Dr. Paul Bassett
NTS Professor of the History of Christianity, 1969-2004
Dr. Paul Bassett taught at NTS for 35 years, retiring in 2004. The NTS Connection staff recently interviewed Dr. Bassett.
Share with us some details about your family.
My wife, Pearl, and I still live in Overland Park. My oldest daughter, Emilie, teaches kindergarten in the Shawnee Mission School District. My son, Paul, whom most people call “Step,” is a physician in Meade, Kansas. My youngest daughter, Anita, is studying at MidAmerica Nazarene University to become a nurse. I also have five grandchildren—4 boys and 1 girl. Their ages range from 10 to 22.
Since your retirement, what has kept you busy?
Reuben Welch’s description of his retirement is true of mine as well: “I’m finishing the books of which I read only the first 13 pages while I was teaching.” I am also trying to finish some writing projects that have long been in the works, such as the Didsbury Lectures I gave at Nazarene Theological College in Manchester and my project of writing the history of Iberian Christianity.
I am continuing my ecumenical interest by way of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. John’s University in Minnesota.
Except my first year of retirement, I have taught a course at NTS every semester since retiring. These courses have included Christian Interpretations of History, Early Church and Culture, Medieval Church and Culture, and Belief and Unbelief in the 17th and 18th Centuries. I continue to teach and lecture in other places as well. I have gone to teach at Nazarene Theological College in Brisbane, Australia and taught in several places in Latin America.
I still enjoy playing the piano and the organ, and listening to good music. My favorite types of music are classical and jazz from Miles Davis’ era. I also like watching out of date re-runs of comedies. I enjoy British comedies and mysteries—PBS programs. Additionally, I enjoy walking. Basically, the more I can do with my wife, Pearl, the better retirement is.
What do you miss most about NTS?
It was always delightful to know I was doing what I was called to do. Because the call to give my life to teaching has been lifted, I do not feel I have to teach anymore. However, I do miss the classroom, the interchange with students, and my colleagues.
What are a few favorite “NTS memories” of yours?
I remember lunch times or coffee breaks with colleagues. We would sit down and talk about the church and theological matters. I also enjoyed personal conversations with students about spiritual and intellectual matters. Those conversations were usually outside the classroom.
I am delighted to see former students who are now my colleagues in ministry. They have taken up the calling of the ministry and taken it up very seriously whether in Alaska or Bethany, Oklahoma, and whether in pastoral ministry, missions, or education.
What books would you recommend to alumni and pastors?
I have been deeply influenced and impressed by Helmut Thielicke, a German theologian who happens to be Lutheran. The following books of his have moved me very deeply: The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus (Harper & Row, 1959), The Evangelical Faith (Eerdmans, 1974-1977), and Notes from a Wayfarer; the Autobiography of Helmut Thielicke (Paragon House, 1995).
I have also found most of the histories of the Nazarene colleges or histories by Nazarene educators to be profitable. I was especially moved by Dr. Hugh Rae’s autobiography. He was a long-time principal of and teacher at the Nazarene theological college in Britain. He also taught at the Nazarene institution in Canada. His autobiography is a marvelous testimony of a man dedicated to teaching and preparing ministers in the Wesleyan tradition.
How may we pray for you?
My constant prayer for Pearl and myself is for wisdom so we can be useful.