Jan. 16, 2018
The Biola University community is grieving the passing of Robert L. Saucy, a respected theologian and author who impacted thousands of students during a 54-year teaching career at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. The beloved 84-year-old distinguished professor of systematic theology died on March 12 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident.
The university’s longest-serving current professor, Saucy was widely known for his contributions as a theologian, particularly in the areas of eschatology and ecclesiology. He was a past president of the Evangelical Theology Society and was one of three scholars who worked on both the original 1971 translation of the New American Standard Bible and its 1995 update. As one of the few Biola faculty members to hold the title of distinguished professor, he held a highly selective rank granted only in exceptional circumstances to nationally recognized scholars.
“For his many accomplishments, Dr. Saucy was first and foremost a man who loved Jesus Christ and nourished himself with God’s Word — such that Scripture flowed freely and reverently from his lips,” said Biola President Barry H. Corey. “We grieve that we have lost this humble and wise man of faith, but rejoice in the knowledge that he is now with the Savior he loved, served and proclaimed throughout his life.”
Saucy was born and raised in Salem, Ore., and gave his life to Christ at a young age. After serving on active duty in the military from 1948 to 1949, he earned an undergraduate degree in history from Westmont College and two graduate degrees — a Th.M. and Th.D. — from Dallas Theological Seminary.
He joined the faculty of Talbot School of Theology in 1961 — a time when the school had less than 50 students — and remained a faithful fixture as the school grew dramatically in size and diversity over the years. During more than five decades as a professor, he equipped thousands of students to understand, teach and apply the Word of God.
He also authored numerous influential books, including The Church in God’s Program, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, Men and Women in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective and Scripture: Its Authority, Power and Relevance. His most recent, Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation, explored the Bible’s teaching on how to grow spiritually and experience more of God’s abundant life, as he explained in a 2013 interview with Talbot’s Good Book Blog.
“There is no one who had more influence in shaping Talbot than Dr. Robert Saucy,” said Clinton E. Arnold, dean and professor of New Testament at Talbot. “The impact that he had did not come from position or power, but from his godly character and gracious manner. All of us at Talbot had the deepest and most profound respect for Dr. Saucy because we knew that he was a fount of wisdom formed by many years of meditating and reflecting on God’s Word.”
Colleagues remembered Saucy as a man of sharp intellect and steady integrity.
“Bob was one of the most sincere, transparent and consistent Christians I have ever met,” said professor Alan Gomes, who had an office next to Saucy’s for more than 27 years. “I saw him in every situation conceivable over those 27 years and he was as steady, stable and kind an individual as you could ever imagine. … More than anything else, Bob Saucy was a man of the Word. He knew the Word like few ever do, loved the Word, and lived the Word. I have never seen anyone so perfectly integrate the heart and the head as Bob.”
Scott Rae recalled being interviewed by the distinguished theologian for a potential teaching position back when Rae was still a young rookie.
“During the interview, he wanted to ask a few more questions of me on a particular point, and he said, ‘I’d like to pursue this further, I want to learn something!’ I was stunned that such a distinguished professor actually thought he could learn something from me!” said Rae, now a professor of Christian ethics and dean of Talbot’s faculty. “I will always remember his gentle spirit, incredibly sharp mind, and humble desire to let others have the credit.”
Michael J. Wilkins, distinguished professor of New Testament language and literature, said his own thinking, spiritual development and personal growth as a professor had been influenced more by Saucy than any other person.
“Bob Saucy was the heart and soul of Talbot for over 54 years,” said Wilkins, who came to Talbot as a student in 1974 and as a professor in 1983. “In my opinion no one person has influenced students and alumni more than Bob. And no one has had more direct influence on the theological integrity and growth in theological clarity than Bob.”
The Biola community is in prayer for the Saucy family, including his wife, Nancy, son Mark (also a longtime professor of theology at Talbot) and daughter Brenda, as well as his many friends and colleagues. Details of a memorial service will be shared in the coming days.
A collection of Saucy’s lectures can be found at open.biola.edu.
A memorial service for Robert Saucy was held at Biola on March 29, 2015, and may be viewed below.
In lieu of flowers, you may contribute to either of the ministries below, which were close to Dr. Saucy’s heart.
Kyiv Theological Seminary is an extension of Talbot School of Theology, located in Kyiv, Ukraine. The mission of the seminary is to prepare believers for an effective ministry so that they are able to lead others in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. (Please make checks payable to “SEND International.”)
P.O. Box 513
Farmington, MI 48332
Chosen People Ministries exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers to do the same.
Chosen People Ministries
241 E. 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
Awana Lifeline is a ministry to inmates and their children. Their vision is that every child would have a godly father and mother who are building a legacy of faith in Christ.
1 E. Bode Road
Streamwood, IL 60107
Please contact Katie Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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