Doctor of Humane Letters 1996
John Deschner, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine Emeritus, has been a member of this community since 1956 when he assumed teaching responsibilities at Perkins School of Theology after finishing his doctoral work under the direction of Karl Barth at the University of Basel. John Deschner is a catalytic teacher, a conscience of this community, whose best known book is Wesley's Christology: An Interpretation. Professor Deschner early identified the cause to which he has devoted his life efforts: the common cause of Christian ecumenism. He served from 1946, when still a student, until 1952 as executive secretary for the national United Student Christian Council. From 1983 to 1991he was moderator of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches; he chaired the drafting team and presided at the Lima session in 1982 where 120 commissioners from all branches of Christian belief unanimously adopted (without abstentions!) the convergence text on "Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry," which is the most widely translated and disseminated text in ecumenical history. For this passionate, cogent articulation of the beliefs of Wesley for his students, of Methodism for his church and school, and of Christianity for the world, SMU is honored to award our colleague John Deschner the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.