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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 — 

    Years ago when Trudi and I lived in the Middle East I wrote a poem using the structure of “The Night Before Christmas.” I share it with you at this Christmas season.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    My colleague (Dr. Darian Lockett) and I are almost finished writing a book that we want to read – due to the publisher by January 15, 2012! This is not to say the book is really well written; it is saying, rather, that it is a book that addresses an important and complex topic that we have always wanted help to explore. That topic is Biblical Theology.

  • Bruce Seymour — 

    Let me start with a warning—I am at the stage in life when men can become a little grumpy. This little meditation might come across that way, so I begin with a request for patience because, truly, as a word guy, I have been provoked. Let me explain. Today I got another one, another email that ended with the ubiquitous “blessings.” When I was in school this part of the letter was called the complimentary close and was an abridged phrase we used to close the letter, just before the signature.

  • John McKinley — 

    Two college students, Marc and Sue, sit together in the church on a Saturday evening service. It’s time to observe communion today. The pastor speaks slowly. “Let’s take a few moments to reflect on where we are with God and one another. Paul instructed the church at Corinth to examine themselves when they participated in the Lord’s Supper.” This invitation cast Marc into his memories of the past month. Like signs planted along a road that he drove along quickly, sins flashed to mind in rapid succession. Three weeks ago, he’d borrowed his roommate’s research paper from a geography class the semester before. Marc used the paper to write his own version for the same class this semester. He told himself that he was still learning by doing it, so it wasn’t really cheating.

  • Rob Lister — 

    I love reading good children’s literature to my kids. I especially love it when a great narrative for kids comes packaged together with really good theology. Such is the case with Starr Meade’s Keeping Holiday (Crossway, 2008)—a book so satisfying narratively and theologically that we are re-reading it to our kids this holiday season. The best way I can describe it is to say that Keeping Holiday is part Narnia and part Pilgrim’s Progress for kids.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Several years ago I had a Latin professor who made us memorize a phrase that it has been in my mind ever since. The Latin expression is “magister meus doctus est” and means “my professor is instructed or wise.” Obviously, my Latin professor was teasing when he made us memorize that phrase, but in reality, those words describe an important and profound truth. Everybody expects that professors are wise enough to guide their students. It has been commonly assumed that only those who know more can lead others in the right path because we know that nobody can give something without first possessing it. I have been a teacher in different countries and settings for twenty years now and I can testify about the accuracy of this general perception.

  • John Hutchison — 

    Thanksgiving day 2011 has come and gone. Like many families, it has always been for us a time when the relatives gather together. Like many Christian families, we try to remember in a more intentional way the blessings God has bestowed upon us. But unlike most families, on Thanksgiving Day we are painfully reminded of another memory . . .

  • John McKinley — 

    Marc Vandenbroucke sits on the couch in his apartment. The television is flickering; two quarter pounders with cheese, a pile of fries, and a giant coke are on the coffee table, ready for gulping. The food passes by his mouth indistinguishably as a flow of salt, potatoes, meat, and sugar. Oh, the comfort of it after a hard day.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    One of the best books I have read in the last couple of years is Thinking in Circles (Yale, 2007) by Mary Douglas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in hermeneutics, literary approaches to the Bible, or the cultural background of the Bible. It is a non-technical read that is filled with fresh and provocative insights, and since it is only about 150 pages, one could read it in just one or two sittings.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Leading people is never an easy task. It takes great skill and character to lead people effectively. It also takes time, effort, and patience to work with people and to lead them well. All of this is part of building a relationship. Unfortunately, many leaders take “shortcuts” in trying to work with people especially in the church. These leaders are not so concerned about the well-being of the common good but may be more bent towards controlling the people with biblical power sources such as the Bible. This entry will explore and potentially warn against these misuses and will respond with appropriate biblical refutations.

  • Mick Boersma — 

    It was a dark and stormy night. No, really. Cruising down a dark two-lane country road, this sixteen year-old wasn’t paying attention. And then it happened – the crunch of metal followed by that surreal quiet when an accident victim checks to see if all his parts are still attached. Happily, I escaped without a bruise. The family car, however, a 1954 Chrysler New Yorker, was out of commission.

  • John 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 . . .

  • Rick 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 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 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 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.