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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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  • John E. McKinley — 

    Marc Vandenbrouke set down the book he was reading on the café table. In one hand was the cigarette that beckoned to him with smoldering nicotine. That was his life disintegrating into acrid smoke. Marc had been reading about the revered Buddha, Siddhartha, but the monk had taught him nothing about the meaning of his own life. He had also turned to Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. These had all failed him. They told him he was a nothing, a parasite in an otherwise lovely ecosystem. Marc couldn’t even explain to himself why he, a human being, was significantly different from the chair or his cigarette. His thoughts were futile, his feelings were nonsense, and his choices, as his teachers had told him, were merely illusions based in chemical reactions taking place within the fat tissues of his skull. Was knowledge truly impossible? Did no one have a way to explain existence? Ah, well, here’s a phone call to relieve him from the brief sojourn into morbidity, despair and the meaninglessness of his life.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    The holidays are quickly being thrust upon us. The day after Halloween, my local shopping malls had already erected Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving has been pushed aside for the shopping holiday, Black Friday. All of this has left me pondering all the other things we celebrate.

  • Rob Price — 

    Last week our son, Elijah (7) was given a drawing assignment: copy Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate (c. 1487). Operative word here: ‘copy’. Elijah, however, understood ‘interpret’. And so the heavenly shafts of light illumining Mary’s head were transmogrified into something rather less spiritual. So, taking a cue from Sanders’s Avant-Garde category…

  • John Hutchison — 

    The greatest tests of faith come either when life is going well (prosperity) or when it seems to be falling apart (trials). How can I keep my focus in life during both of these distracting times? A few years ago, when the prayer of Jabez was getting all the attention and selling many books, I became enamored with another obscure prayer in Scripture. It was prayed by a little-known wisdom writer named Agur . . .

  • Richard C. Langer — 

    Thanksgiving from William Bradford to George Washingto to Abraham Lincoln to 9/11, has not just been a holiday celebration but rather a discipline of gratitude grown in the soil of adversity.

  • Rex E. Johnson — 

    Imagine meeting weekly for 3 – 4 months over coffee or tea with someone who is eager to discover what a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. Conversations focus on understanding the Bible, salvation, the Holy Spirit and resurrection, righteousness and justification, peace with God and the peace of God, the realm of grace, freedom from punishment and the freedom in discipline. They are true conversations, not lectures. You have a guidebook, your “Traveler” gets a Traveler’s Notebook. We have often found that the Traveler has not really begun the journey. He or she has never surrendered to Jesus, and we can help them understand better what salvation is, and commit to Jesus.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    What does Paul intend when he instructs that an overseer must be a husband of one wife in 1 Timothy 3:2 (cf. Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:12)? Here is a quick walk-through this somewhat complicated expression.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    As I am working on a commentary on the Gospel of John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), I have noticed a general trend by interpreters to minimize the functional importance of the dialogues of Jesus. While interpreters might admit in principle that the form of a particular scene is a dialogue, in practice the dialogical form of the scene is given little interpretive force. What is focused on instead is the words of Jesus, almost is if they occurred in a vacuum. I think this misunderstands the importance of dialogues. Let me explain.

  • Jeffrey Volkmer — 

    The recently convened Searching for Sanctuary Film Festival at Biola University presented significant independent films that explored the meaning of, and human longing for, sanctuary. The films screened were illustrative of the deep yearning all humans have for true sanctuary and the repercussions of its absence, ultimately pointing to the archetype of sanctuary for the Christian, Jesus Christ. One of the films screened was directed by Orlando van Einsiedel entitled, Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul. It provided a beautifully shot and deeply poignant portrayal of the importance of sanctuary in the lives of the children of Kabul, Afghanistan, whose lives are tremendously impacted not only by the notable absence of sanctuary, but also how they were able to find it upon a skateboard. Here is not only an opportunity to view this wonderful film, but a theological reflection of its significance.

  • Kevin E. Lawson — 

    We often face pressures to move our Bible teaching sessions along in church, sacrificing depth of teaching impact to save time and keep on schedule with the lesson plans. What do we lose when we do this, and how might we respond to these pressures to ensure greater depth of impact in our teaching?

  • Uche Anizor — 

    A question I receive repeatedly, and a good one at that, is: “What is the theological interpretation of Scripture?” If you’ve heard this phrase bandied about and are still not sure what it means, you’re certainly not alone. There aren’t many concise and clear definitions of it, though there are a number of descriptive accounts.

  • Joanne J. Jung — 

    It happened this past Sunday. The moment my daughter said, "I do," I became a mother-in-love. No one knew except the wedding planner, but I had written a letter addressed to my daughter and had it read in the presence of our guests at the reception. Though short, it was long in writing, as the memories, emotions, and tears often paralyzed yet drove the process. I share these words with you.

  • John Hutchison — 

    Just a month ago I was glued to the TV for an entire weekend as our nation replayed and remembered the tragic events of 9/11/2001. Even after all these years, the many stories of heroism and survival cannot remove the sting of that day. As I watched the video tapes of those well-documented events, I was brought to tears by the stories of so many families who were . . . and still are . . . living with sadness and great loss. The way this story was reported ten years later reveals to me two of the most difficult ideas for many people to accept . . .

  • Ashish J. Naidu — 

    I have often wondered if the lack of interest in the external beauty of sacred space and décor, which characterizes much of our church culture today, is due to the struggle with dualism? Or is it due to the residual sense of over-correction that we have inherited from the Reformation movement? I suspect it may be both.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Jesus Christ faced a myriad of challenges when he walked this Earth; developing the leadership team to continue his mission of redemption, i.e. through the Church after his ascension back to heaven, is one that is easy to underestimate. A glimpse of the training methodology for his disciples is seen in the discourse recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 10:1-8.

  • K. Erik Thoennes — 

    There is always a tension between the purity and unity of the church. How do Christians decide how much weight to put on certain beliefs? Here is how I think we need to figure out how to plant flags wisely.

  • Mick Boersma — 

    When we moved into our house several years ago the backyard was a mess. The previous owners had large dogs, which had torn up whatever grass had survived from the late 50’s, when the neighborhood was built. And there was that ugly wall separating us from the folks next door. One of the first outdoor projects involved building trellises next to this wall and planting vines that would, according to our plan, climb up and hide that eyesore. For those of you who are landscape challenged, a trellis is a framework of light wood or metal bars used mainly as a support for climbing plants. Well, it’s been 20 years since I built those trellises, and I hadn’t given them much thought – until about a year ago. Wandering through Rolane’s delightful collection of flowers and plants, I noticed that one section of my handiwork was rotting and falling apart. But the vine was doing well. In fact, it was now holding up the trellis! That made me think about the nature of the trellis, and how it reflects the realities of what we do in ministry. Let me elaborate.

  • Benjamin C. Shin — 

    One the trickiest situations within leadership, has to do with how many people should be leading the church. Many people and cultures would strongly suggest a singular or monarchial type leader for the church while others would suggest a plurality of leaders. Which one is correct? Which model is the wisest? And what does the Word of God says about this? This entry will suggest that the Scriptures prescribe a plurality of leadership as being the wisest and most widely practiced model for leadership for the church.

  • Rob Price — 

    In A.D. 410, the eternal and (so it was thought) invincible city of Rome was invaded by a foreign army. How could this have happened? Many pagans thought they knew who was to blame: the Christians.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Henrietta: Pastor Bob said he’d be here before midnight. Mildred: My watch says it’s before midnight. Henrietta: So Pastor Bob is here. Right? Mildred: Right.

  • Rob Lister — 

    Recently, the church I attend concluded a summer sermon series on prayer that encouraged my prayer life. Now that the series is over, I thought it might be useful to jot a brief reflection on several of the key points that have stuck with me throughout this series.

  • Kevin E. Lawson — 

    One of the more important areas of preparing to teach for deeper impact that we all acknowledge is the need to pray about our teaching. I believe that all of us affirm this, but when it comes down to what and how to pray we are a bit vague and unsure what to do. Asking God to “bless” our teaching efforts is important, but not enough. In this month’s blog I suggest some ways we can be praying as we prepare to teach.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    It’s a simple concept: God is our Rescuer, and we are to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1). Therefore, we should be rescuers of others.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    What does the doctrine of “the church” really do? Does it have a say in matters related to church life and practice? While you might want immediately to answer in the affirmative, let me offer one more question: When is the last time the doctrine of the church had a say in a ministry decision of your local church? Let me tell you where I am going with this. I have a hunch that the doctrine of the church is quite frequently a non-voting member of our ministry decisions – even within the church, and its influence is suppressed not by anti-church sort of Christians, but by the very same evangelicals who would herald themselves as committed to a robust ecclesiology. Allow me to give just one example

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    I have always had mixed feelings about the whole idea of sermons broadcast over the airwaves. And now with the internet we can listen to preachers from thousands of churches around the world without having to interact with a single human being. There are, of course, great benefits to the dissemination of all these sermons. But there are distinct liabilities, as well.