Knox College, Canada

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Photo of Rev. Dr. John A. Vissers

Rev. Dr. John A. Vissers

Principal and Professor of Historical Theology

John joined the Knox Faculty in 2013 and became Principal in 2017.

John is interested in the history and theology of the Reformed tradition and its significance for the church in a global context today. He teaches and writes widely in the areas of Reformed theology, spiritual formation, theological education, Biblical preaching, missional leadership, and congregational renewal. His areas of academic research and writing focus on the theologies of John Calvin and Karl Barth, Trinitarian theology, Reformed spirituality, and Canadian Protestant theology in the 19th and 20th centuries.

John is a member of the Presbytery of Oak Ridges and served as Moderator of the 138th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (2012-2013). Previously he served as Principal of the Presbyterian College, Montreal at McGill University (1999-2013); Senior Minister at Knox Church, Toronto (1995-1999); and Professor of Systematic Theology at Tyndale Seminary (1987-1995).

John is a graduate of the University of Toronto (B.A.), Knox College (M.Div.), Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and the Toronto School of Theology (Th.D.). In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in sacred theology (D.D.) from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College affiliated with McGill University for his contributions to Reformed theology and ecumenical theological education.

My publications:


  • The Neo-Orthodox Theology of W.W. Bryden, Cambridge: James Clarke and Company, 2011 (Originally published in The Princeton Theological Monograph Series, No. 56, Pickwick Press, 2006.)
  • Calvin @ 500: Theology, History, and Practice. Co-Edited with Richard R. Topping. Pickwick Publications, 2011.
  • Studies in Canadian Evangelical Renewal: Essays in Honour of Ian S. Rennie. Co-Edited with Kevin Quast. Toronto: Faith Today Publications, 1996.
  • Editor, Presbyterian College Studies in Theology and Ministry, Clements Academic, Toronto (Volume 1: Understanding the Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology, Joseph C. McLelland, 2007; Volume 2: Exploring the Faith: Essays in the History and Theology of the Reformed Tradition, William J. Klempa, 2011)


  • “Calvin and Canadian Protestantism: The Thought and Influence of W.W. Bryden,” forthcoming 2015.
  • “Trinitarian Imagination in a Secular Age,” Between the Lectern and the Pulpit: Essays in Honour of Victor A Shepherd,” Edited by R. Clements and D. Ngien. Regent College Publishing, 2014.
  • “The Theological Contribution of W.W. Bryden,” Introduction to a new edition of W.W. Bryden’s The Christian’s Knowledge of God, Cambridge: James Clarke and Company, 2011, vii-xviii.
  • “Baptism in the Reformed Tradition,”Baptism: Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives. Edited by Gordon L. Heath and James D. Dvorak. McMaster Theological Studies Series, Pickwick Publications, 2011, 76-110.
  • “The Holy Spirit  and the Church in Modern Canadian Protestantism,” Semper Reformandum: Studies in Honour of Clark H. Pinnock, Editors, Stanley E. Porter and Anthony R. Cross,  Paternoster Press, 2003.
  • “The Knowledge of God and of Ourselves in Psalm 19,” Teach Me Your Paths: Studies in Old Testament Literature and Theology. Edited by John Kessler and Jeffrey P. Greenman. Toronto: Clements Publishing, 2001.
  • Jesus and the Cross: the meaning of salvation,” Who is Jesus? A Reformed View, Toronto: Presbyterian Record, 2000, 36-45. Originally published in the Presbyterian Record, Volume CXXIV, No.4, March 2000, 14-19.
  • “The Pastor as Church Historian: Reflections on Canadian Presbyterian History Since 1925,” Studies in Canadian Evangelical Renewal: Essays in Honour of Ian S. Rennie, Edited by Kevin Quast and John Vissers. Faith Today Publications: 1996.
  • “Recovering the Reformation Conception of Revelation: The Theological Contribution of Walter Williamson Bryden to Post-Union Canadian Presbyterianism,” The Burning Bush and a Few Acres of Snow, Edited by William J. Klempa. Ottawa:Carleton University Press, 1994.
  • “The Unique Christ in the Diversity and Unity of the Church’s Understanding: Toward a Recovery of the Identity of Jesus and the Identity of the Church in a Postmodern World,” The Unique Christ in our Pluralistic World, Edited by Bruce J. Nichols. Baker Books and Paternoster Press, 1994. Also published in Korean in The Church, Ministry and Theology, No. 10, 1992.

Academic Articles

  • “Reformed Spirituality,” Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, Edited By Glen Scorgie, Zondervan Academic, 2011.
  • “Karl Barth’s Appreciative Use of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics,” Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1, April 2010, 79-86
  • “Walter W. Bryden on the Theology of Preaching,” ARC, The Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, Volume 33, 2005, 419-430
  • “True Preachers Preaching Truly: The Goal of Preaching in the Reformed Tradition,” co-written with W.J. Clyde Ervine, Didaskalia, Volume 15, No.1, Fall 2003, 29-46
  • Interpreting the Classic: The Hermeneutical Character of David Tracy’s Theology in The Analogical Imagination,” Calvin Theological Journal, Volume 25, No.2, 1990, 194-206
  • “W.W. Bryden and the Reformed Protestant Tradition in Canada,” Toronto Journal of Theology, Volume 6, No.1, 1990, 70-85.

Popular Articles

John has written close to 100 articles for papers, magazines, newsletters, and weeklies during the past thirty years. He is a regular columnist for the Presbyterian Record and has written for In Trust and ChristianWeek. Recent representative articles:

  • “Subversive Imagination,” Presbyterian Record, Volume CXXXVII, No.6, June 2012, 19-20.
  • “Shifting terrain: Canadian theological schools build on deep roots while negotiating changes in the economy and in religious life,” In Trust, Summer 2010, Vol. 21, No.4, 5-10.
  • “Teaching the Teaching Elders: Calvin’s Case for Theological Education,” Presbyterian Record, March 2009, Vol. CXXXIII, No.3, 33-34.