Tribute to Dr. William Greathouse, 1919 – 2011

Dr. William Greathouse was my theology professor and college president. He was also my Wesleyan theology professor and Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) president. Yes, he signed both my college and seminary diplomas. 

As General Superintendent in jurisdiction of the Asia-Pacific Region in 1980-1984, Dr. Greathouse informed me in 1984 of my election of president of the Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS). He later installed me as the first full-time president of APNTS.

It was Dr. Greathouse who, in the midst of numerous outstanding teachers, inspired me most to become a “forever” student. He motivated in me an insatiable desire to learn and grow, to probe and question. And, the relationship deepened throughout his retirement years until his home-going on March 24, 2011.

Dr. Greathouse shaped my theological thinking. He made for me the doctrine of sanctification expansive, theocentric, and dynamic. From his passionate lectures in theology at Trevecca Nazarene College (TNC) and NTS, to his books, monographs, sermons, and his longstanding Sunday School lesson commentary series, “Toward Christian Living,  he influenced me greatly. He stretched me to comprehend the dimensions of what it means to live and lead with the mind of Christ.

I made copies years ago of every article he wrote in the “Toward Christian Living” Sunday School material. I still have those copies. Also in my office at the Global Ministry Center is a copy of his NTS inaugural address, “Nazarene Theology in Perspective.”

I heard Dr. Greathouse preach in Asia, Europe, Africa, and throughout the United States. His message was always clear: a holy God wants to redeem and transform his children into a holy people, empowered and equipped to be the agents of reconciliation throughout His creation. “We can be whole in Christ” was his constant theme.

Dr. G stayed in touch with his former students. He continued throughout his retirement years to engage us in serious theological dialogue. In his late 80s, he was passionately and intensely involved in co-writing with Dr. George Lyons the two-volume book on Romans in the New Beacon Bible Commentary Series. During one of our conversations in 2005, Dr. Greathouse insisted that I read four “new” books on Romans. “They represent the most recent up-to-date thinking on Romans,” he said. I had not read any of them.

Dr. Greathouse believed that in understanding of the book of Romans, he would have a glimpse of “the Gospel” in its full meaning.  However, he was drawn often to II Corinthians 3:18 as “one of the most significant holiness texts in scripture.”

And we all, who with unveiled faces
reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Anne and I remember with fond memories our more recent visits to Nashville and discussions with Dr. Greathouse and Judy in their home in Hermitage, Tennessee. On our last visit to Hermitage in 2010, my esteemed mentor could not walk Anne and me to the door as we closed our brief visit. He kept apologizing. He was indeed very weak. My mentor. My leader. My friend. You will be missed, Dr. Greathouse, you will be missed.

In remembrance of Dr. Greathouse, I have placed two addresses on this blog for you to read, if you desire. Click here to read Dr. Greathouse’s inaugural address as president of Nazarene Theological Seminary. Click here to read my inaugural address at the Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, after which Dr. Greathouse installed me as the first full-time president of the institution.


LeBron Fairbanks
March 28, 2011


Thomas Jay Oord April 1, 2011


Thanks for this post! So many of us are indebted to Bill and his positive influence!


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