Dies: Gordon Fee, who taught evangelicals to read the Bible… | News & Reports

Gordon Fee had told his students on the first day of Wheaton College’s New Testament class that they would — someday — see a headline titled “Gordon Fee is Dead.”

“Don’t believe it!” he said, standing on a table. “He is singing with his lord and his king.”

Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a regular professor, he led the class with the hymn “O For a Thousand Tongs to Sing” by Charles Wesley.

Fei, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believes that reading, teaching, and interpreting the Bible should lead to an encounter with the living God, calls himself a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88 — though, as those who met him in class or in his many books know, he wouldn’t describe it that way.

Fei co-authored How to Read the Full Value of the Bible In the early 1980s with colleague Douglas Stuart at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. This book, now in its fourth edition, has sold some 1 million copies, making it the standard text for many to learn about the Bible in the best way possible. Fee also wrote a widely used biblical interpretation manual, several critically acclaimed commentaries on the New Testament epistles, and seminal scholarly research on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the apostle Paul.

“If you asked Paul to define what a Christian is,” Fey once told CT, “he wouldn’t say, ‘A Christian is a person who believes in teaching X and Y about Christ,’ but ‘A Christian is someone who believes in walking in knowing in the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Likewise, Fei believes it is worthwhile to study the form, history, and context of the Bible because it is more than just “history.” Done correctly, biblical interpretation is a relief.

“Our interpretations bear fruit when we ourselves sit before God with unspeakable miracles,” he wrote. “We must listen to these words with our hearts, we must bathe in God’s own glory, and we must There must be a great awe of God’s riches in glory, we must rethink these riches as our incredible miracles in Christ Jesus, and then we must worship the living God by singing his glory.”

As news of his death spread on social media, pastors and seminary professors from the evangelical field shared which Fei’s book was most important to them.Wesley Hill Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary Say God-given presence is one of the most influential texts he has ever read. American Presbyterian Pastor Greg Salazar, wrote He is using Fee’s commentary on the book of Philippians for a sermon series. Peter Englert, the pastor of a non-denominational church in New York, praised Fee’s comments on 1 Corinthians.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Denny Burk has a strong disagreement with Fee over women’s ministry, Say Fee is “one of the most influential New Testament scholars of all time.”

Fei is not a household name for most evangelicals, but that may only underline the importance of his contribution.

“None of my church members can tell you who Gordon Fee is,” wrote Griffin Gulledge, pastor of Madison Baptist Church in Madison, Georgia. “But each of them benefited from his work. I bet thousands of churches did.”

handle the bible with care

Fee was born Donald and Gracie Jacobson Fee on May 23, 1934, in Ashland, Oregon.

His father, Donald, was a skilled carpenter and an illustrative preacher in the Assembly of God. Fee grew up noticing the difference between his father’s careful preaching, unraveling the meaning of the Bible, and some of the more wild and free-form approaches taken by other AG ministers.

Fee later said that many Pentecostals seemed to believe that planning and research would inhibit the Holy Spirit. They would grab a passage of Scripture and say it from the top of their heads, believing that if they were flexible and spontaneous, God would guide their words. Some people don’t even choose their sermon text in advance, but open their Bibles and ask God to lead them in this moment.

The results do not always demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fei’s father, on the other hand, believed that God respects preparation and that the Bible is like a fine piece of wood and should be handled with care.

“My father was the first scholar I ever met,” Fei wrote, “though I didn’t recognize it in my early years. Still, his passion for truth and his determination to study the Bible deeply . . . influenced me.”

Fee decided to follow his father into ministry. He went to Seattle Pacific College (now University), where he met and married Modina Lovedahl, also the child of an Assemblies of God pastor. After graduating with a master’s degree, Fee worked as a pastor in a growing suburb south of Seattle-Tacoma Airport and, in order to make a living, also began teaching English at Northwestern College (now University) at the Assemblies of God School in Kirkland, Washington.

Fei discovered that he loved teaching. He said he liked it so much that it gave his teeth a pain.

For several years, he has struggled with his call to ministry—he and Modin discussed being a missionary in Japan—and his call to academia. The turning point, Fei later recalled, was when a colleague said, “Gordon, just because you want to do this doesn’t mean God is against it.”

Fei realized that “certainly it could be a calling.” He decided to pursue a doctorate in New Testament studies at USC, focusing on textual criticism. He wrote his treatise on Papyrus 66, an almost complete copy of John’s Gospel, considered one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts in existence.

However, even as he embarked on an academic career, he felt there was some tension between his identity as a scholar and Pentecostal. He took a faculty position at Wheaton College and found him to be the first Pentecostal many of his colleagues had ever met—and certainly the first to have a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies.

Impact on NIV

Meanwhile, his fellow Pentecostals in the Assembly of God did not always celebrate his academic success. He once told an older person about his academic research, only to receive a warning about the mental dangers of academics.

“A fool on fire,” said the man, “than a scholar on ice.”

However, when he prayed about it, Fei realized it was a wrong choice. He may be “a scholar on fire”.

He taught at Wheaton for five years and then at Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary. He stayed there for over a decade before moving to Regents College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he taught the New Testament until his retirement.

Fee has written academic and popular commentaries on 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, 1 Timothy 1 and 2, 1 Thessalonians 1 and 2, Philippians and Revelation. He wrote an in-depth study of the Christology and Pneumatics of the Apostle Paul. He edited the influential New International Commentary series and worked with the Bible Translation Committee, a group of scholars responsible for the New International Version of the Bible for over 30 years. According to Douglas Moo, Wheaton’s chair of biblical studies, NIV readers “will encounter his translation suggestions on almost every page.”

However, Fei’s most important contribution may come from Sunday school teaching. He found that many adult Christians, some of whom had spent their entire lives in church, did not know how to read the Bible. They understand chapters and verses, and may even memorize some passages, but often do not understand the significant differences between different parts of the Bible.

“What’s the difference between a short story and a poem?” Fei asked. “You don’t read a poem like you read a short story, you don’t read a short story like a poem… Why would anyone want to flatten it out like it doesn’t make any difference…. It makes the world Different! God chose to do it. This is not Gordon’s discovery. God did it.”

He and Old Testament professor Douglas Stewart published How to Read the Full Value of the Bible 1981. Fee is a little exaggerated to say that his editor at Zondervan sent it to every Bible teacher in North America. “I don’t know how many copies he sent,” he said, “but within a year, sales broke records.” The fourth edition was published in 2014.

gift of the Holy Spirit

Fee’s role as a leading Pentecostal biblical scholar at a prominent evangelical institution means he is occasionally drawn into theological controversies. In the 1970s and 1980s he was drawn into the Pentecostal debate over whether speaking in tongues was “prime evidence” of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Some have accused him of “throwing away” the founding teachings of Pentecostalism.

“I’m not going to throw away the initial evidence,” he said. “I threw out the language because it wasn’t biblical, so it didn’t matter.”

Fee also supported women in ministry, according to his reading of the New Testament. He supports the Biblical Equality Commission and is the contributing editor of the episode, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchywrite comments on 1 Corinthians 11:2-6 and Galatians 3:26-29.

Fee also writes about the role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church: “The New Testament evidence shows that the Holy Spirit is gender-inclusive, giving gifts to both men and women, thus making it possible to set the whole body free, allowing parts to serve and lead in various ways. Others. So my issue is ultimately not a feminist agenda — advocating for women in ministry. Rather, it’s a spiritual agenda.”

This post has brought him more criticism than anything else he has written. Fei said he was “blacklisted” in some evangelical circles.

“I’ve put up with a lot of nonsense,” he toldcharm Magazine. “I can’t get over the fact that some people think gender is more important than gift giving.”

Fei, though, tried to avoid controversy by focusing on his lessons and teaching people to read the Bible, which changed them.

“Gordon’s rigorous curriculum is known for encounters with his masters,” said Rick Watts, a professor of New Testament at Regents. “He taught thousands of students around the world that one person can be a ‘scholar on fire’.”

Fee died at his home in New York. In 2014, his wife passed away. His children Mark, Cherith Nordling, Brian and Craig survived. Commemorative events are being planned in New York and Vancouver.


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