A Sad Home-Going for Three Saints

Autumn, for me, has been over many decades a time of adrenalin rushes, über-busyness, and frantic logistical outworkings. The cause of all this? The beginning of a new school year. This year was no exception, yet right out of the gate one biblical/theological giant after another departed this sphere for his eternal home. All died this month.

In different ways these three men all influenced me. Stanley Toussaint was a colleague at Dallas Seminary, a man who taught the Bible for forty-two years at DTS. He was one of the last of the luminaries of the 1970s (my time in the ThM program)—John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Haddon Robinson, Harold Hoehner, Zane Hodges—who have all gone beyond the sufferings of the present time. Stan taught in the Bible Exposition Department (which is different from the Old Testament and New Testament Departments). He lectured from his Greek New Testament and had a down-home wit, pastoral heart, and penetrating insights into the text.

Stan was always cheerful in spite of having a severe limp from polio that struck him down when he was just a child. I never had the privilege of taking a course from Stan, however: I came in to DTS with plenty of English Bible and was permitted to pass on my English NT courses as long as I filled up the units with courses from the Biblical Studies Division; I loaded up on Hebrew. We agreed on much, but we also disagreed on some things. For example, he tenaciously held to Matthean priority, a position my own department chairman, Harold Hoehner, also embraced. I came to the position of Markan priority in 1987, a dozen years after following in Hoehner’s train.

Robert L. Thomas, professor of NT at Master’s Seminary, 1987–2008, also died just a few days ago. He was a professor at Talbot Seminary when I was a student at Biola University. I heard him speak in chapel a few times and learned that he would frequently invite my Greek professor, Harry Sturz, to his Greek classes to introduce students to Sturz’s perspective on NT textual criticism. Afterward, Thomas would refute Sturz’s position.

Bob and I had a few tangles over the years. In his school’s journal, he critiqued my Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics in the article, “The Principle of Single Meaning” (TMSJ 12/1 [2001] 33–47). He claimed that the book has some interesting points, but it also was “extremely dangerous.” Why? Because I had presumably imbibed Roman Catholic hermeneutics with my category of plenary genitive. Ironically, what Bob did not know was that I learned of that category of usage (though not by that name) by one of his revered theology professors, Charles Ryrie—a man who could hardly be accused of following Roman Catholic hermeneutics.

Bob also didn’t care much for ideas with theologically liberal roots, especially the historical-critical method—this in spite of responses by my colleague, Darrell Bock, and many other evangelical exegetes who argued that method and presupposition are not the same thing.

I suspect that Bob and I would probably have agreed more on many points of Reformed theology than I did with Stan Toussaint. Regardless of what one thinks of how Thomas dealt with other evangelicals, I confess that I admire the man for his faithfulness to scripture and to studying the original languages his whole life.

This past Thursday, September 21, I drove down to Houston with my good friend, Ed Komoszewski, to the funeral of another good friend, Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2016 and succumbed to the disease on Saturday, September 16. He leaves behind his wife, Michelle, and their young daughter, Ayah. Nabeel came to faith in Christ dramatically through the instrumentality of his college roommate David Wood and through visions of Christ, about a dozen years ago. He became a champion for the gospel. His first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, has been a huge success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Nabeel died too soon. He was only 34.
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Nabeel and I had our differences, too. He didn’t care much for Calvinism especially. We would have vigorous, passionate discussions about God’s sovereignty and mankind’s responsibility/free will, but these never harmed our friendship.

His interest was in the Gospels and he would be on the opposite end of the spectrum from Bob Thomas when it came to evangelical historical criticism. He was an internationally-known evangelist, especially to Muslims.

And his brain-power was legendary. He had read the entire Qur’an in Arabic (the only true Qur’an) by the age of five. Nabeel was a medical doctor who then went on to earn three master’s degrees—one from Biola, one from Duke, and one from Oxford. He was working on his Oxford DPhil when he died. When Nabeel came to Dallas, we would get together to discuss the Gospels. He was a sponge! He soaked up everything I said, then wrung it out and gently refuted many of my points! He had great respect for me—far greater than I deserved. I have known few people with such an insatiable desire to learn or with such an incredible impact for the sake of Christ.

Many believers throughout the world are grieving for each of these men right now. All three will be missed. They are saints of the Lord who now know the glory that will some day be revealed to all of God’s sons and daughters.


17 thoughts on “A Sad Home-Going for Three Saints

  1. RWL

    Wow! I heard/read about Qureshi’s diagnoses; I didn’t think he would succumb to it, being so young. Also, I just purchased Harold W. Hoehner’s ‘Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary.’ 2002 ed., I am hoping to start reading it next month.


  2. pgurry

    Thanks for sharing these, Dan. I had Toussaint for Hebrews and j still have notes in my GNT from his class. I met Nabeel once in Oxford while he was working on his DPhil.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A remarkable young man with wisdom and intelligence much greater than his age. A great loss for us and even more so for Nabeel’s dear wife and little daughter, who will only know her daddy from books and videos. Nabeel’s faith in God and his love for people is so evident in the life he lived on earth. Heaven welcomed a saint who has come home, but we feel the void.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Daniel

    I learned of Nabeel Qureshi through this blog nearly 4 years ago and am grateful that I did. He has done amazings things for Believers during his short time with us. He will be missed

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still cant believe Nabeel is gone!! Never met him in person; I live in Uganda but I got to know him through his videos. Perhaps the Lord needed him more than us and I trust he is in Paradise with Jesus who he came to love, cherish and preach about. Rest in Peace of Lord Jesus Nabeel!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim Woychuk

    Thanks Dan! These examples encourage me, as does the respectful relationship of discussion, and debate you enjoyed with these men.


  7. Luzmaria

    I miss him a lot, . Once i asked Nabeel
    If his book could be translated into the Farsi language, and he replied that no, but, that when his book be translated to Farsi, he would give it to me, so i sent his book by PDF by email to an Iranian young boy, now this boy loves Jesús and don’t believe in Mahoma any more.

    so, thank God for lending us to Nabeel even for a short time, his story have been read at Irán too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. J Martin (Joe) Thomas

    Thanks for a great tribute. I love the way you learn from people with whom you disagree. I enjoy learning from you.


  9. Richard Hornok

    Dan. For a while I’ve been meaning to ask about your uncle David. As you might remember, he was a Navy buddy of my father’s and was with him the night my dad got saved, October 15, 1943.

    Thanks for the comments on Dr. Toussaint.


  10. Linda Janess VanKampen

    Dan, it’s been a long time since Harbor Trinity Baptist and BIOLA days but it’s been a pleasure to see where your career path has led you since then, through the BIOLA alumni news.
    God’s best as you make an impact at DTS, Linda


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