Featured Articles

Theological Matters

Theological Insights from Southwestern

metaxas_miracles

Metaxas and the Miraculous: A Review of Eric Metaxas’ Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life

Eric Metaxas has taken his talents to an exploration of miracles in his brand new book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, And How They Can Change Your Life. When I first heard about his newest project I was both excited but also a bit nervous. Most of us know Metaxas’ considerable storytelling ability from his New York Times bestselling Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and also his Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Campaign to End Slavery. Indeed if it wasn’t for these recent books, many would not know of the heroic and herculean efforts of these Christian men. They each serve as distinct counterexamples to the exceedingly nearsighted Hitchens-esque claim that nothing good comes from religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular. So given that I teach in the area of apologetics and philosophy, I was excited to see someone as witty and insightful as Metaxas treating this very important area. However, my worry was that the literature on miracles is (what I like to call) crazy technical. It is commonplace for an article or chapter on the evidential value of miracles to assume proficiency with such things as the axioms of probability calculus. Most of us who fail to have such proficiency tend to skip that chapter and we are faced with the prospect of engaging a culture deeply committed to anti-supernaturalism without the tools of apologetic reflection on the miraculous.

Read More »

PreachingToolsB

Preaching Tools: Luke

With Christmas quickly approaching, many pastors will preach Christmas sermon series during December and/or special Christmas services. The Gospel of Luke provides the most comprehensive details regarding the birth of Jesus and surrounding events, including the famous Songs of Christmas.

Here’s a helpful excerpt on the book of Luke from David Allen’s Preaching Tools: An Annotated Survey of Commentaries and Preaching Resources for Every Book of the Bible. Here, Allen highlights some of the best commentaries and sources for preaching this extraordinary book. Read More »

askdrp

Patterson answers questions in 140 characters or less

In chapel, Oct. 16, while promoting that afternoon’s session of “Twitter Den,” a variation of his occasional Lion’s Den Q&A sessions, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson noted that, on Twitter, he is required to respond to every question in 140 characters or less.

“It is easily the most difficult thing I have ever done in my whole life,” Patterson joked.

This session of Twitter Den, held in conjunction with Southwestern’s Fall Preview Conference, allowed Patterson to answer dozens of questions via Twitter and to a live audience in the seminary’s student center. Using the hashtag #AskDrP, the audience and anyone from around the world could submit a question.

Questions ranged from serious to humorous, covering aspects of theology, ministry and Patterson’s personal history. Patterson maintained a sense of humor throughout, but he provided serious answers when questions required them.

The following is a transcript of the Twitter session:

Read More »

football_lights

The Blinding Friday Night Lights

We’ve just moved from Middle America to Texas. To say there is a bit of culture shock is an understatement. Things are a bit different down here. Don’t get me wrong. I love Texas. I married a Texan. I’m a Spurs fan. I remember the Alamo. We eat breakfast tacos. I even have a cowboy hat, which I dutifully wear at each commencement at graduation at SWBTS where I teach. (I don’t, however, have cowboy boots—I’ve drawn a line in the sand on that one). It’s just going to take a bit of getting used to, that’s all.

Read More »

christian_apologetics

Should I get a PhD in Apologetics?

The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is “for almost everyone, still no.” The even longer and needlessly provocative answer is that “any PhD gained by a Christian has (or should have) Apologetics in it.”

I often get asked the title question, especially ever since Southwestern Seminary rolled out its new MA in Christian Apologetics. Christian Apologetics, by its very nature, is a multidisciplinary field of study. To be sure, there are the characteristic areas that typically comprise a study of apologetics. For example, a mainstay of the discipline is issues in Philosophy of Religion. In Phil. Religion we talk about arguments for God’s existence, the coherence of theism (including doctrines that might appear to be in tension with each other as well other problems, such as the problem of evil). This of course fits well within the scope and purpose of Apologetics. Thus, philosophy is a really important area for doing apologetics. However, doing a degree in philosophy does not adequately prepare one to be able to defend against the great variety of challenges and objections that come from other disciplines.

Read More »

theological_tailgating

Theological Tailgating

You’ve seen them. They are the bumper bullies of the highway. Any day of the week, on any highway, and most any time of the day they are out there driving too fast, weaving in and out of lanes, and aggressively driving too close to the bumper of the car in front of them. Frankly, if you are close enough to read the fine print of the Southwestern Seminary sticker on the back of my car, you are driving too close!

Read More »

marriage

What’s In a Name?: Evangelicals and Marriage

Editor’s Note: This post is the second installment of a multi-part series reflecting on my recent radio discussion with Brandan Robertson, spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality. The audio of that radio “debate” can be found here. The first post can be found here.

In Shakespeare’s classic play, Romeo and Juliet, the “star-cross’d lovers” are destined for a life apart from each other because of a long-standing feud between their families. In act 2, scene 2, Juliet proclaims these famous words to Romeo:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Is Juliet really right? Just by changing his name, can Romeo escape the wrath of the Capulet family for loving Juliet? Would they not still know exactly who he is?

Read More »

marriage

Words Have Meaning: Defining Marriage in the Marriage Debate

Editor’s Note: This post is the first installment of what will be a multi-part series reflecting on Lenow’s recent radio discussion with Brandan Robertson, spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality. The audio of that radio “debate” can be found here.

Words have meaning. In order to have a conversation with another human, there must be some sort of shared language by which ideas can be communicated. This language can include everything from words to sounds to non-verbal expressions. The key, however, is that it has to be a shared language. If it is not, then communication will be misunderstood or not received at all.

Read More »

Preaching_TheoMatters

Worthy of Double Honor

With all due respect to Chuck Swindoll and Charles Stanley, whose works I highly recommend to you, there are three guys named Charles whose writings every Minister should know: Charles Spurgeon, Charles Jefferson, and Charles Bridges.  Along with Pope Gregory’s Pastoral Rule and Richard Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, Charles Jefferson’s The Minister as Shepherd, and Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry constitute some of if not the most significant works in Pastoral Ministry outside of Scripture ever written.  Of course, each of these men had other significant works that I highly recommend, but these stand out because of their content and impact.  The standard they set for the role of the Pastor remains a relevant call to our churches today.

Read More »

thinker

Why Religion Won’t Go Away

We are witnessing a shift away from the secularization (the diminishing influence of religion) of the 19th and 20th century. The 21st century is shaping up to be postsecular. As Jacobsen and Jacobsen say in their book, The American University in a Postsecular Age: “religion will likely exercise a significant role in human affairs for a long time to come. If secularization means that the world is getting a little less religious every day, then we live in a postsecular world.” (p.10) Read More »

father_son

Turning Boys into Men

Sports talk radio is not my normal stop when looking for solid theological content and cultural commentary. However, I found a little of both this week on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike.” The story du jour was the video of Ray Rice hitting his fiancée and knocking her unconscious in an elevator. Nothing new was said about the facts, but the commentary from Hall of Fame wide-receiver Cris Carter was impeccable.

Read More »

swing_the_bat

If you never swing the bat, you will never hit the ball

My 10-year-old son Will and I share a common love—baseball.

While he’s not naturally gifted at playing the game, Will loves to be part of the team, and as with most kids his age his skills have progressed each year through repetition and practice.

This past spring, Will graduated from coach-pitch to kid-pitch, which brought with it both excitement and anxiety. However, after only a few games I could see that anxiety largely overshadowed the excitement.

Read More »

manhood_football

Machismo vs. Manhood

Football is the ultimate expression of machismo in American culture. Bigger, stronger, and faster is the goal. Gladiators armed with nothing but their bodies fly around the field attempting to dominate their opponents in both strength and strategy. Boys around the country dream of growing into the men who play the game.

Unfortunately, the football world has been rocked in recent days by a number of scandals related to being a man off the field. The domestic violence case involving Ray Rice has dominated the headlines while San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald and Carolina Panther Greg Hardy face similar accusations of domestic violence and await adjudication of their cases.

Read More »

startingblock

The Royalty of Immediate Action

Abraham was considered a prince.

However, he was not royalty. No blue blood, just the hot blood of a nomad coursing through his veins.  He was literally a professional wanderer, wandering at the call of God. When his wife Sarah died, he went to the land of the Hittites who graciously allowed him to bury his wife in their land, saying, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us” (Gen. 23:5). Would to God people may say that about us. All accolades aside, what if those around us sensed that we were divinely set apart? What made this man so princely? Easy, really: he was a good follower.

Read More »

PreachingToolsB

Preaching Tools: Revelation

With the movie remake of Left Behind coming to theaters next month, there will certainly be a lot of talk about the book of Revelation and the end times in the media and churches throughout the world. Many pastors will consider preaching the book of Revelation as a way to capitalize on such interest. But with so many books and commentaries available on the subject, what are the best resources to consult? Read More »

swbts_erlc_conference

Connecting the Truth of Scripture to Cultural Issues

Almost every cultural issue that a pastor will face today involves gender roles. Whether abortion, pornography, sex trafficking, or the advance of the homosexual platform, every issue revolves around gender and God’s plan for marriage, and on these the Bible is not silent.

No doubt most believers feel like Scripture addresses these issues, but how to connect the truth of Scripture to cultural issues in a way that is both clear and winsome is another thing all together.

This is why I am grateful that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention will host its national conference on The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage, October 27-29, in Nashville, TN. The conference will cover the waterfront of issues surrounding the church as she engages the culture for the Kingdom of God.

There may not be a more pressing arena for the church to engage. If you desire to winsomely articulate biblical answers to the issues of today, I strongly encourage you to be a part of this conference.

Toward that end we at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are offering a course for credit surrounding the conference. If you’re interested you need to enroll in both the conference and the course separately, as well as secure travel and lodging in Nashville. Register Today!

I hope to see you in Nashville. The times have never been more urgent.

Download Course Syllabus

young_pastors

Pastors and Rookie Mistakes

Recently, State Senator Tim Solobay of Pennsylvania introduced a bill (Senate Bill 391) for consideration that would make expungement possible for individuals who have committed crimes other than misdemeanors.  The proposal would “allow some individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors of the 2nd and 3rd degree to apply to have the records expunged if they have not been arrested or convicted for 7 to 10 years (depending on the offense) prior to requesting the expungement.”  Some have referred to this as the “young and dumb” exception.  The bill was recently referred (October 2013) to the House Judiciary Committee.

Leaving expungement (and the particular issues of Senate Bill 391) aside, I’m intrigued by the prospect of a “young and dumb” exception in ministry.  To be sure, expectations of pastors and staff are unique to each context and individual.  Indeed, the subjectivity of the Pastoral expectations is often the elephant in every church meeting room.  But ministers new in ministry often face an unusual catch-22.  One cannot obtain experience until they have experience.

Read More »

colonization_of_call_boots

The Colonization of the Call: An encouragement for those residing in their call

In a few moments students will fill MacGorman Chapel for the convocation of the fall semester. They represent many states, nations, churches and families. This is the sobering reality that makes me want to craft each word in class as an act of stewardship. These are students who have chosen not to colonize in their home church, but pioneer to a different place as an expression of God’s next step. Their obedience is an earnest reminder that that there is a time to colonize, and a time to pioneer.

Read More »

directions

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and our Longing for Wholeness

The classic book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde does something to me. It scares me. It is a chilling, vivid picture of what happens when we allow our base appetites to overtake our rational and spirited faculties (as Plato would say). The story also awakens something: it awakens within me a desire for wholeness, a wholeness where all of my thinkings, willings, and emotions are fully integrated. Read More »

Naylor-web

Everything Rides on the Reality of the Resurrection

Everything rides on the reality of resurrection.

A general belief in the resurrection at the end of days is present in the Old Testament. For example, at the end of Daniel’s visions, there is a scene that seems very familiar to readers of the book of Revelation. In this scene, “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book” (Dan 12:1). After this, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2). This vision affirms a belief in a general resurrection of all those who have died. The vision also affirms that there is to be some sort of judgment following the resurrection. Some will awake to glory, others to terror. Read More »

PreachingToolsB

Preaching Tools: Jonah

A call from God. A disobedient prophet. A great fish. A miraculous repentance. The biblical story of Jonah is familiar to pre-schoolers and adults alike. A powerful picture of God’s great love for the world, its simple yet powerful storyline captures attention and brings clear application to believers today. Read More »

doubt_blog

7 Practical Ways Churches Can Help “Troubled Souls” Like Robin Williams

Robin Williams was a man who impacted many. I heard him referred to on a secular radio program this morning as “a creative and comedic genius with a troubled soul.” The news yesterday that he was dead at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide was surprising. His widespread influence was obvious as news networks rushed to remember him and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts referring to him from many people with surprisingly diverse backgrounds. Read More »

ReachTheWorld

Ann Coulter is almost right. Missionaries are “idiotic” fools … for Christ’s sake.

Christian narcissism annoys Ann Coulter. In a recent column, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic,’” Ms. Coulter opines about the missionary work of a Samaritan’s Purse affiliated doctor and a SIM USA affiliated nurse in Africa by asking:

Why did Dr. Brantly [and his nurse] have to go to Africa? … Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore? Read More »

sharpen_blog

Preaching in Conflict

There is an old adage that says if you want to avoid criticism, you should do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. This way of thinking certainly comes into play in the pastorate. At some point a pastor will either say or do something that will cause someone to take offense in the congregation. In other words, if you pastor, preach, and lead a church, you will sooner or later be preaching in the middle of conflict. Read More »

spiritual_orphan

Raising Up Teenage Spiritual Champions

Our liberal friends are not too keen on the idea of student achievement in schools. Last week I heard of another high school that no longer will conduct awards assemblies at the end of the year. Progressives want to pull achieving young people back into the mushy middle.

But are we doing something similar at church? In most churches, don’t we only offer foundational discipleship that leads to a mostly bland faith for the entire group?

Read More »

doubt_blog

Help My Unbelief

Most of us can readily identify with the man who came to Jesus one day with a tragic, seemingly impossible situation. The man’s son was afflicted with demonic possession. The father’s description of the symptoms is heart-breaking: “A spirit …has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid,” (Mark 9:17-18). Previously, the father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they were powerless to help. Now the dad stands before Jesus with the frantic plea: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v. 22). Read More »

directions

Functional Obedience

In her recent book, The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce, Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard-trained researcher, confutes the widely held belief that the divorce rate among Christians is generally the same as that of non-Christians. Indeed, her eight-year investigative study, which analyzed multiple sources dating back for decades, dispelled a number of widely held myths about marriage. Among the notable findings from her work are: the divorce rate is not at 50% and never has been; the divorce rate has been steadily declining since its height in 1981: and the divorce rate is significantly lower among Christians who regularly attend church, pray, and read their Bibles. Read More »

12.05.12_AK_Book003

On Choosing Books: Reading from the Other Side

It’s that time of year again when I have to submit book requests to our campus bookstore for the upcoming semester (technically, it is past time, but the bookstore is always gracious to those of us who miss the initial deadline). For many of my classes, I have developed a standard list of books that I revisit every couple of years to see if there are any better ones. However, each of the last few semesters, I have taught at least one class that is new to my teaching repertoire. This fall it will be Selected Issues in Life and Death—basically a class dealing with various cultural issues of life and death, such as abortion, euthanasia, and human genetic engineering. Read More »

ReachTheWorld

A REACHing Church

The Power of a Simple Invite

A study produced by LifeWay Research last year found that 80% of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a “personal responsibility to share their faith.” On the surface it seems that our churches are doing a good job of communicating the need for evangelism. If you continue looking at the research however, it goes on to show that while people agree there is a need to share the Gospel, rarely do they actually do it! (Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, Most Never Do by John D. Wilke)

Read More »

thinker

Happiness is Edenistic, not Hedonistic

The world thinks of happiness hedonistically, God thinks of happiness edenistically. This is one of the central ideas of David Naugle’s highly recommended book Reordered Loves, Reordered LivesLearning the Deep Meaning of Happiness. In a previous post, I discussed the contemporary view of happiness as pleasure. In light of our fatigue and failure to find happiness via pleasure, perhaps its time to consider God’s perspective on happiness and to consider the happiness that He offers. Read More »