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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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  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Check this out. A quote from a kid who came to Christ at Hume Lake last week. It doesn't get any simpler, or any more profound, than this:

  • Kenneth Way — 

    I want to announce a new resource, as well as make a shameless plug, for small group Bible studies and Sunday School classes. It’s a DVD providing four 15-minute sessions about the book of Psalms. It is part of the new Deepening Life Together video series published by Baker Books, LifeTogether and Lamplighter Media.

  • Nell Sunukjian — 

    Reading the Bible. It sounds so simple. Just read the Bible every day, or at least read it regularly for nourishment and insight and communication with God. But how do we do it? In a time when the lack of Biblical knowledge extends from the average churchgoer to students entering Biola University, reading the Bible is more necessary than ever. But it’s harder than we thought.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Do you remember the “just say no to drugs” campaign waged a number of years ago? (The slogan “just say no” continues to be used in schools across the country.) The assumption of the slogan was that kids could simply say “no” whenever faced with temptation. Is that true? Can we simply say “no” whenever we are tempted?

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    This is my last post (at least in this series) on the Apostolic Fathers. But together with my class, we have come up with a list of thumbnail descriptions to help us remember the various writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Here is our list (in the order we read these writings):

  • Mick Boersma — 

    It started as I was picking up toys from a visit by our precious grandchildren. Strewn about the living room, into the kitchen and out the back door was a dizzying array of colorful plastic pieces of everything from ‘Cootie’ to ‘Madeline’s Christmas Book and Doll Set’. This scene had played out before – every time those five bundles of energy had ‘left the building’.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Here’s a chapter written by an unknown early Christian to an unbeliever named Diognetus that is well-worth the three minutes it will take you to read it. This evangelist and apologist refers to Christians as “a new race or way of life” (Diogn. ch. 1). In chapter 5 he unpacks the distinctiveness of Christians.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    My article, "Building a Better Small Group," was just posted by The Gospel Coalition.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    We had quite a lively conversation in my Apostolic Fathers class the other evening after reading The Epistle of Barnabas. (BTW, it was not written by the biblical Barnabas; and the attribution to Barnabas may not even be original, so you don’t need to assume that this author is “pretending” to be Barnabas). “Barnabas” was committed to the interpretive procedure known as allegorical interpretation.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    I recently returned from an excavation at Tel Dan in Israel. The season was for four weeks (June 25-July 20, 2012), but I only stayed for the first two. I was accompanied by Ivan Haq, an MA-OT student at Talbot/Biola. Neither of us is a professional “field” archaeologist, but we paid for our room & board and flights and we offered our labor as volunteers.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I’m still teaching my summer class on the Apostolic Fathers. We just had a discussion in class about the Shepherd of Hermas. Hermas claims to have had lots of visions and appearances of angels (one in the form of a shepherd—thus the name of the work) who tell him what to do and what messages he should deliver to others.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    My previous post garnered some lively response, to say the least. Murray Vasser offered the most thoughtful and pointed critique. Since my response would not fit in a comment slot, I’ve posted it separately to contribute to the ongoing dialogue.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A lot of critical-leaning biblical scholars dispute Paul’s authorship of the Pastoral Letters: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Recently there has been a bit of movement toward greater acceptance of the possibility of Paul’s authorship among those more critically inclined, though there is still a long way to go. One argument supporting the Pauline authorship of these letters is a discovery I made a number of years ago while studying Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians. Polycarp inadvertently tells us in his little letter that he believes that the Apostle Paul is the author of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy (and if that is true, probably also of Titus). Why does this matter? Because Polycarp wrote around A.D. 120 (some recent scholars say around 110), and was in a position to know a lot about the apostolic age that we don’t know. Up until this discovery, the earliest known author to both quote from the Pastoral Letters and to connect them to Paul as author was Irenaeus writing around A.D. 180. This discovery moves down the external attestation for the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Letters by 60 years.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    I am receiving an increasing number of e-mails from persons in my church championing this or that conservative political cause. I recently responded in some detail to a dear brother who sent me a note encouraging his church leaders to become aware of a particular political agenda.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I have recently been convicted about the content of my praying. This has come about especially through meditating on the prayers of the Apostle Paul. What were the subjects that he thought worthwhile to focus on when he prayed? How do his prayer burdens compare to my own (sometimes insipid and paltry) prayers? I just got another challenge in this area today reading once again through 1 Clement in preparation for the Apostolic Fathers class I’m teaching right now. 1 Clement is a lengthy letter written by the church in Rome to the church in Corinth (probably by the hand of either a secretary or a church leader named “Clement”) at the end of the first century. Included at the tail end of this letter is a deep, passionate, and wide-ranging prayer (including prayer for governmental leaders during a period of persecution). If you have ever benefitted from praying in concert with devout Christians of earlier centuries (and you won’t find any document earlier than 1 Clement outside of the Bible), you may find some real spiritual benefit in praying this prayer.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Ignatius of Antioch was the passionate leader of the church in Antioch just after the apostolic period. He wrote five letters to churches in Asia Minor, one to the church in Rome, and one to Polycarp of Smyrna during a forced marched by ten soldiers (“leopards” he calls them) in the direction of Rome to be thrown to wild beasts because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Uche Anizor — 

    As one who is kind of obsessed with questions of method in theology, I found some summary comments by T. F. Torrance on the relation of history and tradition to theological formulation helpful. He writes: No scientist ever begins his work de novo; while he works with the methodological questioning of what he has already known he builds on knowledge already achieved and engages in a movement of advance. But it is one of the worst characteristics of theological study, whether in biblical interpretation or in dogmatic formulation, that every scholar nowadays thinks he must start all over again, and too many give the impression that no one ever understood this or that until they came along.

  • Michelle Barnewall — 

    In The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard identifies what he calls “disciplines of engagement” and “disciplines of abstinence.” Examples of disciplines of abstinence including fasting, solitude, silence and frugality, while disciplines of engagement include study, worship, service, prayer, and fellowship.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Right now I’m teaching a summer readings course on the Apostolic Fathers. Ten students are reading with me such documents as 1 Clement, the Letters of Ignatius, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, the Didache, the (so-called) Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, To Diognetus, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, 2 Clement, and the fragments of Papias. These are the earliest Christian documents written just after the apostolic age and span the years from around A.D. 95 up until about A.D. 165. Though they are referred to as the “apostolic fathers,” they are really our earliest “post-apostolic fathers.” But how should we assess their value? Here are three options:

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    Churches tend to approach culture from one of three perspectives: Isolation, Domination, or Incarnation. Isolation takes place when a church is so far removed from culture that it can no longer communicate the Good News in effective ways. If isolation takes place in a complete way, it usually leads to a church that totally dies out. However, most cases of isolation simply result in a church that has limited impact on people and society.

  • Mick Boersma — 

    First it was a fishing boat. Sixteen feet of aluminum, shining in the sun. Always an avid angler, this would be his ultimate pleasure. Later would come the shop full of woodworking tools. Playing 'Hans the Woodcrafter' would provide hours of enjoyment during the frigid months of an Iowa winter. I was too young to care, let alone figure out what motivated my dad to launch into these hobbies during my grade school years. He was in his forties then, an old man by kid standards, and pursuing his life-long passion of farming.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    "Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a for, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me." Ever since I read Jim Elliot's journal as a young college student and discovered this quote...

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    It is not uncommon for pastors to be distressed over a discussion that suggests worship attendance is the key reflector of church health (see my post of April 17, 2012). They may respond with something like: “We are not an old-fashioned 'attractional' church, and don't define success on how many people come to us. We are a 'missional' church, and define our success on how many people we go to.”

  • Moyer Hubbard — 

    The biblical story, from beginning to end, can rightly be described as an epic of new creation. As its prologue opens with God’s creation of heaven and earth, so its epilogue closes with the dramatic appearance of the new heaven and the new earth—a place where sorrow and death are no more, and where the dwelling place of God is with his people. But this grand inclusio, while hopeful in its preface and jubilant in its finale, brackets a history of pain and toil, agony and tears. As early as Genesis 3 the battle lines are firmly fixed. The creature has shunned the creator, the creation groans in bondage to decay and posterity is left with a legacy of despair. It is worth recalling, however, that the biblical story is a drama of redemption. And while the plot is not without its twists and turns, it does reach a fitting and moving climax in the passion narratives.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    A frequently asked question from my graduate advisees is this: How do you keep up with the latest scholarship in your discipline? Or, how do you stay on the “cutting edge” in your academic field? There are at least five maintenance disciplines that come immediately to my mind.