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Theological Insights from Southwestern


Methodism: John Wesley’s Plan to Bring Christ’s Holiness to the World


What is Methodism?

Methodism is a Protestant denomination that emerged within Anglicanism during the 1700s that sought to inspire a deep evangelical ethos within the Church of England. Because they originally were methodical and highly disciplined in their approach to the Christian life, they were labeled “Methodists” by their opponents, a name which stuck. John Wesley, who did more than anyone to establish Methodism, did not initially intend it to become a separate denomination. As the movement matured, however, it became clear that significant differences emerged between Anglicanism and Methodism, a point which led to an official separation after Wesley’s death in 1791. Read More »

Top 10 Questions about Your Church’s Ministry with Teenagers


If I were a senior pastor I would print the following list of questions, and I would take it to staff meeting for discussion. I would expect discussion to involve everyone. For example, I would expect those in ministry with children to consider how 12 years in their program will address question #1. I would expect those in adult ministry to have much to say about questions #7-9. I would expect those who lead senior adult ministry to address question #10 with creativity. And of course, I would keep the youth pastor at the heart of all the conversations. Read More »

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


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 »

Do Not Neglect the Table: A Reminder to Parents


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 »

Godless Churches


Recently, the New York Times ran an article citing scientific evidence that demonstrated that attending church is good for your health. The study revealed that people who regularly attend church, on average, live two to three years longer than non-attenders. This was one of a number of studies recently with similar results. Read More »

The Rap on Rap


Recent furor over a panel discussion on rap at the NCFIC has ignited a controversy in the Christian cyber community. Tragedy is not lacking in some of what has been uttered. At the outset, I confess that I have neither the rhythm nor the quickness of mind to be a rapper so I do not participate just as I do not plan to treat my campus to my rendition of “O Holy Night” this Christmas. But contrary to the panel, I have used Christian rap in chapel and will not hesitate to do so again. I also initiated a jazz degree in Southwestern’s School of Church Music. Read More »

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part Three


I love pastor’s kids (PK’s). I loved being one, and I love having them. I don’t mind the term PK and still wear it with pride. So far in this brief series, the first article focused those who are not the parents of pastor’s kids, and the second article addressed those who are. In this last article, I want to talk about being a pastor’s kid. Read More »

Are Christians ever excused from teaching and obeying clear commands in the New Testament?


A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

Presbyterianism: Carrying the Torch of “Reformed” Ecclesiology and Theology


Last month when we examined Anglicanism, we noted that the denomination’s uniqueness originated in the way its founders sought to unite the best of Protestantism and Catholicism. They sought, in other words, a middle way between “Geneva” and “Rome.” This month we turn our attention to a group that sought to identify itself only with Geneva’s “Reformed” church: Presbyterianism. Read More »

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part 2


Without question, the foundation of “training up a child in the way he should go” begins in the home. Being a pastor and a parent is not more difficult than any other parent in society. Like all parents, pastors are responsible for laying the groundwork for the spiritual welfare of their children. The complication comes when the roles of pastor and parent are seen in contradiction to each other. In reality, a pastor demonstrates his merit as a minister through his effectiveness as a parent. Read More »

Wholly Bible: Why Genre Matters in Preaching


Riding on the City of New Orleans,
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin’ trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

Preaching a sermon demands a lot of thought. There is the exegesis of the text, which demands quite a bit of time and energy. Then there is the exegesis of the audience. How will the listener receive what God has said? In all of this, who has time to consider the genre in which the text was written? This is where Willie Nelson helps us. Read More »

Are unbelievers most helped by believers who trust the Bible?


A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

Pastoral Pitfalls: 5 Guidelines for Personal & Church Finances


Every semester when I talk to my students about the many pitfalls that ministers need to avoid, I ask them to name the most dangerous areas where a minister could make a catastrophic mistake. Inevitably the number one answer is some sort of sexual sin. As we continue the conversation, especially if I ask them to give examples of reasons why someone could be fired or asked to resign from a ministry position, the next common answer is mishandling of money. Read More »

Text-Driven Preaching and Sermon Form

All preaching rests upon certain convictions about the nature of God, the Scriptures, and the Gospel. James Barr said he doubted whether the Bible itself, regardless of one’s view of inspiration, can furnish the preacher with a model for sermon form and content that could be conceived as normative.1 Such a statement is clearly informed by a less than evangelical view of biblical authority. Contrast this with Haddon Robinson’s statement: “Expository preaching, therefore, emerges not merely as a type of sermon—one among many—but as the theological outgrowth of a high view of inspiration. Expository preaching then originates as a philosophy rather than a method.”2 Read More »

Stop, Drop, & Pray!


If you have walked in Christian circles for any amount of time at all, it has happened to you. An individual confides in you about a prayer need in his or her life and requests that you would pray for them. How do we respond? I’ve never heard anyone say, “No, I don’t have time for that, but good luck.” Of course not, we normally quickly respond that we will pray and go on about our business. Sometimes we remember the request and pray about it quickly, but I will confess there have been times in my life that I have completely forgotten about the matter and have been unfaithful in my commitment to pray for my brother or sister. In essence, I have lied to someone. I told them I would do something and failed to do it. Read More »

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part 1


Being a pastor’s kid is no harder than being anyone else’s kid. It’s just different. For too long we’ve used the image of a fishbowl as though that’s a bad thing. I am a pastor’s kid, I am married to a pastor’s kid, reared four pastor’s kids, my oldest son is married to a pastor’s kid, another of my boys is engaged to a pastor’s kid, and three of our four boys have expressed a call to Christian ministry, increasing the possibility of future pastor’s kids in our family. We like pastor’s kids in our home! Read More »

An Altar Inscribed “To the Unknown Preaching Method”

On any given Sunday in today’s preaching pantheon, one can observe a diverse group of devotees, some paying homage to the chapel of “creativity,” others sitting at the feet of the “culturally relevant.” Some are transfixed at the nave marked “narrative,” while others have their hearts strangely warmed at the chasse of “pop-psychology.” There is never a shortage of worshippers at the “new homiletic” altar, and the “topical” shrine always receives its share of Sunday patrons. Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.” It is that method which I declare unto you. Actually, the method itself is not “unknown” at all, and like the true church on earth, it has always had its practitioners in every era of church history. In fact, it is the oldest method in the preaching pantheon, having been used by the earliest preachers as far back as the apostolic era of the church. It is called “expository preaching.” Read More »

Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations?


Two hundred years ago frontier revivalist Barton Stone was fed up with Presbyterianism. He found the denomination too theological, too elitist, and out of touch with the common frontier folk he ministered to in southern Kentucky. His biggest problem was that he believed Presbyterianism was not biblical. To Stone, pure Christianity must be built solely upon a plain reading of Scripture, and as he surveyed the Protestant denominations of his day he concluded that they all were contaminated with human traditions. He thus founded a new group that would not be another denomination but merely an organization of biblical believers bound together to worship God according to scriptural guidelines. To capture their anti-denominational spirit, they simply called themselves “Christians.” Read More »

Pastoral Pitfalls: 6 Guidelines for Relationships with Women


“Except for the grace of God . . .”

These are the words that come to my heart and mind when I hear the story of a minister failing morally. The world seems to rejoice when this happens, while it is certain that the Christian world should grieve. The story is too often repeated; a gifted minister gets wrapped up in an immoral relationship, deals unethically with money, or gets caught in spoken lies and other types of dishonesty. I really believe very few actually begin their ministries with these types of moral flaws, but over the course of time they grow stale in their love for the Savior and begin to make small compromises that lead to life-altering mistakes. I plan to present a series of posts covering some of the more common pitfalls that ministers face. Some are obvious, like today’s post, and others are much less obvious but in many ways just as dangerous. The two most obvious pitfalls that ministers must avoid are inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex and mishandling their money. Read More »

Taking the Text Test

Many of us are familiar with the advertising campaigns of various soft drink manufacturers that have involved a “taste test”. That is, the consumer is directed to taste one brand of drink, taste a second brand, and then compare the two in order to determine which brand tastes the best.

Such an exercise brings to mind an infinitely more significant test. This one concerns the preacher’s attention to the text of Scripture from which he plans to preach and his faithfulness to it. If a preacher believes in the inerrancy of Scripture and aims to deliver text-driven sermons, this test is no small matter. The following list, while not exhaustive, may offer the preacher some guidance in testing the quality of his attempts at text-driven preaching. Read More »

We are the Body of Christ


Like many others, I have recently read and been blessed by Dr. Thom Rainer’s book, I am a Church Member. I’m convinced that Dr. Rainer has hit on a significant and timely issue. I am hopeful that his book will challenge believers around the world on the issue of church membership. I’d like to extend the conversation, moving from the individual to the corporate body. Because a biblical understanding of the church never ends with who I am but always leads to who WE are in Christ. Read More »

The Supreme Court and the Future of Marriage

June 26, 2013. Mark this day down in history.

I haven’t lived long enough to remember too many historic moments. I remember where I was when the Challenger space shuttle exploded. I have an image burned in my mind of watching the Berlin Wall collapse. I can even recall the visceral pain of watching the World Trade Center crumble in ruins.

I will also remember June 26, 2013, as the day that marriage changed forever in American society.

What exactly happened today? Let me offer a quick summary. Read More »

Who Is Getting Married Today?

Marriage rates are rising according to an article published in USA Today this week. They report about an expected rise in marriage rates over the next few years after a progressive decline since the recession. The report from Demographic Intelligence of Charlottesville, VA, predicts a 4% rise in the number of weddings over the low point in 2009. From 2007 to 2009, the number of marriages in the United States dropped from 2.197 million to 2.080 million. Demographic Intelligence projects that the number of marriages will rise to 2.208 million by 2015. Read More »

The Cacophony of Silence: Rising Global neo-Pentecostalism, World Christianity, and the Southern Baptist Convention

It had already been a long journey and I still had a long set of flights out of Nigeria routing back to the United States. During my visit to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogobomso, I met many fine folk. They are indeed doing a tremendous job of engaging lost people with the good news in the midst of horrific conflict posed to the whole nation, and the world, from a violent stream of Islam known as Boko Haram. One of the institution’s administrators accompanied me back to Lagos, Nigeria to fly out. Read More »

Intentional Evangelism: Approaches & Strategies for Sharing the Gospel


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Southwestern News magazine, which gives churches and individuals strategies for sharing the Gospel.

Most Christians recognize the importance of evangelism, but they are at a loss when it comes to striking up a conversation with a stranger on a plane, in a grocery line, or at the gas station. The following is an analysis of five common approaches to sharing the Gospel with some additional evangelism tips. Each approach has potential strengths and weaknesses, but not all approaches are created equal. The first two strategies are not recommended as normative approaches for evangelism. Queen recommends a blended use of the final three approaches. Each has its own advantages and usefulness in particular situations. The leading of the Holy Spirit should dictate which approach, or approaches, should be incorporated in any given evangelistic encounter. Read More »