John E. Phelan Jr.

John Phelan

Senior Professor of Theological Studies

Classes taught: Introduction to New Testament; Eschatology; Foundational Worship; Wendell Berry seminar

At North Park since: 1996

It is easy to divide seminaries into the categories of “academic” or “practical,” Dr. Jay Phelan finds. One prepares for ministry through a rigorously intellectual process without the life of the church; the other is a training program that teaches “how,” but not “why.” Dr. Phelan came here because he believes North Park Theological Seminary has found a way to combine both. “The intellectual, the practical, and the spiritual come together here,” he says.

As a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Dr. Phelan knows the value of theological education, particularly in the serious study of the biblical text. He chose to come to North Park because he “wanted to be a part of this process of engaging text and culture,” he says.

Having served as the Seminary’s dean of students from 1981 to 1986, Dr. Phelan then returned in 1996. He served as the seminary’s president and dean until 2010, when he became a full-time faculty member. Dr. Phelan now oversees the Seminary’s chapel program. “Worshipping together is critical,” he says. “This is a place where we come to pray, sing, break bread, and celebrate.”

Dr. Phelan has served as a pastor to congregations in Florida and Kansas, and in the denomination as executive director of Covenant Publications. He is passionate about engaging Evangelical-Jewish dialogue, a conversation that continues to reward his life and ministry.


  • PhD, Northwestern University (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) 
  • MATS, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School 
  • BGS, Trevecca Nazarene College

Recent Publications

  • John E. Phelan, Jr. Essential Eschatology: Our Present and Future Hope. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013. 
  • John E. Phelan, Jr. Regular column for The Covenant Companion. 1994–present.
  • John E. Phelan, Jr. Ex Auditu, The Covenant Quarterly.

“The intellectual, the practical, and the spiritual come together here.”