Remembering Dr. Newman

Posted by Hannah Gaschler on 6/19/24 4:36 PM

Dr. Newman-1

Former professor Dr. Randy Newman passed away unexpectedly on May 23. “I am deeply grateful for the work God must have been doing in and through his life, such that he could move my heart in the ways that he did and show me the awe and wonder and beauty of Jesus,” Charity Kim (CLA, ‘23) said. 

Professors and students describe Newman as funny, smart, and straightforward. He enjoyed jazz, random quotes, and Jewish metaphors and phrases. But his most significant contribution to PHC came through his teaching on evangelism and daily Christian living through the core class PBR (Principles of Biblical Reasoning)
Why the core includes PBR“His PBR classes were a cross between fireside chat time with a godly grandpa and rigorous biblical exegesis,” Dr. Doug Favelo said. Newman taught from 2014 through the fall of 2020, lecturing over Zoom his last semester. 

Newman’s heart for evangelism came from his own conversion experience from Judaism. As a teenager, Newman never felt connected to God no matter how closely he stuck to the Jewish rules. “It was always a disappointment,” he said in a video. At the same time, he heard Christian friends talking about having a personal relationship with God. In college, after a guy fell out of a window and died, Newman decided to read the Bible. He thought, “I can’t keep joking. I gotta get some serious answers.”

This led him to value asking questions while evangelizing, teaching, and studying the Bible. PBR students read his book Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did. “He really wanted others to know the Lord as well,” Dean Jeff Thornhill said. “I think he genuinely saw the image of God in every kind of person.” Thornhill met Newman in the early 1990s through Campus Crusade for Christ. Newman trained evangelism teams in the U.S., then Thornhill’s team trained them in Israel. 

newman quoteNewman’s PBR assignments included responding to articles from the Gospel Coalition, as well as writing a paper about a question non-Christians ask. This focus on evangelism prepared Julianne Kidd (CLA, ‘23) for conversations with students as a PHC Teen Camps counselor. She learned the importance of walking alongside people wrestling with doubts and leading them to the gospel through questions.   

Kidd also remembers the care Newman showed the students. He asked them to fill out a survey including questions about their family and Christian journey, then he referenced their answers in conversation. “It was really neat to see how he cared for us, he prayed for us, he loved us," she said. "For a teacher who is an adjunct, I didn’t expect that.”
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Newman’s class taught Charity Kim to consider how Christianity can capture people’s hearts. “When I interact with individuals, I don’t think about their intellectual and philosophical beliefs,” she said. “I think about where their heart is and where their longings are.” PBR increased her desire to radiate the love of Jesus to unbelievers, who face disappointment, not knowing the fulfillment of their longings. 

Newman’s class also shifted Kim’s perspective on reading God’s Word. Newman taught that a Christian’s prayer life should overlap more and more with Scripture, and Kim found that integrating prayer and Scripture made each richer.  “When you read your Scripture prayerfully, talking to God—as you’re literally trying to listen to him—it becomes this much more enlivened and beautiful kind of space,” she said.
Spiritual life at PHCKidd and Kim took PBR during Newman’s last semester, the fall of 2020. Newman left PHC to move closer to his family and to spend more time writing books and teaching pastors through Reformed Theological Seminary and various conferences. He also continued working as a fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute. 

“Of all of the friends I’ve had, I think his soul was the most suited to go into heaven,” Thornhill said. “He had a very C.S. Lewis-like wonder of the Lord and of heaven, and I think he’s now absolutely filled with wonder.”

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An unwavering biblical worldview is PHC's third distinctive


 Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


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