RBC Spotlight: Dr. John Tweeddale, Academic Dean

Posted On January 15, 2021

Dr. John W. Tweeddale is academic dean and professor of theology. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss. Previously, he served as senior pastor of First Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Pittsburgh.

We recently sat down with Dr. Tweeddale to ask him about his life, faith, and work at RBC.

When and how did you come to faith in Christ?

I grew up in a Christian home where my parents taught me to love Christ and His Word. For almost as long as I can remember, I have claimed the name of Christ as my own. I was converted not by the employment of an evangelist nor the plea of a preacher, but when as a boy of only five or six in the quietness of my bedroom I realized that I was a sinner and in need of a Savior.

How do you serve at your local church?

I am an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America and an active member of the Central Florida Presbytery. Before coming to RBC, I served as the senior pastor of First Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, a storied congregation with a remarkable history dating back to 1799. Currently, my family and I attend Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, FL.

What is your favorite book of the Bible? And do you have a favorite author?

My favorite book of the Bible is the epistle to the Hebrews for its description of the glory of Christ and for how it helps us link the Old and New Testaments. My favorite author is John Owen, who wrote a lot about Hebrews.

What book, other than the Bible, has influenced you the most?

I can give one. It isn’t going to be a surprise to anybody at RBC: Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ by the one and only John Owen. It was the last book he wrote, and it went off to press the day he died. This book prepares us for beholding the glory of God in Jesus Christ by sight. And in order to do that, we need to behold and see Him by faith here on earth. It's a glorious, exquisite book, and it is hands down my favorite Owen book. I love it.

Have you traveled overseas for missions? Where?

Yes. My wife, Angela, and I lived in Scotland for three years, where I often had opportunities to preach. I’ve also traveled to Turkey to teach a course on pastoral theology and ministry.

What do you have a passion for?

By God’s grace, I long to be a man of God, a loving and loyal husband and father, and a faithful shepherd. I want to end my life and ministry with a greater love for Christ than when I began my life as a Christian.

Why do you enjoy teaching and working at RBC?

RBC attracts a remarkable group of committed, talented, hardworking, and godly students, staff, and faculty. I’m amazed by the people I get to work with and serve.

What aspect of working with students do you find rewarding?

From a teacher’s perspective, few things match the joy of watching students discover the wonders of God’s Word and the riches of Reformed theology.

How would you describe the community or culture at RBC?

RBC is a one-of-a-kind college. Everything about it is distinct: its vision, its size, its mission, its people. There is no other college like Reformation Bible College.

If you weren’t a professor, what would you be doing?

I would probably be pastoring a church.

What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes?

I enjoy spending time with my family, reading books, listening to music, watching movies and TV shows, musing over culture and politics, learning woodworking, and even trying my hand on occasion at playing the banjo.

Do you have a favorite sports team?

I have been a lifelong fan of the Florida Gators.

How many children do you have?

Angela and I have three children: Amelia (11), Knox (9), and Evelyn (almost 7). They bring me no small amount of joy.

How long have you lived in Florida?

My dad worked for the Navy, so we moved around a bit. I was born in Alexandria, VA; lived briefly in San Diego, CA; grew up in Pensacola, FL; spent some time in Mississippi; studied in Edinburgh, Scotland; pastored in Pittsburgh, PA; and have lived in Mount Dora, FL, for the last five years or so.

What activities do you enjoy doing in Florida?

I enjoy the Florida sunshine, local farmers markets, Spanish moss, winter sunsets, and even the occasional tourist.

What qualities do you think will make a student at RBC successful?

Curiosity and dedication. Let me also add a love for other people. Take joy in the gifts that God gives other people. You're going to be amazed at the insights and abilities of your fellow classmates; learn to take joy in them and to love them. Get outside of yourself, spend time with your classmates and with your local church, and cultivate a love for other people. I think that's so important in theological studies.