Theology for the Long Haul

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dr. John Piper talks with Rick Warren about the Doctrine of the Purpose Driven Life

"John Piper and Rick Warren were to sit down for a one-on-one conversation at the Desiring God National Conference in October of 2010, but unforeseen circumstances prevented Warren from being there. On May 1, 2011, they were able to film the interview, which lasted an hour and a half.
Piper explains that he read The Purpose-Drive Life with a fine-tooth comb and significantly disagreed with certain Reformed critiques of the book. The heart of the interview is Piper seeking clarification and confirmation from Warren on various doctrines and distinctives. Piper explains his intentions like this:
My aim in this interview is to bring out and clarify what Rick Warren believes about these biblical doctrines. In doing this my hope is that the thousands of pastors and lay people who look to Rick for inspiration and wisdom will see the profound place that doctrine has in his mind and heart..."
You can read or watch the rest here...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reconstructing The Pooh Community: Richard Bauckham

This essay from Richard Bauckham is hilarious. If you’re a Biblical Studies buff you must read it....

New Testament research is a field which has much to learn from comparative study—
from observing the trends and results of research in parallel fields of study. So I begin
my lecture this evening with an excursion into just such a parallel field—an excursion
from which we may be able to return to recent trends in research on the Gospel of
John with a fresh angle of vision.
Probably most of you will be familiar with the Winnie-the-Pooh stories—the
popular children’s books traditionally attributed to A A Milne. But you may not all be
familiar with recent developments in Winnie-the-Pooh scholarship, which has been
revolutionized in recent years as a result of one major methodological breakthrough
which virtually all Pooh scholarship now takes for granted. This is the seminal insight
that the Winnie-the-Pooh stories can be read on more than one level. Ostensibly, of
course, they are the story of a group of animals living in a forest, who are in some
sense identified with the soft toys belonging to Christopher Robin. But on another level
they are the story of the community behind the books, that community of children for
which the books were written. In the Winnie-the-Pooh books one specific community
of English children early this century—now generally known to scholars as the Pooh
community—has encoded for us a wonderfully revealing account of itself. With this
methodological key it is possible to a large extent to reconstruct that community: its
character, its history, its passions, its factions. For example, this community of children
is clearly situated in a rural and rather isolated context—a small English village, one
should assume. All the action of the story takes place in a forest, and the small caste
of characters seems to live entirely in a world of its own. The outside world never
impinges. Awareness that other children exist beyond the inward-looking circle of
the Pooh community is indicated only by the very generalized and vague references
to Rabbit’s friends and relations.
Clearly the Pooh books were written for a specific community with a strong sense
of its distinctive identity—a closed, one might even say sectarian group which prided
itself on its special insider knowledge. We can see this in features of the writings which
would have baffled any outsider but provide the insider with confirmation of their
special status as privy to a kind of esoteric knowledge. Several times we find alleged
explanations which to the outsider would not be explanations at all. For example:
When I first heard his name [Winnie-the-Pooh], I said, just as you are going to say,
‘But I thought he was a boy?’
‘So did I,’ said Christopher Robin.
‘Then you can’t call him Winnie?’
‘I don’t.’
‘But you said—‘
‘He’s Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don’t you know what
“ther” means?’
‘Ah, yes, now I do,’ I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is
all the explanation you are going to get.”
[London: Methuen, 1963] p 1)
Or again:

Nobody seemed to know where they came from, but there they were in
the Forest: Kanga and Roo. When Pooh asked Christopher Robin, ‘How
did they come here?’ Christopher Robin said, ‘In the Usual Way, if you
know what I mean, Pooh,’ and Pooh, who didn’t, said ‘Oh!’ Then he
nodded his head twice and said, ‘In the Usual Way. Ah!’
In that passage, Pooh, the bear of little brain, fails to understand, but the readers can
pride themselves on their own superior understanding. Clearly we are dealing with
sectarian literature which not only belongs within the group but bolsters that group’s
sense of superiority to the world in general—the general reader who cannot begin to
understand what ‘the usual way’ would be. Click below to read the rest!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travel Plaza Tuesdays: The Importance of One Thing

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

Around the time our oldest son learned to walk, he developed an interest in vacuums. In a short period of time, he could distinguish between brands. As we walked through the household section of stores, he pointed to various ones.

“Dat’s a Bissell. Dat’s a Hoover.”

Initially we thought thought it was cute. We even bought him a little toy vacuum that ran on batteries. But as the months went by, the vacuum interest morphed into obsession. If we visited a friend’s house, he instantly went to a hall closet to look at their vacuum. He managed to find vacuums in every book we read and every place we went. With a limited vocabulary, he talked about vacuums incessantly. We became worried. A vacuum fixation at 16 months was funny. At 16, it would mean becoming a social outcast.

Then, as quickly as it began, the vacuum fascination ended. Dirt Devil was no more. He was replaced by Fender and Gibson. For around a year, everything in our son’s life revolved around guitars. I breathed a sigh of relief. If he didn’t grow out of the interest, that would be okay. No one got beat up in the locker room for wanting to be a rock star.

But that’s not even an issue in Marvel world, where our son has lived for the last two and a half years. It has been the longest and most intense of his obsessions. You might think obsession is a little too extreme, but only if you’ve never spent more than 30 seconds with him. Everything in life revolves around Black Box, Wolverine, Gotham City (DC—I know), superpowers, and “who would win if the Abomination and the Hulk got into it?” (The answer: it has gone both ways). He gleans superhero information from random strangers, video clips from relatives’ iPhones, and a tendency to make friends who happen to be a few years older and have Thor figurines.

To be honest, a child with a one-track mind can be exhausting. It’s frustrating to turn your back in the library and find that he snuck off into the comic book section again. Sometimes I wish we could go to the playground and simply swing and go down slides instead of pretending we’re at the Stark Mansion. But the absolute hardest part of a child who is single-mindedly absorbed in one thing is that he can’t understand why you aren’t too. He has such a deep, profound, untiring love for superheroes that he can’t comprehend others don’t feel the same.

However, I have learned an incredible lesson about whole-heartedness from my son. His love of superheroes invades every area of his life. On the days that I feel overwhelmed by the intensity of it all, it humbles me to remember that if I pursued Christ with the passion and abandon that my son approaches superheroes with, life would be drastically different. The annoyance melts away and I feel challenged by the passion with which he lives life.

He is fearless, bold, dedicated, focused, and intent. Sometimes I think about what will happen if Jesus becomes the primary love of his life, instead of vacuums, guitars, or superheroes. It takes my breath away.

There would be no stopping this single-minded kid.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why the Church Needs Evangelical Academic Institutions

The following is the second installment in an ongoing debate about the locale for theological education. Here is Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's NT Prof. Jonathan Pennington's argument in favor of confessional academic institutions.

"I am a churchman from first to last. This means that all that I do in scholarship is ultimately for the building up of the Church universal. In this sense it makes no difference whether I am preparing to teach Old Testament survey to middle school children or writing a paper on the details of Greek voice for SBL. All of this labor is undertaken with the conscious goal of increasing our knowledge so that faith in Christ might spread and deepen. As one who consciously stands in the great tradition of orthodoxy my gifts and calling are constrained and guided by this ultimate end. My understanding of Holy Scripture calls for this, and my hermeneutical commitments (which may be described as ‘theological’ and ‘confessional’) guide me to understand the goal of study to be personal transformation..."

Read the rest here...

Read the opposing viewpoint here...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lost and Found in Translation from 1611 to 2011 by N.T. Wright

Found this very interesting article by Tom Wright on translating the Bible....

"The phrase "lost in translation" is such a cliche that it even became the title of a movie. But things get lost just as effectively when, instead of translating, we stick with a foreign or ancient language which readers or hearers do not understand.

This is so whether we are talking about the Bible or Shakespeare, about Schubert's songs or Wagner's operas. We want to get the force of the original, but we want to understand it as well. To translate is to distort, but not to translate can be a greater distortion still."

Read the rest here...

Thanks to Trevein Wax for bringing this artice to my attention

What to do at 6:15 PM when Christ hasen't come!

This post from John Byron is a must read....especially today! I hope and pray that God will have mercy upon those whose souls will be mourning this evening. I pray that Christian brothers and sisters will be there to minister to them and point them to Jesus.

"It is easy to shake our head and laugh at those who are promoting this chaos and poke fun of those who are following them. But I wonder if there is a better, more pastoral, dare I say Christian way to handle all of this? I am not sure how many people really believe that the beginning of the end of the world starts at 6:00 pm on Saturday (read about one man), but I do know that there will be some disappointed, embarrassed, even angry people at 6:15. When the rapture does not happen, and I don’t think it will, there will be a group of people wondering how they could have gotten it all so wrong..."

Here is the link to the rest...

Friday, May 20, 2011

N.T. Wright: What Stephen Hawking Doesn't Understand about Heaven

N.T. Wright recently commented on Stephen Hawking's comments on heaven. Here is a snippy from the Washinton Post article...

"It’s depressing to see Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds in his field, trying to speak as an expert on things he sadly seems to know rather less about than many averagely intelligent Christians. Of course there are people who think of ‘heaven’ as a kind of pie-in-the-sky dream of an afterlife to make the thought of dying less awful. No doubt that’s a problem as old as the human race. But in the Bible ‘heaven’ isn’t ‘the place where people go when they die.’ In the Bible heaven is God’s space while earth (or, if you like, ‘the cosmos’ or ‘creation’) is our space. And the Bible makes it clear that the two overlap and interlock. For the ancient Jews, the place where this happened was the temple; for the Christians, the place where this happened was Jesus himself, and then, astonishingly, the persons of Christians because they, too, were ‘temples’ of God’s own spirit.

Hawking is working with a very low-grade and sub-biblical view of ‘going to heaven.’ Of course, if faced with the fully Christian two-stage view of what happens after death -- first, a time ‘with Christ’ in ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise,’and then, when God renews the whole creation, bodily resurrection -- he would no doubt dismiss that as incredible. But I wonder if he has ever even stopped to look properly, with his high-octane intellect, at the evidence for Jesus and the resurrection? I doubt it -- most people in England haven’t. Until he has, his opinion about all this is worth about the same as mine on nuclear physics, i.e. not much."

Read the rest here...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My New Job

This summer I will start my new job as a Bible Teacher for the Spartanburg County Bible Education in School Time program. As a teacher I will be teaching college level Bible and Christian Living classes to public High School students. Something unique about SCBEST is that it is the only release time program in the country that earns students elective credit at thier High School. I am looking forward to this great opportunity. If you want to know more, check out the link below.

An Interesting Post on Pseudonymity by one of My Prof's

Although I do not think any of the New Testament books (letters, histories, etc) are pseudonimous (for various reasons... which we can get into in the comments section of anyone is interested), I appreciate Dr. Byron's insights and honesty. The fact that he can say, "I'm not sure" on such a hot issue impresses me. It reveals that Dr. Byron is more interested in finding out the truth, than impressing his peers. I also appreciated his reflection on contemporary guilds and publishing houses. How do we fix this? Dr. Byron thinks that refusing to make issues like this one a litmus test for orthodoxy is a start. What do you think?

Read the article here...

If you want to read more from Dr. Byron I have his link (The Biblical World) listed under "Blogs I Follow"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Travel Plaza Tuesdays: Where Have All the Overalls Gone?

On a drive home, I heard a news story about a recently conducted study at Kenyon College. Researchers carefully evaluated 5,666 items of girls clothing found in the children’s department at popular retailers (not juniors) to see what percentage of items were sexualized in nature (read more about the study at

The result? 30%.

As I cruised down the street, my eyes flickered to my two boys in the backseat. Feeling dismayed by the new knowledge that push-up bras for seven year-olds are sold at Abercrombie Kids, I found solace in the thought, “I’m so glad I have sons. I will never have to deal with this.” We passed a soccer field just as a panel began to discuss “what on earth possesses a parent to plunk down money for skimpy shorts with bedazzling on the booty for their recent preschool grad?”

As I mulled over the points made about safety and loss of childhood, I thought about the lessons a parent teaches their daughter about value when they dress her in provocative clothing. For $24.99, a little girl is taught to show off her body to find value from an on looking world. What a challenge it will be for such a little girl to ever remove the lie that her body is a tool for approval! How foreign will be the reality that value and worth are not found in sexualizing herself for anyone who cares to see, but in Christ’s love that bled and bore her sins!

I sat at a light and watched the kids playing on the soccer field. Little boys and girls ran towards the goal together, and it occurred to me I wasn’t off the hook. The little girls in halter tops will grow up alongside my sons. They will sit next to each other in class from now until high school graduation. As my sons grow, I need to teach them to look at women with the value that Christ puts on them. Because they will either echo the voice of the world, or the voice of the Lord to their female peers. My heart goes out to my friends with little girls. Teaching modesty and true beauty in a world hostile to the idea will be no easy task. Please know: You will not fight alone.

I will work hard to raise sons who will support your efforts.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Should Theological Education take place in the Academy or in the Church?

I found the following thought provoking article this morning, and it got me thinking. Read the article below and then (if you're not bored by it) come back to my thoughts below.

Being a seminarian, these thoughts have been on my mind over the last couple of years. I've seen students thrive in a seminary environment, and I've seen others lose their way. I've been encouraged to study God's word for His approval, and I've been tempted to compromise to please teachers and peers. If I've learned anything in seminary, its that all students and teachers operate from a set of assumptions and commitments. As a student in Biblical Studies, I've come to see that one person's "objective" conclusions will almost always fail to intellectually satisfy another. All teachers have commitments that are reflected in their theology and exegesis. Sometimes their commitments are to a particular ecclesial structure, and other times they are to a theological guild or group of peers.

I recognize that this also applies to me.Those who know me well, know that I hold my convictions confidently (and have at times been wrong). For this reason, I am not attempting to judge, but only to add my voice to the conversation.

All of this said, and while I think significant contributions have been made by born-again academics, I have my doubts as to whether the greater academy in its current state is leading people to a more faithful praxis of God's word. There are those scholars who seem to be "working to show themselves approved" to their unbelieving peers more than to God or the church (those people who are looking to them for direction and truth). This, of course, is not always the case. I know and have been discipled by scholars who have faithfulness to God's Word and the strengthening of the local church as their primary concerns. It is my prayer that God will use these, and those whom God is raising up, to bring about a reformation. My heart can't bear to see one more ecclesial tradition trade God's faithful Word for temporary, short-sighted, and misguided applause.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
(2 Timothy 3:16-4:3)

None of this is new to those of you who read this blog regularly; I have said before that the Western academy needs a reformation. I don't think I have all the answers, but I do have concerns. I've opened up the dialogue...what are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Following Jesus while Rejecting the Bible

Below is a link to an article written by Albert Mohler (Pres. at Southern Seminary) concerning the recent PCUSA decision to ordain active homosexuals. While the post groups mainline churches together in a way that is not, in my opinion, fair or accurate (mainline churches are not in agreement on issues pertaining to the role and authority of Scripture); I think it gives some points for reflection. What are your thoughts.

"That is a fundamental error that leaves this denomination now in the implausible position of claiming to affirm the Lordship of Christ while subverting the authority of Scripture. The removal of the constitutional language about marriage and chastity, coupled with the removal of the language about repentance from what Scripture identifies as sin, effectively means that candidates and presbyteries may defy Scripture while claiming to follow Christ.

Clearly, this action could not have happened without this denomination having abandoned any required belief in the full authority, inspiration, and truthfulness of the Bible long ago."

Read the rest here...

Read the Christianity Today article here...

For my thoughts on homosexual ordination read my post Empty Churches with Open Arms

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Greek Geek: Holding Fast to the Weak from I Thessalonians 5:14

παρακαλοῦμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, νουθετεῖτε τοὺς ἀτάκτους, παραμυθεῖσθε τοὺς ὀλιγοψύχους, ἀντέχεσθε τῶν ἀσθενῶν, μακροθυμεῖτε πρὸς πάντας.


But we encourage you, brothers, warn the insubordinate, console the discouraged, hold fast to the weak, have patience toward all.

In this passage Paul is exhorting the Thessalonians to warn those who are not submitting to church leadership, to console (or comfort) those who are loosing hope, to hold firmly to those who are/are becoming spiritually weak, and to be patient in the process.

Most translations render the term I've here translated "hold fast" as " help" or "be mindful of." The problem with these translations is that they don't, without further study, give us the impression that more is required of us than quick prayers and passing encouragements. This term literally has the meaning of holding on to something firmly. It is the same word used to describe the way we should "hold fast" to truth (Titus 1:9), and to God (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13). While the term can be used to mean simply "help," Paul never uses it that way, and neither does any other New Testament author.

When someone in our midst is falling, it is our responsibility to take hold of them and bring them along with us. In some cases this will mean praying and passing along encouraging words, but other times it will mean carrying their burden(s) with them. If you are feeling strong today, look for an opportunity to be God's provision in the life of someone who is struggling. If your brother or sister in Christ is too wounded to traverse the narrow path today, carry them forward on Christ's shoulders until their faith has healed the wounds.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travel Plaza Tuesdays: Half-Inch Deep

When last Tuesday rolled around, I had no post written. A few weeks ago I wrote a post called I Don’t Want to Sell my Soul for a Prius. It described my frustrations with the tendency for some Christians to live hip, and tag their faith on the end like a p.s.

After a one week postponement, I was still stumped on a conclusion to that post. The problem was: I regretted the first post as soon as I hit enter and it appeared on the blog.

All through the day, I didn’t know why. Was it because it was critical? Unclear? Badly written? Too many thoughts unformed? The truth is, while the post was all these things, none of them was the reason I felt unsettled.

But later, as I left work and stepped into the streetlamp lit night, the Lord spoke it to my heart.

You haven’t scratched the surface.

“You’re right,” I whispered back.

He didn’t need to hear that, but I needed to say it. Instantly it was clear to me what a shallow grip I had on my own heart’s desire for identity from things other than Christ. I admitted in the Prius post that it was a struggle for me not to seek approval, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I was further along with it. Maybe it is just me, but I feel pressure about everything from what books I read to how to decorate my house to how I dress my kids. Where does the pressure come from? Well, things like Facebook haven’t helped. But the biggest problem is me. It’s my own desires for both direct and indirect affirmation, often from an unbelieving world. The reason a cool Christian culture annoys me is the same reason my mom’s idiosyncrasies get under my skin. Because I struggle with the exact same thing. In a back alley quiet moment, I found out it’s not the Christians in the “Live Simple.” t-shirts I’m frustrated with.

It’s me.

The apostle Paul said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). I’ve always focused on the dying part of this proclamation. But in the past few weeks I’ve thought more about “to live is Christ” and how Paul was only interested in that one thing. Both his words and his life showed it.

When I haven’t scratched the surface, it probably isn’t wise to point out ways for others to address this in their lives. This is why I delayed the post. Maybe I thought three weeks would bring me some legitimate insight. But I’m only about a half inch deep. For now, that’s my only conclusion.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Scot McKnight on George Eldon Ladd

There is a great post on Jesus Creed about a great scholar. You can click the link to read the article. Below is my favorite quote from the article...can I get an Amen?

"...I don’t believe our goal as Bible or theology scholars is to be deemed among the finest of scholars or to find a place at the table, but to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to the gospel and to orthodox theology and to academic rigor. Yes, we are to work to discover and to be creative, but the driving passion to prove ourselves at the feet of others falls short of a true Christian telos. I’d put it this way: we are called to be faithful, whether we are accepted or not."

Read all of the article here...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Moms, Former Moms & Wannabe Moms

"Motherhood is not the greatest good for the Christian woman. Whether you are a mom or not, don’t get caught up in sentimentalism that sets it up as some saintly role. The greatest good is being conformed to the image of Christ. Now, motherhood is certainly one of God’s primary tools in his arsenal for this purpose for women. But it is not the end itself. Being a mom doesn’t make you saintly. Believe me. Being a mom exposes all the ways you are a sinner, not a saint. Not being a mom and wanting to be one does too..."

Read the rest here...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The May 2011 Issue of Themelios is Available for Download

Looks like there are some interesting articles... if I only had more time.

Here is the link

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Trial that Still Must Come — The Death of Osama bin Laden and the Limits of Human Justice

I thought this was a well articulated article. Mohler does a good job of reminding his reader who ultimatley is judge.

"While we should all be glad that this significant threat is now removed, death in itself is never to be celebrated. Such celebration points to the danger of revenge as a powerful human emotion. Revenge has no place among those who honor justice. Retributive justice is sober justice. The reason for this is simple — God is capable of vengeance, which is perfectly true to his own righteousness and perfection — but human beings are not. We tend toward the mismeasure of justice when it comes to settling our own claims. All people of good will should be pleased that bin Laden is no longer a personal threat, and that his death may further weaken terrorist plans and aspirations. But revenge is not a worthy motivation for justice, and celebration in the streets is not a worthy response..."

"Once again, Christians are reminded of the inherent limitations of justice in a fallen and sinful world. At our very best, we can achieve only a small proportion of adequate justice. We can convict the murderer and put him to death, but we cannot bring the dead back to life. "

What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Should Christians respond to Usama bin Laden's Death?

Today is a day for sober reflection. One of the worlds most notorious killers was sent to face his Creator and Judge last night. Here are some passages for reflection...

"Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live." (Ezekiel 33:11)

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"
(Rom 12:17-19)

"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

If justice was served, and I believe it was, than it is important for Christians to be careful not to rejoice with those who confuse justice with revenge. There should be no room for vengeance in the hearts of those who, though deserving of God's wrath, have been saved by His grace.

What are your thoughts?