This issue’s faculty interview is with Dr. Mark Saucy (B.A. ’80, M.Div. ’84), a beloved theology professor at Talbot School of Theology. He has served full-time on the faculty since 2007 but has a rich history and connection to Biola through his father, the late Robert Saucy, a distinguished professor of systematic theology who taught at Talbot for 54 years. Mark is married to his wife Michele and they live in San Marino, California.

Q: Share briefly about your upbringing, family, education, and the place you grew up.

I pretty much have Biola DNA. Our family joined the Talbot community with my father’s faculty appointment back in 1961, when I was just a wee lad. I went to Biola (“College” at the time), and finished an M.Div. at Talbot. I had nearly finished my Th.M. at Talbot, too, when I matriculated to Fuller Theological Seminary in a Ph.D. program to study the topic of the Kingdom of God. By the time I had completed that education, I was married with one son and heading to Ukraine to work with Ukrainian believers in theological education. Our second son came along soon after the move, so he has an exotic birth certificate (Germany). My family and I spent 13 years in Ukraine learning Russian, going to Ukrainian public schools, and taking the church of Ukraine into our hearts. We completed that season in 2007, coming back to the U.S. and Talbot. Currently, and following a deep, Lord-accompanied journey with cancer that took my first wife (Bonnie), I’m married to Michele now 4 years. She is such a gift from God to me. Her kids and their spouses along with my two with their spouses are a growing and constant source of joy in our lives.

Q: What led you to come teach at Talbot?

I had always kept touch with my Biola roots even while in Ukraine. I taught adjunct grad courses on home service assignments, and the connection through my father, who was on faculty until 2015, always kept Talbot’s comings and goings close. My coming onboard full time in 2007 was an immediate answer to a desperate circumstance our family faced at the time. Dennis Dirks, Talbot’s esteemed now dean emeritus, and I had just spent three years getting Talbot’s Kyiv Extension through the hoops of accreditation and Biola’s own administration logistics. Spring 2007 was the first convocation for 25 students to start taking their first classes. Representatives of the university, including Dennis Dirks, were on hand in Kyiv for the festivities. That was also the very time my wife, Bonnie, was back home in America having a recurrence of breast cancer confirmed. We knew that was the end of living overseas and the end for us with our very supportive community in our mission, SEND International. It was during that visit that Dr. Dirks invited me to continue leading the Kyiv Extension from the U.S. side and joining Talbot as a faculty member. At this critical moment for our family, the Lord seamlessly moved us from one generous and supportive community to another one. He is good.

Q: What program and classes do you teach at Talbot? What other ministries are you involved with outside of Talbot?

I’m in the theology department of Talbot and teach mainly on the grad side of the department’s profile. Theology 3 is the course I teach most, but Theology of Gender, Holy Spirit, Kingdom, New Testament Theology, and Theology of Work are other elective areas I have taught as well. I continue as the director of Talbot’s Kyiv Extension since its inception (2007), teaching all of the core theology courses along with other electives for those students. Outside of Talbot, I’m active in my local church, preaching and teaching. I also serve on the board of trustees for Kyiv Theological Seminary.

Q: What makes Talbot a special place for you?

Talbot is a special place for me because of the people I get to work with every day. Everyone, from staff to faculty, are just great men and women committed to the mission of our Lord at this place. It’s an easy union for me around our common faith. I’ve been part of other institutions and haven’t found faculty colleagues with such an esprit de corps as Talbot. No professional territorialism or individualist self-interest pollutes the environment. There’s a genuine sense of care for one another, rejoicing with those who rejoice and suffering with those in suffering. I know others don’t have work situations like that, but I’m grateful that I get to work and serve the Lord at such a place.

Q: What advice would you give to current Talbot students?

This is the same advice I would offer to anyone in vocational Christian ministry, too. Resist the press (temptation?) of an academic environment to make the study of Scripture a “head” activity only. This would be a distortion of Scripture’s own goal for its students, which is the total person including the mind and thought, but also a changed will and a greater love. Moses’ request of God in Exodus 33:13 is powerful this way: “show me now Your ways, that I may know You in order to find favor in Your sight.” Have a devotional, meditative practice and habit with Scripture that is separate from your studies, your teaching, and your sermon prep. The latter should always impact your heart — I’d never want to preach something that hasn’t changed me — but, it’s too easy to take up God’s Word and only think of its potential for three-point outlines, etc.

– Interview by Ben Shin