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Brand helps students love learning history as much as he loves teaching it
December 06, 2004
By Jeff Robinson

Chad Brand

Chad Brand really loves people dead people.

And his particular passion is investigating the lives of those who have long gone before us in church history.

Brand can trace his love for history to his youth. In elementary school, the young Brand discovered many great names in history such as Napoleon and Caesar, and great events and places such as the Battle of Bunker Hill and Plymouth Rock through reading a series of books, called, "We Were There, . . ." designed for young people.

All these years later, he is still building on that foundation and teaching church history as an aid to the task of understanding theology. Brand is associate professor of Christian theology at Boyce College and Southern Seminary and associate dean of biblical and theological studies at Boyce.

"The sagacious person who is working in the field of theology must not ignore the historical element," Brand said. "I believe that in one sense it is somewhat artificial to separate history from systematic [theological] construction and apologetics. These disciplines all blend into each other so much that, while we can distinguish between them, we cannot isolate them.

"In another sense, though, we ought to be careful that we do not skew our interpretation of the past so as to legitimize positions we have taken in the present. That past is what it is and we have to see it that way, even if sometimes it is embarrassing. Theologians today, then, need to make a full yet judicious use of all of the artifacts that have been left to us from these epochs in Christian life and thought."

Brand's love for church history came at first sight. The first class he attended on his first day of seminary at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, was church history. Current Southern Seminary professor Tom Nettles was the professor. That initial lecture became for Brand a marker which he would later view as providentially life-changing.

"One hour later, I was hooked," Brand said. "I have never been the same. Then later in my [master of divinity program], I took James Leo Garrett for theology and found out how exciting historical theology could be. Now I was not only 'hooked,' but 'landed.' In the Ph.D. program I was filleted and deep-fried! So, I do love history and I want my students to love it as well. I guess you could say that I am a people person as long as they are dead people."

Brand received both his master of divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern, completing the latter in 1998. Prior to attending seminary, Brand graduated from Rockmont College in his hometown of Denver. The school is now known as Colorado Christian University.

While living in Austin, Texas, Brand met his wife, Tina. They have three children Tashia, Chad II and Cassandra.

Brand was called to preach the Gospel at the age of 18 under the ministry of the man who would be his mentor, Thomas E. Pratt Jr. Filled with zeal, the rookie preacher's first sermon lasted an hour and 15 minutes.

And all these years later, the raised affections which accompanied that first sermon have not subsided. In teaching theology and church history at Boyce, Brand hopes at least a hint of that same God-centered enthusiasm will rub off on his young students.

"The passion I had for my own new ministry that first Sunday I stood behind the pulpit and preached, I now also have for the ministries of my students," he said. "I enjoy talking with them about where they are preaching as I stand before them lecturing on the church councils or on the Great Awakening.

"My one desire is to please God with my service to Him and my worship of Him. Along the way, I am having a great time doing it."

Brand has clear-cut goals in teaching. He desires to see students do three things after leaving his class: worship and serve Christ better than they have before, make a difference in the lives of people to whom they minister, and engage in the disciplines of Bible study, theological exploration and historical investigation.

"I want them to do the third thing in such a way that they can enhance their own ability to do the first two beyond what I have given them," he said. "So, it is my job to help them to love history and theology as much as I love teaching the subjects, recognizing that history and theology are not ends in themselves, but are means to the end of knowing God. I hope that students who really want to know Him will catch from me the vision that theology and history can aid us in that goal."

Brand also hopes to help students and pastors through publishing. He has edited or written three books that have appeared in the last year, and is editing one book and writing two more that will be out in 2005.

Above all, Brand desires to serve the church. From 1980 to 1990 he held various staff positions in three churches in Colorado and another in Texas. From 1990 to 1992 he was an assistant to evangelist Jay Strack in Dallas, while also pastoring two churches in Texas from 1990 to 1996. In 1996 he went to North Greenville College in South Carolina, where he taught for three years before coming to Southern in 1999. Since becoming a full-time professor, he has been interim pastor of seven churches in South Carolina, Indiana and Kentucky.

"I consider the calling of teacher to be a high and holy task," he said. "I am not sufficient for it, nor do I feel any expertise in it. I am grateful to my extraordinary teachers from the past who have helped me to understand what a teacher ought to be."

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