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Anti-Platonism and Moral Realism

Talbot School of Theology - 3 hours 26 min ago

"Can you be an anti-realist about some things and a realist about others? For example, do you no longer give the realist resolution to the Euthyphro Dilemma, no longer ground the Good in God's nature? Couldn't abstract objects be grounded in the Logos (divine, rather than Platonic, essentialism)?"

Categories: Seminary Blog

The Gospel and adjusted math: Taking gospel love seriously


Perennial Bible scholar D.A. Carson, calls it “divine mathematics.” And that sounds about right to me. Although the New Testament is not a mathematics textbook, when it does speak to the issue it doesn’t follow conventional theorems or formulas. Under normal convention, five minus one equals four – obviously. Not necessarily so with God’s math.

Look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3).

Paul presents five specific gifts. Subtract love, and he concludes that equals zero. Paul presents an example of divine mathematics: Five minus one equals zero. It doesn’t follow conventional wisdom, but is wisdom supreme?

The Corinthians had a problem – okay, a lot of problems. Perhaps the most ominous issue was that they had big heads and little hearts. You remember the Ephesians had the same problem. They were steadfast, always toiling and doctrinally accurate – a church many of us would hasten to join. But Jesus accuses them of leaving their first love. This is exactly the case in Corinth.

Related: As for me and my house: taking gospel parenting seriously

From 1 Corinthians 1:7, we see that the Corinthian church lacked no gifts. But the church didn’t couple the gifts with grace. The church did not understand what New Testament love looks like. The Corinthian church didn’t understand that the Gospel calls believers to love one another.

In response, Paul crafts 1 Corinthian 13. This is a profound chapter, and probably the most important chapter on Gospel love in the New Testament. Jesus said we are to love one another, and God takes love seriously. And He expects Christ’s followers to demonstrate what it means to love one another.

We know that God commands us to love. The question is, “How?” And this question is the subject the first section in 1 Corinthians 13 addresses. The reader should think through what this Gospel love looks like. How does love impact the believer’s life?

Remember Paul also said that the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). And so it’s my case that one of the chief implications of the Gospel is the expectation for us daily to represent what it means to love one another.

Paul takes five highly esteemed gifts, creates hypothetical scenarios and then applies an identical principle to each. He looks at the top five things prized in Corinthian culture. He brings them to the forefront and he creates these hypothetical situations, areas that are matchless in value. He uses the word “if,” and it’s interesting why he uses that word. He is creating the hypothetical and trying to get you to pause and think about this topic of love. So he’s saying, “Just suppose for a minute,” and he repeats it with each of the five (see graphic below).

Related: A Guide to Expository Ministry by Dan Dumas | Download the free PDF

We like to use these verses at weddings as a kind of biblical mushy talk, but I think that’s missing Paul’s point. He makes these statements to correct and instruct the Corinthian church as to the importance of Gospel-centric love. Love is the implication of God’s love shed in the believer’s heart. Every single day of our lives, God expects us to live out this personal self-sacrificing, living-for-others kind of love.

Jesus said that same thing in John 13, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, when you have love for one another” (v. 35). We preach the Gospel with our lives when we love one another, and when we have that kind of affection and understanding and deep love. It affects everything we do. Paul strongly emphasizes the necessity of this love because of the confusion and misinterpretation surrounding the gifts in the Corinthian church.

A man or a woman with great gifts, a supreme intellect, an ultimate giver, is nothing without love. So if I write the greatest article in history, but I do it without love, Paul says it profits nothing.

Five minus one equals zero when God does the math, because He sees the heart. Without love, all we do is offend others. Without love, I’m nothing. Five minus one equals zero.


Dan Dumas is senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary. He is a church planter and pastor-teacher at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanDumas, on Facebook or at DanDumas.com. This article originally appeared in A Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care.


Categories: Seminary Blog

On Choosing Books: Reading from the Other Side

Southwestern Seminary - 9 hours 36 min ago

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.

When selecting books for this class, I have decided to do something a little different. I have chosen a significant text edited by someone with whom I ardently disagree on these issues. My goal is to have students interact with and engage the best thinkers on the other side of the debate.

I have chosen a significant text edited by someone with whom I ardently disagree on these issues. My goal is to have students interact with and engage the best thinkers on the other side of the debate.

I generally survey fellow ethics colleagues at other seminaries before choosing books for new classes just to see if I am missing a key text. While interacting with my PhD mentor on my selection of texts for this class, I mentioned the book I planned to use from the other side of the debate and told him the names of some of the contributors. His response was priceless. He said, “I really like the names you’ve listed for your purposes. [Author X] is scary. Thus a good read.”

For most of my academic career, I have heard Dr. Paige Patterson (president of my seminary) say that students need to know the arguments of the best thinkers who disagree with our positions. My approach to this in the past has been to bring in their works and read/present selections to the students in class. This is the first time I have made a concerted effort to ask my students to buy and read something so diametrically opposed to a Christian perspective on an ethical issue.

By the end of this class, my students will understand the arguments of those who want to promote abortion at any cost, euthanize the weak and poor, and produce designer babies.

By the end of this class, my students will understand the arguments of those who want to promote abortion at any cost, euthanize the weak and poor, and produce designer babies. With appropriate guidance from their professor, I hope they will also be able to critique and combat those arguments.

Far too often Christians find themselves wrapped in their bubble of Christian books and Christian arguments hearing tales of what people on the outside believe. I want my students to read firsthand what people outside our Christian bubble think. That is the only way we can truly know how to engage the culture.

The task will not be easy, but it should be a fun ride. As one of my former professors used to say, “Strap on your helmets, boys, we’re going to war.”


For those of you wanting to know, the book I chose is Bioethics: An Anthology edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. Singer is famous for believing that humans have no right to life until at least 6–12 months in age (but possibly as late as 3 years). At the same time, he believes we could control the population by euthanizing all the elderly and infirm. And his is not the most extreme view in the book.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Some Thoughts on Work

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:00

I am all for weekends (even when I have to work, such as doing lesson planning, grading, or writing a blog post!). But sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking of work as the negative and leisure or rest as the positive aspect of our lives. Work can become something we need to “get through” in order to make it to the weekend; Sundays are our “spiritual” days as opposed to our “working” days that begin on Mondays, and so forth.



Categories: Seminary Blog

Christ in the Old Testament

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 06:00


When we study, preach or teach the Old Testament (OT) should we talk about Jesus Christ? Is it hermeneutically sound to see Christ in the OT? Let’s hear the words of the best interpreter of the OT in history. When Cleopas and his companion were doubting that Jesus was the Messiah because He suffered on the cross, Jesus said to them, “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).  According to Jesus if we don’t see Him when reading Moses and the Prophets, we are foolish. Jesus spoke to the disciples along the same lines, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (24:44). Jesus Himself tells us that the whole OT points towards Him.

When we read the OT, therefore, we must read it christologically. We must interpret it the way Jesus and the apostles did, and their own interpretation of the OT functions as a pattern and guide for us. Neither do we believe that every stick in the OT refers to the cross, nor do we arbitrarily and capriciously see strained references to Jesus. But we do see in the OT story predictions and types of Jesus the Messiah.

Related: A Word-Centered Culture Instead of a Man-Centered Culture

The great promise of Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Jesus is the offspring of the woman who crushes Satan under his feet (cf. Rom 16:20). God appeared to Abraham, promising him that the whole world, the very ends of the earth, would be blessed through him and his offspring (Gen 12:3). The New Testament (NT) teaches that Jesus is the offspring of Abraham through whom the curses introduced by Adam would be overcome (Gal 3:16). Moses spoke of a prophet that would come after him to reveal the will of the Lord (Deut 18:15), and Jesus is the final and definitive word of God to us (Heb 1:2). Joshua gave the people earthly rest in the land, but there is a better rest in Jesus, a heavenly rest that will never end (Heb 3:12-4:11). The OT sacrifices were offered for the forgiveness of sins, but Jesus offers a far better sacrifice than animal sacrifices, and He is a far better priest than the Aaronic priests. As the Melchizedekian priest and the Son of God, His sacrifice for sins secures forgiveness once for all (Heb 7:1-10:18).


God made a covenant with David, the man after God’s own heart, promising him an eternal dynasty that would never end (2 Sam 7). If we read 1-2 Samuel and the Psalms, we see both David’s suffering and exaltation. Still, David was not the ideal king, for he sinned egregiously against the Lord (e.g., Uriah and Bathsheba). David himself needed atonement for his sins. The prophets often predicted the coming of a new David, a David who would shepherd God’s people (Ezek 34:23-24) and in whom Israel would place its trust (Hos 3:5). Jesus of Nazareth, according to the NT, is the new David anticipated and prophesied in the OT. Just as David suffered and then was exalted, so too Jesus suffered and then entered into His glory. When we read the Psalms about David, it is legitimate to see David as a type of Christ. Is the book of Proverbs about Jesus? Space forbids a full examination of the book, but Jesus is the wisdom of God. He is the only one who lived as God’s obedient son. He is wiser than Solomon (Luke 11:31), and all wisdom resides in Him (Col 2:3).

Related: Learn from Thomas R. Schreiner in our Master of Divinity program with a concentration in Biblical and Theological Studies.

Israel was called to be God’s obedient son (Exod 4:22-23). Just as Adam was called to be God’s son who trusted and obeyed him, so too was Israel. But Israel, like Adam, failed to carry out God’s instructions. Things got so bad that both Israel (722 B.C.) and Judah (586 B.C.) were sent into exile. The prophets denounced Israel and Judah for their sin, threatening judgment if they did not repent and turn to the Lord. When the people failed to turn, the exile, which Moses saw long beforehand (cf. Deut 27-32), became a reality. But the prophets assured the people that exile was not the last word. God would restore His people. Just as the Lord liberated His people from Egypt, there would be a second exodus. A new David would come, and God would make a new covenant with His people and pour out His Spirit on them. Then the promised new creation would come. The victory over the serpent promised in Genesis 3:15 would become a reality in a most unusual way. The Servant of the Lord, the true Israel, would liberate His people from exile by forgiving their sins, by taking the punishment they deserved upon Himself. But suffering was not the last word, this Servant is also the triumphant Son of Man who would rise from the dead and receive the kingdom for the sake of the saints.

All the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:20). The narrative of the OT is realized in Him. He is the second Adam, the true Israel, the prophet of the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of Man, and the Servant of the Lord. He is Immanuel and the Lord of all. Through His atoning sacrifice, He forgives our sins and pours out His Spirit upon us. And through Him we enter the new creation where we glorify God, as John Piper says, by enjoying Him forever.


Thomas R. Schreiner is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and  professor of biblical theology. He also serves as associate dean of the School of Theology at Souhtern. He is the author of  many books including, most recently, The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Follow him on Twitter at: @DrTomSchreiner.


Categories: Seminary Blog

Some Life Lessons from Mom & Dad – Part Three

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00

I gleaned more wisdom from my parents than any blog could contain, but here are three more lessons that stand out in my mind and heart as I remember Bob & Reka, lovebirds to the end.

Categories: Seminary Blog

A REACHing Church

Southwestern Seminary - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:00
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)

In this study of more than 2,900 Protestant churchgoers, 61 percent have not shared how to become a Christian with anyone in the past six months, and 20 percent confessed that they rarely/never pray for people who are not professing Christians.

Using a REACH Card to Share One’s Faith

As a church, we decided to combat what this research suggested by developing a simple way for our people to be held accountable for sharing their faith. We call this our “REACH card.”

We believe that evangelism is a process (Matthew 13, the Parable of the Soils). Some people we share with are eager to hear the Gospel and ready to receive Christ. Others may have never heard the name of Jesus, or have preconceived ideas that we inevitably have to work through with them.

The REACH card helps people in our church begin to strategically think about who needs to hear the Gospel that they can be praying for and it engages them in the evangelism process.

It’s a simple, practical way to keep the need to reach others for Christ at the forefront of the minds and hearts of people in our church. Below is the process:

  1. The first step in the REACH process is for them to MEET a person who needs Christ. Sadly, some Christians have no relationship or friendship with someone who doesn’t already know Christ. Certainly Jesus taught us the value of “spending time with sinners”?
  2. The second step is to begin to SERVE that person. Often it is tangible acts of service that enable a friendship to develop and flourish. We often encourage our people to serve others in such a way that it makes them ask, “Why?”
  3. The third step is to INVEST in that person. Perhaps it is having that person over for a meal, going to an event together or simply sitting down for some in-depth conversation. This step takes the most time, but will also prove to be the most fruitful.
  4. At this stage in the REACH process, people are ready for the fourth step, which is to INVITE the person with them to church to hear the Gospel, and they may even be ready for the fifth step.
  5. The fifth step is to SHARE the Gospel personally with the one whom they have been praying for, serving and investing in.

If we want people in our church to share their faith and reverse the trend we see in this LifeWay study, then we, as leaders, must model this and share stories of how reaching others really does work!

Hollie Taylor’s life has forever been changed because of a few Christians meeting her … serving her … investing in her … and sharing the Gospel with her. Watch her story.

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Short Book Review of One of the Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00

After six months of on-and-off reading, I have just completed N.T. Wright’s book, Paul and the Faithfulness of God.  The book is 1660 pages long if you include the bibliography and indices.  (If you don’t it’s only 50 pages long…just kidding.)  Here are three things I liked about this two-volume book, and two things that I struggled with.

Categories: Seminary Blog

The hero story

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:10


Have you heard the ballad of the hoped-for hero? Ancient prophecies foretell his coming. Not altogether clear, shrouded in mystery, but enough to kindle hopes and keep the flickering flame alive. Everything depends on his coming. In fact, if these prophecies aren’t realized, there is no final defense against evil. No ultimate hope. No redemption. No restoration. Curiously, some think that the veiled and wispy nature of the intimations that he will arise amount to nothing at all. If they are correct, is there any basis for the claims that the prophecies have in fact been fulfilled?

The sprawling, ramshackle narrative of the Old Testament is the one true hero story on which all the others are based. Oh sure, it may not always seem that the texts are concerned with the hoped-for hero, but these books can only be understood in light of the back story that informs them. The hero is the driving force of that narrative undercurrent, so even when we are not reading prophecies about him or statements of hope that he will come, we nevertheless read authors who portray a world and a people whose future depends on the promised champion.

The true story of the world is the prototypical work of art that has been imitated by all myth-makers and storytellers. Did you read of Heracles slaying the Hydra? The mighty deliverer achieved expiation by slaying the snake. Then there’s Odysseus coming in wrath at the end of the Odyssey to rescue his bride. It’s positively apocalyptic.

Related: The journey into the 'interpretive perspective' of the biblical authors: A conversation with Dr. James M. Hamilton Jr.

We could go on and on with such examples. If a myth is an archetypal story that explains the world and provides hope, this hero story is the world’s one true myth. Justin Martyr said that the demons had salted the world’s religions with tidbits of the true story to inoculate people against the world’s one cure. And in stories influenced by Christianity you have imitations and approximations of it: Beowulf slaying first the one who descends from Cain, Grendel, and then the dragon. St. George, too, kills a dragon. These are but reflections and refractions of the light of the world, the ancient hope for the prince of life who comes to crush the head of that ancient serpent, the dragon, who is the Devil and Satan.

When we consider the Messiah in the Old Testament, our minds are confronted with the answer to the world’s questions, the fulfillment of all yearnings, the satisfaction of the universal desire for beauty and joy and peace and, and well, everything. You could say it’s Hitchcock’s McGuffin – something everyone wants, needs and looks for at all costs – but the McGuffin may not be profound enough to capture the weight of this, the real thing. Jesu joy of man’s desiring. Indeed. Jesus is the ultimate object of C. S. Lewis’ Sehnsucht – he is the one who fulfills the inconsolable longing for we know not what.

Swathed in cryptic hints and echoes from the distant past, hidden in shadows and faintly perceived from whispers subtly woven through the Old Testament. Soft impressions seen through a glass darkly, the trace of an outline, the kind of thing that almost has to be pointed out before you see it clearly, but then once you’ve seen it, you can’t see anything else. You don’t want to see anything else.

The promises of the coming seed of the woman all partake of a haunting, hopeful melody, to which the Old Testament’s composer returns again and again. The delay between these prophecies only increases the pathos, adds to the beauty so pure it’s painful. The next oracle almost sneaks up on us, and at points we only recognize it after it has passed us by. Suddenly the words ignite and we read and re-read the promise of a seed who is a lion who wields a scepter who will be a son to the Most High. Each installment in the interweaving of prophecy and pattern comes like a familiar rhythm, or a restrained suggestion, hearkening us back to something earlier in the music. The artist who orchestrates the living production in real time threads the line of promise lightly – but thoroughly – through the whole symphonic poem of the Bible.

Related: Learn from James M. Hamilton  in our Master of Divinity program with a concentration in Biblical and Theological Studies. 

Those with eyes to see and ears to hear are ravished by a beauty better than all else they might desire. They lean in close, straining to hear and see, longing, yearning, hoping, as they earnestly attend to past promise, and watch for what they hope will be reiterations and expositions of it. The shadows may be long and the clouds thick, but a conviction has seized them that the heavens will be rolled back when the star shines out of Judah.

Then come the “experts.” They huff and snort that there is no theme that has been resumed. They deny that this rhythm sounds like that one. They insist that when these notes in this melody are taken apart, they bear no relation to one another. They explain that this beat cannot possibly be related to that one, and that the meaning some heard in that first syncopation was never there in the first place.

But we’ve heard the music, and for all the seeming intelligence of their explanations, we know what the music does to us. Those notes may be nothing in isolation, but in aggregate they form a song more lovely than the lectures of learned unbelievers. We know this melody is meant to evoke earlier ones, and as soon as we hear the music again, the denials of experts lose all power to compel. The strains of hope and longing that we have heard awaken faith and conviction and boldness, even as the academics drone on in their boring refusal to enjoy the music.

The one who wrote the music and conducted the orchestra came, and still people refused to hear his song. They did not recognize the one who was foretold, whose pattern was prefigured, whose destiny it was to unlock the door to life, lay the foundation for faith, design the theater for God’s glory, and build the temple of the Holy Spirit, but the hoped for hero really has come. And he’s coming back. He came the first time as a man of sorrows to be acquainted with grief. When he comes again his robe will be sprinkled with the blood of his enemies who lie trampled beneath his feet. He will accomplish God’s purpose and fill the lands with God’s glory like water fills the seas.


James M. Hamilton Jr. is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary. He has written and contributed to a number of works including, most recently, Exalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) and What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and PatternsYou can read more by Hamilton at his blog Jimhamilton.info. Also, follow him on Twitter: @DrJimHamilton. This article originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine


Categories: Seminary Blog

Basic Library Booklist

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:02

For a number of years the Seminary faculty has produced the Basic Library Booklist. It is updated every few years, and you can find the 2014 edition here. The Booklist has been specifically designed to answer the question of which books are the best on a particular book of the Bible or theological subject. In the case of commentaries, best means those that are the most helpful in exegesis and exposition, as well as understanding the overall argument of a book. The books are listed in order of importance. The first book listed is the one that should probably be purchased first, though it is doubtful that one commentary would be sufficient for adequate sermon preparation.

Besides commentaries the Booklist also rates books in systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology. Check out the Booklist and let us know what you think.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Happiness is Edenistic, not Hedonistic

Southwestern Seminary - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 07:00

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.

The Biblical world for this blessed happiness that God intends for us is shalom. As Cornelius Plantinga states, 

Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be (italics added). 1

We long for happiness because we long for a world made right again. We were created to flourish. And the Biblical story, especially the creation account in Genesis 1-2, gives us a picture of what human flourishing—shalom—looks like: intimacy with God, harmony with self, others and the created order as we live out our God-given purposes. David Naugle notes six ingredients in God’s recipe for the happy life evident in the creation account: 2

  1. Spiritually, we were made to enjoy intimate union with God the creator in obedience to his will, rooted in our identity as God’s image and likeness.
  2. Vocationally, we were made to undertake fulfilling work based on the commandment to rule the earth and to cultivate and keep the creation.
  3. Socially, we were made for human companionship especially as men and women in the context of marriage and family life.
  4. Nutritionally, we were made to partake freely of food and drink, as seen in the generous provision of plants, fruitful trees, and water in the garden of Eden.
  5. Sabbatically, we were made to rest and play in the enjoyment of the world, based upon the blessing and sanctification of the seventh day.
  6. Habitationally, we were made to take pleasure in our surroundings, in the nature of the locations and places where we live, since God set us in the delightfulness of Eden and in the context of the creation’s astounding wonder and beauty.

God’s idea of happiness is much richer than the contemporary view of happiness as sensual pleasure. To be sure, created things can fulfill many of our needs. God has created them for our sustenance and enjoyment. But it is a mistake to think that created things on there own can replace and satisfy our need for a Creator. As Pascal famously states:

What does this greed and helplessness proclaim, except that there was once within us true happiness of which all that now remains is the outline and empty trace? Man tries unsuccessfully to fill this void with everything that surrounds him, seeking in absent things the help he cannot find in those that are present, but all are incapable of it. This infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite, immutable object, that is to say, God himself. 3

Importantly, however, the Christian story does not require us to eliminate our love for things on earth out of a love for God. “It’s not either God or the world, but both God and the world in a proper relationship.” 4 The happy life, according to God, is a holistic life. It is a life that unites God and humanity, the Creator with creatures, and the spiritual with the physical and fuses them into an integrated whole and a right ordering of our loves and affections.

The tragedy of the fall (in Genesis 3) is the loss of paradise. But our longings point us, if we pay attention, to a better world. While faded, the memory persists. Because of sin, our efforts to attain happiness—the fulfillment of that inconsolable longing—have been frustrated. But the good news is that we can find happiness. Our lives can be made whole. There is hope for the perpetually unhappy.

How can we find happiness? C.S. Lewis states the answer simply: “out of our selves, into Christ, we must go.” 5 God offers us the happiness there is, it is ours for the taking … if we will turn from self to follow the Living God.


  1. Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995), 10.
  2. David Naugle, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives, 17 (italics added).
  3. Pascal, Pensees, 52.
  4. Naugle, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives, 21.
  5. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001 Edition), 224.
Categories: Seminary Blog

To the Ends of the Earth

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 16:28


EDITOR’S NOTE: In what follows, Michael A.G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Seminary, discusses his new book — co-written with freelance writer and alumnus C. Jeffrey Robinson Sr. — To the Ends of the Earth, with Towers book review contributor Matt Damico. 

MD: Why is this book necessary?

MAGH: I think a book like this is necessary because, in the last 100 years or so, there’s been a perspective that Calvinism is a theological position that is inimical to evangelism, that people who are Calvinists aren’t really interested in doing evangelism because of their conviction of the sovereignty of God in salvation. So, those whom God has elected to save he will save, therefore we don’t need to do evangelism. And that’s a charge that’s been made a number of times; it’s a frequent one that comes up, particularly in the SBC. And it just isn’t true.

MD: What was Calvin’s view of the Great Commission? Did he see it as fulfilled in the apostolic age?

MAGH: If you go through Calvin’s perspective on the whole area of the expansion of the kingdom of God and missions, there is just no way that you can argue that he saw it as being fulfilled in the apostolic era. There is some indication that some of his successors in the 17th century would have argued that way. But there’s no evidence that Calvin really argued that way. In fact, there’s every evidence to the contrary.

You see it in Calvin’s comments about the extension of the kingdom. You see it in Calvin’s prayers, especially where he prays that the gospel will go to the ends of the earth. If he believed that was something already fulfilled, he certainly wouldn’t be praying about it. And you also see it in the one opportunity he really had for significant cross-cultural mission to Brazil, and as soon as the opportunity presented itself, he and the other elders in Geneva jumped at the chance.

So, in terms of his thinking, his praying and his activity, there is no indication that he felt that the Great Commission would already be fulfilled in his day.

MD: How did Calvin display his concern for the spread of the gospel? Was it just something he wrote about?

MAGH: There was one opportunity that presented itself where the French king had an opportunity to plant a colony off the coast of Brazil. The French king’s thinking was more in terms of preventing the Portuguese and Spanish empires from dominating what becomes to be known as South America. But Calvin was offered the opportunity to send some pastors there with the possibility of having an actual mission station. He took that opportunity, and a couple of men were commissioned and sent. So that’s one indication of Calvin’s activities in missions.

Related: Join Dr. Haykin, the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, for the Andrew Fuller Conference at Southern Seminary 10/21-22/2014. 

Others would involve his actual correspondence. He was in correspondence with a significant number of princes in Europe. One of the things that is certainly different from us is that he was quite convicted that one of the ways to spread the gospel was through the conversion of political leaders. And so he would be in correspondence of a number of individuals: Queen Elizabeth I, for example, of England, and he hoped obviously through their embrace of the gospel that they would allow the gospel free course in their countries. None of these countries are democracies. Access was often dependent upon the good will of the ruler, and so as a strategy it makes sense.

Calvin was also carrying on an extensive correspondence with significant numbers of individuals throughout Europe. And one of the things he was doing with that, again, was seeking to use the medium of the letter as a vehicle of evangelism.

MD: You devote a chapter to the missionary zeal and activity of Jonathan Edwards. What’s the relationship between John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards?

MAGH: Well, Edwards was a Calvinist, though he insisted that it wasn’t because of what he read in Calvin, per se, but how much he knew of Calvin. Certainly we have access to a lot more of Calvin’s writings than Edwards did. Edwards’s Calvinistic convictions were not because of what he read in Calvin, but because of what he read in Scripture. Edwards in is in that line of men who come down from Calvin and other reformed teachers at the time of the reformation.

MD: What relationship does Calvin have with the modern missionary movement?

MAGH: Well, all of the early wave — the first two generations of missionaries in the modern missionary movement, people like William Carey and Samuel Pearce, Henry Martin, Adoniram Judson — all of these men and women who went out, like Judson’s wife, they all would’ve been Calvinistic. Again, how much they read of Calvin is a debated point. A lot of their Calvinism would’ve been learned in two ways: through listening to Calvinists preach and reading it for themselves in Scripture.

MD: How is it possible for someone to be a Calvinist and to believe in missions?

MAGH: Well on one level, we have no idea who the elect are, and it’s not our duty to figure that out. Our responsibility very clearly laid out in Scripture is to evangelize, plant churches, take the gospel to the ends of the earth and so on. And, so one can do all of that with the deep conviction that God is using that activity — using my preaching or my evangelism or my church planting or missions work — to convert those whom he has intended all along to save.

So, the doctrine of election is not at odds with the whole area of evangelism and missions. In fact, the doctrine of election gives confidence. If we don’t have that confidence of God’s sovereignty in salvation, it’s feasible that we could spend all of our energy and effort and never see one convert. If it’s all up to me and my energy and my persuasive skills and my techniques and my programs, etc., there’s no guarantee that anyone will ever get converted. But, if the activities I’m involved in are the means by which God fulfills his purposes that he has planned from eternity past, then I go with the confidence that God will use my activity as part of that expansion of the kingdom. It gives great encouragement.

MD: How would you describe Calvin’s influence, and where does he fit among the other major figures in church history?

MAGH: Well, Calvin is one of those theologians that, if he had not lived or had not been converted, or if he had never gone to Geneva, I mean, the entire history of the western civilization would be completely different. There are very few figures that you can say that about, that the whole course of western history would be massively changed.

I mean, Calvin is an enormous influence in France. You have the struggle with French Calvinists, known as the Huguenots, all through the 16th and 17th centuries, and the determination of the French crown to destroy Calvin’s French heirs, which he succeeds in doing in many respects. But, in doing so, he massively impoverishes France and destroys the French ability to exercise hegemony in western Europe. The 18th century was one long war between the French and the English. The English were at war with France every decade between 1690 and 1850. And one of the reasons why the English are able to win that war is because the French government’s desire for a unified religious state has gutted the Calvinist church, but in doing so has gutted largely its middle class. Calvin appeals very directly to the middle class and by gutting the middle class, there was a whole area of French life that never developed the way it did in Britain. And France didn’t have the finances to ultimately win that war and it eventually ended up in the Revolution as we have in the 1780s. Many of those who left France, the French Calvinists, ended up in England. And many of the areas where they settled were the areas where the industrial revolution began. England is the first to undergo the industrial revolution, and in part that is because of these French Calvinists. And so that is a very key area.

Related: Learn about our Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Biblical Spirituality 

Calvinism is the major shaper of Scotland. Presbyterianism becomes the state church in Scotland, and the English used the Scottish to expand their empire. For instance, in Canada, every university founded before 1900 was founded by a Scotsman, and most of them Scottish Calvinist Presbyterians.

In the United States, just to think about the United States as it exists, the Puritans are Calvinists. And, like it or not, Puritanism is a major shaper of the American character, American understanding of its self-identity, etc. Again, had Calvin not existed, you wouldn’t have had the Puritan movement in the shape that it was. And so America would be quite different.

So, if Calvinism had not existed — what we call Reformed theology or Calvinism — the Reformation probably would not have succeeded the way it did. Lutheranism wasn’t radical enough, or it didn’t have the revolutionary fervor (and I am using that in a religious sense and not a political sense), to carry the Reformation throughout the rest of Europe. But Calvinism did.

The Calvinists in the 16th century were very strongly religious radicals; they were determined that everything done in worship was going to be done according to Scripture. Whereas in Lutheranism, if something wasn’t forbidden in the Word of God, then it was allowable. And that gives you a whole different perspective on worship.

Whether or not the Calvinists were right, they had enormous influence and a lot of it is traceable back to Calvin. So Calvin is enormously influential as a theologian. If you were to ask me five greatest theologians in history of the church after the New Testament, Augustine is obviously one, but Calvin would definitely be in that five. There’s no way you could leave him out.


Michael A. G. Haykin serves as professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is also the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He is the author of many books including most recently Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church and To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy. This article originally appeared in the June/July 2014 issue of Towers


Categories: Seminary Blog

Necessity and the Argument from Contingency

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:00

In this week's Q & A, Dr. William Lane Craig tackles some questions regarding the Leibnizian cosmological argument.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Three biblical foundations for social ministries

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:03


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend five days with some of Southern Seminary’s sharpest students discussing the biblical foundations of Christian missions.  We walked through the Scriptures together and identified how God’s Word speaks to our missionary task.  One of the topics that always arises is the relationship between evangelism and social ministries like hunger relief, community development, and justice ministries.

Most evangelicals “get” the importance of gospel proclamation.  At the same time, our hearts ache for suffering people, both inside and outside the global church.  Billions live today without access to the gospel, millions without adequate nutrition, clean water, basic education or medical care.  Thousands of children die every day from preventable diseases, and thousands more are caught in a web of modern-day slavery.  We who follow Christ yearn intuitively to do something about it.

Related: New book by Jeff K. Walters & David Sills Introduction to Global Missions

At the same time, missionaries and missions leaders struggle to avoid the temptation to do the “good work” of meeting physical and social needs without the “best work” of sharing the gospel and calling people to faith in Christ.

With all that in mind, here are three basic biblical foundations for social ministries in the local church and across the globe:

  1. Every believer is subject to a three-fold call:  Love God (Matt 22.36-37), Love neighbor (Matt 22.39), and make disciples (Matt 28.18-20).  How exactly these play out in terms of geography and vocation varies, but all are key to the Christian life.  Luke recorded that one particular lawyer asked about these commands then, seeking to “justify himself,” asked Jesus to define “neighbor” (Luke 10.25-37).  Jesus did so in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Without ever raising care for the suffering above any other part of the Christian life, Jesus made clear that we are to be involved in ministries to those who hurt, who are hungry, and who are in need.
  2. At the same time, the Scriptures teach that our greatest suffering is the result of our sin and separation from God – and that suffering is eternal outside of Christ.  AsJohn Piper said recently at CrossCon, “There are thousands of needs in the world, and none of them compares to the global need for the gospel.”  In Romans 6.23, Paul wrote that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Later, he reminds all of us that all who call on Jesus will be saved from eternal suffering (yes, Hell is real), but that nobody can call on Jesus apart from our proclaiming the gospel (Romans 10.13-15).
  3. If, then, we are called to make disciples (evangelism) and love our neighbor (care), we can ignore neither the evangelistic mandate nor the social mandate.  These are not completely separate things, however.  Paul reminded the believers of the Colossian church, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3.17).  We as believers both speak the Word and do the work, but in all things we point to Jesus.  The globe is covered with people doing good things – digging clean water wells, caring for orphans, providing basic medical care, fighting modern slavery.  What separates Christian missions from all the rest is that in all things, we speak the gospel.


Jeff K. Walters is assistant professor of Christian missions and urban ministry at Southern Seminary. Before teaching at the seminary, he was a church planter in Paris, France. He is a contributing author to a new book entitled: Introduction to Global Missions.


Join Jeff K. Walters as he teaches an Alumni Academy Course with David Sills on their book Introduction to Global Missions July 31-August 1, 2014 at Southern. Alumni Academy classes are free for Alumni or prospective students. You can learn more by visiting sbts.edu/events.

Categories: Seminary Blog

What Is a Leader?

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 12:00

People have studied leaders for centuries. To study leaders is to analyze the characteristics of individual people who demonstrate the ability to gather a group of followers. However, the study of leadership is a relatively new discipline dating from about the year 1900. To study leadership is to inspect the interactions a leader has with his or her followers. Both areas of study require one to define a leader. So just what is a leader? ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

9 Keys to Creating a Spiritual Legacy for Your Children and Grandchildren

Southwestern Seminary - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 07:00

Gary Inrig wrote the wonderful book Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay (Moody Press, 1979), which was a detailed study of the book of Judges. One of the issues he quickly raised in the book was what he called “The Second Generation Syndrome.” In that early chapter of his book he discussed the difficulty of passing on our vision and convictions to our children and grandchildren.

Chapter two of Judges describes how the nation faithfully served the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him. They had seen the miraculous things God had done. Then another generation was born who did not know the wonders God had given to Israel (2:7-13).

Inrig writes, “The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second-generation experience is a second-hand experience. Church history is filled with examples of it, and sadly, so are many churches. The parent’s fervor for the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the children’s formalism and the grandchildren’s apathy.”

What caused the children and grandchildren to lose the vision of the parents? Inrig continues: “They knew about his deeds. But they did not know Him or acknowledge Him. They had lost touch with God. Here we come to the heart of the second-generation syndrome. It is a lukewarmness, a complacency, an apathy about amazing biblical truths that we have heard from our childhood, or from our teachers.”

This underscores to us the great difficulty in seeing succeeding generations follow in the spiritual footsteps of their first-generation Christian parents. To see godly children of godly parents is something that happens frequently, but to see generation after generation follow in that heritage of faith is difficult to discover.

“It is a lukewarmness, a complacency, an apathy about amazing biblical truths that we have heard from our childhood, or from our teachers.”

I am a man most blessed of God. My strong godly heritage goes back at least to my grandparents. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher for 54 years. He and my grandmother were married for more than 50 years. My father was a Baptist preacher for 36 years until his death at the age of 52. He and my mother were married 33 years. My parents had three sons. All three of us became Baptist preachers. Our marriages have been centered in the Lord, and our children all have followed in the pattern of faith first revealed in my grandparents.

Our children married committed believers. My oldest son, Randy, is a committed layman and lay preacher. My youngest son, Bailey, is a Sunday school teacher and faithful member of his church. Both are ordained deacons. My daughter, Terri, married a minister—they have served in local churches for 20 plus years, and he is now the dean of the College at Southwestern Seminary.

What an incredible blessing it is to have five successive generations walking in the grace and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Carol Ann and I have six grandchildren. All of them have a personal relationship with Jesus, and they love the Lord. Our 31-year-old grandson, Kyle, and our 25-year-old grandson, Wes, are both serving in youth ministry. All of our grandchildren love and serve the Lord. What an incredible blessing it is to have five successive generations walking in the grace and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ!

How did it happen? What has been the secret? I can only venture some observations about our family.

  1. The Bible was honored and revered in each generation as being the completely reliable and inerrant Word of God.
  2. Never have any of us ever heard our parents fighting, shouting at each other, or in any way mistreating one another. Love, kindness and grace were lived out before us and are present in each of these generations.
  3. Regular involvement at all church services (and usually all activities) was a given in our lives. We never knew we had a choice, yet we never felt we were made to attend!
  4. We were taught compassion, kindness and generosity. Each of our homes has been havens for friends and others to whom we ministered. Tithing and much more was a practice in our homes.
  5. Integrity, consistency and obedience to God have been the characteristic of each family. We all learned early on to stand for what was right and to oppose what was wrong. And we learned to do it in a strong and firm, yet kind, way. Convictions don’t have to brutalize others!
  6. Christian morality and biblical ethics were and are practiced and lived out in our homes. Consistency has always been a strong character trait in our families.
  7. Daily fellowship with the Lord and drawing strength from His Word continues to be a strong pattern in our lives.
  8. Forgiveness and grace has always been the pattern. All of us understand that we are frail and sinful and in need of forgiveness and grace so we learned to forgive others as we ourselves need forgiveness. We have avoided family squabbles, disputes and divisions. Our family really enjoys being together.
  9. All of these things are wrapped up in our unswerving conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ has a plan for our lives and that we have found our fulfillment in Him.

My dad once told me, “The debt we owe to the past is to leave the future indebted to us.” I am deeply indebted for the godly heritage I received, and I pray that it will be passed on not just to two succeeding generations but many more.

God’s greatest gift to us is our families. Let each of us make sure we have continued or begun a legacy of faithfulness for our children and grandchildren.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Does God have blood?

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 07:00

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood—Acts 20:28

What does Paul mean in his speech in Acts 20 when he says that God purchased the church with “his own blood”? God doesn’t have blood. He’s a spirit. In fact, it’s precisely because God doesn’t have blood that God the Son became incarnate. Otherwise the human problem of sin and death could not have been solved. So, what is Paul saying here? Let me try to untangle this one by offering three of the more plausible solutions, one text critical and two interpretive.

A text-critical option. One solution to the problem is found in a handful of important manuscripts that read “church of the Lord” instead of “church of God.” For a list, see the online apparatus of NA28 here. As most recognize, however, the manuscript evidence for this alternative reading is pretty evenly matched with the manuscript evidence for the reading followed above by the NIV. What tips the scales away from this solution, then, is the internal evidence, principally two considerations. First, neither Paul nor any other NT author (incl. Luke) uses the phrase “church of the Lord.” Most often the NT refers to the “church of God” (11x) or to the church of a particular region (“of Galatia”) or city (“of the Thessalonians”). The closest the NT comes to the “church of the Lord” is Paul’s reference in Rom 16:16 to “all the churches of Christ.” Of course, all this could suggest that a scribe changed an original “of the Lord” to “of God” to match the NT’s normal idiom. What points against this, however, is the intrinsic difficulty of the resulting phrase, “the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.” It seems to me (and others) that a scribe would more likely go against the NT standard idiom than introduce such a difficult theological concept. Thus, “church of God” is the more difficult reading and, as a result, explains the existence of the alternative reading and should be preferred. In other words, the text-critical solution probably won’t work.

Two interpretive options. First, the communicatio idiomatum. This option suggests that Paul uses a quality or property of one of Jesus’ natures—the “blood” of his human nature—to describe or predicate his other nature—his “God”-hood (i.e., God’s blood). In theological discussions, this is known as (one version of) the communicatio idiomatum, the “communication of properties.” This solution to Acts 20:28 has been, as far as I’m able to tell, the standard way of explaining the text throughout Christian history. For a couple high-powered examples, see Calvin’s note here and Jaroslav Pelikan’s note here (pp. 221–22). The trouble with this reading, however, is that it is out of step with the NT. Elsewhere the NT never conflates Jesus’ two natures in this way. While it predicates of the one person what is true of both natures, it stops short of predicating of either nature what is true only of the other (cf., e.g., Harris’ note here). (Luke 1:43 is no exception. On this text, see, e.g., Bock’s comments here.)

Second, a term of endearment. This options suggests that what Paul means here is that God purchased the church with the blood of his Own. That is, “own” refers not to God’s own blood but rather to the blood of God’s Own, which is to say, to Jesus. Thus, the idea would be similar to what we find in, e.g., Eph 1:6 when Paul talks about Jesus as “the beloved” or in Acts 3:14 when Peter calls him “the righteous one.” What points in favor of this option, moreover, is that elsewhere in the NT when “own” is used adjectively (i.e., “God’s own blood”), it’s not often found in the word order used in Acts 20:28. That is—and this one’s for the Greek students out there—it occurs 68x in the first attributive position (art. + adj. + subst.) and only 4x in the second attributive position (art. + subst. + art. + adj.), the position it’s found in here. Added to this, “own” is used substantively in the NT (i.e., “blood of his Own”), and in literature contemporary with the NT, it’s used substantively as a term of endearment (see, e.g., MM here).

While it’s not a total home run, this last option is the best of a bad lot or, as my dad likes to say, it leaves the least number of questions unanswered.

Categories: Seminary Blog

What do those with disabilities owe those without? Part 2

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:00

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part blog series on “What do those with disabilities owe those without?” To read Part 1, which addresses the question of “The Debt of the Disabled,” click here.

The Debt of the Abled Dignified Treatment

The first thing those without disabilities owe to those with them is dignified treatment. This means that pity is often not one’s first best response when confronted with someone with a disability. Pity or compassion is a fine thing but not, for example, when a blind person is capable of doing a job and out of pity you forgo giving him the responsibility because the job is too strenuous. Furthermore, compassion is often a disguised form of guilt. I feel bad that I don’t have a disability and this other person over here does. Guilt then is translated into pity rather than dignified treatment. Compassion unchecked can often be a disguise for someone with a superiority complex. I’m better than this person over here with a disability, and so I will pity her even though I know in my heart that well, perhaps she deserves this disability.


Secondly, those with disabilities are owed trust. Practically, this means that a person with a disability knows better than anyone else what her capabilities are. Going back to the beginning of this piece, I said that too often, the question about how to help those with disabilities is raised before one has carefully considered whether they really need help or not. The best way to find out what those with disabilities need is to ask THEM. Of course, when first meeting someone with a disability, the first thing to say is hello. Many times, the question of help need not arise. People often are willing to tell you what they need especially when what they need is integral to their ability to function. To ask someone you don’t know if she needs help is to put her in an awkward spot. “What am I doing that makes it look like I need help? Assuming capability until proven incompetent is best and safest.


Asking the question “What do those with disabilities owe to those without disabilities and vice versa?” is a way to start a necessary conversation. For one thing, the question makes it clear that both groups of people owe something to the other. It is not a one-sided situation. Treating this issue as if all burdens of responsibility ought to be placed on what I will call the “abled” group intentionally or unintentionally fosters a custodial mentality and often resentment on the part of those who help. Framing the question in the way that I have places ownership on everyone to do their part in seeing that those with and those without disabilities are treated as fairly by one another as possible.


This is the second in a two-part series on “What do those with disabilities owe those without?” The full article first appeared at the Reformation21 blog.


Categories: Seminary Blog

Raising future men and women

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 16:21


When our grandparents were raising our parents, popular culture was not as dramatically at odds with the biblical understandings of gender as it is now. The current cultural confusion over gender, however, requires parents to be highly intentional if they want to raise masculine sons and feminine daughters.

There are no generic people. There are men, and there are women. Consequently there are no generic Christian people. There are Christian men and there are Christian women. In Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and Colossians 3, we find clarity about the primary roles of men and women. There are differing ways in which men and women will live out the Christian life. For instance, when giving specific instruction and admonition to men, the Bible usually does so within three key categories: leading, providing and protecting. In other words, biblical masculinity involves a heart that is inclined to obey God within this particular context of leadership, provision and protection. This may take place predominantly as husbands and fathers, but it still should be cultivated, encouraged and instilled in boys as they mature into manhood.

Related: Engaged Leadership at Home | Guide to Biblical Manhood Giveaway

To that end, Christian parents should cultivate, teach and encourage the distinct characteristics of biblical manhood and womanhood. Both mom and dad share this task, but fathers bear the responsibility to lead it, to model manhood and to make distinctive contributions in their sons and daughters.

Here are the ways you should be actively involved:

Give vision

Give your children a clear vision for biblical masculinity and femininity. There is certainly some subjectivity here, but you and your wife should agree on the behaviors and inclinations necessary to carry out the roles assigned to men and women and then decide how those can be cultivated in your sons and/or daughters. Since the Bible teaches that the role of wife, mother, and keeper of the home is a high calling for women, then you and your wife should instill and cultivate the desire and skill to embrace this high call — with your wife naturally having a more highlighted role. Since the Bible teaches that men are to be leaders, providers and protectors, then you and your wife should instill and cultivate the desire and skill to undertake these responsibilities — with you taking the lead.

Model it

Next, you and your wife have to model what you want to cultivate. Husbands and wives living out their proper roles together not only impact the marriage but also impact how children understand their own gender identity. Since role relationships are inherent in the created order, it naturally causes a certain amount of dis­sonance for children who are watching parents live contrary to their roles.

This is especially significant for boys. When they are born, boys and girls develop a natural bond with their mom as she feeds and nurtures them. A girl becoming a woman can just stay close to her mom. A boy, however, has to reach the place where he says, “I’m not this — I’m different from mom” and then he has to move toward dad and say, “I’m this.” This is disruptive. It’s not a sign of disrespect or a rejection of femininity. It’s just a transition that has to happen for boys to grow into men.

If mom clings to the boy too much or there’s not a man to gravitate toward, a boy may overwhelmingly identity with his mom and act like her or he might know in his gut that he’s equipped for something else and end up reacting in conflict and resentment that he can’t articulate. A dad who leads, provides and protects gives a boy a model to identify with. A strong dad can also discourage a boy from disrespecting his mom in the transition — and instead teach him to honor her as a woman as he follows a path to manhood. This is key for teaching your son how to treat his future wife.

Ultimately, you need to model manhood and then be able to answer your son’s (often unspoken) question: “Am I becoming a man?”

Teach authority

You have to teach your son to learn to submit to authority. Because one day he’s going to have it and he won’t be able to wield it correctly if he hasn’t learned how to show it to others first.

You also have to help your daughter to recognize good authority. Some day, a man is going to be responsible for sacrificially leading your daughter as a wife. It’s your job to make the transition into a future marriage as smooth as possible. When you give your daughter’s hand in marriage to her groom’s hand on her wedding day, you want it to be a strong hand-off.

Affirm manhood and womanhood

Children are not generic and neither is their behavior. Affirm your sons in their masculinity and your daughters in their femininity. Let them know you are glad God made them the way He did.When your daughters exhibit characteristics that will make them effective moms or wives, say,  “you’re going to be a great mom.” When you observe particularly masculine behavior, say, “that’s good leadership,” or “that’s what men do.” Boys inherently want to be like their dads and girls want to be like their moms. They need to be encouraged in their progress with gender-specific language.

Related: Balancing family and ministry: Part 1: priority and capacity

Affirm manhood and womanhood in your affection for your children as well. Wrestle with your boys, give them slaps on the back, high-fives, bear hugs, shoulder punches and other forms of physical engagement as a regular connection. It’s important to consistently show affection to your daughters as well. They might enjoy horseplay with you as well, but be intentional to also honor their femininity. Hold their hands. Kiss their cheeks. Give them hugs. This kind of affection can be challenging when your daughter starts changing into a young woman, but that’s when she’ll need it most. A good way to develop and continue a habit of affirming your daughter and showing her appropriate affection is to have a regular daddy-daughter date. With a set time to give each other your complete attention, you can draw her out and support her path to womanhood.

Create moments of training

Finally, be intentional in providing distinctive opportunities for training. If you want your children to be proficient at the piano, you’ll provide lessons. Similarly, if you want your daughters to be inclined to motherhood and homemaking, then (with your wife having a more highlighted role) you’ll involve your daughters in activities and training that prepare them to manage a home and care for a family.

If you want your sons to be resilient and inclined to lead, you should create moments for training through sports, and other structured activities that in­volve challenge, leadership opportunities, and discipline. In addition to those settings, you should intentionally create moments of risk, valor and adventure (even if they are only perceived as such).

For example, if you’re camping or hiking a trail you can build instincts in your sons by asking what they would do if they encountered a bear and then practicing scenarios. When you encounter challenges like someone dropping gear down a slope off the path you can give your boys an opportunity to be a hero. “Uh-oh Mom dropped her lantern down that steep ridge. I don’t know how steady that ground is there or what kind of threatening insects or vegetation are over there off the trail, but I need you boys to take care of it.” Let them believe it’s all riding on them. Perception is reality. Build courage in your boys. Incline their hearts and cultivate their instincts toward resilience and toughness.


Randy Stinson serves as Senior vice president for academic administration and provost. He is also associate professor of leadership and family ministry. You can follow Dr. Stinson on Twitter at @RandyStinson.

Dan Dumas is senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary. He is a church planter and pastor-teacher at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanDumas, on Facebook or at DanDumas.com.

This article originally appeared in A Guide toBiblical Manhood.


A Guide to Biblical Manhood

By Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas

How to serve your wife, how to mold men through baseball, how to make men in the church and more practical theology for cultivating men of God who are doers of the Word for the sake of the Gospel.

Order Now:

Print Version | E-Book

Download the Free PDF


Categories: Seminary Blog

You’re Giving a Toast, Not Making a Roast!

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:00

It’s wedding season and there are many ways to celebrate on that special day for the bride and the groom. One of the best ways to celebrate this occasion is through the traditional toast that is given during the wedding reception. However, I’ve recently seen that what should typically be one of the high points of the reception just flops miserably... This is not what we should do to the bride or groom! I’d like to offer a few suggestions in this blog of what not to do in a toast and then what one should do in order to make the celebration a wonderful and meaningful one.


Categories: Seminary Blog


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