interests, collegiality and commitment to the church and academy alike, Josh is a natural fit for this role. I’m eager to see his vision and direction for the Henry Center as it continues to promote Trinity’s ethos of collaborative scholarship for the church, the academy and the world.”
Fulkerson worked at the Henry Center for more than ten years, first as managing director from 2012–20 and then as director from 2020–22. He was instrumental in securing the $7.6 million Templeton grants, which funded the Creation Project; he led the execution of that project with a valuable blend of administrative and theological competence. Fulkerson and his family have moved to Sioux Center, Iowa, where he has taken a post as associate professor of philosophy and theology at Dordt University.
Jipp comes to the director role from TEDS where he serves as associate professor of New Testament and has been on the faculty since 2012. His scholarship has reached across the New Testament corpus, with his first book focusing on divine visitations in Luke-Acts, his second treating Paul’s royal Christology, and his third showing how hospitality is at the very heart of the Christian faith.
During the 2020–21 academic year, Jipp was a resident fellow at the Henry Center. His research focused on Paul’s vision for human flourishing and engaged positive psychology as he sought to trace the biblical depiction of the good life. The fruit of this Creation Project endeavor will be published later this year by Baker Academic.
“I’m particularly looking forward to his forthcoming book on Pauline Theology as a Way of Life: A Vision of Human Flourishing in Christ,” says Kevin Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology at TEDS. “Pursuing that vision, and that way, is precisely what the Henry Center is all about.” Jipp’s demonstrated biblical expertise will lead the Center in its mission to promote theological understanding.
“He’s the best kind of biblical scholar, one who reads the New Testament both for meaning and for contemporary Christian wisdom.”
Jipp’s faculty colleagues at TEDS are eager for him to step into this role. “I’m delighted that the Henry Center for Theological Understanding is once again in good faculty hands,” Vanhoozer remarks. “Josh Jipp is supremely qualified to serve as director. He’s the best kind of biblical scholar, one who reads the New Testament both for meaning and for contemporary Christian wisdom.”
Michelle Knight, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, agrees:
“Josh is well known as a skilled and thoughtful academic, but his real passion is to ensure that rigorous biblical and theological reflection makes a difference in the real world his students and readers inhabit. I’ve always been impressed with his commitment (and ability) to navigate complex inter-disciplinary issues for the sake of better serving the corporate church. Josh has always embodied the mission of the Henry Center; it’s fitting that he will be a part of shaping the next season of its ministry.”
This enthusiasm extends beyond TEDS. North Park University Professor of New Testament Max Lee “can’t think of a better choice” for the director role, and is “excited to see what the Lord will do through Josh’s leadership these coming years.” The executive director of theology and credentialing for the Evangelical Free Church of America, Greg Strand, concurs, saying, “I am eager to see the Lord’s will unfold in this next chapter of the Henry Center’s vital ministry to the church.”
The identity of the Henry Center is shaped around the concept of theological understanding. Rather than simply adding to the noise that often surrounds such conversations, it aims to harmonize past and current discussions in ways that produce insight, not just information. To achieve this task, the Center runs a host of recurring projects involving a variety of people from across the Trinity community and funds faculty-led initiatives which draw attention to specific theological questions facing the evangelical church and academy.
In the judgment of Harold Netland, TEDS Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies, “the mission of the Henry Center—to advance biblically grounded Christian wisdom for the church—has never been more significant or urgently needed than it is today.”
“We faculty continue to be learners who want our teaching and our scholarship to be informed by what is happening in the church.”
Jipp is looking forward to leading the Henry Center as director as he believes TEDS is “ideally suited” to house the Henry Center. First, because the theological diversity of the faculty, grounded in the broad streams of confessional evangelicalism, allows for a healthy range of perspectives on “how to embody and apply biblical wisdom to concrete challenges that face the life of the church.” Second, the academic excellence of the faculty is paired with a deep commitment to pursuing the health of the church. “We faculty continue to be learners who want our teaching and our scholarship to be informed by what is happening in the church,” he says.
In addition to these two reasons, there is also a wealth of theologically engaged local pastors in Chicagoland, which makes it fertile ground for a place like the Henry Center. Amidst the shifting tides of evangelicalism, Jipp believes what is needed is “the ability to patiently work together, to listen, and to use our theological resources to help one another live faithful lives of Christian discipleship.”
Jipp will begin serving as Director immediately, providing theological and strategic oversight for the Henry Center’s various programs. While continuing to teach at TEDS, he will lead the Center toward evangelical collaboration as it provides unique opportunities for ministers, professionals, and academics to collaborate with seminary faculty for the promotion of gospel-centered living and thinking.