Meet Dr. William Edgar

October 14, 2013

The life and times of a Westminster faculty member

Rev. Dr. William Edgar holds the John Boyer chair of Evangelism and Culture and is professor of apologetics at Westminster, which is in Glenside.  However, to say that he spends all of his time at Westminster would be a mistake.  Dr. Edgar is a part of numerous organizations around the world, teaches at many universities as adjunct professor, and plays piano in a jazz band that tours, also around the world. In some ways, Dr. Edgar can truly be dubbed “one of the most interesting people at Westminster.” We sat down recently with him to catch up on some of his recent travels and what he has in store for the future.

Dr. Edgar sits on the board the Christian Renaissance Foundation, which seeks to encourage and equip leaders to re‐engage in important discussions of contemporary society and re‐establish the relevance of the historic Christian position for life in the twenty‐first century.

He is active in the European Leadership Forum. “They are a group that exists to nurture and give resources to all kinds of European leaders, whether they be evangelists or business men or media people, youth workers, scientists.  They are active during the year, and their big meeting is in the spring, in May in Wisla, Poland.”

He is also the president of the Huguenot Fellowship. (Dr. Peter Lillback is its Vice President.) The primary goal of the Huguenot Fellowship is to support the seminary in Aix-en-Provence, la Faculté Jean Calvin.  “I go [to the seminary in Aix] at least every two years officially to teach a course on apologetics, though I usually end up there unofficially once or twice a year.  In the spring we were there and I taught apologetics under [Westminster alumnus] Yannick Imbert (Ph.D. ’10).”

Many of Dr. Edgar’s responsibilities outside of Westminster include teaching engagements at different seminaries in France, Canada, and the United States.  He is adjunct faculty for la Faculté Jean Calvin; Institut Farel, a Reformed theological seminary in Montreal, Quebec; the Baptist seminary Sembeq in Quebec; and RTS in Washington, D.C.  He is also a Moderator for the Trinity Forum and a senior faculty for the Trinity Forum Academy. In the latter capacity he is one of three; the others include Os Guinness (D.D. ’10) and Joseph (“Skip”) Ryan (M.Div. ’76). “We take turns covering [the coursework]. It’s an interesting program, that incorporates intense community, spiritual formation, history of ideas (my area), globalization (Dr. Guinness’ area), and Bible introduction. Skip Ryan covers spiritual formation, and a local Anglican pastor teaches the Bible course. This model is very positive. We are able to engage splendid young people.”

Teaching is a particular joy for Dr. Edgar. “I was led to the Lord by a man who was an amazing communicator of the Gospel, and I’ve always wanted to be a good communicator of the Gospel. After I graduated from Westminster (M.Div. ’69), and after a rather unsuccessful church-planting attempt, I began as a schoolteacher, and I discovered that I loved teaching. I enjoy communicating God’s truth to minds that are struggling, opened or closed, and trying to persuade them by using imaginative persuasion. So, I’ve taught all my life around the same subject areas, something to do with politics and culture. All the courses I’ve taught here [at Westminster]—the problem of evil, globalization, AP101— I’m helping to shape minds or hearts that are going to become themselves leaders or teachers or pastors.”

This fall, Dr. Edgar will present the charge for the ordination of Westminster graduate Bijan Mirtolooi (M.Div. ’13) at Redeemer Church in New York City. “That, to me, is a high point of my life as a theological professor.  You’re seeing the fruit of what you did here in the classroom.  Bijan is a very gifted man who’s going to serve the Lord in New York, and he’s going to be ordained to do so, and to watch him come in as a new student, learn about his life and testimony and having become very good friends with him—he actually helped me with one of my books—then, to watch him move to the point of ordination, it just doesn’t get any better for somebody like me. I’ve been to a lot of ordinations, and it’s always a joy.”

In addition to going to Bijan’s ordination, Dr. Edgar will be presenting several lectures, jazz events, and seminars in the fall. However, in the coming years he hopes to free up some time to finish working on two publications. “I have two big books that are in the making.  One is nearly finished, and the other has just begun, though I shouldn’t say that because I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I’ve got a book on the Lord’s Prayer as an apologetic, as a worldview. Then, one that I have in concept at the moment, The Biblical Theology of Culture. There’s so much stuff on culture, bible, Christ and culture—just collecting all the information has been a major task to not leave overlooked anything that is important.”

In all of these activities, Dr. Edgar’s hope is to know Christ and make him known. Please keep Dr. Edgar and the rest of the Westminster faculty in your prayers as they train students to serve in roles of the global church in the 21st century, including pastors and theologians, to the glory of God.