Echoing Martin Luther, Barry Joslin tells every class he teaches never to trust a theologian who does not sing. But what Joslin’s students say they remember is how he models the singing theologian.
“Worship is a natural response to theology. If anybody has taken any of my classes, they know they always hear the phrase, ‘Theology unto doxology.’ What we study should fuel our worship or, frankly, we’re wrong,” he said.
Joslin is a third-generation Southern Baptist from DeRidder, Louisiana, whose father and grandfather were pastors. At 8 years old, he responded to an altar call, received Christ, and was baptized, but says he knew he was not genuinely converted because of his lifestyle.
Four years later, in the summer of 1986, Joslin traveled to Glorieta, New Mexico, to attend Centrifuge, a summer camp dedicated to worship and Bible study. His parents had given him a new, genuine leather New American Standard Bible to take with him, and while at Centrifuge he was challenged to start reading in Matthew. When he did, he became convinced that he needed Jesus to save him, and on July 22, he professed genuine faith in Christ.
After finishing high school, Joslin enrolled in Louisiana Tech University to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory. While there, he was discipled in the faith for the first time in a church 80 miles from the campus in Shreveport, Louisiana. He and his friends began by listening to recordings of the sermons from Springs of Grace Baptist Church, and then began making the long trip to attend the church every Sunday.
“We heard of a pastor in Shreveport who was preaching through books of the Bible, doing what we would call expository preaching,” Joslin said. “We started getting recordings of the sermons, and instead of going out on a weekend, there would be ten of us gathered around a stereo listening to this pastor preach through the Bible.”
Joslin served as an intern at Springs of Grace for two years, and pastor Rex Blankenship’s expositional preaching awakened his hunger for theology. When the pastoral staff noticed this in Joslin, they recommended he go to seminary, and Joslin chose Dallas Theological Seminary.
After three years at Dallas Theological Seminary, Joslin met his wife Jessica on a bench outside of the student center. He can recall the exact time and date of the meeting: Tuesday, April 6, 1999, at 1:35 pm. They were married on May 27, 2000, and now have four children: Haddon, Carson, Elisabeth, and Mary.
Joslin received his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2001 with a double major in New Testament and historical theology. During his studies at Dallas, he was exposed for the first time to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary through the writings of professors like Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology. James M. Hamilton Jr., who had graduated from Dallas one year before Joslin, worked to bring his friend Joslin to the seminary. Hamilton connected Joslin with Schreiner, who served as Joslin’s Ph.D. supervisor. Joslin felt doctoral work would strengthen his preparation for pastoral ministry.
Not long after coming to Louisville in 2001, Joslin and his wife began to look for a church, and they were impressed by Ninth and O Baptist Church. Senior pastor William F. Cook III, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Seminary, was greeting newcomers in the parking lot when Joslin and his wife visited for the first time. Joslin recognized Cook’s love for people and passion for ministry, so he and his wife joined the church and soon began serving in the nursery. In 2009, Joslin was named Ninth and O’s worship pastor, where he continues to serve today.
Joslin’s heart was, and is, in the church. He had no zeal or passion for teaching, so professorship was far from his mind. However, one afternoon during his doctoral studies in the spring of 2004, he received a call from Boyce College telling him he had been recommended for an interview. He accepted only because he wanted interview experience for the future. After the interview, however, Joslin’s mind was quickly changed and he suddenly desired to teach.
Joslin is now the associate professor of Christian theology at Boyce College, where he teaches classes on theology and biblical Greek. He emphasizes to his students the connection between theology and worship.
Joslin models at home what he teaches at school. He leads his family in worship every night, teaching his children hymns, singing and praying with them, and modeling confession to them. He and his wife are intentional about keeping Scripture central in the home and speaking to their children constantly about God and his Word.
“I get a lot of joy from ministry, both at the church and the school, but nothing can touch the joy at home,” Joslin said. “Nothing can hold a candle to it.”
Whether at home, school, or church, Joslin is modeling for others how to worship God. “Theology unto doxology” is not only a lesson he teaches, but a lesson he lives out.