Meet the Speakers: Brandon Smith
Today, we're sitting down to talk with Dr. Brandon Smith.
Dr. Smith is one of the speakers for our 2022 Spring Theology Conference on the Trinity. If you haven't registered yet, make sure you do so by clicking this link—it's free!
Dr. Smith has been a close friend of mine for years now, and I'm very much excited to introduce him to our family at FBA. Of all the people I know, he is maybe the best example of excellent and humble scholarship in the service of the local church. He is a mentor and role model for me, and I think you'll enjoy getting to hear from him.
Dr. Smith, so good to chat. I'm using this series to introduce our church to the speakers in advance of our conference, so could you share a little bit about yourself—how you ended up studying at Ridley, your background, and more about your position at Cedarville?
I didn't grow up in a Christian home, but was saved in my teen years. After some prodigal wandering in my early 20s, I felt called to ministry and pretty quickly felt like academic ministry was where I wanted to be. I pastored and worked in other ministry settings for over a decade as I worked my way through school in preparation for academic ministry.
In order to be a professor, it's all but required to earn a PhD. After I finished my master's work, I was looking for a program that would be outside my comfort zone (denominationally, geographically, etc.) and one that would challenge me as an academic. I ended up at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia because it checked all of those boxes, and I was able to study with a world-class scholar as my supervisor.
About a year before graduating, Cedarville University contacted me about an open teaching position. Cedarville was already one of my dream scenarios and, after much prayer and consulting with mentors and friends, we moved here in 2019. At Cedarville, I mostly teach theology, church history, and hermeneutics courses. The majority of my classes are filled with students from across the spectrum of degree programs—from pharmacy to engineering to computer programming—so I get to teach theology to laypeople most of my day, which allows me to have a pastoral presence and not merely be sequestered off into an ivory tower.
Your doctoral work (and soon to be book!) was primarily focused on a Trinitarian reading of the book of Revelation. Tell us a little about what you tried to say in it.
The big picture idea was to argue that beyond all the debates Revelation brings out—the "end times," the "Antichrist," etc.—the main point is the triune God's redemption of all things. In short, I argue that a Trinitarian reading of Revelation brings coherence and clarity to the book, and that we should first read Revelation in light of who God is long before we begin debates about eschatology.
The topic you're tackling at the conference is the Trinity and the Christian life. What can we take away practically from the doctrine of the Trinity? Does it have implications for how we live our lives?
The doctrine of the Trinity just is the Christian doctrine of God. Since this is true, the doctrine of the Trinity is the most practical doctrine in Christianity because it's the most foundational. Who God is, and who we are in relation to him, shapes how we view the world and how we live within it. Knowing and loving our triune God and the salvation he offers is the orienting principle of the Christian life.
I know you've mentioned a few projects you're working on. What can the folks at FBA stay tuned and look forward to seeing from you soon?
I've also recently submitted the manuscript for a short book on how to see the Trinity in the biblical storyline, focusing on 16 passages. This book will likely be around 150 pages and is hopefully written accessibly for pastors and thoughtful laypeople.
Last question: what encourages you or excites you about being part of our theology conference this year?
I love the university and seminary settings, but the local church is the hub of Christian life and community, so there's no better place for a theology conference than in the local church, for the local church. I'm also excited to spend this time with my friends Drs. Pierce and Sanders, both of whom have taught me much about knowing and loving the triune God!