Faculty Posts

Bioethics Prof John Kilner Releases New Book on Human Dignity

Trinity Graduate School Professor of Bioethics and Contemporary Culture John F. Kilner has released a new book that describes human dignity in light of the biblical observation that man is created in God’s image.

Eerdmanns Publishing Company released Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God earlier this month.

“This masterful treatment of the image of God is not abstract theology removed from everyday reality; rather, as Kilner shows, what’s at stake is human dignity in every sphere of life,” said Dennis Hollinger, president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Hollinger concluded the book is “a clear and cogently argued work that will become the major source for future explorations of the topic.”

Scholars contend that the concept of humanity’s creation in God’s image is frequently misunderstood, sometimes with tragic results.

On top of his extensive engagement with the literature on the subject, Kilner presents a detailed examination of all the references to the image of God in scripture.

“This will become the new standard reference work on the subject, particularly given its rich documentation throughout,” said Dean Scott Rae of the Talbot School of Theology. Rae called the book “the most exhaustive study of the image of God of which I am aware.”

“Our society, including the church, has a spotty record dealing with moral challenges…which are skewed by distorted views of what it means for us to bear the image of God,” said Daniel R. Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Kilner’s book gives a soundly biblical understanding that can address these shortcomings.”

From 1994-2005, Kilner served as President and CEO of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity at Trinity, and presently serves as a Senior Fellow in their Academy of Fellows. He holds the endowed Forman Chair of Christian Ethics and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Kilner has written or edited more than 20 books. He has contributed to scholarly journals and has been interviewed in such television venues as NBC (with Tom Brokaw), FOX News (with Bill O’Reilly), CBS, CNN, and PAX, such radio venues as National Public Radio, Moody Broadcasting Network, and Salem Network, and such newspaper venues as the New York Times, Washington Times, and Chicago Tribune.

There will be a lecture on the theme of Kilner’s new book at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 in Kantzer Hall on Trinity’s Deerfield campus. The lecture is open to the public free of charge and refreshments will be served. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at an event-only discount of 50 percent.

Academic Success at Trinity


by Peter L. Wright, associate professor of education at Trinity College and Graduate School

“Getting an education is like breaking through a wall sometimes,” a Trinity student who struggles with a disability said recently. “You chip away at each brick, and it feels like it’s never going to come down.”

For such students, just like any others, attending a university is an exciting and challenging time. Finding and experiencing academic success is a necessary component of this endeavor. For those with learning problems and other disabilities, the challenge is even greater.

“But education should be doing everything possible to knock those walls down,” notes that same student.

And so it has begun to do so. A growing number of students with disabilities are not only attending colleges and universities, but also experiencing academic success. Trinity International University, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act, along with most postsecondary schools in the U.S., offers appropriate and reasonable accommodations (academic adjustments) to students with a documented disability. Unlike public high schools, post-secondary schools are not required to provide a free and appropriate education to those with disabilities. Instead, they are to provide reasonable accommodations to help ensure an equal educational opportunity and access to all aspects of university life. The reasonable accommodations serve to level the playing field, but they do not lower essential requirements.

reasonable accommodations and services

“I enjoy your class, but reading has been a challenge for me. It takes me on average four hours to finish a lesson … so reading faster will free up some time and will get me out of the jam I am in now.” ~REACH student

The number of students provided with reasonable accommodations from 2013 to 2014 more than doubled on the Deerfield campus. Each of these students received academic adjustments, the most common being extended time on tests and quizzes. Time is a “gift” as it offers students with disabilities the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they can do without the pressure of typical time constraints. Some may feel, however, that it is not “fair” to give some students extra time. But consider: Not all people in a group need CPR, just the one that is turning blue on the floor and experiencing the heart attack. Fairness, therefore, is giving to each what he or she “needs.” Other accommodations might include an alternate location for taking tests and quizzes without distractions, having a computer read tests and quizzes aloud, receiving a copy of the professor’s notes and electronic presentations, and the use of a computer for note taking and essay exams.

“Essentially, I am able to do in one sitting what I usually have to plod away working at all day. This is a pretty significant improvement.” ~TEDS student

Reading has been, and continues to be, a major source of information acquisition in higher education. Students who have a disability that prevents them from effectively and efficiently reading required materials are eligible to receive digital copies of textbooks. Software is available at no cost to all Trinity students, staff and faculty, which “reads” the material aloud on the computer. For some students, this is truly a lifesaver.

Post-secondary schools are not required to provide tutoring specifically for students with disabilities, but tutoring is available for all Trinity students through the newly established University Student Success Center (undergrad.tiu.edu/student-life/services; divinity.tiu.edu/student-life/student-care/student-success-center).

“My accommodations helped me feel secure and confident as a student. For the most part, I did not feel treated differently by professors or students because of them. In fact, most professors were grateful to provide a better way for me to succeed in my studies. . . . God bless Trinity for seeking to provide ways for students with learning disabilities to succeed in college!” ~Naomi Sorenson (BA ’14)

the process for students

Students are not required to disclose a disability, but when they wish to be considered for reasonable accommodations, a meeting is set up with the coordinator of services for students with disabilities. Documentation of the disability needs to be provided or an evaluation, at no cost to the student, is conducted to determine specific learning needs (all of which remains confidential). Although universities are not required to provide learning-needs evaluations, for some students, they represent the first step toward experiencing success, and so they are available on the Deerfield campus. If the student is found eligible, a Letter of Reasonable Accommodations is written by the Coordinator, in conjunction with the student, and is distributed to each professor in print and digital form each semester. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with each professor to decide how the reasonable accommodations will be utilized in each course.

Having reasonable accommodations helped me more than I thought it would. With the accommodations, I was able to learn at my pace and take the time I needed to be able to get through tests without the worry of rushing. ~Trinity College 2014 Graduate

Such accommodations help students learn through the toughest of classes. And, in the words of the college student mentioned at the outset of this article, “using accommodations doesn’t mean that you are not able to learn, they are there to help you learn the best way that you do.” Put another way, these students show themselves time and again that they are fully capable learners who just so happen to learn differently than many of their peers.


Dr. Peter L. Wright (BA ’75) is associate professor of education at Trinity College and Graduate School for seven years after working in public schools for thirty-two years as an elementary classroom teacher, school psychologist (K-12), and special education coordinator. Dr. Wright is also a member of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Questions about services for students with disabilities at Trinity can be directed to the coordinator of services for students with disabilities, Dr. Peter Wright, at pwright@tiu.edu or (847) 813-8018.


{This article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Trinity Magazine, pp. 14–15.}


Prof. Younger to Deliver Archaeology Lecture at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

On November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m., at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, K. Lawson Younger, professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages, and Ancient Near Eastern history at TEDS will be lecturing on “The Aramaeans: The Ubiquitous People Group of the Ancient Near East.”

The Arameans, whose origins leave us with many questions, were comprised of a number of ethnically and linguistically related groups from across northern Syria and Mesopotamia. Those Arameans centered at the city of Haran, in the area known as Paddan-Aram, played an especially significant role in Israel’s ancestral history as recorded in the Book of Genesis. Isaac’s wife, Rebecca, was the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean (Gen. 25:20). Her deceitful son, Jacob, sought safety from his brother, Esau, in this same area with their maternal uncle, Laban (Gen. 28:5; 31:20, 24). In the Exodus tradition, the Israelites who entered Canaan prepared an offering before the Lord while acknowledging their Aramean ancestry (“A wandering Aramean was my father”; Deut. 26:5).

The Arameans seem never to have achieved a unified culture or centralized political system. Instead, numerous Aramean city-states arose between the 11th and 8th centuries BCE. Urban centers such as Bit-Adini, Bit-Agusi, Aram Damascus, and Sam’al represent some of the most significant strongholds, But beyond whatever political influence these states may have garnered, the Aramaic language and script, which the Arameans developed from Phoenician, clearly represent their principal contribution to ancient Near Eastern culture. As the Assyrians conquered ever larger tracts of Aramean land during the 9th and 8th centuries BCE, they deported large numbers of Arameans eastward to the Assyrian homeland. But, ironically, by the late 8th century BCE the Assyrian Empire itself adopted the Aramaic language for its own international diplomacy and trade. And in time, the Aramaic script replaced other national scripts, including Hebrew. In fact, the book script that appears in the Tanakh today descended from Aramaic letter forms.

Professor Lawson Younger, a recognized authority on the culture and language of the Aramean peoples, will provide an overview of this group as he explains its tribal structures and the complexity of its connections with nomadism. He will outline the rise of Aramean polities in the context of various regional issues and, by looking specifically at two of the many known Aramean entities (Sam’al = modern Zincirli; Gozan = Tell Halaf), he will trace the differences and similarities within the various histories of these polities. Come hear this internationally acclaimed scholar discuss a cultural group that held such close ties to the Hebrews of the Old Testament.

This lecture continues the seminary’s series on peoples of the biblical world.

The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology will be open from 6:30–7:15 p.m. and after the lecture. The lecture and reception to follow are free and open to the public.

Faculty Works Tell Trinity’s Story

Originally written by Tiffany Vallaeu, Digest Staff Writer

John and Susan Woodbridge officially open the reading room together.

John and Susan Woodbridge cut the ribbon to Trinity’s new reading room that will bear their namesake in the Rolfing Library Tuesday, Oct. 21, celebrating the heritage of the school’s prolific professors and academic excellence.

Around 225 books written by TIU faculty now sit against the last existing wall from the original library in the John and Susan Woodbridge Reading Room, along with a few new lounge chairs and a working fireplace. Not all the books were present during the dedication, as the project had just been finished the previous night, but the library’s goal is to have over 500 works from Trinity faculty available in the space.

“This will be a place where we can bring guests…prospective students…board members and donors, and out

President David S. Dockery delivers words of dedication.

of this we can tell the Trinity story through the eyes of these books,” President David S. Dockery said during his speech of dedication.

The space’s moniker honors the story of John Woodbridge, who has served at TIU for 44 years, making him the longest-serving faculty member in the university’s history. Woodbridge also served as the grand marshal for the inauguration processional Thursday.

“We’re very grateful to our colleges who have served the Lord so faithfully, as is represented in this space. We’re honored to be associated with it,” Woodbridge said.

Both Dockery and University Librarian Dr. Robert Krapohl described Woodbridge as a “treasure” of the university. Woodbridge has served as a Research Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at TEDS, and his wife has served through Trinity’s Clothes Horse ministry.

“It’s very appropriate that during this week of heritage and hope, that we honor John Woodbridge, who has been a large part of our recent heritage,” Dr. Bradley Gundlach said. “He was the person who first told me of David Dockery, and the first person who dreamed long ago that we would have a president like David Dockery. And now we do.”

The evening’s purpose was to celebrate both Dr. Woodbridge and the productivity of the Trinity faculty as a whole who “Continue to make the name of Trinity great through their work,” the president said, and the purpose of their work is to serve the church.

Dr. Samir Massouh offered a prayer of dedication for the books, as well, thanking God for the impact these books and these authors have made and asking Him to further the impact the books will make in the future.

Check out the pictures below for more of the event:

Lessons from Calvin’s Geneva: Pastoral Collegiality and Accountability

As part of its continuing calendar of events, the Henry Center launched its Scripture & Ministry series on Wednesday, September 17, led by an insightful presentation from Professor Scott Manetsch on pastoral collegiality and accountability in Calvin’s Geneva. Much of the discussion built off of Dr. Manetsch’s recent work on Calvin’s Company of Pastors. You can watch the lecture at stream.tiu.edu by clicking the “On Demand” tab.

In conclusion, Dr. Manetsch offered a few points of application for ministry today:

  1. Proclamation of the Word must be central and essential to the pastor’s vocation. The Word of God must be preached in integrity and power.
  2. God frequently uses institutions to preserve Christian truth and promote pastoral wellbeing. During a time where sentiments for anti-institutionalism continue to grow, it is a helpful reminder that God frequently uses institutions to preserve Christian truth and promote pastoral wellbeing. Calvin utilized the institutions in Geneva to help shape clerical culture and facilitate growth, love, and encouragement among fellow pastors. How might we be able to do the same in our context?
  3. Pastoral wellbeing requires healthy relationships with other Christian leaders. Lone ranger pastors do not last long and churches do not serve as the breeding ground for personal fiefdoms. Effective ministry must be born out of collegiality, encouragement, and edification.
  4. A pastor’s wellbeing requires accountability to other Christian leaders: In an evangelical world that is too often beholden to kingdom-building and church empires, we need accountability.
  5. Pastoral wellbeing requires spiritual and professional growth: continuing devotion and education are necessary for the minister of the Word.


Read the full write-up over at the Henry Center.


Staff and Faculty invited to Pep Band

Do you play a band instrument . . . Or do you still have a band instrument and wish you had an opportunity to play it? On behalf of the TIU pep band (the Symphonic Band in casual dress) You are invited to come and play in a fun, non-threatening, community-building, youth-reliving experience this fall! All band instruments can be accommodated.

The Pep Band is a student-led organization, directed by the Band President. The band will meet shortly before each home game. Pep Band dates are:

        • September 27 
        • October 11 (Homecoming)
        • October 18
        • November 1
        • November 8
        • All games begin at 1pm or Noon.

Those interested in participating can contact Chuck King at: cdking@tiu.edu or by phone ext. 7044

Shaping or Being Shaped?


Interacting with Emerging Adults

by Jana Sundene

“More than anyone in my life, you have not only witnessed but pilgrimed with me in my singleness and now also in my relationship with my new husband. You have challenged me in sin, encouraged me to life, sharpened me through conflict, loved me deeply in listening and spoken God’s presence to me. . . . You know the beauty and the ugliness and have sacrificially loved me and paced with me in both.”

This is from a note written to me recently by an emerging adult that I have had the privilege of walking with for a good number of years now. The note honors me by sharing how I have been a shaping force in her life. What the note does not reveal, however, is how my relationship with this young woman has been a shaping force in my life! She has also been a voice of affirmation for me (as you can see by the note!). She has challenged and sharpened me through her questions and through engaging in conflict with me. She has many times ministered God’s presence to me through prayer, scripture, or listening.

So it strikes me that the name of the book Rick Dunn (PhD ’94; former chair of the Department of Educational Ministries at TEDS) and I wrote, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults, is a bit presumptuous. Though the book is concerned with discovering how to be a transformative influence in the lives of young adults (shaping), some of the most powerful chapters to write were the chapters at the end of the book where we reflected on the personal life of a disciple-maker (being shaped). In the book, we give guiding principles for people who desire to assist emerging adults in negotiating life’s challenges. We define an emerging adult as someone between the ages of twenty and thirty-five who is in a time of identity exploration, tends to live in flux and be in transition, and probably shows a reluctance to enter what they perceive as “full-fledged” adulthood. He is well connected yet often lonely. She is adventurous and globally aware. We also discuss ways to journey with emerging adults and examine how those who disciple emerging adults are shaped in that process.

In this article, I want to comment on the shaping aspect of that process.

Yes, effective disciple-makers need to understand the world of “Emerging Adulthood.” We need to understand how growing up in this economy with the constancy of technologically mediated communication and yet the instability of relational, geographical, and vocational constants has and is affecting this generation. We need to develop compassion for their reticence to “grow up” in the same ways that generations before them have. And yes, we need a plan for how to journey alongside young adults who have a deep spiritual and relational hunger but have too often felt themselves a bit alienated by the local church. It’s true that the plan can’t just be adding a new program for this demographic. It must be personal, interactive, and responsive, yet anchored in the truths that give us direction for how to become more like Christ in our everyday lives. Those things are important. So important that the first 11 chapters of Shaping the Journey attempt to compassionately explore those areas: challenges emerging adults face, clear goals for walking alongside them for life transformation, and a rhythm of relating in order to be helpful to them as they search for the best ways to grow into adulthood in a Christ-like way.

But understanding and walking and helping others is rarely effective when it is done from a place of superiority—“I know what you need and you need what I know!” So perhaps the last few chapters of our book are some of the most important because they engage us in our own spiritual journey—our willingness to be shaped. I won’t be an effective journey companion for an emerging adult if I am trying to fit myself to the exact contour of the emerging adult’s journey—to become like them in order to reach them—I must live my own stage in the journey authentically and reflectively. This brings to mind Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” My words might seem to run counter to this advice. However, Paul was explaining that he chose not to despise or judge those who were unlike him, but to be compassionate and respectful by refraining from placing a stumbling block in someone’s way that would keep them from receiving the gospel. I do not think he was suggesting we pretend to be something we are not, but that we refrain from behaviors that might be alienating. I think this is good advice for interacting with emerging adults! In essence, what I am saying is, in order to be good “Shapers” we must be in the process of “Being Shaped.”

“Yes, of course,” most established and seasoned adults would say. But don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about the common formula bandied about for disciple-making where one is told, “You must be x, y, or z as a pre-requisite for reaching into the life of another.” If that was the way it went, then I would probably be tempted to think, “I am not z, so therefore I should not disciple” (the reticent disciple-maker), or “I am x, y, and z, and therefore I can tell others how to live their lives” (the arrogant disciple-maker), or I would be in denial or trying very hard to cover up that I was not x, y, or z (the disguised disciple-maker). I am talking about the willingness to be in one’s own journey as one journeys with the young adult. That’s it. It’s about my own openness to the way God is working with me presently. It’s about the way that God might choose to work in me through my relationship with this young adult. If indeed I am reticent or arrogant or often in denial, then instead of using that as a qualification or a disqualification for journeying with an emerging adult, I can see it as a connecting point.

In fact, the rhythms of discernment, intentionality, and reflection that Rick and I suggest as a good approach for walking with emerging adults have a built-in place for us to connect with our own journey. I’ll explain these relational rhythms briefly. Discernment is a look forward—listening to what will be needed in your encounter with the young adult. It is a listening time with one ear to God and one ear to previous conversations with the young adult. This time may help the disciple-maker determine where God is already moving or might want to move in the emerging adult’s life. The second rhythm is intentionality. This is a step forward with young adults to assist them where they are struggling or help them cooperate with where God is moving in their lives. In this step the disciple-maker takes action with the young adult on what has been discerned. The last rhythm is reflection. Reflection asks you to look backward—what happened when we took these steps? How did I contribute or hinder them in moving toward the goals of trust, submission, and love? This is the step that helps me learn where I can grow as a disciple-maker.

Do you want to know how to effectively interact with an emerging adult in your life? In a very real sense all you need to do is show up. Really show up. Not with your advice or the lesson you learned last year or 15 years ago, but as a fellow believer who is struggling to live into the abundance of all Christ has put before you. Let the young adult into your world, your messy and imperfect world, so you can open a dialog about how one does negotiate the challenges and adventures of adulthood as a follower of Christ.

Jana Sundene (MA ’00) is associate professor of Christian Ministries at Trinity College, and is also a founding and long-standing member of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators. She has written several articles and essays, including the book Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults, co-authored with Rick Dunn.

{This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Trinity Magazine, pp. 12–14.}