How I spent my sabbatical
by David Luke
The Irish Baptist College has in place a sabbatical policy for full-time members of the faculty. The purpose of a sabbatical is to free staff from their regular college responsibilities to pursue personal study, research, writing, and other activities which will aid their personal development and enhance their contribution to the life of the college. Having started teaching full-time at the College in 2013 I was granted sabbatical leave for the first semester of 2022-23.
The primary focus of my sabbatical was to work on a book on Jonathan Edwards and the Lord’s Supper. I had spent the last couple of years working on this and my leave gave me an opportunity to focus on writing the book. I was able to complete this project and hope it will be published later this year as Meeting Christ at His Table: Jonathan Edwards and the Lord’s Supper. (The Jonathan Edwards Society Press)
At the start of my sabbatical, I received an unexpected request from Particular Baptist Heritage Books, a new publishing house which seeks to reproduce significant works in the Particular Baptist tradition. I was asked by the general editor to contribute an introductory essay to the first of three volumes of sermons by the eighteenth century Particular Baptist, Benjamin Beddome. While little known today, Beddome was a significant Baptist figure in his time who, as well as being a respected preacher, wrote over eight hundred hymns. The first volume containing the essay will appear this month.
I also continued to work on a new book on Irish Baptist history which I am co-authoring with Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We hope that this will be completed in spring 2023. This book will be produced by Hesed & Emet Publishing and has the provisional title of A Brief History of Irish Baptists.
Apart from writing during my leave I had a couple of opportunities for virtual travel! First of all in Pakistan I led two webinars for a church. This church is quite a sizeable church which runs a school and food distribution programme, alongside its regular worship services. The webinars, which focused on the Lord’s Prayer were attended by around forty young people. Plans are now being put in place to run more of these after Easter. Then I also took part in a webinar conducted by Professor Richard Muller of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Muller is a prolific author and probably the world’s leading authority on scholastic Protestantism. The webinar was titled John Owen on Reason, Faith, and the Structure of Human Cognition. It was a stimulating lecture and a good opportunity to listen to an internationally renowned scholar.
The sabbatical provided a good opportunity to enjoy spiritual refreshment. This included not only being able to spend time in personal devotion but also attending both days of the annual Northern Irish Ministry Assembly in Lisburn. There we enjoyed the ministry of Jonty Allcock and Robin Sydserff.
Although relieved from college responsibilities there were still some opportunities to carry out deputation on behalf of the College. These occurred in our churches in Brannockstown, East End, Strandtown and Dundonald. During my absence it was good to keep connected with the ongoing work of the college in this way.
I enjoyed the different pace of life during my sabbatical which allowed me to renew my batteries and focus on different areas of productivity.