The Impact Of One Professor -- By: Alex D. Montoya
MSJ 10:1 (Spring 99) p. 167
The Impact Of One Professor
Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministries
The Master’s Seminary
Dr. Robert Thomas has been my professor, mentor, friend, and colleague since I became a student at Talbot Theological Seminary in l968. In those formative years of my ministerial preparation, he helped to frame my convictions about God’s Word, i.e. the unwavering belief that the Bible is unquestionably the inspired, infallible Word of God. This foundation has been the basis for all other ministry and life.
Two outstanding qualities come to my mind when I remember the life and impact of Dr. Thomas upon my life and the lives of other students, past and present. First is his reputation for intellectual discipline and careful attention to his own work and to the work performed for him by us, the students. There is a work ethic he displays which makes cowards of most of us, but which eventually instills in us a desire to do the best we can in the handling of the Biblical text and thus in the ultimate communication of the Word of God. In the furnace of affliction, his classroom, we were molded into the serious and conscientious expositor. There, he instilled his passion for the original languages and for the truth of the text. Even today, his shadow is cast over my study and the Greek text is not far from my reach.
The second outstanding quality which Dr. Thomas possesses can be summed up in a description offered by one of my classmates during a time of great testing. He described Dr. Thomas as “the sweetest little old man that ever slit a throat and scuttled a ship.” By this he meant that Dr. Thomas was a truly loving and caring person. All who know him are aware of that other side; he is compassionate and loving to all. He is always there for his students and they know it. He was there for me when I needed his human touch in the midst of personal trials. He was there for my wife and children. He always took a personal interest in us.
Although there are many instances in which Dr. Thomas impacted my life, there are three that stand out as special landmarks of his affirmation of my live and ministry. Students and young ministers are in desperate need of affirmation, i.e. to be reassured that they are spending their life in a worthwhile cause, that they are doing the right thing at the right time, and that they are
MSJ 10:1 (Spring 99) p. 168
replicating in their lives what has been taught them in the classroom. He did all that for me in the early stages of ministry.
The first instance of his affirmation came early in my pastorate at First Fundamental Bible Church of Los Angeles. I took that church upon graduation from semi...
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