Douglas Sweeney has been named the new dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, succeeding the school’s founding dean, Timothy George, who had served in the position since the school’s inception in 1988. (You can read Collin Hansen’s appreciation of Timothy George over at the TGC main page.)
Dr. Sweeney and his wife, Wilma, currently reside with their son, David, in Lindenhurst, Illinois, where they are members of St. Mark Lutheran Church.
Sweeney received his BA in history from Wheaton College in 1986, an MA in the history of Christian thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1989, and then an MA in religion at Vanderbilt University, where he also received his PhD in religion in 1995.
From 1995 to 1997 he served at Yale University, where he edited The Works of Jonathan Edwards and lectured in church history and historical theology.
In 1997, he returned to his alma mater of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has served until now, rising through the ranks:
- Assistant Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought (1997–2002)
- Associate Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought (2002–2008)
- Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought (2008–2017)
- Distinguished Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought (2017–2019)
- Chair of the Department of Church History and the History of Christian Thought (2001–2005; 2012–2019)
- Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding (2000–2012)
- Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center (2010–2019)
Sweeney is one of the world’s leading experts on the life and work of Jonathan Edwards.
His books on Edwards include:
- The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader (Yale University Press, 1999), edited with Wilson Kimnach and Kenneth Minkema
- Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2003)
- Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellanies” Nos. 1153–1360, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 23 (Yale University Press, 2003)
- Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons (University of South Carolina Press, 2003), edited with David Kling
- The New England Theology: From Jonathan Edwards to Edwards Amasa Park (Baker Academic, 2006), edited with Allen Guelzo
- Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word (IVP Academic, 2009)
- The Essential Edwards Collection (Moody, 2010), co-written with Owen Strachan
- After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology (Oxford University Press, 2012), edited with Oliver Crisp
- Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2016)
- Jonathan Edwards and Scripture: Biblical Interpretation in British North America (Oxford University Press, 2018), edited with David Barshinger
- The Oxford Handbook of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), edited with Oliver Crisp
Sweeney is currently President of the Conference on Faith and History.
In his book on Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word, Sweeney articulated seven things that Jonathan Edwards showed us about God, the world, and our lives:
- Edwards shows us the importance of working to help people gain a vivid sense, an urgent impression, of God’s activity in our world.
- Edwards shows us that true religion is primarily a matter of holy affections.
- Edwards shows us the advantages of keeping an eschatological perspective on our lives.
- Edwards shows us how God uses those who lose their lives for Christ.
- Edwards shows us that theology can and should be done primarily in the church, by pastors, for the sake of the people of God.
- Edwards shows us that even the strongest Christians need support from others.
- Edwards shows us the necessity of remaining in God’s Word.
May the Lord bless this brilliant and humble man as he brings this perspective to his new role at leading Beeson Divinity School.