John Paul Newport was a Christian teacher, scholar, pastor, and statesman (1917-2000). As a philosopher-theologian-teacher, Dr. Newport taught his students to be synthesizers and reconcilers. He observed and listened to the strange voices of belief beyond the Christian orbit. Dr. Newport spoke and wrote of the biblical “worldview” before that term became popular, and he addressed the New Age Movement before it received so much attention. He dealt competently with biblical hermeneutics, Christianity and the arts, Christianity and the occult, Christianity and non-Christian religions, and Christian apologetics.
Dr John Newport earned five degrees: B.A., William Jewell College; Th.M. and Th.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A., Texas Christian University; Ph.D., University of Edinburgh. He undertook additional study at University of Basel, University of Zurich, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary (New York), University of Tulsa, Tulane University, Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School. William Jewell College conferred on him the D. Litt. in 1967, and Southern Seminary named him a distinguished alumnus in 1990.
Dr. Newport’s teaching career includes the following: Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Religion, Baylor University, 1949-51; Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and New Testament, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1951-52; Associate Professor and Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1952-76; Chavanne Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University, 1976-79; Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost and Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary , 1979-89; Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1989-90; Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus and Special Consultant to the President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1990-97.
Dr. Newport conducted multiple lecture tours around the world. He published hundreds of articles and reviews in his career and authored eleven books. He served as president of the Southwestern division of the American Academy of Religion and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, and was director of the North American Tillich Society.
Dr. Newport modeled high standards of intellectual study combined with love of the Christian faith. He was loved for his encouragement, inspiration, humanness, sense of humor, and warmth as well as for his academic achievements. During his career, Dr. Newport taught, mentored, and inspired thousands of students, many of whom became leaders in Baptist work throughout the world.