Well-known theologian Dr. Thomas Simpkins passed away November 31 at his home in Layaway, Georgia.
He was born Simpkins Tompkins but, for reasons never made clear, later changed his name to Thomas Simpkins.
He began his studies at Fundamentalist Baptist Bible College in Narroway, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Evangelical and Systematic Theology. He went on to earn a Master of Interdenominational Divinity from Via Media School of Theology, completing his academic studies by earning a Doctorate in InterFaith Formation from the Darwinian Institute of Religious Thought.
For a while, he had held a half-time position at Total Commitment Ministries, but after completing his studies, he was appointed assistant professor in the prestigious Department of Eastern Philosophy and Western Enlightenment at Northwestern University of the Global South. He remained there for the rest of his career, eventually rising to the position of Assistant Provost of Education. After being given the status of professor emeritus nine years ago, he was rarely seen at the university.
Simpkins is best known for the development of the theory of Nonessential Theology. His argument was that since “the devil is in the details,” what matters in theology is not the study of great themes such as justification and sanctification but the more peripheral issues of how these concepts might or might not be applied.
Later critics downplayed the originality and significance of Nonessential Theology, arguing that it was not that different from what other theologians were doing.
Simpkins’ best known books were Nonessential Theology, Nonessential Theology Revisited, Nonessential Theology Reconsidered, The Gospel According to Buddha, and The Gospel According to Jerry Springer.
Students remember Simpkins best for the repetitive tediousness of his lectures, but Simpkins averred that this style was deliberate, citing the old adage, “Anything worth saying is worth repeating, more than once or twice, if necessary, and it is better to say a good thing twice than not to say it at all.”
Simpkins is survived by his wives Faith, Hope, and Joy; his children Ulysses, Demeter, Epicurus, and Persephone; and 57 grandchildren.
The life of Dr. Simpkins was remembered in a public memorial at the university and in a private family service on Crableg Beach near his seafront home. His ashes were scattered by the premature arrival of hurricane season.