An interview with Mark Thompson

SG: Today we interview Mark Thompson.

Mark, how did you come to Christ?

I first heard the gospel in a Sunday School class at the local Baptist Church. However, my faith was nurtured by an ISCF group at high school, during a period when none of my family went to church at all. In the year of my HSC, I began to attend the local Anglican church, and the adventure took off from there.

How do you occupy your time?

I spend a lot of my time teaching theology at Moore College. Apart from my time as a husband and father, almost all my other involvements spring, in one way or another, from my role at college. I am currently committed to far too many writing projects, and I’m involved in the life of the Diocese of Sydney and Anglican evangelicalism more widely.

Tell us a bit about your background and other interests

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, and worked in churches in northern Sydney and the Illawarra. For three years, Kathryn and I lived in the UK, and we made many great friends there. But for the past 20 years or so, my life has been focussed in the inner city and the work of Moore College. Our family attends St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ashbury.

My biggest interest and concern remains seeking to be a godly husband and a godly father to our four little girls.

What are five books that really helped you grow as a Christian?

Very early on John Stott’s little study Your Confirmation helped to put some important building blocks in place.

Jim Packer’s Knowing God and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion helped me to see the contours of evangelical systematic theology.

Heiko Oberman’s biography of Luther, Martin Luther: Man between God and the Devil, while a little idiosyncratic at points, fuelled a longstanding interest in the German Reformer, and helped me to see in fresh ways why urgency and passion are integral parts of being a theologian.

While not a book, a series of talks from a Katoomba Youth Convention in the early 1980s—John Chapman’s series on guidance—provided a brilliant model of biblical theology and its practical import. When I first heard them, they revolutionized the way I read the Bible. (Buy the MP3s here: Talk 1; Talk 2; Talk 3; Talk 4.)

I should add that my time as a student at Moore College was life-changing as well.

What are you reading now?

An assortment:

It’s been a while since I read a good spy thriller.

And what books would you recommend as must-reads right now?

  • J Piper, The Future of Justification: it’s an important engagement with a very popular challenge to a core Reformation doctrine.
  • L Ryken & T Wilson (eds), Preach the Word: these are important essays on expository preaching by people who know how (including David Jackman, Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur, Bruce Winter, Wallace Benn and JI Packer).
  • J Woodhouse, 1 Samuel: it will do your soul some good.

What would your friends say are your hobbyhorses?

My friends would undoubtedly say I am focussed on the doctrines of Scripture, the cross and justification by faith alone. Some would also come back to Luther. More widely, though, I’m sure some have not missed my obsession with the critical marriage of clarity and profundity in Christian theology, rather than the far more common habit of thinking only what is hard to understand is really worthwhile.

What’s something that makes you angry?

Betrayal of the gospel by those who ought to be defending it (church leaders in particular). There’s enough of it going about at the moment to keep me angry a lot of the time if I concentrated on it.

Who inspires you?

  • John Stott for faithfulness and perseverance.
  • John Chapman for 50 plus years of bold, clear and compelling Bible teaching.
  • Billy Graham for just keeping on saying “The Bible says”.
  • John Webster for rigorous and confident theological thinking.

What’s your ideal day off?

A mountain verandah, good coffee, a good book and my family to drag me away from it all.

Give us your top five chocolate biscuits!

  • Westons (now Arnotts) Chocolate Wheaten
  • Arnotts TV Snacks
  • Arnotts Tim Tams
  • Arnotts Monte
  • McVities Plain Chocolate HobNobs.

Thanks Mark!

2 thoughts on “An interview with Mark Thompson

  1. Mark you recommended

    <i>Heiko Oberman’s biography of Luther, Martin Luther: Man between God and the Devil</i>

    It’s been a while since I read this but I enjoyed it a lot. Especially that he was reading Luther as a theologian, and understanding his views in their spiritual context (hence the title), rather than approaching Luther as a study in politics, psychology, or even economics.

    My concern at the moment is that by focussing on Luther’s individual psychology, people miss the point of his rediscovery of justification by faith alone.

  2. Gordon,

    You are undoubtedly right. There have been a few good biographies of Luther since Oberman – the industry standard is now the three volumes by Martin Brecht – but Oberman’s richly theological approach, even though he overplays the evidence at points, gets you to the heart of the man. (Wow, what a sentence!)

Comments are closed.