Brian, why did you apply for and accept the role of Principal at Ridley?
I knew of Ridley’s fine reputation as an evangelical college committed to effective training for a range of gospel ministries under the leadership of Peter Adam. To be honest, I wasn’t looking for such a role myself, but was encouraged to apply by a couple of friends whose opinion I respect. So it was a matter of exploring the possibility with the Ridley Board and praying for God’s guidance, and eventually a new measure of faith and courage.
A year into the job as principal of Ridley Melbourne, what have been your highlights?
The biggest highlight has been the people. I am happy to report that Ridley has delightful students, a strong faculty with diverse gifts, warm and able administrative staff, passionate stakeholders, and a competent and supportive board, not to mention excellent food! There is a genuine team spirit around the college, springing from our common commitment to Jesus Christ. The warmth of the gospel is evident everywhere you look.
It’s been a busy year, with three faculty appointments, the Marketplace Institute and Ridley Certificate getting up and running, and the development of a strategic plan for the next five years in the mix. We have a slew of visiting speakers this year, including Paul Barnett, Tom Wright and Mark Dever. And we are exploring some partnerships with organisations like the Centre for Public Christianity and Gordon-Conwell Seminary in the USA.
The job comes with an abundance of exciting opportunities and also significant challenges.
What kind of leadership do you think a college principal ought to exercise?
Along with ensuring that the college is well-run, a task for which I am well-supported, in my view the main task of leading a theological college is to provide theological lead¬ership. Good theology, evangelical and reformed, should infuse everything we do. Defending and expounding the gospel, as well as commending it by the way we live, must always be our focus.
Providing theological vision is key. As Timothy Keller defines it, “a theological vision is a vision for what you are going to do with your doctrine in a particular time and place” (Center Church, page 18). I believe Ridley has a role to play in bringing evangelical scholarship to the new questions faced by Christians in a post-Christendom context. How does the grace of God teach us to live in a time of increasing secu¬larism, materialism and atheism?
On this front I hope to continue my own work of research and writing. I have a book on Paul and the law coming out in June. I also hope to work with the faculty on questions of contemporary interest. Currently, for example, we are working together on the topic of what to do when Christians differ on matters of faith and conduct. We are presenting our findings at a Ridley day-conference on disputable matters later this year (2 September).
Part of my role is to ensure that Ridley is true to its values: high academic standards and the formation of Christ-like character; in a context of Christian community; for the purpose of equipping men and women for effective service and mission.
What does Ridley have to offer for those who can’t come to college?
We have a suite of online courses for the first year of study and are currently considering expanding these. We find that eRidley appeals to many people who can’t come to college to study in person.
Also, we have just launched the Ridley Certificate, a new on-line course designed for anyone who wants to deepen their faith and be equipped for serving their church and in the world. It’s an absolute cracker (in my humble opinion). The first unit features Mike Raiter offering an overview of the whole Bible.
Ridley has a strong Anglican evangelical heritage. What role do you envisage it having within the Australian Anglican church?
Training people for ministry in the Anglican Church is at the heart of college. Ridley’s Anglican Institute, ably led by Richard Trist and Anthea McCall, aims to raise up, train and equip future ordained leaders for the Anglican Church in Melbourne and throughout Australia. We want to offer the best possible Anglican ministry formation program, producing gospel focused Anglican leaders for the next generation, for a wide range of ministries.
How can the EFAC community keep praying for you and Ridley Melbourne?
Pray that we will be true to our vision. Pray that God will provide us with the resources to fulfil that vision effectively. Pray that God would make our love abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight to his glory and praise (Philippians 1:9–11)
This article was first published in the EFAC Essentials Magazine, Winter 2013. https://www.efac.org.au/