We’re delighted to announce a new member to our SBC teaching team. Paulus de Jong will be joining us in September 2020 to teach some of our biblical studies classes (Encountering the New Testament and Encountering the Old Testament). In previous years we’ve had fruitful biblical teaching by Dr Marion Carson, but Marion has had a growing sense to work more closely with Glasgow City Mission as their Pastoral Support Coordinator and this has resulted in her dedicating more time here. We are very grateful for Marion’s wise counsel and teaching over the years and, though we are sorry to see her leave her teaching role, we wish her the very best for the future.
We are also delighted to be able to welcome Paulus to our team who further diversifies our international profile! We caught up with Paulus recently to find out a little more about him.
Paulus, it’s good to have you with us, would you mind telling us a little bit about where you were born and your background.
Absolutely, I’m just from across the pond. I was born and bred in a small fishing village in the Netherlands called Urk. A former island – the Dutch have a history of reclaiming land – and a close-knit community. I lived there for most of my life, except for a gap year spent in Israel and a short season when I pursued a degree in popular music. Unsurprisingly, my wife and I also met in this town. We have been married for seven years and are the proud parents of a bustling one-year-old, Petra.
We’re glad you found your way to the beautiful country of Scotland but what brought you here and how did you find yourself studying theology?
Questions about God, the Bible and faith have fascinated me as long as I remember. The first seeds for theology were planted by reading Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia in primary school. But also daily Bible readings and seeing faith in action in the lives of my parents, and many others, increased my desire to study theology. The Christian story, reflected in Biblical literature and actual lives, is a story I want to live and understand. That is, in short, why I ended up studying theology.
How I ended up here is still a mystery to me. I first experienced Scotland when I walked the West Highland Way (2012), which was not a sheer success. I loved the scenery, but the midges, and the fact that this was my first serious encounter with hillwalking as a Dutchman, made it into a mixed experience. I remember thinking, ‘I will probably never come back here’. But when my wife and I explored the options for doing a postgraduate degree in Biblical studies, St Andrews came up as my top choice. We moved here with the initial thought of staying for a year, but now, almost four years later, we are still here and have fallen in love with Scotland.
Coming back for more – that’s perseverance! If you survived the midges then I’m sure you can survive anything!
Can you perhaps share a little bit about your church background and how you have been involved in the life of the church over the years?
Like most people in my hometown, I was raised in the reformed tradition. Thankfully, my parents were never too concerned about different denominations and gave me the freedom to personally explore my Christian faith. In my teenage years, I started attending a Baptist church where I was baptized as a believer at the age of 16. Later, my wife and I joined a Pentecostal church, where I worked as a youth worker for a few years. When we moved to St Andrews, we settled at the Baptist church. Three years ago, I started working for our church, initially as a youth worker and now as a ministry associate. Besides that, I also have the privilege to serve as an elder.
You’re coming towards the end of your studies (at least for now – do we ever stop learning?!), so tell us a little bit about your project and why you think it’s important.
My research concentrates on the Law in the Gospel of John. More specifically, by examining which scriptural traditions John’s Gospel reuses in passages about the Law, I try to clarify how the Gospel values the Jewish Law in relation to Jesus, the Spirit, and, ultimately, the community of believers. In terms of relevance for the church, I hope my thesis will provide some insights into Johannine ethics. For instance, what does John mean with observing Christ’s commandments (Jn 14:15) or a Spirit-taught community (e.g. Jn 14:26)? As it happens, these have been essential questions in Baptist theology.
So far, we’ve mainly talked about theology, so tell us a little bit about what you do outside of studying (when there’s the opportunity!)
Well, as I mentioned before, I studied music before switching to theology. And I still cannot imagine a life without music. I love being involved in church worship, playing different instruments, and writing and recording songs. Perhaps a less successful hobby, although I enjoy it just as much, is football. I remember one of my former teammates once telling me after a sermon, “if only you were as confident on the pitch as you were on the pulpit…” Still, I do like to play or watch a good game.
Finally, can you share with us what you are most looking forward to joining us at SBC?
Yes! For me, theology, faith and community belong together. So to become part of the SBC community is what I am most excited about. I am also looking forward to teaching both parts of the Christian Scriptures, which, in my opinion, are inseparable. But more than just teaching, I hope to become part of the journey of a community of people committed to not only studying but also living the Christian story.
Thank you Paulus – we look forward to you joining the community!