What would happen if Biola were more intentional about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit and developing a greater passion to be led by the empowering and life-giving Spirit of God?
This is the question at the heart of the soon-to-be established Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today — an academic center with a long-stretching name and a wide-reaching mission. Funded by a generous $3 million donation, this 10-year initiative will provide resources for a biblical examination of the person and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, including research, publications, conferences, events and services for students.
The center, which is set for an official launch in the fall of 2017, is envisioned as a home for biblical scholars who wish to provide greater attention to not just a theology of the Holy Spirit but also the awakening and empowering of the Holy Spirit. It will be a training ground for students and faculty who want a greater infusion of the Spirit’s enablement to be more effective in evangelism, global mission, praying for the sick, bringing deliverance to the oppressed and defeating the power of sin.
In funding the center, the donors, who wished to remain unnamed, noted Biola’s strong heritage, commitment to the truth and authority of Scripture and their confidence that the university is particularly well suited to examine the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work through a sound biblical hermeneutic.
“Biola wants to learn from the extraordinary ways that the Spirit is working globally and for our students to experience this empowerment to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Clinton E. Arnold, dean of Talbot School of Theology, who has helped to guide the proposal for the center. “We believe that this may indeed be a place where God pours out his Spirit in palpable ways that call us to bolder lives of obedience and service and evangelism.”
The center will function under the over- sight of Talbot School of Theology, and will be housed in a remodeled portion of the Talbot East building. It will be led by a director who is expected to be named this summer following a nationwide search process that began earlier this year, Arnold said.
With so many unhealthy forces pressing upon Christian colleges and universities today, Biola leaders see the center as a powerful counterweight.
“We would be so bold as to pray and plan that through this project, Biola would be a place where God would begin a revival the likes of which we have never seen and the impact of which would be globally felt, advancing the gospel around the world,” the center’s proposal document states.
What Will The Center Do?
When it begins operating in the fall of 2017, the center will lead a range of activities and initiatives, including:
Each year, the center will fund two one-week intensive residencies for an influential Christian leader who can educate the community about the Holy Spirit’s current work around the world.
The center will sponsor a biennial symposium open to the Biola University community and the public at large, featuring papers published by the faculty engaged in research.
Spirit Empowerment Vespers
Each month, the center will host evening “vespers” with guest speakers who will teach and lead students toward a movement of Spirit renewal, calling them to greater boldness.
Faculty Fellows Research Program
Each semester, the center will fund a two-course release for two professors to work collaboratively on a research project of interest that supports and fulfills the center’s purpose.
Biennial International Student Conference on Spirit Empowerment
One of its most far-reaching projects is the launch of an international conference at Biola, which will draw students worldwide with the goal of advancing the gospel.
Collaborative Work with Biola Departments
The center will come alongside and enhance the work of existing departments and efforts across the university.