Featured Articles

Theological Matters

Theological Insights from Southwestern

Pastoral Ministry

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 »

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 »

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 »

Top 10 Questions about Your Church’s Ministry with Teenagers

spiritual_orphan

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 »

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 »

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 »

Godless Churches

church

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 »

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.

The Rap on Rap

ReachTheWorld

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 »

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 »

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.

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part Three

boy_home_school

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 »

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 »

Wholly Bible: Preaching Old Testament Narrative

whollybible2

Isn’t she someone else’s wife?

David ignores the question of his servant and sleeps with her anyway. She’s pregnant. David ignores the opportunity to come clean and orders her husband to be killed. The stealth of deception is absolutely shocking. Cold, sterile, calculated, lying. From the heart of the most poetic God-fearer who ever lived oozes this willful independence and vulgar dishonesty. David lied. David stole. David killed. He would be forgiven from these sins, but neither his kingdom nor his family would ever recover. Read More »

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

church

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 »

Wholly Bible: Preaching Wisdom

whollybible2

The structure of the text should be the structure of the sermon.

This axiom is easy enough to follow when preaching a New Testament Epistle where you can follow the clear paragraph structure of the text, using rhetorical clues to divide the text such as verbs and conjunctions. However, doesn’t this axiom break down when preaching the Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)? If, for example, one were to preach Proverbs 14:1-4, the first verse relates to a wise woman, the second to uprightness, the third to foolish talk, and the fourth to the value of the oxen. That’s a pretty entertaining four-point sermon, but it hardly seems to flow. Read More »

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part 2

boy_home_school

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: Preaching the Psalms

whollybible2

Have you ever sat next to someone in church who has a terrible singing voice and just doesn’t care? They just sing it like they really mean it. I envy this person. Without the slightest bit of self-awareness, they simply rear back and let the song fly. They’re too enraptured with the theology of the lyrics to be self-conscious about what others think. This moment is between them and their God. Read More »