Thomas C. Oden died December 8 at age 85. He was active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church, and was president of The Institute for Classical Christian Studies. He suggested that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology and said his mission was “to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity.”
“We don’t read it without the work of the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Oden said of Bible reading. According to Christianity Today, Dr. Oden’s “scholarship on the church fathers led to his surprising mid-life shift from liberal Protestantism to evangelicalism, as recounted in his 2014 memoir, A Change of Heart (IVP Academic, 2014).”
“Tom Oden had a mind and heart that never rested,” said Andrew T. Le Peau, former associate publisher for editorial at InterVarsity Press. “He was always exploring what new things God was up to in the world, ultimately realizing that it was what God had been doing from ancient times to the present. His unusually entrepreneurial intellect and his warmth of spirit will be dearly missed.” See IVP’s tribute page to Tom Oden.
Dr. Oden was the author of many books, and the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (InterVarsity Press, 2014) and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series (IVP Academic, 2009). He was the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and he served as the Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.