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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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  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I recently led a seminar for students at Biola who are studying to become church worship leaders entitled: “Hidden Agendas in Worship Leading.” I had them break into groups and discuss what sorts of hidden motivations sometimes lie under the surface in the process of planning and implementing times of worship. When we came back together we drew up a list on the white board. Here are some of the elements that made it onto that list...

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    Fifty years of research reveals that most pastors serve plateaued or declining churches. Yet, some pastors are able to lead a church to revitalize its ministry. What types of pastors are able to lead turnarounds?

  • Mick Boersma — 

    On a visit to the old mission district in San Juan Capistrano some years ago, my wife Rolane and I were fortunate to happen upon one of California's oldest adobe houses when the curator of the structure was present. A bronze sculptor by trade, this man had just been chosen from among a host of hopefuls to restore the over 200 year old home to its former glory. At once this man's zeal for his task was evident. In an animated discussion lasting well over a half hour, he described the ambitious plans to completely recreate in exacting detail the historical and cultural realities of the days of Mexican rule over what is now Orange County. What struck me about this fellow, aside from his storehouse of knowledge, was the passion with which he was engaging this challenge. He was in the process of taking a dusty old building and transforming it into a living and vibrant piece of California's past. There was no doubt in our minds that here was an individual who was enjoying his life and work to the fullest. What a refreshing encounter!

  • Kenneth Way — 

    I was recently reflecting on my doctoral training and I realized that I learned a few things (ten, to be precise) beyond the actual subject matter of my discipline. For starters, I learned that footnotes can be overdone.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    How much time should a pastor spend preparing to preach? My research has found that the most effective pastors spend a minimum of fifteen hours each week on sermon preparation.

  • Gary Manning Jr — 

    Earlier this semester, my good friend Ken Berding and I were discussing the different views on Romans 7:14-25 and decided that we would each write a blog post summarizing our reasons for holding opposing views on the passage. Last week, Ken gave a great defense of the view that Romans 7:14-25 is autobiographical and is thus about the Christian struggle with sin. I found Ken’s reasons 3, 6 and 7 very strong (Ken also gave a fine experiential discussion of that struggle in an earlier post). As Ken pointed out, there are many smart people on both sides of this issue, so this is not a “slam-dunk” interpretational problem. Throughout Christian history, there have been several opinions about what Paul meant in this passage. The two main options are 1) Paul is referring to his own experience as a Christian, and therefore the general Christian experience; or 2) Paul is referring to the experience of a pre-Christian Jew trying to obey the Law.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    In an earlier post I mentioned a book on biblical theology that my colleague and I had nearly finished writing. The book is finally finished, and is entitled: Understanding BIblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice (Zondervan).

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    What sounds like a simple task at first often turns out to be much more difficult in practice. Such is the situation when attempting to define a multiethnic church. For example, a brief survey of the current literature reveals four words that are commonly used to describe churches where the people come from diverse backgrounds: “multinational,” “multi-racial,” “multi-ethnic,” and “multicultural.”

  • Betsy Barber — 

    The life events that we celebrate with our students here at Talbot are usually joyful, life-filled milestones: engagements, marriages, babies, commissioning services, ordinations, new jobs, etc. Once in awhile, though, we journey unexpectedly with one of our dear students through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This has been our experience these past 6 months as one of our ISF students has died from cancer.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    The Museum of Biblical and Sacred Writings joins the Biola community and invites you to view a new exhibit.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    A church is a living organism. It's natural for an organism to grow. And it's natural for a church to grow. When a church is not growing it is quite likely that something is wrong. In the United States a healthy church will see between 5 - 12% growth in worship attendance each year.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    As a follow-up to my previous post on Romans 7, following are seven reasons I think that an autobiographical reading of Romans 7:14-25 is the most straightforward reading of the passage. When I wrote the previous post, I did not intend to offer a full account of the passage. Nor do I here. But for those who want to know a bit of why I hold that Romans 7:14-25 is Paul’s own struggle with sin as a mature believer, that is, as representative of Christians who are sensitive to any sinful shortcomings in their own lives (please see my former post) I will here offer seven reasons that have helped persuade me that Paul is writing about himself in this passage. I am reticent to put my thoughts down in writing because I know that people I respect (including some at The Good Book Blog) will view and weigh these arguments differently than I, but it seems, as Paul writes elsewhere, “you [readers] drove me to it.”

  • John Hutchison — 

    Paradox has a prominent place in Christian theology. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it" ... While these paradoxical statements are challenging and even confusing at times, they can also become a source of great comfort and encouragement when life does not turn out the way we expect.

  • John McKinley — 

    “Here I am again. What does it mean to do this in Christ?” This was my thought as I rode my carbon-fiber bicycle on the streets of Torrance on Sunday afternoon. I was nervously warming up for my first bicycle race after having been away from the sport for 19 years. Many things were familiar and came back to me automatically: pinning the race number on my jersey so the wind wouldn’t catch it, calming myself as I rode around the course, checking how the wind was blowing, and sliding in to the start line so as to be in the front.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    It's Good Friday, just after noon.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    If you could ask a dozen New Testament scholars to list the five most difficult passages in the New Testament, most would include Romans 7:14-25 on their list. That same group would likely disagree with one another on what interpretive framework is most helpful for interpreting that passage. (Even among those who blog at the Good Book Blog, I know for a fact that there is a diversity of opinion on how best to address this passage). Does Romans 7:14-25 describe Paul’s own struggle with sin as a believer? Does it describe the struggle with sin of someone who has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, that is, an unbeliever? Perhaps it is the struggle of a pious old covenant Jew who loves the law of God but struggles to fulfill it? Or maybe it isn’t personal at all; maybe it is a grand analogy of the change from the old covenant to the new covenant?

  • Mick Boersma — 

    It happens every time. I’m pulling up to a red light and there’s a car or two in front of me. But the next lane over is clear. So what do I do? Pull over so I can be first in line when the light turns green, of course! (Unless the guy in front of me beats me to it!) Then there’s how slow my computer can be. What’s with that little colored wheel rotating around and around and around….while I wait for a function to be completed! I thought OS X 10.infinity was supposed make everything go faster!!

  • Tom Finley — 

    These observations are made independently of any current events taking place in the Middle East. They are offered to clarify from the Hebrew and certain ancient sources some of the issues that modern interpreters are raising from their understanding of Ezekiel 38.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    At the intersection of Christian psychology and theology, much has been made in recent decades of our identity in Christ. I am assured that grasping the fact that I am “chosen, holy, and loved by God” (Colossians 3:12) is indispensable to a true view of myself as a Christian. Appropriating my identity in Christ forms the crucial foundation for healthy relationships with others, as well.

  • Mark Saucy — 

    So here on the eve of Biola’s Conference “Israel the Church and the Middle East Crisis” I’m flushed out of my long blog hiding (or lethargy). That’s right, my maiden venture to blog-country is urged by some real angst in my heart about neglect of Israel. Now, Israel-angst of this kind is a subgenus to a larger malady I’ve seen around me in evangelicalism for some time—Eschatolitis—a form of the passive neglect of doctrine in general, but in this case, the doctrine of the End Times.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    This post is written for and dedicated to those who desire a deeper communion with God through prayer and who struggle with distractions, distortions, or disillusionment.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    This past Christmas we purchased a cell phone for our 13 year old daughter (Ela), and added her to our family plan—including texting. (We blocked internet access.) Five years ago when we acquired phones for our two older daughters (now 22 and 20), texting was a small part of the culture; now it has permeated our culture. Because of this, we decided to write up a contract for our junior high daughter outlining our expectations for cell phone use—and texting in particular. Our daughter is quite responsible, and we’re confident that she will function well under these guidelines. But we thought it would be wiser to express our expectations up front than to attempt to “make it up” as we go. I share this “contract” with you in case you are a parent trying to figure out how to negotiate cell phone use—and texting in particular—with a middle-school-aged daughter. Feel free to use it, change it, send it, or ignore it. (This contract can also be used with a son if you make a few adjustments.)

  • Kenneth Way — 

    Human sacrifice is at once a most disturbing and inspiring theme of the Scriptures. It can demonstrate both what is wrong with the world and what is right. Let me explain.

  • David Talley — 

    Men are called to be leaders in their homes, but what does this mean? Does it mean that we make sure we pray with our families, have regular family Bible readings, own a good set of commentaries so we can be the “Bible Answer Man” when called upon, make sure the family is at church whenever the doors are open, create Power Point presentations to teach our family Bible doctrine, set up guidelines for our children that come straight out of the Bible, etc.? What does godly leadership look like on a day to day basis? In order to answer this question, I want to offer a definition of godly leadership in the home and then propose two major errors one makes in seeking to be a godly leader.

  • John McKinley — 

    Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History, Diana Lynn Severance (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2011) 336 pp. $15 ($12 on Amazon; or $11.39 on Kindle) Overall, the book is challenging and informative for me as a male Christian. I have been mostly ignorant of the many deep and lasting contributions of women throughout the history of the church. The fascinating chronicles informed me to be full of admiration for these particular women, and for Christian women throughout the world today who struggle for basic human rights. I recognize that women continue to be disregarded, demeaned, patronized, minimized, and marginalized in evangelical churches and Western cultures today. Severance’s book is the beginning of a helpful corrective for the church to value women as equal heirs of the gift of grace.