This semester, we continue to spotlight Western Seminary’s faculty members. Today, we feature Dr. Gary Tuck, Professor of Biblical Studies.
Transformed: Tell us a little about your background.
Dr. Tuck: I grew up in a Christian home in Fresno, and was in church (the same church) almost every Sunday from my birth through college. Dad taught high school (public). Mom was a nurse, though she worked outside the home only a few years. My grandparents, both sets, stayed married to each other for 50+ years; so did my parents.
Transformed: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Dr. Tuck: Mostly I wanted to be a kid. I just enjoyed life and had no ambitions but to continue the good life with my parents, and siblings, and grandparents, and church friends. It wasn’t until high school that I began to sense a call to be a pastor.
Transformed: What is your favorite thing about teaching at Western?
Dr. Tuck: Teaching, Bible, Students, Staff and colleagues, Serving a Great King.
Transformed: What is something that we would be surprised to know about you?
Dr. Tuck: I have been in all 50 states and all 10 lower provinces of Canada.
Transformed: What are some of your favorite things?
Preacher: Pastor Don Baker
Movie: Pride and Prejudice (1995, Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle)
Band: Glenn Miller, The Carpenters
Song: Rhapsody in Blue
Book: (other than the Bible) Les Misérables
Food: Breakfast (bacon and eggs with cheddar on English muffin)
Transformed: What are you reading right now?
Dr. Tuck: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I am liking it a lot!
Transformed: Who would you like to meet – living or dead (not someone from the Bible)?
Dr. Tuck: Abraham Lincoln. He was brilliant, humble, devout, and had unshakable convictions of right and wrong.
Transformed: Is there a verse or passage of Scripture that has had a particularly strong impact on your life?
Dr. Tuck: Psalm 2: it is God’s world view, and it is becoming mine. The Ultimate Truth of the Universe is that Jesus shall reign, and that’s Good News!
Transformed: What, ideally, should be the relationship between the seminary and the church?
Dr. Tuck: The Church is biblical. And a church is biblical when it is faithful to the Lordship of Jesus. A seminary, to be legitimate, must serve the Church. But we do that by serving the Lord Jesus, getting our message and marching orders from our Master, the church’s Master.
The Apostle Paul was in Ephesus for 3 years, where he must have been both pastor and seminary professor (and president). Seminary must have been just a leadership level of the Church. I am sure Paul changed hats very easily, moved smoothly between roles, because his passion and mission never changed. The Church is about lifting up Jesus; so is the seminary. When a seminary becomes ‘about’ scholarship, it is not ‘about’ Jesus. That seminary just lost its legitimacy.
Transformed: What does the church need less and more of?
Dr. Tuck: Less ‘Show Biz’ commonly called ‘Worship’. (Ouch!) More preaching about The Kingship of God; then we will develop a truer idea of the Kingdom of God.
Transformed: What made you want to become a biblical scholar?
Dr. Tuck: I don’t consider myself a scholar. I am still a kid at heart (see above). But now I do what that kid was made to do, and that is Teach. I love learning the Bible and teaching gifted and eager followers of Jesus. So I keep studying and learning.
Transformed: Do you have a favorite scholar, or someone whose work has inspired you?
Dr. Tuck: Apostle Paul. (We don’t possess the writings of Jesus.)
Transformed: What theological topics need more attention? Are there any doctrines that have been ignored in the recent past, and could benefit from more exposure or exploration?
Dr. Tuck: God is King. “He made it; He owns it; He rules it.” What is He going to be doing forever? See Revelation 22:3, 5. (Hint: Reigning) So what’s up with Kingship and Kingdom? We have a hard time appreciating that, largely because we see monarchy as a primitive form of government; the US constitution was written as an emphatic reaction against monarchy. But when God revealed Himself to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John, and had them write of those experiences for us (Isa 6; Ezek 1; Rev 4), He revealed Himself as King. Whatever else we say about God is not as big as this. Jesus is King: Christ means King (Psalm 2); Son of Man means King; Son of God means King (and deity); Lord means King; Savior means King; Branch-man means King (and Priest). Worship means worship-a-king; Offerings are Tribute to the Great King; Servant (bond-servant) means vassal of the King; Prayer is petitioning the King. In the final analysis, this is the most important Truth about God, and so it is the most important Truth … Period.
Transformed: What is one thing you wish people knew about the life of a seminary faculty member?
Dr. Tuck: I have a lot of responsibilities at home. Shocking, I know. But I take my work home with me. I have Hermeneutics and Ecclesiology and Revelation going through my head while I am doing home repairs and other honey-do’s (and watching the Warriors and Giants).
Transformed: What makes for an ideal student?
Dr. Tuck: Hunger to learn; willingness to be taught, including willingness to grow in critical thinking skills.
Transformed: What is one piece of advice that you would give to incoming seminarians?
Dr. Tuck: Expect God to rock your world. Much of what you believe will be confirmed and amplified; some of what you believe will be challenged, shattered.
Transformed: What about some advice for prospective biblical scholars?
Dr. Tuck: Read the Bible. Read it in the original languages. Read it in your mother tongue translation. Read it aloud. Read it in groups. Read it in large portions at a single session. Read it fast. Read it slowly. Read it prayerfully, worshipfully, submissively. Read it exegetically. Read it for the macro; read it for the micro. Don’t read the scholars . . . until you have done the above. (You don’t become a ‘Bible scholar’ by reading the scholars. All you become by reading the scholars is a scholar.)
Transformed: Do you have any upcoming books?
Dr. Tuck: I am working on a book on Revelation: working title—Keys to Understanding …