New theology professor fascinated by history of interpretation

Posted: October 1, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Dustin Resch. Photo by Amy Robertson.


r. Dustin Resch is fascinated by the interpretation of Scripture throughout history.

Briercrest College and Seminary’s new assistant professor of theology recently completed his PhD at McMaster University, and after four years, he’s looking forward to sharing what he’s learned with students.

His keen interest in the history of interpretation began as a college student at Briercrest.

“I wanted more out of Scripture,” he said.

“One of my college professors, Bruce Fisk, encouraged me to address some of the doubts I was having about the Bible by looking at how the church has read Scripture through the ages.”

It was so interesting that Resch decided to enrol in an MA in Theological Studies at Briercrest Seminary in 2002. He wrote his thesis on the doctrine of Scripture.

“In a large measure, we’ve accepted assumptions about Scripture and reading Scripture that our ancestors wouldn’t have,” he said.

Resch began teaching introductory theology courses at Briercrest after he completed his master’s degree in 2004, and soon stumbled upon something to which he’d never given much thought: the doctrine of the virgin birth.

In a large measure, we’ve accepted assumptions about Scripture and reading Scripture that our ancestors wouldn’t have.

So little space—about two chapters—is devoted to it in Scripture, he said, and yet it gets so much attention in the early church, the Catholic church, and the Apostle’s Creed.

He became particularly interested in Karl Barth’s take on the virgin birth.

The deceased 19th- and 20th-century Reformed theologian affirmed the virgin birth in a context when many of his contemporaries did not, Resch explained. He also affirmed the virgin birth differently than anyone else had.

“The vast majority of the western Church in the pre-modern era viewed the virgin birth as the way in which Christ could be spared from the taint of original sin, either because he was not conceived in lust or because he did not receive the sinful nature of a human father,” Resch wrote in an email.

“Barth, however, argued that the absence of a human father symbolized God’s judgement on sinful, willing human beings and that the presence of a human mother signified God’s grace upon human flesh when it is in a posture of receptivity. Barth differs from most modern European interpreters by affirming the truth of the virgin birth and doing so on the basis of its perceived ‘fit’ with the person and work of Christ.”

Resch’s investigations are what eventually led to his PhD studies at McMaster University, during which he focused on Barth in his research and took advantage of several seminars on the history of interpretation.

Dr. Resch teaches a theology class.

Resch hopes to eventually develop a course on the history of interpretation, but for this year, he’ll teach introductory theology in the college and a seminary course on the early church fathers this spring.

He’ll also serve students as the associate registrar. Resch served in the registrar’s office from 2000-2004 and the distance learning office from 2004-2006.

He successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, A Sign of Mystery: Karl Barth’s Interpretation of the Virgin Birth, October 1.