‘Generation to Generation’: Dr. Douglas Kelly Honored With Festschrift

Dr. Douglas Kelly festschrift celebration
Friends of Dr. Douglas Kelly gathered at his home for his 80th birthday in late September.

CARTHAGE, N.C. — Friends, former students, and fellow scholars recently gathered at the home of Dr. Douglas Kelly in celebration of his 80th birthday, where Dr. D. Blair Smith and Dr. Matthew Miller surprised him with a Festschrift entitled Generation to Generation: Writings in Honor of Douglas F. Kelly.

A Festschrift is a traditional way in which scholars recognize the contributions of a peer by collecting essays that focus on themes of that scholar’s writings. Generation to Generation assembles 17 essays on pastoral theology, historical theology—including the theology of John Calvin—Christology, Presbyterianism, and more. Several RTS faculty members contributed to the work, including Dr. Smith, Dr. John Currid, Dr. Ligon Duncan, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and Dr. Mark McDowell. Dr. Smith, who serves as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at RTS Charlotte and Academic Dean of RTS Houston and RTS Dallas, co-edited the work.

“The Festschrift presentation at the Kelly home was a special time,” said Dr. Smith. “First, it was fun to see Dr. Kelly’s face as he tried to put together why so many friends and former students were showing up for his birthday. But then it became clear that we were there for more than celebrating his 80th birthday.

“My co-editor, Matthew Miller, and I conspired successfully with Caroline and Patrick Kelly to keep the Festschrift a secret all the way until we presented it to him. It was a deep privilege to be a part of an occasion honoring a beloved professor and father in the faith, to whom I owe so much of my own understanding of theology. Dr. Kelly has been for me, as he has been for so many in the kingdom, a true living model of a mind for truth and a heart for God.”

Dr. Douglas F. Kelly

Dr. Kelly is Professor of Theology Emeritus at RTS. He served as Professor of Systematic Theology at RTS Jackson from 1982 until 1994, when he became one of the first full-time faculty members at RTS Charlotte. He remained there as the Richard Jordan Professor of Theology until his retirement in 2016.

Before joining the faculty of RTS, Dr. Kelly received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Diploma from the University of Lyon, his B.D. from the Union Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of many written works, including If God Already Knows, Why Pray?, Preachers with Power: Four Stalwarts of the South, New Life in the Wasteland, Creation and Change, and The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World.

Dr. Kelly is well known for his firm grasp of multiple languages as well as his theological competence. He completed the first English translation of John Calvin’s sermons on 2 Samuel and later served with Dr. David Wright of the University of Edinburgh as a general editor for a revision of Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries. He is also a prolific preacher and has held pastoral calls in Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. A complete archive of Dr. Kelly’s sermons is available online.

“I have known Dr. Douglas Kelly for over 30 years,” said Dr. Duncan. “He was on the search committee that hired me to come to Reformed Theological Seminary in 1989. And though he’s only old enough to be my older brother, he’s been a spiritual father to me, and, I know, to so many others.”

RTS Charlotte held a public presentation of the Festschrift on Reformation Day, October 31. Dr. Kelly, his wife Caroline, and several of the Festschrift contributors were in attendance.