Wills named dean of School of Theology; Bingham elected research professor during Southwestern Seminary trustee meeting

| Oct 19, 2021

Gregory A. Wills was named dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by President Adam W. Greenway during the fall meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees following unanimous board action to promote D. Jeffrey Bingham to research professor of historical theology, Oct. 19.

Bingham also was named to the endowed Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology and granted sabbatical leave for the 2022-2023 academic year. In addition to trustee actions, Greenway announced his appointment of Bingham as director of the seminary’s Center for Early Christian Studies.

“Dr. Bingham is a world-renowned Patristics scholar,” Greenway said. “He may be the foremost expert on the early church alive today working in Baptist and evangelical contexts and we need Jeff Bingham writing and researching and helping us glean every bit of wisdom we can … from the early church to help find ourselves more faithful as the 21st century church.”

Bingham, who has served as the dean of the School of Theology and professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary since 2016, was the interim president of Southwestern Seminary from 2018-2019. He also served on the faculty previously, 2002-2003. Bingham will serve as dean through the rest of the fall semester and will assume the new faculty roles on Jan. 1, 2022.

“I am truly grateful for all the opportunities for service that I have enjoyed at Southwestern Seminary on the faculty, as dean, as interim president, and now in the new faculty roles I will assume,” Bingham said. “I see God’s gracious work in my life through these opportunities and look forward to how the Lord will use me in the coming years at Southwestern Seminary. I want to express my deep appreciation to the trustees, President Greenway, and Provost Dockery for the honor of serving this wonderful institution.”

Wills is the founding director of the B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission and is research professor of church history and Baptist heritage. 

Calling Wills “one of the foremost experts in the field of Baptist studies alive and working today,” Greenway said, “we are so blessed to have a man of integrity, a man of capacity, a man of theological acumen, a winsome scholar, who is a part of our faculty at Southwestern Seminary and I cannot think of a more qualified and competent person in the landscape of Baptist and evangelical higher education more ready to assume the post of leadership as dean of the School of Theology than Dr. Greg Wills.”

Wills, who previously served as the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, makes history as the first person to serve as dean of the School of Theology in that institution and Southwestern Seminary, Greenway said.

Before beginning his service at Southwestern Seminary in 2019, Wills was the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, 2013-2018. The Baptist historian was also the David T. Porter Professor of Church History at Southern Seminary. Wills joined Southern Seminary’s full-time faculty in 1997, after serving three years as the school’s archives and special collections librarian.

“For generations the faculty of the School of Theology has been used of God to equip and prepare pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other kingdom workers,” Wills said in a statement. “Its current faculty teaches in full reliance on the truth of the inerrant word of God. They model the love, devotion, and service that they long to see growing in their students. I am honored to be their colleague and look forward to serving them in this role. The school’s legacy of faithful deans began with Ray Summers in 1949 and extends to Jeff Bingham in the present. I am humbled before that legacy and am thankful for the opportunity to follow such a faithful, godly dean and such an accomplished scholar.”

David S. Dockery, interim provost and distinguished professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary, noted the contributions Wills brings to his new role.

“Greg Wills is recognized across Baptist life as one of the premier historians of this generation,” Dockery said. “In addition to bringing his experience as a dean and administrator at another institution to the work of the dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern, Dr. Wills will bring a vision for academic seriousness, faithful service to the churches, and genuine investment in students.”

Wills earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Theology degrees at Duke University, the Master of Divinity degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the Ph.D. at Emory University. 

A widely acknowledged scholar in the field of Baptist studies, Wills is the author of Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900 (Oxford University Press, 1997), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2009), and The Salvation of Souls: Nine Previously Unpublished Sermons on the Call of Ministry and the Gospel by Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 2002), and has contributed numerous articles to various theological journals.

Wills will begin his service as dean of the School of Theology on Jan. 1, 2022.