As many of you know, last year our beloved Dr. Doug Kelly retired from RTS Charlotte after 33 years as a professor. He is now Professor of Theology Emeritus.
Upon his retirement many of us wondered who would replace Doug (and how that would even be possible!). In particular, we wondered whether this person could share Doug’s expertise in Trinitarian thought during the patristic period.
Our prayers were answered when we hired one of our own alumni (class of 2003), and former student of Dr. Kelly’s, Blair Smith.
Blair is now our new Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology. He is currently wrapping up his Ph.D. in Historical Theology (Patristics) at Durham University in England under Professor Lewis Ayres, one of the world’s leading patristic scholars. The working title of his dissertation is “The Fatherhood of God in Fourth-Century Pro-Nicene Trinitarian Theology.”
As an alum, Blair is the next installment of our Where Are They Now? series. Blair is married to Lisa, and they have 4 children: Eleanor, Douglas, Lucile, and Graham.
1. What are you currently doing?
I am in my first year as a faculty member at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, teaching Systematic Theology.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS?
I came for three reasons. First, while the confessional framework of the teaching was a priority for me, I appreciated the breadth of denominations represented among the RTS community. Second, I had friends from college who attended RTS Charlotte before me and they commended not only the academic chops of the professors, but also their pastoral experience and perspective. Third, when I visited the campus I was struck by the warmth of the relationships among the students and faculty. I wanted to be a part of that academic and ministerial culture.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
Dr. John Oliver used to tell us that we can only minister to others what has ministered to our own soul. He encouraged us to “fill up our own cup” before we offer a cup to others. In almost ten years of pastoral ministry, I have found this to be solid truth—that which has ministered most to those under my care has been that which was first appropriated by me. Paul summed up this truth, I think, with his frequent admonition, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
The students and the classroom. While I look forward to the opportunity to write more once I finish my dissertation, right now I am enjoying the opportunity to fellowship with, pray with, and disciple students hungry to know God and grow in Christ. I am also enjoying the dynamics of the classroom where students add their own budding thoughts and reflections to the rich theological curriculum of our campus.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Personal pride. I have been quick not to give others the forbearance our gracious Father gives us while always being ready with an excuse for my own thoughts or actions.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Seminary presents an opportunity to forge friendships that will sustain you throughout your ministry. How often I have leaned on my friends I made in seminary for counsel, advice, encouragement, and needed admonishment. Relationships among pastors within a church, or ministry leaders within an organization, can only go so far. You will need a close group of friends that will help keep you humble and joyful in the midst of the ups and downs that ministry invariably brings. Too few pastors and leaders have close friends. Life speeds up after seminary. Make deep spiritual friendships now, if you can.