Dr. Craig Keener – F. M. and Ada Thompson Chair of Biblical Studies
Join us for an Interview with Dr. Craig Keener, F.M. and Ada Thompson Chair of Biblical Studies here at Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of over 17 books on New Testament studies. Dr. Keener is shown in the picture above with his wife, Dr. Medine Keener, along with son David and niece Keren.
Be sure to check out the videos on miracles at the end of the interview.
What’s your favorite scripture and why?
My favorite biblical books (right now) are Acts and Revelation–though I wouldn’t want to do without any of the books of the Bible! In recent years I have been deeper and deeper in Acts, and feel increasingly at home in the mission and the power of the Spirit that Acts depicts. Revelation gives a stark, spiritual view of reality, always summoning us beyond our sufferings to a heavenly perspective on reality, and to worship God and the lamb, who have brought about our salvation.
What’s the most amazing miracle you’ve ever witnessed and where did it happen?
Regarding the most amazing miracle, there are three ways I could answer this. I wrote a book on miracles that addresses miracles as more technically defined (with healings, etc.) But the most spectacular work of God in my own life was the day He converted me from atheism to faith in Christ through an encounter with the Holy Spirit, and two days later empowered me with a spiritual gift that I didn’t know existed (not yet having read the Bible). When I think of a meaningful miracle since then in my own Christian life, one that I think of is God’s provision at key moments, to protect his calling of me. Shortly before I was about to go to Duke, the meager savings I had were taken from me. A dollar isn’t enough to do Ph.D. work. But the day before I was going to call Duke and tell them that I could not come, the money was provided from an unexpected source. Four years later, as I finished Duke, I initially had no teaching position. It was getting desperate and one Sunday night I figured up how much I would need to live on that year. I’d been trying to have faith, but when I realized the number, I was in despair. The next morning I finally admitted that only a miracle could help me. That afternoon, InterVarsity Press called, said that they wanted to publish my Bible Background Commentary, AND that they wanted to offer me an advance. The advance was to the dollar what I’d decided the night before I needed to live on that year. I wrote the commentary that year; the next year, I had a teaching position.
What 3 books do you think everyone should read?
The three books everyone should read, plus one of my own. The first book, obviously, is the Bible. That’s the source of spiritual truth and life. Beyond that, I normally prefer books that would help me understand the Bible better (that’s where one of my books comes in:The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament offers basic background for each NT passage; background is the key resource for studying the Bible that readers can’t usually get on their own). Besides tools that help us understand the Bible, Operation World is a superb prayer manual, exposing us to prayer needs for every country in the world. Beyond that, some work that invites us into deeper intimacy with God, something like Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God. Testimonies of God’s living works today (or in history) are also great, but I have now exceeded my list of three!
Who inspires you and why?
For who inspires me: the best answer is the Holy Spirit, but I think the question is about human role models. Paul’s zeal, acumen and pastoral care certainly inspire me. In history, someone like David Livingstone, who kept doing what he was made for, even though he didn’t live to see converts; God used him in ways he couldn’t imagine. Also some Reformers such as William Tyndale, committed to make God’s Word available. Today, various people I learn some of the heart of Christ from–my mentors (like professor Benny Aker or street mission founder Everett Cook), my boss (Tim Tennent’s global vision), my wife’s humility, and so many others. I am grateful for the rich reservoir of models God has provided us to help us know him better.
What disciple would you want to meet?
I assume you mean, which of Jesus’s disciples would I like to meet. By the time I meet them, I will know as I am known anyway, but in principle if I could meet them now: I’d love to be mentored in ministry by Paul. I’d have lots of questions for him. (I’m happy we have his writings so I can figure out some of the answers he would give!) In the Old Testament, Jeremiah, to learn from his heart and be mentored by him. I’d love to meet the beloved disciple, whom I think was John, and just learn from him about Jesus, what he taught and did. Happily we can immerse ourselves in the biblical books and get a lot of this revelation directly there. But oh, how wonderful it is to have any more insights on Jesus and how to serve him better!
What does being Kingdom-focused or Kingdom-minded mean to you? How does that play out in real-life?
If we’re kingdom-focused and -minded, we realize that we don’t belong to this world. God has consecrated us for himself (that’s what “saints” means); we belong to the future age, and God has given us a window of opportunity–our earthly life–to make a difference for his honor. Therefore I want everything I am and everything I do, including my time, money and any other resources, to contribute to God’s purposes in the world, especially the Great Commission and whatever my distinctive role in that mission is.