The School of Divinity mourns the passing of a wonderful teacher, great scholar, and dear friend
Dr. J. Rodman Williams
Rod Williams was an accomplished theologian and a dedicated Christian who was completely committed to the mission of the church. Michael Palmer, Dean
Dr. J. Rodman Williams, known as the theological father of the charismatic renewal movement, served as the Professor of Renewal Theology of Regent University's School of Divinity (1982- till his retirement in 2001 as Professor Emeritus). His academic education included Davidson College, Union Theological Seminary (VA), Columbia University, and Union Theological Seminary (NY). He was ordained through the United Presbyterian Church, USA, and served in full-time Christian service as a Presbyterian pastor and chaplain.
Following periods of pastoral ministry, Dr. Williams entered into full-time education at Beloit College and Austin Theological Seminary. In 1965, after a period of theological searching, he experienced a powerful Baptism in the Spirit. In writing to another Presbyterian charismatic, Brick Bradford, he wrote that a growing feeling of emptiness and impotence, which had led to some months of seeking and praying, came to an end when God graciously answered his pleas and filled him with the Holy Spirit, "It was joy unspeakable, reality amazing, upsurge of heavenly language—glory. I received my baptism in the Holy Spirit. From 1965 onwards, Dr. Williams has been very active as a key figure in the growing charismatic movement of the 1960's. He became president of the International Presbyterian Charismatic Communion, later a participant in the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, and a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. In 1972, he became the founding president of the Melodyland School of Theology and thereupon became Professor of Theology of Regent University.
He is best known for his systematic theology, Renewal Theology, the first systematic theology written from a renewal perspective. He has written at least 10 books and numerous articles, many of which deal with issues of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements and teachings. He taught with passion and with the expectation of the Holy Spirit's movement in a classroom setting. He epitomizes a healthy marriage between systematic theology and a Pentecostal-charismatic viewpoint, and he embodies a pious exemplar of honest reflection upon one's experience, faith, and faith tradition.