Class Year: 1995
Westminster Degree: Ph.D.
Current Ministry: Chancellor, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Brazil
For three years now, Augustus Lopes has served as chancellor of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he also teaches in the Th.M. and D.Min. programs. The university is operated by the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, and Lopes describes his work as “making sure that everything in the university goes according to the interests of the Church, and to promote the Reformed faith among students and professors.”
The majority of those 43,000 students and 3,000 staff and faculty are not believers, Lopes reports. “The university offers a great opportunity to share the gospel with people who see no necessity or value in Christianity and who are seeking for higher education. What excites me is the small but positive response that we are getting to our efforts to infiltrate the academy with the knowledge of God.” He says that just three years ago, it was common for Mackenzie faculty to “scorn representatives of the church.” But now, “this attitude has changed. I don’t know of anybody who has become a Christian through my efforts, but I have surely noticed this change of attitude. People now at least show respect when I open the Bible and preach to them, like two days ago when I preached to 1,200 new students.”
One of the biggest challenges Lopes faces in his work at Mackenzie is facilitating cooperation between Christians at the university. “For most of them,” he says, “academy and faith are two different things and should be kept apart. I am trying to show them that in the Reformed worldview, Christ is Lord of every inch of this world, university included!"
Lopes was raised in a Presbyterian home, and earned his M.Div. in Brazil in 1983. Two years later, he earned a Th.M. in New Testament at Potchefstroom, South Africa, and a decade after that completed his Ph.D. in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation at Westminster.
He chose Westminster for his doctoral work for two reasons: “Reformed and excellent in academics!” His courses helped prepare him for his tasks and challenges as chancellor. “I came in contact with Van Til’s works, which have been a great source of help for my apologetical work at the university,” he explains. “[Westminster] also gave me knowledge of current hermeneutical issues that are about the same in operation at the secular universities.”
Prior to his appointment as chancellor, he taught at the graduate center at Mackenzie for seven years and served as an assistant pastor.
Lopes and his wife Hendrika have four teenagers: Hendrika, Samuel, David, and Anna.