We would like to introduce you to one of the teaching fellows and board members at Ligonier Ministries, W. Robert Godfrey. Dr. Godfrey’s field of expertise is church history and how it informs the doctrine and practice of the modern church.
What was appealing to you about the role of teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries? What does it mean for you as a minister/ teacher?
I have long believed that R.C. Sproul’s unique insight into the Bible, historical theology, and systematic theology linked to his extraordinary ability as a communicator makes him an invaluable teacher for the church today. I am eager to help supplement and extend his work in any way I can. By writing and speaking for Ligonier in association with R.C. and the other teaching fellows, I hope that we can continue to encourage a faithful Reformed understanding of the truth and the church.
What do you expect will be your unique contribution to the ministry as a teaching fellow?
My experience as a minister and as a teacher of church history in a theological seminary gives me insight into the needs of the church today and the treasures of past Christian wisdom that can help the church in our time. I hope that these experiences will complement the other teachers for Ligonier to advance the cause of Christ.
Your field of expertise is church history. How is church history relevant to us today?
While human cultures change, human needs, the most basic elements of human nature, do not change. The gospel always speaks to those basic needs. Church history can help us understand both growing insight into the truth over the centuries and characteristic errors and defections that tend to beset the church. Certain patterns and struggles recur throughout history, and the contemporary church can be warned and strengthened by knowing that history. History can also remind us that humans are not motivated by theology alone, but often make their choices on the basis of other factors as well.
What is the biggest contemporary challenge facing the church as a whole and Christians individually?
The biggest challenge facing the church and individual Christians in every generation is to grasp the gospel and live it in a fallen and hostile world. For American Christians in the early twenty-first century, this challenge is exacerbated by the declining influence of Christianity in American culture. It is tempting for Christians today to confuse the cause of the gospel and the church with the cause of the culture and the nation. The cause of the culture is important, but the cause of the gospel is supreme.
When did you first learn of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. Sproul? What were your thoughts?
I first met R.C. Sproul when he was a young and very popular teacher of theology at Gordon College. Over the years I heard often of Ligonier and its service to Christ. I really began to get to know R.C. well through contact with him via James Montgomery Boice and the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.
What do you see as the future of Ligonier Ministries and how will you aid in its mission?
For the future I hope to see Ligonier continue its focus on effective teaching of Reformed truth through a variety of means: publications, conferences, radio, and schools. I want to use my knowledge, especially of church history and the Reformed tradition, to advance that teaching ministry in any way I can.
Books by Dr. Godfrey:
W. Robert Godfrey is president and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California. A member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Dr. Godfrey has also written several books including An Unexpected Journey.