Featured Articles

Theological Matters

Theological Insights from Southwestern

Theology

Noah and Gnosticism

IMG20144118393HI

The recent film “Noah” has garnered attention and criticism. I have especially followed with interest the secondary conversation between the promoters and critics of the movie. For instance, in a recent movie review, Dr. Brian Mattson describes “Noah” as a Gnostic recasting of the biblical story. This follows in the line of what some have seen as Hollywood’s trend of pushing Gnostic ideology (e.g., “The Da Vinci Code”), as well as the current scholarly focus on the Gnostic Gospels. Read More »

Axe Mingled with Old Spice: The New Incense

spiritual_orphan

Older members of the congregation may not drive vans full of teenagers or help serve pizzas, but they can help shape the effectiveness of your church’s student ministry. They may be three or four times the ages of the teenagers, but they can be important to them. Axe mingled with Old Spice may create an aroma that will exalt Christ and bless both generations. Read More »

Just the Facts, Ma’am—Is that Enough? A Review of “Killing Jesus”

christ-on-cross

In the last several decades, many authors have attempted to describe the historical Jesus while trying to denigrate the historical record: mainly the four canonical Gospels. They fruitlessly tried to find the person while maligning the manuscripts. Fortunately, this is not the case with Killing Jesus because this book is frequently faithful to the Gospel details and presents a mostly accurate portrayal of the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus.  Read More »

Reflections on Teaching Online: “The Christological Content of the Christian Faith”

NewMTS-banner

At Southwestern, it is a privilege to be part of an innovative faculty that has taken upon itself the responsibility for instructing a large and growing set of courses through an online format. Many people, students here and at other institutions as well as faculty members at other institutions alongside a number of interested laypeople, have often asked for, and continue to request, access to my lecture notes as well as any video or audio recordings of my class lectures. Perhaps now their requests may be answered more fully. Read More »

Rain and Unknown Gods: Missive On Missionary Praying

ReachTheWorld

Vultures sat atop carcasses of dead gods. Dry, dusty, and dangerous is May in Rajasthan, India. So even the divine Brahman cows gave up and died because temperatures soared to 128 degrees in the shade as students and I worked in villages near Sawai Madhopur. Ethnographic surveys gave presence in the villages. Being dry season, the village Sarpanches, or leaders, were available to interact through translation. We covered five Hindu villages and two Islamic ones in 10 days. Read More »

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Marriage Amendment

marriage

In what is now a string of cases decided by federal judges regarding state laws, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has struck down Texas’ constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. After the state legislature presented the amendment in 2005, 76% of Texas voters approved the addition of the amendment to the state constitution. Read More »

What is the Value of Apologetics?

thinker

There are, on my view, a variety of values that can be had by practicing what we call Apologetics. Let’s first say what Apologetics is as a discipline. In its most general sense, apologetics is a preparatory discipline where one readies oneself to commend and defend the truth of Christianity. What immediately comes to mind for many of us are the overly cerebral arguments one may offer in defense of the faith. These are the ones that, for many, cause immediate eye glazing to occur. They may include formal arguments for God’s existence; historical evidence for the resurrection; addressing challenges, such as the so-called problem of evil; alleged contradictions in Scripture; and alleged moral issues in Scripture as well as a whole host of other academic topics. These are indeed in the corpus of Apologetics topics. However, on my view, commending and defending the faith may at times be much less cerebral. Read More »

Christ in the Old Testament

Preaching_TheoMatters2

In Luke 24 Jesus showed Himself alive to His disciples and explained that the cross and resurrection, and indeed much else in His life, were predicted in Scripture. Verse 27 states: “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Then in verse 44, He told them “that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Read More »

Congregationalism: Self-Governing Churches “Gathered” Under Christ’s Rule

denominationalism1

What is Congregationalism?

In church history, the term Congregationalism refers to that form of ecclesiastical polity (or church governance) that envisions the spiritual authority of the church to reside in the local congregation. According to Congregationalists, Christ is the head of the church; he does not rule it through intermediary institutions that are above the church (such as bishops or presbyteries, bodies which are external to the local church). Rather, He rules each individual congregation immediately through his Word, the Scriptures. Because Christian believers are endowed with the Holy Spirit, they can rightfully interpret the Scriptures, “covenant” together under Christ’s kingship in local congregations, and ordain ministers who will faithfully lead them according to the Scriptures. Read More »

Text-Driven Preaching and Pragmatic Textual Analysis

PreachTheWord

Pragmatic analysis of texts asks the questions “What is the author’s purpose of a text?” and “What does an author desire to accomplish with his text.” The text-driven preacher is always attempting to accomplish something with every sermon. All verbal or written communication has at least one of three purposes:

  1. Affect the ideas of people
  2. Affect the emotions of people
  3. Affect the behavior of people

Preaching should incorporate all three of these purposes. We should be attempting to affect the mind with the truth of Scripture (doctrine). We should be attempting to affect the emotions of people because emotions are often (some would say always) the gateway to the mind. Finally, we should be attempting to affect the behavior of people by moving their will to obey the Word of God. Read More »

Will All the Ducks Fly Away?

phil-robertson-630x410

“God, Family, Ducks…in that order.” So reads the Twitter profile of Jase Robertson, one of the stars of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” reality show. It looks like that saying is about to be tested. A&E has suspended Phil Robertson, father of Jase, Willie, and Jep Robertson and founder of Duck Commander, for his recent comments about homosexuality in an interview published in GQ. Read More »

Do Not Neglect the Table: A Reminder to Parents

christ-on-cross

I remember wondering why I could not have the little piece of bread and the small cup of juice that my friend Noel was able to take. I did not question my parents on that Sunday morning, but later asked my mom and she explained that Noel had given his life to Jesus, and you could only take the Lord’s Supper after you had become a Christian. She then explained the Lord’s Supper and the gospel. It was the beginning of my searching and as I was further exposed to the gospel (particularly one night at the parsonage at Falls Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina) eventually on June 14, 1981 my mom led me to the Lord and I put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Read More »

To Live Is Christ and To Die is Gain: The Morality of Suicide

EKG-flatline

The Pew Research Center released the results of a recent study on views of end of life medical treatment. Among the more interesting findings is how different faith groups view the morality of ending life. In an analysis of the findings, Christianity Today reports, “About a quarter of evangelicals believe that a person has a moral right to suicide if he or she is ready to die because living is now a burden, or if that person is an extremely heavy burden on his or her family.” Read More »

Four Types of Meaning in Texts

PreachTheWord

The text-driven preacher must recognize that there are four basic types of meaning conveyed in every text and context: referential, situational, structural and semantic. Referential meaning is that which is being talked about; the subject matter of a text. Situational meaning is information pertaining to the participants in a communication act; matters of environment, social status, etc. Structural meaning has to do with the arrangement of the information in the text itself; the grammar and syntax of a text. Semantics has to do with the structure of meaning and is in some sense the confluence of referential, situational and structural meaning. 1 Read More »

Notes:

  1. See Beekman, Callow and Kopesec, Semantic Structure, 8-13.

Wholly Bible: Preaching Revelation

whollybible2

The book to end the Book is an incredible book. Some look at it as a road map through which they can navigate modern events. Therefore they go slow. They stop to gaze at the magnificent visions in Revelation, and as they gaze they wonder exactly why it is written this way. They poke and prod, they squeeze and mix, until what is extracted from this vision becomes a blend of modern events glazed over with speculation and hope. Read More »

Wholly Bible: Preaching Parables

whollybible2

The parables of Jesus are go-to texts in preaching. They are so familiar, so convicting, so artful that they just beg to be preached. However the familiarity of the text can lull us into exegetical slumber: the state in which we never rethink our approach to understanding them. And what’s worse, the exegetical slumber leads to a homiletical boredom. If we think the text is predictable then we will preach it predictable ways. So, here are features of parables that we need to attend to while preaching parables. Read More »

Wholly Bible: Preaching Prophecy

whollybible2

If the prophets are the leftovers of preaching, the Minor prophets are the vegetables—the really, really, last resort in text selection. With the exception of Jonah, rarely is a Minor prophet a go-to text. Why is it that these major chunks of the Old Testament are largely neglected? Three reasons come to mind. Read More »

Church Revitalization: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going

church

There is a conversation that is getting louder in Southern Baptist circles, and it is one that I am very excited about. The SBC website says we are a network of over 45,000 churches with nearly 16 million members, but the reality is that we have a great percentage of churches that are plateaued or declining. I have seen statistics showing between 70 to 80 percent of our Southern Baptist churches are at this point. Any honest observation would admit there are many sick, dying, or even dead-and-just-do-not-realize-it-yet churches. Read More »

Debating Paige Patterson: 1981 Southern Baptist Inerrancy Debates with Cecil Sherman & Kenneth Chafin

ets-prog-cover

Seven-score and ten years ago this very day, Abraham Lincoln arrived in a town not far from here to dedicate the cemetery and honor the men who had fallen at the Battle of Gettysburg. In his two-and-a-half-minute address, Lincoln remarked, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” Gettysburg, says historian Alan C. Guelzo, was “the greatest and most violent collision the North American continent had ever seen,” 1 and thus the testing of the nation to which Lincoln alluded was “a kind of pass/fail examination to determine once and for all whether the American founding had indeed been misbegotten.” 2

Download PDF of “Debating Paige Patterson” Read More »

Notes:

  1. Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (New York: Knopf, 2013), 5.
  2. Ibid, 480.

ObamaCare, Contraception, and the War on Women

directions

What is the war on women? The phrase has been used by various political groups to characterize attitudes related to the perspective on women’s roles in the home and workplace. In recent days, the idea of a war on women has been used to describe the debate over whether or not the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., ObamaCare) should provide all forms of FDA-approved contraceptives to women at no cost to them. The typical accusations of a war against women have been lobbed against conservatives who seek to limit the government’s role in providing contraceptives. Read More »

ENDA and The Superiority of Men

Congress is currently considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA). For review of the issues see the helpful ERLC piece here. The bill would require employers to hire without consideration of an employees’ sexual orientation. The truth is that a person’s abilities may not be hindered by their sexual orientation. It is also true that no one should ever be discriminated against—for any reason. However, the reality is that this bill threatens the existence of businesses that desire to govern themselves in consistence with their religious convictions. In this way, it infringes upon the right to operate a company by conservative evangelical convictions. Read More »

Wholly Bible: Preaching Law

whollybible2

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Deut. 13:1-4 Read More »