Author • Academician • Actor

History

Rob Starner has a rich heritage of Pentecostal ministry! His grandfather, Rev. Leo S. Starner, was an ordained Assemblies of God pastor for over 50 years, and Dr. Starner himself has now logged more decades than he will readily admit!

His lengthy tenure in Christian higher education includes full-time faculty posts at Continental Theological Seminary, University of Valley Forge, Central Bible College, and most recently, Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

In addition to his service in the university arena, Rob has served as an associate pastor, Christian school administrator, hospital chaplain, and short-term missionary. He has authored many books, articles, blogs, and vlogs. He also has written and/or performed in a number of live theatrical productions and a few films. Ever energetic, Dr. Starner has a passion for local church ministry. He is always looking for opportunities to serve local churches and parachurch organizations through teaching, preaching, and drama ministry. He has recently accepted an invitation to serve Northeast Assembly of God in Philadelphia, PA as their interim pastor.

Education:

    • Ph.D. Religion, Baylor University (1993)
    • M.A. Biblical Studies, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (1978)
    • B.S. Mathematical Sciences, Penn State University (1975)

Experience:

    • Professor of Greek and New Testament, Southwestern A/G University (2007-pres.)
    • Professor of Greek and New Testament, Central Bible College (1996-2007)
    • Associate Pastor, Oak Cliff Assembly of God, (1994-1995)
    • Adjunct Professor of Greek, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (1990-1995)
    • Seminar Speaker (1991-1995)
    • Graduate Assistant, Baylor University (1987-1988)
    • Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Valley Forge Christian College (1983-1986)
    • Math Teacher, Central Dauphin School District (1982-1983)
    • School Administrator, Calvary Christian School (1980-1982)
    • Lecturer in Bible and Theology, Continental Theological Seminary (1978-1980)
    • Ministerial Credentials: Assemblies of God (1981-Present)
    • Professional Memberships: Evangelical Theological Society
    • Society for Pentecostal Studies
    • Society of Biblical Literature

Theatrical Experience:

    • Messiah (passion play) The Oaks Fellowship Dallas, TX. Easter 1994, 1995. Principal Role: Jesus.
    • Messiah (passion play) Crossroads of Life Dallas, TX. Easter 1996, 1997. Principal Role: Jesus.
    • Joseph of Arimathea in various churches and universities since 2006. Writer, director, principal actor.
    • Grace in Galatia in various churches and universities since 2004. Writer, director, principal actor.
    • Selections from Shakespeare mostly in college and university settings.

Ambassador

I am first and foremost Christ’s Ambassador. My life’s mission is to introduce people to Christ, influence them to become His disciples, and train them to make other disciples.

“To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” . . . this is the necessary and sufficient goal of the “purpose-driven life.” But glorifying God goes well beyond shouting “Praise the Lord” or singing “Kum Ba Yah.” Glorifying God must pervade every nook and cranny of a person’s life. It is the place where every reflection, every intention, and every action honor God as God.

God created us that we might live in the pleasure that comes only from being united with him in attitude and behavior and cause. This experience comes entirely at God’s initiative and by His gracious invitation. I have accepted his invitation and committed myself to glorifying him in everything I think and say and do. Though I repeatedly fall short, I nevertheless fix my eyes on this goal, thanking God for his forgiveness when I fail and depending on the empowerment of his Spirit to bring my efforts to perfection. I am therefore, first and foremost, God’s ambassador.

Academician

I am also a life-long learner. I love learning—not merely the outcome, but the very process. My academic journey includes

  • a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences,
  • an M.A. in Biblical Studies,
  • and a Ph.D. in Religion.
  • A short-term missionary faculty assignment at a seminary in Belgium launched a college/university teaching ministry that now spans nearly four decades.

It was the last day of my student teaching practicum, the final requirement for certification to teach high school mathematics, when my career path took an unexpected turn. My supervising teacher and I had organized the final lesson plans: a time of cake and ice cream—topped off with some light entertainment. Neither of us could have calculated the life-changing significance of what happened that day.

Students recognized that I cared about their eternal destiny, not just about their grasp of mathematics.

Knowing of my deep faith in Christ, my supervisor suggested that I play my guitar and sing a contemporary religious song. I objected, noting that I had never sung a solo nor played my guitar in public. He suggested we first sing a duet together so I would be less nervous. His idea was moderately successful. I started with a kind of “talk song” by Randy Matthews titled “Important Things” and concluded with Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” The presence of God’s Spirit was palpable. Students recognized that I cared about their eternal destiny, not just about their grasp of mathematics.

Only eternity will reveal all of the wonders God worked that day. Not least among them is my unquenchable desire to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Within a few weeks I enrolled in a seminary. Within a few weeks after graduation, I accepted a short-term missionary assignment as an instructor in Greek and New Testament at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. And the rest, as they say, is history.

My service in Assemblies of God higher education now spans well over three decades.

Academic Articles and Videos

7 REASONS TO STUDY BIBLICAL HEBREW AND BIBLICAL GREEK
DO ALL THINGS REALLY WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD?
IS GOD UNFAIR IN WORKING GOOD FOR SOME AND NOT FOR OTHERS?
THE SOUND OF SILENCE: MARK’S DESCRIPTION OF THE CRUCIFIXION
JOSEPH’S SUFFERING: A MODEL FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE
GUILTY, BY REASON OF ASSOCIATION
PUT JESUS BACK ON THE CROSS
THE BLONDE LEADING THE BLIND

Resources for Serious Bible Study

Coming Soon

Author

Description

Christians always face the temptation to take the course of least opposition by embracing the ideologies of the surrounding culture.  Józef Bałuczyński’s life stories demonstrate God’s faithfulness to a hero who, refusing to shrink back from his commitment to Christ in spite of the social and political forces arrayed against him, lived his entire life in service to others.  This book offers both challenge and hope for the increasing number of Christians who are facing the opposition of terrorists and totalitarian governments that seek to squash the message of Christ

Here’s what a few readers and influential leaders are saying about Be Not Afraid:

“A fast-moving, true story of God’s faithfulness and one Polish pastor’s faith-produced courage in the face of mortal danger. This inspiring account also offers one more window into what Poles and others suffered under both Nazi and Soviet forces during the perils of World War II and its aftermath.”
— Craig S. Keener
Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Unsung heroes like Józef Bałuczyński are the other “greatest generation”—soldiers of the cross, many of whose names are known only in heaven. Pastor Józef’s story will inspire, encourage, and embolden 21st-century followers of Jesus who increasingly are encountering the same daunting opposition to the gospel that Józef and those like him faced in their generation.”
–Byron D. Klaus
Former President, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
Co-editor, The Globalization of Pentecost

“Rob Starner has provided an incredible gift to the body of Christ by sharing the inspiring story of Pastor Józef Bałuczyński. One cannot read this account without being convinced of God’s ability to sustain His people in the most difficult circumstances of life.”
–Kermit S. Bridges
President, Southwestern Assemblies of God University

“Be Not Afraid is an inspiring testimony of faith under fire. Refusing to sacrifice principles on the altar of popularity, or prosperity, or promotion, or pride, whether to avoid persecution or to save your life altogether, is a sign of Christ-like character. For over nine decades Pastor Bałuczyński has been a stellar example of Christ-like character and Christian leadership, and with the publication of this book, his legacy will extend far beyond his lifetime.”
–Scott Wilson
Lead Pastor, Oaks Church
Author, Clear the Stage: Making Room for God

“Throughout history stories have been key to passing on truth and teaching the next generation. Be Not Afraid is an absolutely riveting story of a Polish pastor’s journey through heart-wrenching trials and inspiring victories, empowered by an unwavering faith in God. This is one story that everyone must read, hear, and experience. It will impact countless hearts for generations to come.”
–Brent Grosvenor
CEO, Lights Up Productions, Inc.
Writer/Composer/Producer/Performer

“This inspiring account of Pastor Józef’s amazing testimony will remind every reader of the distinguishing traits of authentic believers: boldness to proclaim Christ, power to endure hardship and persecution, and signs and wonders that follow our witness. This is what it means to live out Pentecost—the Book of Acts continued.”
–Donna J. Schambach
President, The Schambach Foundation
Author, The Chosen Generation

Kingdom of Power, Power of Kingdom

Description

This book offers readers an exciting and profitable journey into two story worlds that likely share a common historical-cultural setting: Mark’s Gospel” and Chariton’s “passion of love.” Analyzing these works from the vantage point of narrative sequence, Starner identifies two contrasting worldviews: for Chariton, the world is controlled by the goddess Aphrodite who serves as a powerbroker distributing political, economic, and sociological power to agents who use that power for self-serving ends; for Mark, the world is governed by an all-powerful God who, shockingly, operates from a posture of powerlessness, inviting (not coercing) humans to accept his lordship and urging them to adopt the self-sacrificial, service-oriented program of living that finds its quintessential expression in the historical Jesus of the Gospels.

Book Review and Endorsements

“This book offers an intriguing study of some notable narrative techniques in Mark’s Gospel. In contrast to modern speculations of how Mark should have written, Starner’s observations are grounded in ancient narration patterns. While noting parallels with Chariton’s style, Starner is also careful to highlight some distinctive elements in Mark’s account. 

–Craig S. Keener, Professor of New Testament, Palmer Theological Seminary.

Dr. Starner’s work addresses head on the view of some scholars that Mark was an inept writer who produced a clumsy, disordered narrative about Jesus of Nazareth. Starner successfully shows this criticism to be fatally anachronistic and myopic.

In judging Mark’s first-century work by then 20th-Century standards for works intended for the eye (written texts), this unfair assessment fails to take Mark’s Gospel on its own terms, namely, a first-century work intended for the ear (oral literature). The numerous instances of repetition and redundancy, although unwelcome and annoying in written texts, instead performed a valuable function in orally performed narratives, which were by far the medium of choice in a world where less than ten percent of the population could read.

Starner’s comparison of Mark’s Gospel with Chariton’s ancient novel Chaereas and Callirhoe shows that Mark’s Gospel is carefully constructed in accordance with the conventions of oral literature and for the purpose of conveying the author’s worldview in an entertaining way.  Although the two works share significant narrative techniques, they are far too dissimilar to be placed in the same genre category, and they are literally worlds apart in the world views they espouse.

–Dr. Douglas Olena.

“It is sometimes said that the Gospel of Mark is a clumsy concatenation of stories, thrown together willy-nilly. In Kingdom of Power, Power of Kingdom, Rob Starner offers an alternative take:  Mark uses the apparent disruptions in sequence, repetitions, and gaps in information to leverage the responses of his readers. Starner’s argument is crisp, compelling, and critically important—a must read for anyone who wishes to understand both Mark and the current state of literary scholarship in biblical studies. Mark, like Starner, is anything but clumsy.” 

–Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, Professor of New Testament and Narrative Theology, Vanguard University.

Actor

I have had a love for the dramatic arts for as long as I can remember. As an only-child youngster I spent entire summers bingeing on sitcoms and early westerns. I loved entertainment and entertaining—even tried my hand at ventriloquism . . . well, actually, I tried my mouth at it (sorry, still working on stand-up comedy!) My love for drama has enriched my teaching and evangelistic ministry. Drama is an effective tool for communicating both cognitive and affective understandings of the gospel.

My love for drama has enriched my teaching and evangelistic ministry.

After almost 25 years of teaching in Christian colleges, the wager that most people know me as a Bible professor is a pretty safe bet. Nevertheless, while I am a grateful, though unworthy, recipient of this noble calling, I have long regarded my involvement in Christian drama as among the most impacting kingdom service of my life’s ministry––in spite of its inauspicious beginnings.

Growing up in a church where my mother was the Sunday school secretary gave me more drama experience than I wanted—not because of favoritism but because all the other kids usually ran scared. I cannot possibly count the number of times I’ve recited a ”piece” or appeared as a bathrobe–clad sheperd or wise man.

Finding the love of Drama in Ministry

As humorous as these experiences often were, God used them to alert me to the value of drama for ministry. One of the most moving encounters with God that I have experienced in ministry happened when I was asked to play the role of Jesus in a passion play. The scene was from the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Here Jesus is talking with Nicodemus about the meaning of salvation.

I knew from the study of antiquity; then to the separation from his father that Jesus was about to experience; and finally to my own father whom I had lost to cancer only months before

As I began the words “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” I peered into the darkness of the sanctuary. In lightning bursts my mind flashed from the scene of the afflicted Israelites being healed as they looked to the serpent on Moses’s stake, to the symbolic parallel with the stake on which Jesus was crucified; then, to the play on words Jesus was making with the euphemism “lifted up.” Next, to graphic descriptions of the horror of crucifixion that I knew from the study of antiquity; then to the separation from his father that Jesus was about to experience; and finally to my own father whom I had lost to cancer only months before—all of that in the flash of what could not have amounted to more than three seconds of unrehearsed dramatic pause. At last, with an increasingly tighter throat, I continued, “so also must son of Man be . . .” –and raising my arms in the position of a cross, I managed to eke out in nothing more than a raspy whisper, “lifted up.”

Finding my my Passion

In those brief seconds I was overwhelmed at what God has done for us in Christ. For the first time in my life I understood that Jesus’s dialogue with Nicodemus was something far more than a dispassionate, intellectual argument. His words were a passionate plea based on the manifest evidence of God’s love and Christ’s imminent sacrifice. “Nicodemus! You MUST be born again!”

All I know is that in those moments I experienced a radical reorientation of being.

Okay, I admit it. I wept. And I was not “acting” –unless we consider that the highest form of acting is when an actor is so merged with the character, so drawn into the story that his or her actions and reactions are completely spontaneous and uncontrived. All I know is that in those moments I experienced a radical reorientation of being. God touched me, and he used the encounter to touch others. That is the power of the Holy Spirit! When actors are carried along by the Holy Spirit, they build an emotional bridge that enables audiences to have a powerful encounter with God. And that is why I step out of my comfort zone and trust God to empower me in the ministry of Christian drama.

Grace in Galatia Show

In a deliciously calculated, mentally stimulating and profoundly challenging way, Dr. Starner performs for congregations the entire Epistle to the Galatians dressed in character as the Apostle Paul, convincing his audiences that they themselves have been enlisted by the Apostle Paul and commissioned to memorize his letter, deliver it orally to the Galatian churches, and leave a copy of the manuscript with them!  In this way, because audiences experience first-hand the Apostle’s message of salvation by grace, and not by works of law, they are relieved to realize that our salvation is based on the solid bedrock of God’s redeeming grace, not on the shifting sands of sometimes begrudging and always imperfect Christian service.

Joseph of Arimathea Presentation

Joseph of Arimathea is sent back to earth to share his life testimony–a story that includes graphic first-century descriptions of crucifixion. Joseph shares his early conviction that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and describes the fears of losing his wealth and prominent position as a member of the Sanhedrin–fears that kept him a “secret disciple” until Jesus was crucified. The theme of the drama is echoed in Joseph’s call for God’s people to TAKE A STAND FOR JESUS!

Professional Drama at its Highest Level


THE CHOSEN

THE ANSWER TO MY DECADES-LONG PRAYER (I took time off to eat and sleep!)Dear friends, I wholeheartedly endorse, and encourage your full support of, THE CHOSEN, the first multi-season show about the life of Christ. Their goal is to bring the gospel stories to over 1 billion people. In all honesty, this series is hands down the best I have ever seen. In my judgment, there simply is no CLOSE second.  I truly believe that it is destined to become the single greatest media tool for evangelism and discipleship EVER.  At the time of this writing, THE CHOSEN has reached nearly 84 million viewers. Even the way it is funded follows a great discipleship model.  Like salvation, the episodes are entirely FREE to access.  And, like salvation, the producers (like our Heavenly Father!) ASK you to consider “paying it forward” so that other people can watch it free. Does the concept work?  The data speaks for itself:  THE CHOSEN is the #1 most crowd-funded media project of all time—and it grows every day.  If you haven’t seen the episodes, download the app at www.thechosen.tv/app. If you have seen the episodes, or you simply trust my judgment on this matter, and you want to support this timely ministry, you can pay-it-forward” so others can see it free at www.thechosen/payitforward.com. If you want to help fund this series and get immediate rewards for doing so, purchase merchandise at www.thechosenmerch.com
Here is the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus in Season 1, Episode 7 as an example of the quality.  You will get much more out of it, if you watch the previous episodes first.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p2XIUK9VgA
Below the video are links to some of my reviews of THE CHOSEN: 

My Videos

OVERCOMING A WEAKNESS OF THEOLOGY

A Not-So-Subliminal Encouragement to Read the All-Time Best Seller. THEOLOGY IS A HUMAN CONSTRUCT. It represents someone’s understanding of the nature, character, and purposes of God. The singular form refers to the discipline that seeks to develop, organize, and communicate various ideas about God. But it is technically more accurate to speak of “theologies” plural…

Thank you, Publishers Clearinghouse!!!

For thirty-three years I entered the PCH sweepstakes and nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Disappointment after disheartening disappointment! I can’t possibly remember how many trips to the mailbox I made, floating on a cloud of hope. Confessing every sin that I could remember—along with a blanket confession to cover all those I couldn’t remember! Claiming…

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