I sat down to interview Kingswood faculty member Dr. Gavel. Dr. Gavel is head of both the graduate studies and theology and Bible departments, as he oversees both the Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology and the Bachelor of Theology degrees.
How long have you been teaching here at Kingswood?
I’ve completed 17 years of teaching here since 2000. I also held an interim position from 1993-1995. I was just completing the last semester of my M.Div. at Asbury Theological Seminary when then Academic Dean Dr. Art Maxwell asked me to come teach. After that period, I was told that if I would complete a Ph.D., that Kingswood would offer me a full-time theology position. And that’s what I did.
What were you doing before you came to Kingswood?
In May 1976, I graduated from Kingswood with my B.A. in Religion. I met Eileen at Kingswood, and we were married October 1976. We then spent 12 years pastoring in Woods Harbour, NS. By the time we left there, I had more vision to reach the community than ever before, but at the same time, I was approaching burn-out.
Eileen and I both felt that I needed to study further. Almost every class of my M.Div. I felt like the lights came on. I took notes on everything and recorded my classes. I graduated from seminary with a better understanding of how a local church should operate. It empowered me for ministry and would eventually channel my passion to start the MAPT program.
It became very clear that we weren’t to go back into pastoring. I was beginning to wonder what to do next. I then received the phone call from Dr. Maxwell to teach theology here. I knew instantly that was what I was supposed to do.
After that, I enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary to complete my Th.M. I then completed my Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I came back to teach at Kingswood in the fall of 2000 and then finished my doctorate in 2003.
What is your favourite class to teach?
I love all the classes I teach, but I particularly enjoy teaching the Doctrine of Holiness. Holiness is to simply love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. It is the essence of our theological anthropology. That course is foundational for all other courses.
Why do you think it is so important to study theology for those training for ministry? What about for people in other types of ministry contexts or the average person sitting in the pew?
Theology is simply a careful study of all that the Bible teaches. Every Christian, as soon as they say the word Bible, or Jesus, or God, or ask the question, “Are you saved?” has already made a theological claim. Therefore, every Christian is a theologian—the only question is “What kind of theologian are you?”
Every Christian is part of the mission of God. That includes teaching others all that Christ commanded us. One cannot do that without knowing the content and purpose of what Jesus commanded. The Early Church summarized it under the label, “the apostle’s teaching.” Eventually that “teaching” was summarized in our creeds, confessions, and theology texts.
Where would you like to see Kingswood headed in the future?
I want to see increased enrollment, not merely for the health of the university, but because there is urgent need for the kind and quality of graduates we produce. I also hope we can witness a greater international footprint: both in our student body and in the places where our faculty teach. I think what we produce here is exceptional.
What are some things that you absolutely love to do in your free time?
Something I’ve always wanted to try is ultralight flying. For now, I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Grishman, Alvin Plantinga, and Robert Ludlum are some of my favourite authors. I love tinkering with tractors and hope to one day restore my father’s. I enjoy hiking the wilderness and spending time with my wife, my nephew Ryan, niece Kara, and my great nephews and nieces.