I am happy to be able to announce that Dr. James Leo Garrett, Jr. and I are now under contract with Wipf & Stock Publishers to publish an eight volume series of books entitled The Collected Writings of James Leo Garrett, Jr., 1950-2015. These volumes will appear one volume per year with the first volume appearing somewhere around the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. The volumes will consist of various journal and magazine articles, lectures, book chapters, and privately published pieces by Dr. James Leo Garrett, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Some of the pieces have never before been published. I am serving as the editor of the series. I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Garrett (who is now living in Nacogdoches, Texas) for agreeing to allow me to work on this project and for the invaluable help and assistance he continues to offer throughout this process.
The volumes are as follows:
Vol. 1: Baptists, Part I [Foreword by Malcolm B. Yarnell, III]
Vol. 2: Baptists, Part II [Foreword by Dongsun Cho]
Vol. 3: Ecclesiology [Foreword by David S. Dockery]
Vol. 4: Theology, Part I [Foreword by Robert B. Stewart]
Vol. 5: Theology, Part II and 20th-Century Christian Leaders [Foreword by Paul A. Basden]
Vol. 6: Roman Catholic Church [Foreword by Steven R. Harmon]
Vol. 7: Church, State, and Religious Liberty [Foreword by William M. Pinson, Jr.]
Vol. 8: The Christian Life [Foreword by Peter L. Tie]
Like seemingly countless others, I was honored to be able to study systematic theology under Dr. Garrett while a student at Southwestern Seminary twenty years ago. And, again, like seemingly countless others, I was immediately struck by the irenic nature, the encyclopedic knowledge, the careful and meticulous scholarship, and the pastoral focus of this dear brother in Christ. Since graduating from Southwestern, I have remained in contact with Dr. Garrett. I interviewed him for my site in the early 2000’s (here) then again for the Fall 2009 issue of The Founder’s Journal on the occasion of the publication of his Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study (here).
Over the years, I have collected Dr. Garrett’s writings, turning to them often for help and guidance. While collecting these pieces, I began to think about organizing them topically so that I could access them more easily in personal study. At this point, I was thinking purely of my own library and my own desire to have Dr. Garrett’s writings available in some sort of organized way.
As I continued to gather some of his older and more obscure writings, it struck me that the Garrett corpus, while profoundly informative, substantive, and helpful, remains largely inaccessible except to those with access to university or seminary libraries or journal databases. Then, at some point in 2014, I took note that Baylor University Press had begun publishing The Collected Works of James Wm. McClendon, Jr. I suppose this was a kind of light bulb moment for me. It occurred to me that the same could be done for Dr. Garrett’s writings.
My mindset at that time was that Dr. Garrett’s writings needed to be preserved and made readily available so that his former students and colleagues could have access to them in an attractive, uniform, and accessible set and also so that Dr. Garrett’s voice would not be lost on current and future generations. This remains my mindset today.
I will admit to some degree of nervousness when last year I wrote to Dr. Garrett with the initial proposal. I felt then (and now) unqualified to undertake the task, yet I felt a personal burden to do so. I was overwhelmed by Dr. Garrett’s gracious and excited response. Since that time, Dr. Garrett and I have exchanged an untold number of emails and phone calls concerning what this series of books needs to be. Once the arrangement of the material was agreed upon, we were thrilled that Wipf & Stock agreed to publish the work.
One thing I have been struck by is the profoundly high regard in which Dr. Garrett is held by all who know him. I was not surprised by this, but it has been a convicting testimony to me of the power of a good witness and a good name. As I have contacted editors and publishers and authors and permission departments seeking to find materials and seeking to obtain permission to include this or that article or essay or chapter in these volumes, I have lost count of how many times the respondents have taken the time to share with me how influential Dr. Garrett has been on their lives personally. I have shared this with Dr. Garrett who received it with customary humility.
There will be many people to thank in the acknowledgments once the books begin to appear, but I would like to thank the dedicated volunteers who have assisted and continue to assist me in typing the voluminous amounts of material so that I can begin the editing process. Many of us are long past the point of having numb fingers from typing, but we are more than compensated by being able to work through such fascinating material. There are still countless pieces that need to be typed, but we have a good game plan now and a reasonable schedule. I am excited to see the work take shape, step-by-step now, into an offering that I hope will be a blessing to many.
I am just now reaching the point where I can begin editing volume 1 in earnest. I will be submitting the manuscript to Wipf and Stock the end of this year. I believe that those who take the time to read these pieces will be as impressed as so many of us are with the qualities that have made Dr. Garrett so very revered in Southern Baptist circles and beyond.
Dr. Garrett is in his early 90’s now but is still one of the brightest minds you’re likely to encounter. He will soon be delivering a series of talks on Baptist distinctives to a group of young people. He is working on that material now with the same precision and care for which he and his scholarship are so well known. He continues to amaze and to inspire and I do very much hope that in some small way these volumes will be seen by him as a “Thank you!” from the many students whose lives have been enriched through his storied legacy and ministry.