Barry Leventhal was a giant of a man, whose passing has left us with not a few tears. However, we rejoice because we have the confidence that Barry is with our Savior whom he so fervently served. Much can, and will, be said about his professional achievements – and they are many. However, I am missing my friend.
There are many stories of Barry that we all hold dear. When he first came to work at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Rebekah was in the copy room when he walked in. She greeted him with, “Dr. Leventhal, my name is…” Barry immediately interrupted her saying, “I’m Barry. Just Barry.” Decades later, Barry is as dear to our family as he was then. He lived out his humility in every aspect of his life, never esteeming himself above others.
I remember the first faculty meeting when Barry came on. In front of us all, notably Dr. Geisler, Barry recounted the story of writing his dissertation at Dallas Theological Seminary. Just as he was in the finishing stages, one of his dissertation readers stepped away, perhaps due to retirement. He was replaced by a new faculty member at DTS, Norman L. Geisler. Given that the topic was the Holocaust, Dr. Geisler saw what he considered a distinct element missing. Dr. Geisler then insisted that Barry add an additional chapter on the Problem of Evil. Though he was understandably frustrated at having to work almost another year, he celebrated to us how critically important that research was and how much it served Barry’s apologetic ministry from then on.
Barry and Mary have been the consummate examples of partnership in marriage. Even a few weeks ago when we visited with them, they were still the teammates they have always been. Each relying on the other’s strengths. This partnership allowed them to counsel countless couples over the years. Mary and Barry’s relationship has been a living, breathing example of Christ’s love for the Church.
I can count on one hand the testimonies of others that I have frequently recounted to others. Barry’s is definitely one of them. His story points to so many things important to each of us as Christians. He was discipled; he asked questions and sought answers; he didn’t shy away from difficult decisions. He never stopped deepening his relationship with His Lord. He was gentle, but firm, always standing strong for the Gospel and defending the faith.
And, let’s be honest, how many of us know someone who was a member of a Rose Bowl team? We all learned about the long-term physical effects of football through Barry. We watched him persevere through pain and surgeries. We couldn’t wait for him to be back in the classroom; teaching Bible study; preaching; loving us.
As Barry’s family put it, “Barry has finished his race.” We are all grateful to have met Barry. I am blessed to have him as a friend, as a brother. I loved discussing Free Grace with him; loved that he was such a strong dispensationalist. I loved Barry and look forward to seeing him again one day.
I’ll see him in the Rapture.