When I began my journey in seminary, no professor or scholar was more formative for me than Michael Allen. He gave systematic theology a beating heart, and encouraged theological depth through academic rigor in a way I’d never encountered before. I’m deeply grateful to this man for his work, and pleased that he took the time to talk to us today.
Dr. Michael Allen is the John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. His contributions include the New Studies in Dogmatics volume Sanctification, Christian Dogmatics, Theological Commentary: Evangelical Perspectives, and more.
TSS: Who was your most influential seminary professor?
Dr. Allen: Professor Henri Blocher, who managed to combine careful exegetical detail with insightful historical and theological wisdom.
TSS: If you could do seminary over again, what’s one thing you would do differently?
Dr. Allen: Exercise more.
TSS: What are three of the best books you’ve read?
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: the most alluring and impactful systematic theology that I’ve read.
Augustine, City of God: it shows how Christianity is distinct, is humane, and is beautiful.
Chaim Potok, The Promise: a textured story of faith in the modern world.
[Editor’s note: I just bought this book. Why? Because on Dr. Allen’s recommendation I first read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and it remains one of the best books I’ve ever read.]
TSS: What’s one book you are currently reading?
Dr. Allen: Philip Rieff, My Life Among the Deathworks
TSS: What is your #1 tip for navigating seminary well?
Dr. Allen: Make the most of this unique season in life: soak in the various opportunities before you and go the extra mile.
TSS: Are you working on any forthcoming projects you can tell us about?
Dr. Allen: I’m writing a theological commentary on Ephesians now. A small book on eschatology and ethics, titled “Grounded in Heaven,” will appear later this year.
Thank you Dr. Allen for taking the time! I can commend to you Theological Commentary: Evangelical Perspectives (which he edited and contributed to) as a beautiful presentation (worked out, not theory) of the possibilities of commentary from a theological perspective. I also often recommend Dr. Allen’s Reformed Theology to many as just that — shaking hands with the Reformed tradition, with a winsome, thorough, and God-glorifying presentation.