Winter’s first blast into the Kansas City area couldn’t hinder the excitement inside the Daniel Lee Chapel on Midwestern Seminary’s campus, as the school held its 60th commencement exercises on Dec. 9. In addition to President Jason Allen’s keynote address and launching 93 of the next generation of pastors, ministers, and missionaries into Kingdom service, a longtime professor was also honored in a special way during the service.
Prior to his graduation address, Allen honored Alan Tomlinson, who has served as Midwestern Seminary’s professor of New Testament and Greek since 1995, with a festschrift in the latest edition of the Midwestern Journal of Theology.
Allen noted that in the life of the institution, there are particular occasions where a faculty member has made such a contribution to the Midwestern Seminary community that there needed to be a singular honor given. He added that the December commencement was one such day.
Introducing Tomlinson, and in presenting him with a copy of the Fall 2016 edition of the MJT, Allen noted that in the academic world, a festschrift is perhaps the highest testament to a professor’s contributions.
“A festschrift is a collection of essays in either book or journal format, written by those who know, appreciate, and love the one being honored,” Allen said. “And today we congratulate Dr. Alan Tomlinson for receiving this honor.
“Throughout his 21-year classroom ministry here, Dr. Tomlinson has consistently fulfilled the spirit of II Timothy 2:2. His resolute commitment to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of God’s Word, and his passion to transmit it rightly has been a consistent mark of Dr. Tomlinson’s ministry.”
Allen added that Tomlinson is a man known for his impassioned classroom presentations, his sacrificial devotion to students and, most of all, a humble and cheerful walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. “These positive traits, and so many more, make Dr. Tomlinson a true luminary in the classroom–a man who will not be soon forgotten by his students or the generations who follow them. It is for these reasons he is honored with this festschrift today.”
Following the presentation, Allen addressed graduates with what he called a great promise from the 23rd Psalm to them and everyone else in attendance.
The promise is that the Lord’s love and kindness, in being our Shepherd, is all that we could ever need. This is further expressed in the passage by showing that we can find satisfaction in the Lord, receive provision from the Lord, and that we are restored comprehensively by the Lord.
Allen said that in all of this, his children can find contentment, and he warned the graduates not to fall into the trap of discontentment.
“Graduates…just because you have a seminary degree does not mean you will not know the temptation of discontent,” he said. “If you find your contentment, satisfaction or sense of self-worth and achievement based upon what is taking/not taking place in your ministry…you are setting yourself up already for ministerial and life discontentment.
“But if your contentment is found in the person and work of Jesus – knowing him, relishing him, drawing near to him – you can live a life of contentment, even through turmoil and regardless of circumstance.”
Allen further noted that in verse 3, the passage shows that God does all of this “for His name’s sake.” “Any theology of the Christian life that prioritizes self-worth, self-fulfillment or self-pleasure over the glory of God is a theology that is rotten at its core. That is the folly of a ‘best life now’ theology, is it not?
“God is not that concerned about us having our best life now,” he added. “The point of the gospel is that our best life is yet to come. This is also the promise of Psalm 23, that he does this work. We are the beneficiaries, yes. In time and eternity, he does it for the greater glory of his name.”
The second half of the Psalm, Allen said, shows the Shepherd leading his people through the coming conflict, providing generously, and offering his goodness and loving-kindness to his children all the days of their lives.
In a final word to the graduates, Allen added, “I say to you, do not get so lost in the text that you fail to know the Author of the text. As you find refuge in this Psalm, make sure that refuge is first rooted in the Shepherd.
“Do not settle for the promise, which is empty, if you do not know the Promise-maker. Settle only for a knowledge of the Shepherd. That makes all the difference.”