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The Good Book Blog, a resource from the faculty of Talbot School of Theology, features articles that explore contemporary ideas from the perspective of the Bible — the “Good Book” — including topics such as apologetics, biblical studies, theology, philosophy, spiritual formation, ministry and leadership. Find out more about what sets Talbot apart and how it prepares Christian leaders through its degree programs.

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  • Walter Russell — 

    It was that nightmarish moment that all parents dread deep within their souls. I am staring into the open grave of one of our children. The setting is the cemetery of our family’s hometown in Bolivar, Missouri, where we have just completed the graveside service of our son Christopher. It is an unspeakably painful moment in my life. If I could muster any more tears, I would be uncontrollably weeping as I watch four men struggle to lower a steel vault lid to cover the grave vault holding Christopher’s little white casket. I will see his little smiling face no more. I won’t run my fingers through his beautiful blond hair again. We’ll never snuggle together or touch one another. This is the end. And as I stand there looking into what feels like the abyss, I realize that this could be the most despairing, skeptical, and faithless moment of my life. I feel like I could curse God for emotionally gutting me for the rest of my days. It is as if I am standing beside the deep, dark, bottomless pit of hell.

  • Alan W. Gomes — 

    The great reformer Martin Luther once declared that the biblical teaching of justification by faith alone “is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls.” Historically, Protestants have understood justification to mean that God declares us “not guilty” for our sins because Christ bore them in our place, and also that God declares us as being positively righteous in his sight because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, i.e., credited to our accounts. However, a recent teaching called the “New Perspective on Paul” has called into question the traditional Protestant understanding of justification.

  • K. Erik Thoennes — 

    We should want to know God more than we want to know his will for our lives.

  • Robert B. Price — 

    It could have turned out badly. Back in spring 2010 I decided sight unseen to assign Fred Sanders’s The Deep Things of God as a textbook in my fall Theology I class. The publisher said that the book should be available by mid-August. That’s about one week before the start of the semester. What if there were delays? And regardless of delays, what if the book showed up and was lousy? What would I tell my students?

  • Gary L. McIntosh — 

    I spoke to a gathering of pastors this last month on the topic of Healthy Churches. I suggested to the pastors that there are four, perhaps five, types of churches in a health paradigm. First, there are Hospice Churches. These churches are extremely ill, having declined in worship attendance for a decade or longer, and most likely will close. God can, of course, perform a miracle and restore hospice churches to health, but this is rare.

  • David L. Talley — 

    Recently, in the morning worship at our church, we used a lamentation written by former Biola/Talbot student, John Rinehart, to help us think about what it means to turn to the Lord in repentance. I include this today with the hope that God will continue to soften our hearts to the awesomeness of his holiness and the wonder of his love and grace. May the Lord turn our hearts to him more and more each day as we await the soon return of Jesus.

  • Benjamin C. Shin — 

    Leadership in the church is certainly not an easy task. It requires great diligence, faithfulness, time, energy, competence, and spirituality. The weekly demands of a pastor, for example, is much more than just preparing a sermon (even though the prep time certainly takes up a good portion of the week!). There are staff meetings, visitations, administrative duties, and many other responsibilities. Add to this, the personal responsibility of family and home life and you get a pretty full week! So how can a leader in ministry keep up all of these things, maintain a Spirit-filled life, fruitful ministry, and do so without going insane?

  • Kenneth C. Way — 

    Around this time every year the excitement begins to build. Well, at least this is true for archaeologists and for those who are interested in archaeology. The reason for elation is that summer plans for excavation in Israel are announced every spring. This summer, there are around twenty-two excavations in Israel that are open for volunteer participation. Yes, that’s right. YOU can be a part of unearthing the next great discovery in Israel!

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    It is rare for someone using critical methods to argue for a position more conservative than that taken by most conservatives. Such is the case with David Trobisch’s argument for the dating of the “closing"1 of the New Testament canon (The First Edition of the New Testament [Oxford University Press, 2000]).. Trobisch argues that the New Testament (NT) canon, containing the same 27 books as are found in our NT (though in a slightly different order than they are presently arranged), was published some time in the middle of the second century. Trobisch argues against the current consensus that the NT canon was a result of a long and complicated process that continued for a few centuries. Rather, in his own words, “The history of the New Testament is the history of an edition, a book that has been published and edited by a specific group of editors, at a specific place, and at a specific time (p. 6).”

  • Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    As the father of eight children, I have spent a lot of time with Dr. Seuss. It's scary that I can quote pages of Cat in the Hat from memory. But my time in Dr. Seuss occasionally pays off when I study the Bible. You see, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist in the 1930s and 40s, and political cartoons are ideal analogies for understanding symbolism in Revelation (an idea that I got from Dr. David Scholer, one of my doctoral advisors at Fuller). What is interesting, and what makes this relevant to the study of Revelation, is that Dr. Seuss' cartoons were immediately obvious to readers when they were printed, but are difficult to understand today unless we study history.

  • Rob Lister — 

    I loved my time in seminary. The seminary years were formative and growth-filled for me in many ways. I learned more about God in a concentrated period of time than ever before. My professors were scholar-pastors. I was blessed to be part of a healthy church. I made some of my best (and lifelong) friends during seminary. And God graciously started and grew our family during those years.

  • Matt Williams — 

    ▶Jesus' interactions with people in the Gospel of John...and today I would like to begin a series that looks at stories in the Gospel of John in which we find Jesus interacting with various people who need help—physical help and spiritual help. As we look closely at these individuals, we will often see that they are dealing with shame, though this theme is usually hidden in the historical background of the first century. Thus, over the course of this series, I will explore how Jesus interacts with them not only to take away their shame, but also to raise them up and give them honor!

  • John Hutchison — 

    In a recently posted blog (Marriage: The Power of Communication), I quoted Ephesians 4:29 to affirm the healing power of spirit-controlled communication between a husband and wife : “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Even with good intentions, however, all marriages encounter conflict. When the “storm clouds” gather, how important it is to understand the role of disagreement in marriage. Where does it come from? Is it all destructive, or are there constructive attitudes that will strengthen a relationship?

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    Beginnings of ancient books were important. Ancient writers were well aware of the importance of narrative beginnings. As Morna Hooker explains (“Beginnings and Endings,” in The Written Gospel, ed. Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005], 184), “In the introduction … an author would give some indication of the purpose or contents of the book. Some genres of literature – history, biography, scientific, medical, or technical works – begin with a formal preface, indicating the author’s purpose or method.” This narrative function of beginnings, therefore, provided information regarding purpose, method, and contents – key information needed to understand the rest of the narrative.

  • Kevin E. Lawson — 

    Over the next several months, I will be addressing the problem of the shallow impact of many teaching ministries in our churches and ways that we might “Teach Deeper” for greater openness to God’s transforming work. In this second blog I share the first half of a proposal for how to understand the goals of our teaching to more naturally help those we teach both understand and begin to respond to God’s Word in ways that can lead to lasting change.

  • Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    The following post outlines some of the nuts-and-bolts of leading a church as a plurality of pastors. It is an excerpt from a manuscript tentatively titled, When Pastors Were Servants: Recapturing Paul’s Cruciform Vision for Authentic Christian Leadership.

  • John Hutchison — 

    I recently asked one of the elders of our church this question, “If you were choosing one factor that is most crucial in strengthening a marriage, what would it be?” He and his wife regularly do “crisis” marriage counseling with couples seeking help and on the verge of divorce. The response: “Bear one another’s burdens—learn to be a good listener, pray for your spouse, and communicate that you really care.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But even with the best of intentions, practicing this requires good communication skills. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) says . . .

  • Richard C. Langer — 

    We live in one of the most materially prosperous cultures that the world has ever known. We live with full stomachs and warm houses, surrounded by technological toys, secured by gates and walls, tended by the best of medical practice, and endlessly entertained by a 24/7 stream of media. There is only one thing we are missing: contentment. Why is "enough" so hard to find?

  • Judy TenElshof — 

    Last weekend Gene, my husband and I were up in Idyllwild at Hilltop, a renewal center God has given us and we were serving a church elder board. We knew that snow was predicted and we warned everyone to drive up early but Friday night four of the men came up late. At 11 pm, after it had snowed for a couple of hours, they were unable to get up the last hill. They struggled getting their chains on, and while working to get the chains on, left the front car door of their car open which was then mangled by a tree when the car slipped backwards. At that point they called to ask for help. Their souls and ours were anything but beautiful, they were full of turmoil and angst, but nothing prepared us for the change in our souls the next morning when we awoke. Two feet of fresh fallen snow and it was still coming down. We were able to see God in all of His magnificence as we opened our eyes to his beauty in the very thing that had caused us angst. A true picture of God in his gentle, silent, purity creating a picture of his workmanship in our souls. What a contrast to the night before.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a student who rose to speak at a “thank you” celebration when I left my first church. I had been involved in youth ministry at this church for 14 years, the last ten as the youth pastor. I had begun to recognize the benefits of developing a comprehensive mentoring program for the youth ministry and invested many hours in the lives of a few young men. All five of these men are currently serving in full time ministry today, most as youth pastors. This particular student, James, was one of those five I poured myself into during the last few years at that church. As many people stood to say nice things to my family and I, this young man silenced the room when he simply said, “You are my Paul and I am your Timothy!” And with that he sat down. The emotion I had been trying to control burst forth at that moment and I realized I was finished. I had completed the task God had called me to at that church. What a compliment that student paid me; on my worst days, I think about that moment and smile. Mentoring may be a “buzz-word” in the business world but the practice of developing another person for specific purposes of skill development or leadership (Smith, p. 95) has been around since the beginning of civilization, evident throughout Scripture – especially in the lives of Paul and Timothy.

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    Over the weekend, I spoke at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon where Talbot alumnus Ken Wytsma serves as pastor. In the “Redux” (Q&A) session that followed my message, someone asked me, “What is Spiritual Warfare?” Here is my response:

  • Robert B. Price — 

    O Heavenly Father, how typical of us it is to look, not first to you, but straight at our many foes, and then shrink back from our difficult situations and listen far too readily to those who question your goodness to us. Forgive us, Father! Our foes and troubles and doubts are not our final reality. Jesus Christ is our final reality!

  • Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    When I teach or preach from the Gospels, I always bring in relevant aspects of the historical and cultural background. Including such details not only helps us in our interpretation of the scene, but also helps us retell the story well – an essential part of preaching from narrative passages. Several passages in the Gospels involve soldiers. Movies about Jesus, and most sermons about Jesus, portray all of these soldiers as Romans. We sometimes get the idea that there were centurions on every street corner. But is this the case? I have pulled together some of the information that we have about soldiers in Judea and Galilee in the first century, and included a few comments about each scene in the Gospels involving soldiers.

  • Freddy Cardoza — 

    Ideas are not neutral and irrelevant. They are constructs of language that can have helpful or hurtful cooresponding effects. All ideas are not equally valid and are not necessarily even true... but, true or not, ideas can have powerful effects and great care should be taken in our handling of them.

  • John Hutchison — 

    Just think about the meaning of the words in our wedding vows—“for better or for worse . . . in plenty and in want . . . in joy and in sorrow . . .in sickness and in health . . . as long as we both shall live.” What a commitment we make in that moment of time, with “God and these witnesses” listening! Are these just empty words of tradition, or do they represent a genuine promise of commitment? The longevity and quality of your marriage depends upon it!