Remembering Rennie Showers (1935–2019)
News of the passing of renowned theologian Dr. Renald (Rennie) Showers in April generated a massive outpouring of condolences from people in virtually all segments of the evangelical community. To anyone who knew Rennie, the response came as no surprise.
His theological expertise, gift for writing, and exceptional skill as a Bible teacher unquestionably motivated the immense number of people touched by his ministry to express their sorrow at his death. Such an outpouring of affection is seldom seen for someone who teaches theology and shapes minds in proper modes of Christian doctrine and conduct.
For me, after more than 30 years as colleagues, his passing marks the conclusion of a relationship I’m not likely to find in quite the same way again. Though tenacious when it came to theology, Rennie possessed a kindness of spirit that I experienced repeatedly in the quiet hours we spent together in conversation apart from the bustle of conferences and work-a-day matters. Whatever the subject, he was gracious, with a rather contagious appeal in how he answered questions and related to people’s personal concerns. I, too, feel heartfelt personal loss at Rennie’s departure.
I think I speak for everyone who listened as he taught in a clear, logical fashion, patiently answering questions. They came away feeling that in Rennie, they’d met a friend. His was the gift of instruction with empathy that touched so many lives and will not be lost in our memories. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13, KJV).
former executive director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
I first met Dr. Renald Showers while a student at Philadelphia College of Bible (PCB, now Cairn University). I knew of him because I was working in the shipping department at The Friends of Israel headquarters, where we mailed out materials all over the world. One of our newest titles back then was The Most High God, Dr. Showers’ now-famous commentary on the book of Daniel.
But it wasn’t until he became one of my professors in the fall of 1983 and I had the privilege of listening to him teach the Word of God that I began to grasp just how knowledgeable, humble, and gracious a man he really was.
Back then PCB assigned each student to a faculty member who would be available to pray with you, encourage you, and provide wisdom and advice. I was given a name, but I popped my head into Dr. Showers’ office one day and asked if I could speak with him instead. His response was a resounding yes, and I found myself visiting his office many times while at PCB.
We talked about everything—doctrine, The Friends of Israel, personal matters, even sports—while he sat at his desk eating a sandwich he had brought from home. He made it easy to be yourself. He knew how much I loved baseball, particularly my home team, the Philadelphia Phillies; so he brought me with him twice when he shared God’s Word in the locker room at Veterans Stadium with the Phillies players—including Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw.
There’s a story Rennie loved to tell about the time I missed his class. He told it at his retirement dinner in 2016, and I think he’d want me to tell you now because he got such a kick out of it. I was struggling through Greek and had an exam coming up, so I decided to skip Rennie’s class for the first time ever and study. The next time class met, while Rennie was taking attendance, he looked at me with a big smile on his face and declared for all to hear, “You know who you would’ve sat next to had you not missed class? John Denny.” Talk about a missed opportunity for a young guy who loved baseball and adored John Denny!
John was a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher for the Phillies at the time. A believer, he later went to Rennie’s office where they talked about how to share Christ with fellow Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton.
Rennie was special to me. He knew so much and was able to communicate his knowledge effectively, while still being warm, personable, approachable, incredibly patient, and very understanding. I admired and respected him tremendously.
In 1989, my esteemed professor became a valued and much-loved colleague. We would often meet at the Word of Life Bible Institute in New York. Rennie would be the guest lecturer for the first-year class, and I would be lecturing to the second-year students. I look back on those times of fellowship as precious gifts from the Lord. I will miss you, Rennie.
a Bible teacher for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry