September 25, 2015 | 3 p.m.
By Michelle Westlund, Communications Specialist
James D. Smith III, professor of church history emeritus and faculty associate at Bethel Seminary San Diego, is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE). CBE is a nonprofit organization of Christian men and women who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings of scriptures such as Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
CBE exists to promote biblical justice and community by educating Christians that the Bible calls women and men to share authority equally in service and leadership in the home, church, and world. It envisions a future where all believers are freed to exercise their gifts for God’s glory and purposes, with the full support of their Christian communities. In 2005, CBE established the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes a lifetime of courage, sacrifice, and vision in advancing the biblical basis for gift-based ministry.
Over his long career as a professor and pastor, Smith has been a leader in this area in various spheres of influence, including Bethel Seminary. “Jim Smith has played an important role of encouraging our women students to use their gifts in faithfulness to God's call on their lives,” says Arnell Motz, acting dean and executive officer at Bethel Seminary San Diego. “While Bethel Seminary leaves the decision of types of leadership roles to the local church or denomination, it has been good to see how the seminary has affirmed the sense of equality and dignity that many of our women students have needed. Jim, along with our faculty and staff, have done that well.”
Smith holds an M.Div. from Bethel Seminary, a Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School, and a Th.D. from Harvard University. He taught theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego; Eastern Seminary in Philadelphia; and Southern Seminary in Louisville before his current role at Bethel Seminary San Diego, where he taught since 1988. He has also served as senior pastor at churches in Boston, Minneapolis, and San Diego, and currently is on staff at La Jolla Christian Fellowship, La Jolla, California. A longtime editorial board member for Christian History & Biography, Smith has also edited or co-edited a number of books.