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.
Last month I shared a “coaching” model for teaching that I believe can help us deepen the impact of our teaching, helping us avoid the problems of biblical amnesia and aborted application. This month I start by looking at Paul’s teaching ministry to see how this coaching approach fits with his efforts. Then I go back through the phases of the coaching model and talk about what that would mean for us as teachers in the church. What does it look like to begin teaching like a coach?
I just returned from a symposium on ecclesial theology in Chicago, IL (Oak Park, to be exact) hosted by The Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology (SAET). The annual symposium of the SAET pulls together a diverse body of evangelical pastor-theologians from across the country, with fellows (“members”) representing the Lutheran, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Baptist, Messianic Jewish, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Independent Bible church traditions. Each three-day symposium gathers for discussion and collaboration on theological issues related to the life of the church. Mentoring fellows include Doug Sweeney (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Scott Hafemann (Gordon-Conwell, soon to be University of St. Andrews), and often involves visiting scholars/pastor-theologians: this year it was Kevin Vanhoozer (Wheaton College/Graduate School). I have been a fellow of the SAET for two years because we believe that theology is not merely done for the church but in and by the church. For the SAET the difference is crucial. Here is the mission of the SAET:
This past Wednesday night I participated in an outreach along with Talbot colleagues Gary Manning and Alan Hultberg at the Uptown Whittier YMCA. The outreach was in support of a new campus plant for Whittier Hills Baptist Church in one of many “downtowns” here in the Los Angeles basin (but referred to in Whittier as “uptown” rather than “downtown”). People from the uptown community received invitations either on the street—I went out twice along with two of my daughters and some others from the church—or by mail. We told people that the purpose of the forum was to respond to the recent upturn in the media of discussions about what happens after death. The turnout to the event was good and the responses were encouraging.
Pop Quiz. Identify the correct company to which these advertising jingles are associated: “You deserve a break today” “Have it your way” “Rule the Air” Fascinating how advertising agencies craft a need for a product while feeding the human ego. The underlying message in these jingles is that it really is all about you.
We’ve seen a lot of death, pain, suffering, and evil in our world during the last few years, so today I want to address a few questions having to do with evil, pain and suffering— questions that, I believe, all ‘thinking’ people ask.
Last night I finished reading Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. I read it in preparation for an outreach I’ll soon be doing through my local church on the topic of heaven and hell. Love Wins is a deeply troubling repudiation of certain aspects of orthodox Christian doctrine by a megachurch pastor who is trying to be relevant to a tolerance-enamored generation.
The whole mentorship movement continues to increase in popularity especially within the church. Many young people today are seeking out mentors. This even seems to be a value for the younger generation. But in actuality, this movement is not a new one at all but rather one that dates back even to the first century.
Over the last three months I’ve described a “right-handed” model for thinking about what we do in Christian education. It pulls together five “right” aspects of what we need to focus on in our teaching: right relationship, right knowledge, right passion or heart, right will, and right actions. For the next few months I want to explore and unpack a “coaching” pedagogy that helps promote real growth, not just increased knowledge. Let me start with a verse from one of my favorite Psalms and a story.
1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearances of evil” (KJV) “Abstain from every form of evil” (ESV) I confess that whenever I encounter this verse, I picture old, withered saints shaking their bony fingers in younger believers’ faces and exhorting them about some questionable behavior. In this recurring scenario, the godly, mature Christians find it necessary to exhort the younger saints, not because they have done something that is evil, but simply because they behaved in a manner that could have the appearance of being evil.
‘Missional ethics’ speaks of the missionary dimensions of the life of the people of God and the ethical features of mission. The connection between mission and ethics is fundamental for how we perceive our common life in the Spirit.
In my previous post, I reflected on a lesson about humility that I learned as a seminarian. Since then, I have encountered a few folks who have observed that a struggle with spiritual pride is not altogether infrequent in the halls of evangelical seminaries. Initially, seminary might seem an unexpected place to encounter such a struggle. Why is it, then, that this temptation is often found in this context? Is seminary somehow intrinsically antithetical to gospel humility?
Is your church similar to a family holiday celebration? The table is set, the decorations adorn the room, all ages are gathered together… but sitting at different tables. The “adult’s table” is the set with the large platters of food, and the fine wine to match the fine china. At the “kids’ table” are plastic plates that won’t break, no table clothes that could be stained, and no food platters – the plates of food will be served to the children by a parent in pre-approved samplings that the adult chooses. Does this sound like the difference between the adult worship vs. kids worship: one gets the better equipment and musicians while we assume the kids are content with student musicians. Adult mission trips push the limits of opportunities while kids are often ignored for true missional experiences. Even our language of “big church” gives away the “second-class status” with which we classify the children and youth ministries. The larger the church, the more professional the youth ministry becomes… the more segregated youth are from the church. The result is tragically youth are “guests” in church, and hear the message “don’t mess it up”.
Evil is present in the world. It was seen in the face of Usama bin Laden. It is also seen in things like murder, child abuse, terrorism, and natural disasters. Many Christians and non-Christians don't understand why evil is present in the world. Here's why.
I grew up hearing and reading the Bible during the transition from the King James Version to NASB and NIV. In my church setting, the transition was mostly welcomed, except by a few godly old-timers who were certain that our prayers were more acceptable to God if they included a generous portion of thees, thous, and Elizabethan-era verb endings. The KJV had the interesting effect of making some very ordinary words into technical religious terms, since the words dropped out of ordinary use in the centuries since the KJV was translated. One of those words is grace. Interestingly, the NASB, the NIV, and even (often) the NLT continue to use this word to translate the Greek word χάρις (charis), even though the meaning of grace in English has changed over the centuries.
Jesus' interactions with people in the Gospel of John...and today This is the second part of a series that looks at events 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, we will explore how Jesus interacts with them not only to take away their shame, but also to raise them up and give them honor!
I am now in my second year as a faculty member at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. Prior to this, I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life doing primarily two things: 1) attending three different universities, and; 2) working for local churches in a variety of capacities. You would think that after that amount of time invested in both theological higher education and church service, I would have learned quite a bit about the local church. Yet, this is anything but the case and not because the curriculum of my seminary lacked adequate focus on ecclesiology. Rather, teaching at a Christian university has opened up an amazing new curriculum for me and afforded me a unique and fresh vista from which to view the Church and learn from one of her most precious treasures – young people – and in this case, undergraduate students. I would like to share some of the greatest lessons this new curriculum has taught me as I seek to teach undergraduates.
Two months ago I raised a concern about a problem some churches struggle with in seeing limited impact of their teaching ministries in the lives of those who participate. I talked about some ways this problem has tended to be addressed, and my own conviction that there is a need for a better model or approach to our teaching if we hope to see real growth occur. Last month I introduced the basic ideas of “right-handed” teaching and discussed the first half of the model. This month I want to continue and complete my discussion of the model and then begin looking at how it works together.
Denis Diderot (1713-84), editor and primary author of the massive—18,000 pages!—and massively influential Encyclopédie, has been called “the pivotal figure of the entire 18th century.” One of the pivotal moments in Diderot’s own career came in his conversion from deism to atheism. And central to this conversion were the implications he drew from Newton’s formulation of the principle of inertia.
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.
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?
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!
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.