Noted Author, Theologian to Deliver Abraham Memorial Lecture on Oct. 3

Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk – an internationally renowned theologian, philosopher and author – will deliver this year’s William J. Abraham Memorial Lecture at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3.

DALLAS (SMU) – Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk – an internationally renowned theologian, philosopher and author – will deliver this year’s William J. Abraham Memorial Lecture at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3. Both the lecture and complimentary luncheon will take place in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall at SMU (5915 Bishop Blvd.)

The lecture, entitled “The Doctrines That Do and Do Not Develop,” considers this question in conversation with John Henry Newman and William J. Abraham. Narratives of positive doctrinal change are compared with those of decline, with the doctrines of the incarnation and deification singled out for comparison.

Gavrilyuk received his Master of Theological Studies from Perkins in 1995 and earned his Ph.D. in Religious Studies in 2001 from SMU, where he was a doctoral student under Abraham. Gavrilyuk holds the Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy in the Theology Department of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. His books, which have been translated into 12 languages, include The Suffering of the Impassible God (2004) and Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance (2012). Gavrilyuk also is the founding president of two nonprofit organizations: the International Orthodox Theological Association ( and REBUILD UKRAINE (

“Of all the wonderful gifts that I have received at Perkins, none is more precious than the friendship and mentorship of the late Billy Abraham,” Gavrilyuk said. “It is in conversations with Billy – whether in the lecture room or on the plane or at the ping-pong table – that I fully understood my own calling as a teacher and a scholar. This lecture is a token of profound gratitude to Billy for shaping not only my thinking but my very being as a Christian."

Bridwell Library (SMU Libraries) and Perkins School of Theology established the Abraham Memorial Lecture in 2022 to bring a scholar to the SMU campus each year to engage in a topic – of the scholar’s choosing – related to Abraham’s work. The inaugural lecturer was Dr. Fred Aquino, who joined the Perkins faculty in August as Professor of Systematic Theology.

“Billy had a knack for posing and taking up crucial questions regarding the theological, historical, and philosophical contours of Christian doctrines while exploring their constructive promise,” Aquino said. “I can think of no one better than Prof. Paul Gavrilyuk to offer a lecture on the development of Christian doctrine in comparable fashion.”

Abraham, 73, died suddenly in October 2021. He was the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins from 1995 until his retirement in May 2021. He joined the Perkins faculty on Sept. 1, 1985, as the McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism and the Philosophy of Religion. After retirement, he became Professor Emeritus of Wesley Studies.

If you are interested in attending, please complete this RSVP form by Wednesday, Sept. 27.



Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.