Celebrating 50 years at WWU

Alden Thompson


Since joining the faculty at Walla Walla University in 1970, Alden Lloyd Thompson has been a devoted voice of reason and faith for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, for his colleagues in the WWU School of Theology, and for his students. Over five decades he has shared his knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament and the subject of inspiration and revelation in the classroom and in books and published works that have been distributed around the world.

In addition to his work as a professor of biblical studies at WWU, he has contributed numerous articles to a variety of publications and has written regular columns for the Signs of the Times, the North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner, and Adventist Today. Thompson’s speaking engagements and writings cover many topics, including the Bible (especially the Old Testament), Ellen White studies, biblical inspiration and revelation, and Seventh-day Adventist church history.

Thompson’s books include: Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest AnswersEscape from the Flames: How Ellen White Grew from Fear to Joy—and Helped Me to Do it Too; and Beyond Common Ground: Why Liberals and Conservatives Need Each Other.

Thompson graduated from Walla Walla College in 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree with majors in theology and biblical studies. He graduated from Andrews University with a master of arts degree in 1966 and a bachelor of divinity degree in 1967. From 1967 to 1970, he served as a pastor in southeastern California, first for the Redlands Adventist Church and then for the Fontana Adventist Church, and in 1970 he joined the faculty in the WWU School of Theology. From 1972 to 1974 he attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where he completed a doctor of philosophy degree in Old Testament and Judaic studies.

Thompson taught at Marienhoehe Seminary in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1980 and 1981 as an exchange teacher. From 1986 to 1990 he served as vice president for academic administration at WWU, and in 1990 he returned to teaching in the WWU School of Theology.

He was a member of the Walla Walla Symphony board from 1986 to 1992, is the recipient of the 1991 WWU Burlington Northern Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching, and in 1993 received the Association of SDA Librarians Literary Award for Inspiration.

Thompson has been married to Wanda Hoffman since 1965. They have two daughters.

One of Thompson’s colleagues described him as “a devout man who, by both word and deed, tries to live out the particulars of his faith … a man who has a long history of demonstrating great concern for students and their well-being and progress … and one who has a great love for the Church.”

Thompson says that the word gratitude best sums up his 50 years at WWU: “For me, gratitude is one of the most powerful of motivators. As I look back on my experience at WWC/WWU, I find myself nearly overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude—first to my teachers when I was here as a student (1961–65), then to my colleagues and students from 1970 on.

“This is a community where we seek to trust one another and where we live in hope of a better world—while seeking to make this world as much like that new world while we wait. I hope and pray that we can work together to keep that vision alive.”