Tuesday, July 04, 2017

My New Job at the Augustine Institute

Many of you already know this but, just in case you haven’t heard, I wanted to let you know that, after more than 10 years at JPCatholic University in San Diego/Escondido, CA, I have taken a new job as Associate Professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO. The Augustine Institute is home to a rapidly expanding Graduate Theology School. I begin teaching at the AI this August at the start of their Fall Semester. I will be teaching a grad class on Luke-Acts. I will also have a great deal more time for scholarship and writing... as well as, most importantly, for being a husband and father.

I don’t write long posts on Facebook, but this major life-change merits some detail.

First, this was the toughest decision Kim and I have made since getting married. We are both Southern California natives. Leaving our families, who are all still local, was, to put it mildly, a very painful decision. They have been incredibly supportive though and we can never thank them enough for all they have done and are doing for us.

We also leave JPCatholic full of gratitude for the time we’ve had there. We are profoundly thankful for the truly remarkable people we have had the privilege of calling friends. The greatest resource of a university is its people and JPCatholic is rich in this regard. If I begin to name names, this post will simply become too long. So, in the coming days, I plan to write a few more farewell posts highlighting specific individuals at JPCatholic to whom we will always be grateful. For now, I will just say to all of you, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Suffice it to say, as I’ve been telling people, I love the school and the people there so much, it seemed almost impossible to imagine ever leaving.

Yet turning down the opportunity at the Augustine Institute actually ended up being more than “almost” impossible to imagine. I simply can't wait to join Tim Gray, Ted Sri, Mark Giszczak, John Sehorn, Christopher Blum, Ben Akers, Douglas Bushman, to name a few.

Again, as time goes on, I’ll have a lot more to say about this truly remarkable place. As many of you who are Catholic know, it is rapidly becoming a major “hub” in American Catholicism, and for good reason. From scholars and donors to bishops and religious orders, it seems like almost everyone is beating down their door to partner with them. Know “Lighthouse Media”? That’s the AI! Does your parish have the online platform, “Formed”? Yeah, that’s the AI too! Heard of Ignatius Press? They are partners with the AI now and work closely with them, publishing popular-level books and media. How about FOCUS? Well, yes, they work with the AI too. And on and on it goes. (Don't even get me going about their remarkable Board of Episcopal Advisors, which includes a stunning array of Cardinals and Bishops from around the world.)

Furthermore, the job I’ve been offered is an incredible one. Among other things, it will mean a lot more family time. It will also mean that I will get much, MUCH more time doing scholarship and publishing. My soon-to-be-finished monograph on the Apostle Paul with Eerdmans (with Brant Pitre and John Kincaid) will simply be the first of what I expect to be an avalanche of books to come. For example, I’ll now finally have the time to finish the revision of my dissertation for publication (probably in two volumes). Indeed, I fully expect to begin churning out book projects and articles I’ve long had backlogged.

Moreover, the AI is launching a new graduate degree program, which I will have much more to say about soon. They are very carefully planning the rollout of the program so I don’t want to step on that process by saying too much. In fact, I love how much thought and planning is going into not only the degree program itself but also its launch. For now, let me just say, this program is going to be really exciting. The carefully thought-out vision, the faculty they are attracting (as I'll explain soon, I am not the only new hire coming on board!), the infrastructure, the institutional commitment—it’s all overwhelming. The more I learned what they are cooking up (and, I must confess, I really didn’t know the half of it!), the more I had to have a seat at the table!

Again, I’ll have much more to share in the days ahead so stay tuned. For now, please keep my family in your prayers as we make this very complicated transition, say a painful goodbye to family, friends, the school we’ve loved, sell our beloved home, pack, move our six kids to a new state, begin the search for a new home (yes, we will be homeless for a time)… ugh! I’m already wiped out.

But God is good and we know we can trust him to help us through it all. A year ago I never would have believed I’d be making a move like this. Yet, Kim and I now have no doubt that we need to be at the Augustine Institute. I’ll end with my favorite psalm, which was the dedication for my dissertation and the recurring prayer of my life. It was written well over a millennia ago in the ancient Near East by someone else whose life was very different than ours… but also, I suspect, not that different. Reaching back through time and space, we join our voice to his:
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!...
5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me….
22 The stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps 118:5–7, 22–24)

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