Thanking God For Roger Nicole

Tonight, my former professor Roger Nicole died. He was, by all accounts, one of the most important and influential theologians of the the 20th century.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Nicole, here’s a brief bio taken from Wikipedia:

Roger R. Nicole (born 1915) a native Swiss Reformed theologian and a Baptist, has long been regarded as one of the preeminent theologians in America. He is a Christian Egalitarian and Biblical Inerrantist. He was an associate editor for the New Geneva Study Bible and assisted in the translation of the New International Version of the Bible. He was a founding member of both the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and the Evangelical Theological Society, of which he is a past president. He holds a M.A. from Sorbonne, an S.T.M. and Th.D. from Gordon Divinity School, a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and a D.D. from Wheaton College.

He is Emeritus Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. He also is professor emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. A devotee of mathematics and prolific writer, he has produced some 100 articles and contributed to fifty books and reference works. A bibliophile and distinguished librarian with a massive collection, he owns Calvin’s Commentaries on the Gospels and Acts and other volumes from the 16th and 17th centuries. The library of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando contains over twenty thousand of his personal books. They take up one half of the current library.

Respected internationally for his Christian statesmanship and scholarship, he is an acknowledged expert in the thought of Reformation leader John Calvin. An avid philatelist, Nicole has a personal collection of approximately one million stamps. Evangelical commentator David F. Wells dedicated his 1985 release, Reformed Theology in America, simply “to Roger Nicole, a man of God.” J. I. Packer has written this tribute to Nicole: “Awesome for brain power, learning and wisdom, endlessly patient and courteous in his gentle geniality, and beloved by a multitude as pastor, mentor and friend.”

Also, Justin Taylor has written an excellent bio of Dr. Nicole here.

Two and half years ago, Kim and I had the privilege of spending the day with Dr. Nicole and his dear friend, J.I. Packer. Two of my theological hero’s, I’ve had the privilege of spending quality time with both of these men in the past…but this was special. Dr. Nicole and Dr. Packer had been close friends for over 50 years and being able to watch them together for a day was the most moving and meaningful exhibition of Christian friendship we have ever seen. They showed such deep love and respect for eachother.

One quick story: Kim, my friend Justin, Dr. Packer, Dr. Nicole, and I were walking from the Orlando Convention Center across the street to our hotel. It was the annual gathering of Christian authors and publishers and so as we were walking many people recognized Dr. Packer and stopped to say “hello.” Only one person stopped and recognized Dr. Nicole (who is not nearly as well known as Dr. Packer, but equally important). However, after that one person stopped Dr. Nicole, Dr. Packer (wanting to make sure his friend knew that he was just as important as he was) said, “You have to expect that people are going to recognize you Roger and want to talk with you. You are a very important man.” It showed just how humble and sensitive Dr. Packer is. He didn’t want Dr. Nicole to feel outshined by him so he made nothing of the many who recognized him, but everything of the one who recognized Dr. Nicole.

Both men were nearing the end of their life here on earth but watching them reflect on how, together, they have fought the fiercest theological battles of the 20th century was a true gift. They’re both timeless theological legends who think nothing more of themselves than that they are servants of the Living God and His gospel. It was so evident that God’s amazing grace still amazed them…and that amazed me. It was a day that Kim and I will never forget. I wish you could have been there!

I’ll see you on the other side Dr. Nicole!