The death of Dr. Thomas Oden has left a void in The United Methodist Church that cannot be filled. That void also exists across the ecumenical church. He was a brilliant theologian who gave his life and intellect to serving God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was a soft spoken, thoughtful, kind and gentle man. Respected as a theological religious leader around the world, Dr. Oden pursued knowledge with a passion. With patience, he was readily available to answer questions or explain theological issues.
Dr. Oden was a leader in renewal within The United Methodist Church. He loved the church, its doctrine and our Wesleyan heritage and tradition. Because of his great concern for the future of our denomination Dr. Oden, Dr. Maxie Dunnam and Bishop William Canon called a meeting of 92 laity, clergy, bishops and professors to consult about the future of the UMC during the first week of Easter, 1994. As a result, “An Invitation to the Church” was issued for others to join in exalting Jesus Christ as the church confronted the crisis of faith within the denomination. April 29, 1995, by unanimous vote during a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, The Confessing Movement was formed. From the ministry’s inception until his death, Dr. Oden served on The Confessing Movement’s Board of Directors providing wisdom and leadership. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and was the Executive Editor of Christianity Today (1995-2001).
Dr. Oden taught at Yale University, Southern Methodist University and Phillips University before joining the graduate school faculty at Drew University in 1970. He was named Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at Drew University in 1980.
Over the years Tom expressed his concern that the work and writings of the ancient religious leaders would be lost, leading him to edit the 29 volume series Ancient Christian Commentary on
Scripture. He also wrote numerous books and articles including his personal and theological memoir, A Change of Heart.
His positive influence on the church is beyond measure. We have been blessed by knowing Tom Oden and his boundless writings. We celebrate his life :