Billie Silvey
June 2006
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Tom Olbricht:
Beloved Educator
One of the high points of both last year’s and this
year’s Pepperdine Lectures for me were Dr. Tom
Olbricht’s expository classes on the lecture themes--
"Lifted Up: An Expository Study of John" last year and
"Life Together:  An Expository Study of 1 John" this year.

An excellent choice for such profound studies, Olbricht
has served as a minister almost fifty years and an elder the
past twenty.  He has preached or lectured on every
continent but Antarctica.

A renowned scholar, he attended Harding University,
Northern Illinois University, the University of Iowa and
Harvard Divinity School, studying Scripture,
communication and church history.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion at
Pepperdine University, he has taught at Harding
University, the University of Dubuque and its Theological
Seminary, Pennsylvania State University, and Abilene
Christian University.

He is author or editor of sixteen books, including the two
most recent books on the themes of the Pepperdine
Lectures.
He and his wife Dorothy now live in retirement in South
Berwick, Maine.  Married for fifty-four years, they have
five children and twelve grandchildren.

William Baker, editor of the
Stone-Campbell Journal
and professor of New Testament at Cincinnati Bible
Seminary, writes of last year’s Lecture theme volume,
“Tom Olbricht shows once again why he is the most
highly beloved educator in the Churches of Christ.  This
very readable monograph on the Gospel of John displays
wise observations gained from careful pondering and a
command of language, theology, criticism and popular
culture.  Even as the original beloved disciple intends to
'lift up' the name of Christ, so does this contemporary
beloved professor 'lift up' the Gospel of John.�

In his first class on “The Heart of Love and Fellowship
in 1 John,� Olbricht discusses a break in fellowship
caused by some who left the church, claiming a superior
status.

John, in his epistle, opposes their claims by presenting
God as reaching toward us, sharing himself as he entered
human life fully in Jesus, and encouraging them to abide in
him and his forgiveness.

In the second class, “Love in Action Tested,�
Olbricht points out that love is not just a warm feeling, but
action.

He contrasts loving, Christian fellowship with love for the
world.  â€œLove doesn’t box you in,â€� Olbricht
says.  â€œIt gives you latitude to do something.â€�

It’s not the amount of sacrifice that matters, but the
heart behind it.  Love expresses itself in a concrete
response to needs.

The third class, “The World Conquered through
Koinonia,� treats the testimony to Jesus of the three
witnesses--the Spirit, the water, and the blood.  Jesus, the
Son of God, could be seen, felt and heard.

Only such a vital faith, as opposed to just a warm feeling,
can cause us to lay down ourselves for other people.  
Only such a vital faith can give us boldness before God.  
And only such a vital faith can enable us to stay the
course in the larger fellowship of God’s people.

Hearing Olbricht teach forces me to wonder how real my
love is for the Christians I’m in fellowship with, but it
never makes me question Jesus’ love--or the love of
Tom Olbricht for Jesus--and for us, his grateful students!
Life Together
Koinonia
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