Dr. Gerald Bray is today's Friday Faculty Feature. He is research professor of divinity at Beeson, where he teaches in the areas of church history and historical theology, and is a minister in the Church of England.
Where are you from?
I am from Montreal, where I was born and grew up in a bilingual environment. My father’s family came from England, and after studying in Paris for three years, I went there in 1972.
How long have you been at Beeson?
I have been at Beeson since February 1, 1993. I was between jobs, and Dr. George was looking for an Anglican to take the professorial chair that Mr. Beeson had established a few years earlier. I had been in Alabama before, but only in Mobile, so Birmingham was a new experience for me. At first I turned the job offer down, but the job I was going to in Oxford fell through for lack of funding, so I changed my mind. It was hard at first because I felt like a fish out of water, but I gradually adjusted and now I am very happy to be here.
What courses do you teach at Beeson?
I teach courses in church history and theology, specializing in Anglicanism and in British history generally, though I have taught patristics and ancient languages as well.
What are some of the most important lessons you hope students will learn from you?
I hope that students will learn from me that it is not enough to talk the talk—we must walk the walk as well. I want people to see that what I do comes from the heart as much as from the head, and I want students to hold those two things together. Living the Christian life is costly and demands sacrifice. You do not become popular by taking a stand on some issues, but that is what we are called to do and I want to be seen doing it. If others are inspired by that, then I am happy and thank God for his goodness to someone who does not deserve it.
I have found Beeson a good environment to work in and appreciate the interdenominational character of the school. I am an Anglican, but I pay little attention to denominational labels. Beeson is a wonderful place for theological cross-fertilization. We have produced a number of outstanding graduates, one of whom (a Baptist) is now teaching in my old theological college in Cambridge. I am not sure who was the most surprised by this—me, the graduate or the people who hired him. That’s what can happen at Beeson.
What is a fun fact people may not know about you?
I fluently speak nine languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Greek and Russian).
What future projects are on the horizon?
I am about to publish a History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland, which will come out on June 17, 2021. I hope that it will become the standard work in its field. I have written it in a scholarly manner, but my Christian faith comes across very strongly as well. I hope that it will be an inspiration to believers who read it.