Seminary Blog

Blessing the bereaved: Jane Kratz turned her grief into ministry

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 14:34

In December 2001, Jane Kratz said “yes” to the man she would marry. His name was Stephan. Before their marriage, her pastor’s wife, Annemarie Lombard, asked, “Jane are you sure this is what you want?” She didn’t ask this question because of a flaw in Stephan’s character or concerns that they were incompatible. Lombard asked her this question because she knew that Stephan could die at any moment.

“He is my best friend and I am going to have to deal with his death one way or another. Yes, I am sure I want to marry him,” was Jane’s reply. She knew that Stephan had cystic fibrosis, an incurable, genetic disease that progressively worsens throughout a person’s lifetime. But since her conversion when she was about 30, Jane had prayed for the Lord to send her a godly husband.

Jane and Stephan, both from South Africa, met after she had only been a believer for a short time. Within months, she started attending his church and developed a relationship with his mother as well, who helped encourage her in her faith.

Jane was no stranger to overcoming disability to live a full life. She was born with no thumb on her left hand, her left arm is shorter than her right, she has fused vertebrae in her neck, and is unable to bear children. When she and Stephan were dating, she sat beside him at the funeral of one of his friends who also had cystic fibrosis. The friend and her husband had only been married for one year when she passed away. Jane knew that could be her and Stephan’s story, too. But she also knew she was supposed to marry him.

Although his illness meant that he had to live every day with permanent lung infection, diabetes, asthma, chronic pancreatitis, and in his case, also cirrhosis of the liver, the first seven years of their marriage he was “relatively healthy,” Jane recounted. However, he still took pills daily to help his food digest, as well as multiple other medications. He spent several hours nebulizing each day and his pain-free days were few and far between. But his illness didn’t keep him from working, co-owning a campus bookstore with Jane, and going for hikes. The two even considered adoption or foster care from time to time, but God continually closed those doors, she said.

While he was still alive, the Kratz family was no stranger to grief. Jane’s mother became terminally ill with cancer in 2002. In 2004 Stephan’s dad died suddenly of a stroke. Her mother passed away later that year, as well as five other friends.

“All those deaths heightened my anxiety and fears about whether I would be able to cope with Stephan’s death one day. Nevertheless, we both lived with the awareness that every sunrise together was a precious gift of life from God,” Jane said. “Our mutual faith in Christ and in the promise of resurrection life, strengthened our gratitude to God for the gift of ‘life.’ God graciously granted Stephan and me ten-and-a-half years of marriage.”

The last three years of Stephan’s life were challenging, as he was in and out of the hospital five separate times in each of those years. However, Jane was encouraged by the generosity of her church family during that time, she said.

Eventually, Stephan took a turn for the worse. Jane stayed faithfully by his side, juggling his care and work. He slipped into a coma, and a week later, Stephan passed away.

“In spite of being ‘prepared’ for death in the sense of expecting it, ultimately one cannot be fully prepared for it. I had no idea how deep the anguish of searing loss would be,” Jane said. “Though my faith was strong and I never doubted my faith and union in Christ, I found it difficult on an experiential and emotional level to reconcile God’s sovereignty and his goodness with my experience of suffering. I found it difficult to understand and make sense of the suffering that I had not only witnessed Stephan endure, but the suffering I had endured in watching his journey of dying. Having been united to my husband in marriage as one flesh, I felt as though a part of me had died with him.

“While I knew without a shadow of doubt that I will see him again because of the promise of resurrection from the dead for those who are in Christ, that truth did not diminish the initial feelings of loneliness, of loss, and of sorrow,” she said.

But Jane, who always had a love of a new adventure, resolved to channel her grief into something greater. Although her church family was supportive, she saw firsthand a need for a better approach to grief counseling in the church.

Having studied psychology as an undergraduate and earned a postgraduate diploma in theology, she knew she wanted to continue her studies in grief counseling. Jane became acquainted with the biblical counseling concentration at Southern Seminary and moved to the United States, enrolled at the school, and began work on her Th.M. in summer 2016. Her Th.M. research seeks “to move the bereaved person to a place where he or she experiences deeper communion with God in the midst of suffering so that the bereaved will find peace from the God of all comfort.”

This is not only the goal of her research, but seeing this implemented practically is a focus of her time in Louisville, as she is involved in the care ministry at Sojourn Community Church Midtown.

“I’ve seen Jane grow, first of all, with her growing understanding of what’s offered in the field regarding grief,” said Robert Cheong, pastor of care at Sojourn Community Church and Jane’s Th.M. advisor. “I think that in her studies at Southern and her experience at Sojourn, she was able to better understand the deficits in the field of grief. I think she’s not only grown in a biblical/theological understanding of the dynamics of the heart, but also that through her ministry experience and the theology of care that we have at Sojourn she has a better understanding of how grief is part of the experience of living in a fallen world. That’s given her perspective.”

Jane hopes not only to use her training to work with women in a church setting, but maybe to develop a Sunday School curriculum for dealing with grief in her home country.

“There’s such a need in South Africa,” she said. “I’d love to be able to take what I’m learning back and share it with them.”

The post Blessing the bereaved: Jane Kratz turned her grief into ministry appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Who Is the "Fool" that Denies God? Not Who You Think

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 12:00

A few summers ago I was doing my “Atheist Encounter” at a large student Christian camp in the Midwest. While the interaction with the audience sometimes gets heated (since I role-play an atheist, after all) the students in this session were far testier and argumentative than normal ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

“What if—?” Questions

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 12:00

Dear Dr. Craig

I have been a fan of your work for about 2 or 3 years now. I used to be an atheist until one of my Christian friends directed me to your website and now I would consider myself to be struggling with atheism/scientism and Christianity. The last few days an idea has shaken up my worldview and my trust that philosophy can prove the existence of God. I think I can best sum up the idea as such ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

How are you spending that bag of coins?

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 09:45
A Parable

A young man starting out in life was given a key to a treasure house. The room was filled with piles and piles of gold coins. Some of the coins were counted and neatly stacked, others were in bags, but many more were just piled in the corners. He soon discovered that he could cover a day’s living expenses, entertainment, food, and lodging with a single gold coin, though he sometimes spent more.

On long trips, he would take a hefty bag of coins and exchange a coin for each day of his travels. He lived year in and year out just as he pleased, and without much thought about anything for many years. One day, he opened the treasure house door and noticed his sacks of gold coins were nearly empty, the neat stacks of coins on the shelves were long since gone with dust gathering in their place. As he looked in the corners, he realized that while he had been thoughtlessly exchanging coins for the days of his life, his wealth was now three-fourths gone—his piles of coins were much smaller.

As he considered his remaining coins, they were now so precious to him that they seemed of inestimable valuable. He wondered what he had done with all the coins he had been given at the start. He realized for seemingly the first time ever, how casually he had been exchanging his coins for each day of life without really thinking seriously about it. Now, he so highly valued the few that were left to him that he determined to spend them wisely, making sure to get as much as he could out of each one.

A lesson

That is the story of all of us; everyone is like that. We begin our earthly pilgrimage without much serious thought about how many days we will live. Our carefree days of youth are spent running, playing, making silly mistakes, and starting over again with a fresh do-over every day. But the day comes when we realize that our days are not as plentiful as they once were, and that more sand has run through our hourglass than remains at the top. Many suddenly panic and want to somehow stop their sand from running out, others determine to pamper themselves in their remaining days before time runs out, but others hear with clarity the words of Moses in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” This is my fervent prayer.

This year, 2017, brings several important milestones in my life: I am turning 60 years old, my wife and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage, and I have been involved in international missions for 30 years. While God shaped, moved, taught, and led us down many twisting roads in our missions career, it all started for me 30 years ago.

An invitation

“Want to go on a mission trip to Ecuador?” Never having gone on such a trip, I nervously accepted the invitation from my fellow church members, Phil Posey and Shirley Fulton. That 1987 Partnership Evangelism trip to Manta, Ecuador was my first international mission trip. The Foreign Mission Board had begun facilitating short-term trips to countries around the world to allow SBC church members to spend a week with FMB missionaries to do evangelism, preaching, singing, share testimonies, and see first-hand what missions was all about.

Charles Shelton, a layman from South Carolina, was organizing one of those trips to Ecuador and some from our church wanted to go, in part to visit a former pastor and his family who were FMB missionaries there.

A life changed

God changed my life, plans, and career path as a result of that trip. I had only been a believer for a few years and really didn’t know what to expect. God opened my eyes, heart, and mind to missions, and I have not doubted his call since. The Lord knit my heart together with those of missionaries, other team members, and national believers, both those who were part of our team and those who came to Christ that week.

A national believer named Aída de Plua from a town called Jipijapa had prayed for years for someone to come and help start a work in Puerto Cayo, the small fishing town where she was born. She worked there with us all week and then invited us into her home for a meal after our week’s work. She shared through our missionary interpreter, Tommy Larner, how God had spoken to her through Paul’s writings in Romans 10:15 and through the teachings and example of Jesus in John 13.

Abruptly, she left the room.

I assumed she was just overcome with emotion but she returned with a pitcher, a basin, and a towel. She came and knelt before each of us, removed our shoes and socks, washed our feet, dried them, replaced the socks, emptied the basin, and started with fresh water on the next team member. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Unable to communicate with words, she looked into my eyes after washing my feet and saw a man whom God had changed forever.

A call confirmed

I am so thankful that Phil and Shirley asked me to go, that Briarwood Drive Baptist Church was supportive, and that the Foreign Mission Board was willing to risk allowing thousands of untrained short-term volunteers to participate in their work. I wonder how many people I will meet in Glory who heard of and came to Christ through Partnership Evangelism trips. I am especially thankful for Charles Shelton, the layman who organized the trip. That wasn’t his first trip, and it would not be his last—not by a long shot.

He contacted me the following year and invited me to go on a trip he was leading to Puerto Rico. Manuel and Berta Sosa, FMB missionaries who worked with us in Manta, were home on furlough and would go with us on the trip. Mary went with me this time, after hearing me go on and on wondering whether God was leading us to missions. As we walked down the road to the Puerto Rican church service one evening, she looked at me and said, “I think we could do this.” My heart soared.

On the last day of that trip, Charles was sharing the final devotion time with us. He read the team roster and mentioned a verse for each person. For Mary and me, he said, Acts 16:9, 10.

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

The next year we eagerly accepted when Charles invited us to return with him to Ecuador, this time to work on the coast. We began making plans to participate, but he called back and said there was an opportunity to split up the team and let some work in the mountains. We opted for that location and there we heard God’s call to go and minister as missionaries to those people.

A summons to you

Some people wonder why I like taking teams, even teams with some unlikely participants, and I always think back on Charles and smile. The Lord called us, but he used Charles Shelton powerfully in the process. The Lord called Charles home before I could tell him that, but I try to say thanks by keeping alive his work of casting vision through short-term trip volunteers. Thank you, Charles. I pray that your “Welcome home!” included hearing about how many lives you impacted for the kingdom.

Do you know how many coins you have left in your treasure house to exchange? No, I don’t know either. But I do know that the piles are getting smaller, and night is coming when no man can work.

Who wants to go on a mission trip?

 

The post How are you spending that bag of coins? appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Overcoming the shadow of racism

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 06/01/2017 - 13:48

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, Jarvis J. Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Seminary, and Kevin Jones, assistant professor of teacher education at Boyce College, talk with Towers editor S. Craig Sanders about their book, Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention.

CS: What prompted this book project to come out this year?

KJ: Jarvis has a long history being a part of the Southern Baptist Convention and being a student at this institution in particular, and I have been a member of churches that were involved with the Southern Baptist Convention and early on saw a separation between many of the African-American churches and the predominantly Anglo churches. It was all just rooted in racism.

Dr. Mohler preached through Genesis 11 during one of our chapels, and what he said in that message verbatim was we have a “stain of racism.” So, following the chapel service in our faculty meeting, there were some other discussions about it, and I just felt this unrest: “Yeah, we know the stain is there, but what are we going to do about it?” And Jarvis and I had been praying together through a church plant prior to that, and I was thinking, “We should write a book about it, and I think we ought to get as many guys in their own areas of expertise to speak into what it really means to remove the stain of racism — guys who are trusted, who love not only their own institution, but the institution of the Southern Baptist Convention as well.” So that’s what kind of prompted it about two years ago.

CS: In Dr. Mohler’s chapter he mentions how other denominations have roots in slavery or racism. It wasn’t just the SBC. Are there any principles in this book that you think could help other denominations remove the stain?

JW: Even though we are, in the book, focusing on our beloved SBC, I think what we say with respect to the gospel, education, leadership, and curriculum development also apply to any Christian community or organization striving to live out reconciled community with diverse people.

We love the SBC and want the book to serve the diverse SBC, but our prayer is that we can also reach the larger evangelical Christian community. So absolutely, I think if folks from PCA backgrounds, Pentecostal backgrounds, mono-ethnic or multiethnic backgrounds, you name the denomination or Christian organization — if they will read this book with Bible open and hearts open, I think they can contextualize what we say in the book for their own ecclesiological or Christian context..

KJ: And I think some of it, I mean, it’s really black and white. So what I say in my chapter about adapting curriculum, you can do that anywhere. Or what Mark Croston says about administrative steps, like promoting guys who are minorities, who have the ability to lead — give them that opportunity. You can do that at IBM. So, a lot of it is pointed directly at the SBC because of our affiliation, but I mean, it’s broad.

JW: And if I could add — what I say in my chapter about the gospel is an issue that relates to every Christian (red or yellow, black or white). Certain descriptions of the gospel only focus on one’s vertical relationship with God. In my chapter, I make the argument that the gospel is both vertical and horizontal. Therefore any Christian who wants to know examples of how to live out the gospel in ways that promote Christian unity and reconciliation can read that chapter and say, “This is applicable to my denomination, even though I am not an SBC person or will never be an SBC person. I love the gospel, therefore let me hear what this brother has to say about what the gospel is saying about Christian unity.”

CS: I want to focus on both of your backgrounds, individually. Jarvis, you’re a four-time alumnus of Southern Seminary and a faculty member. You’re one of four people who have gone from Boyce to a Southern Ph.D. A great portion of your life so far has been spent at this institution, one founded by slaveholders. How does that experience shape your passion for this issue in particular and your hope for this project?

JW: To my knowledge, I’m the first and only four-time graduate from Southern with a bachelor’s from Boyce College, an M.Div., a Th.M., and a Ph.D. from the institution. That’s very powerful symbolically because I am an African-American with a multiethnic heritage who graduated four times from an institution that was, frankly, founded by slaveholders who were racist. Let’s be honest about that. The founders had virtues, and they also had vices, and one of those vices was that they were racist. And so for me, as a Southern Baptist Christian, who has only been a Southern Baptist and a four-time graduate of this beloved institution, these experiences in part inform how I’m understanding this issue in the SBC as a brown-skinned, multiracial person.

As a racial minority Southern Baptist professor, preacher, and church member in a predominately white SBC, it is impossible for me to go about my daily work in the SBC without being aware of the fact that I am a racial minority in a predominantly white evangelical context. So, as a black Southern Baptist who personally has a lot of privilege and who is also a member of a racial minority group within the SBC, my privilege intersects with my marginalized status as a racial minority. I think these realities in part inform how I’m understanding this issue with respect to a few ways the gospel should be lived out in our SBC context, in a way that someone who is white or black or brown and not a Southern Baptist might not be able to see because he or she is coming from majority cultural privilege or a different denominational context as opposed to coming from both privilege and racial minority status within the SBC.

Bringing my 21 years of experience as a Southern Baptist and preaching in many Southern Baptist churches in those years, serving on staff in Southern Baptist churches, studying at three different Southern Baptist schools, having many conversations with white and black and brown Southern Baptists from different parts of the country and from different areas of SBC life, and teaching at two very different kinds of Southern Baptist schools (a university and a seminary) to this project in conjunction with Kevin’s expertise and experiences in traditional black churches and in SBC churches, I think enables us to highlight some things that we hope people will listen to and receive with an open heart.

CS: While you grew up in a largely white community of eastern Kentucky and were the first black member at an all-white First Baptist church, your experience is different than Kevin, who grew up in a majority black west Louisville neighborhood and attended Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church. How do you each learn from your varied experiences?

JW: Well, I have blind spots I’m not aware of. I see the world through a certain ethnic lens. With the exception of one year of community college, all of my academic training was in a Southern Baptist theological context and my church memberships have only been in predominately white Southern Baptist churches. I think working together with Kevin has helped me to see some of my blind spots.

There are times when our perspectives are shaped by our cultural experiences, but we normalize those experiences for everybody without asking whether this is a cultural preference or a biblical or theological mandate. One of God’s gifts to me in the last probably five or six years has been his bringing many diverse black and brown and white brothers into my life with whom I share the same core biblical and theological convictions, but with whom I share many different experiences. So to bring Kevin’s background — a predominantly black church context and also a predominantly secular educational context — into my Christian world that’s been predominantly influenced by white evangelicalism and white churches and into my world that’s exclusively shaped by theological education and focused on New Testament scholarship has helped me to gain a different set of lenses through which to see this issue as a black Southern Baptist Christian scholar and churchman with a multiethnic heritage.

So, for example, educational inequality. I don’t think about that most of the time. I think about exegesis most of the time. Kevin is trained in education, he’s trained in educational leadership, and so what he says about educational inequality, even though I don’t understand that experientially, I need to listen to what he says and learn from him because he has the statistical background to back that up because of his experience and research.

KJ: I think that’s the beauty of the crossover. When I was hired by Boyce College, I really began to sense and feel the rub of racism and the rub that African-Americans felt every time I said “Southern Baptist Convention.” I’ve been a member of an SBC church since 2005. I was licensed to preach in an SBC church. I served with Kevin Smith at Watson Memorial Baptist Church, but not until I started to work here did I really see and hear from guys as I would try to recruit black guys, they would say, “I’m not going there because it’s a racist institution.” Now, I think what we have is a jewel and a gem here. But what kind of evidence can I give to guys and say, “Yes, the past in some senses is horrid, but there is hope”?

My background as an African-American growing up in west Louisville has everything to do with that. Southern and Boyce were never on my radar as an institution. So I’m like, How did I live, literally, 9 minutes from the institution? You jump on I-64, you’re in west Louisville in 8 to 10 minutes, you’re right at my house, but how did I never hear about this? Because the black guys that I went to church with were opposed to the SBC because before 1995, in some sense people in the SBC were still holding on to the fact/ideal of racism but just wouldn’t say anything about it.

And because my degree is in education, I’m looking at everything through an educational lens. So I’m saying: What if we would just expose faculty and students to the work of Booker T. Washington? To Beloved. To The Miseducation of the Negro. What would it mean for them to have to read through the lens of what I would consider “Great Books”? I think that’s the beauty of us merging.

JW: I’m 39 now, and the older I get, the more I realize that it’s important to collaborate with people from different fields because I think collaboration can make a work better. Especially if you’re going to deal with some issues outside of your field. So, one reason I think our co-editing collaboration is helpful to me is because, as a New Testament scholar, I spend most of my time in the ancient world, thinking about ancient texts.

I don’t spend a lot of my time thinking about the current educational system or the history that led up to that. I usually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about everybody else’s experiences because I’m naturally self-centered, and so collaborating with someone trained in a different way than I am enables me to see that what I think about the gospel might apply to educational inequality. The gospel may apply to a variety of social realities that affect people on a daily basis, but I don’t always know how. But the more I collaborate with folks who are specialists in those areas, the more I will be able to say, “Ah! Here’s how I can use my gifts and skills to speak gospel into that space that I know very little about, and to partner with this brother who knows more about that.” And hopefully there’s a reciprocation taking place here — that he can say, “Ah! Here’s a text that could apply this way that I never thought about before because of this brother’s work in that particular area.”

KJ: And that was the beauty of all the guys who agreed to write and contribute to the work. My research in some senses is very narrow because it has been in education. And like Jarvis is saying, his work in some sense is very narrow. It’s very robust in one sense but narrow in another. And I’m like, Who can speak on this from the pulpit to guys?

Who better than Kevin Smith — a guy who started a multiethnic church plant, pastored an African-American church, pastored a predominately white church. Who better can talk about the stain of racism from the pulpit than Kevin Smith? I remember, we started receiving the chapters, we were reading them and were just like, Yes!

JW: And I would say, racism (both systemic and personal racism) is a product of the Fall. It represents the present evil age. And the more weapons that we can throw at it, the greater the chance that in our churches, we can defeat it. So, if we’re throwing educational weapons at it that are transformed by the gospel as well as historical and theological weapons and exegetical weapons and weapons with respect to preaching, and hitting racism and the devil with all these weapons, I think there’s a chance that we might see even more victory in the area of Christian unity in our churches and in our denomination. I think that collaboration (or better cooperation) can help us. But this is hard. It is hard for me as a New Testament scholar because scholars tend to be territorial and we love our territory. But as Christian scholars, I think Kevin and I desired to invite people from other disciplines (and races) into our space and share space with each other so that we can join forces with other diverse brothers to produce this work that promotes Christian unity in our churches.

Collaborating with Kevin should also show that black people aren’t monolithic. I think one of the racist lies that we have believed in our churches is this idea that all people from the same race are the same. I’m a New Testament scholar. He’s trained as an educator. He’s from west Louisville. I’m from east Kentucky. I’m a Wildcat fan. Even though he’s a UK grad, he’s not a Wildcat fan. Even though we are members of the same race, we’re very much different in many respects — which at some level should help shatter some of these racialized barriers that divide us in our churches.

CS: What do you see as signs of hope in the Southern Baptist Convention? How do we get past having the right things to say and actually start demonstrating reconciliation in our churches?

KJ: I think some of the things that are taking place at different institutions are progress.

Supporting minority-led programs and scholarships. I think having a space to speak right now is progress. But it’s slow, and I think sometimes it takes a while for change to happen, and I’m okay with that because the masses may not see what Jarvis and I are privy to.

I mean, the masses are not privy to conversations that are held in whatever kind of meetings are taking place here on this campus or at other institutions. But we see small walls, even large walls, being nicked at and broken down. I hope that even the fact that people are preordering the book is a sign of hope. We have these 10 guys who in their own areas of expertise are contributing to this book. That’s a sign of hope.

I think what is in the book is truth. It’s gospel-saturated by guys who have in every sense lived lives that highlight Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So I think as people meet the truth, they’re going to have to do one of two things with the truth of the book. They’re going to have to say, “Yeah, I’ve been racist, and maybe I’ve supported some racist practices.”

JW: Let me say a word about some hopeful things, but also some areas where we can do better. Along the lines of hope and encouragement, the fact that right now we’re sitting in the Boyce Centennial Library, and we have several white Southern Baptist images looking at us on these walls as two white guys are interviewing two black guys who teach at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary about a book that they’ve co-edited about racism speaks quite powerfully to the progress that we’ve made. That you have so many brothers and sisters in the SBC and the broader evangelical movement who are using their privileged voices to pursue Christian unity in our denomination and in our churches is evidence of progress. That you have folks who are placing themselves in spaces voluntarily to reach multiethnic communities speaks to progress. That diverse groups of Southern Baptist Christians are partnering together to plant multiethnic churches in racially diverse communities is evidence of encouraging progress. That churches are becoming more diverse is evidence of progress. That black and brown Christians serve on staff or in leadership of white churches and that white brothers and sisters serve on staff or in leadership at predominantly black and brown churches demonstrate progress. And that there are intentional efforts being made on a regular basis in SBC life to include more black and brown people in SBC leadership throughout the various areas of SBC life speaks to progress. And the list could go on.

However, one of the things we hope our book can speak into is the need to include even more vetted black and brown Southern Baptists into denominational leadership in the various areas of denominational life. We don’t think that we should ever hire someone just because he or she adds ethnic diversity to the denomination or to our churches. We should be faithful to our Great Commission vision and to our doctrinal commitments. And we should never fall into tokenism simply to gain diversity. But we should at least as a denomination and as churches ask the questions: Can we find vetted and qualified black and brown folk who can do that ministry, this ministry, speak at that conference or this conference, teach this class or that class, pastor this church or that church, write this curriculum or that curriculum? Or are there black and brown academics teaching in our convention who can say something helpful about this issue or that issue when and if needed (and not only about issues related to race)? Thankfully, there are folks asking these questions in the SBC and taking action to find answers, but we should keep asking the questions about vetted and qualified diversity to people who can help us find answers to these questions. If we’re not intentionally looking for vetted and qualified diversity, we likely will not find it.

Also, sometimes I hear certain folks in the SBC when they speak about non-white people, they categorize them as “ethnic.” This gives the impression that white people are normal but black and brown people are ethnic. As an ethnic minority, I hear this kind of talk to suggest that a non-white person is the “other.” In my view, we’re all ethnic, and everybody is somebody’s “other.” One of the things we must do in terms of reconciliation and Christian unity in the SBC is make sure our words are consistent with the gospel, that we attempt to build up the different races in our convention with our words even when we speak hard truths to each other, and that we do not perpetuate racism and dehumanize people by the words that we speak.

We can never forget as Southern Baptists that our identity is historically connected to white supremacy, and we have to admit that and understand how white supremacy works — not only in terms of historically burning crosses on lawns and recently shooting nine black people in a church, but also in terms of the subtle and more socially acceptable systemic ways it shows up in the culture and in Christian spaces.

This is a word that ethnic minorities need to hear too. As ethnic minorities, we often wrongly think that being part of a race that has been traditionally marginalized gives us the right to direct racist speech or behavior toward white people. Christian unity requires Spirit-empowered living and speaking by those from every tongue, tribe, and people, and nation in our convention. Christian unity requires that the majority white brothers and sisters and racial minority brothers and sisters must pursue each other in Spirit-empowered love on a regular basis.

KJ: Every time I hear my students say “Great Books,” that rubs me the wrong way. It’s white men determining that books written by white men, particularly about white people, are great books. Minorities who come on this campus have to read the Great Books — and none of the Great Books are written by people who look like them. I never want minority students to leave this institution and say, “I’ve never read a book by someone who is Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or African-American.” I want to tell them to take 200 hundred to 300 books, right now, written by and about people who don’t look like you. If you can start reading books like that to people who are 5 and 6, then maybe their view of the imago dei will be different by the time they’re 18 and 19 years old.

JW: There are students at evangelical institutions who can graduate without reading very much of, about, or any black or brown authors. Certain disciplines are more difficult than others to include black and brown voices. But this lack of exposing students to black or brown voices or to black or brown contributions to Christian history is at times due in part to a system of educating that we’ve inherited that has traditionally prioritized European and white contributions to the Christian movement. These contributions are very important contributions to the Christian story and need to be emphasized. But we often emphasize them to the neglect of other voices.

As a professor of New Testament, I don’t think I intentionally try to dismiss or neglect black and brown voices, but I often neglect black and brown voices because they have not been traditionally prioritized in my field. And if I don’t intentionally go searching for black and brown voices, I will have a hard time finding them. Since racism historically and systemically worked to minimize the role of black and brown people by keeping them in the posture of subjugation to white people, this inevitably affected the voices who could contribute and who would be heard. And since liberals often historically welcomed black and brown people into their institutions and conservatives generally did not, it’s no surprise we have a paucity of black and brown voices in conservative evangelicalism to expose our students to today.

But we do have black and brown voices from the Christian tradition to expose them to, and we have a rich Christian history from Africa, Ethiopia, and Egypt about which we need to know more and say more in our Christian institutions and in our churches. There were white evangelicals (and white Southern Baptist evangelicals) who historically worked to end racism and many evangelicals and Southern Baptists who are working now to pursue Christian unity today, but, as Emerson and Smith showed in Divided By Faith, evangelicalism was a racialized movement. And we’ve inherited the systems stained by racism because of racialization, even as our hearts are genuinely transformed by the gospel. And we still feel the effects of this today in our Christian institutions, organizations, denominations, and churches. Another way we can improve in the area of Christian unity is to educate people in the faith in our churches and institutions, helping them see that black and brown Christians play a role in and have made contributions to the Christian story too.

CS: Kevin, when we talk about progress, it can make white evangelicals feel that their actions are being called into question, they feel sensitive and targeted. How do you speak to white Southern Baptists in such as way that you’re able to navigate those frailties and show them that this is a gospel issue?

KJ: I try to point people to two things — to the text and to history. Repeatedly. So, this is why I’m still unsettled about education. First, read your Bible so that you know sin really exists. And then bone up on the history between 1500 and 2017, the things that have taken place. We read a book called Self Taught: African-American Educations in Slavery and in Freedom, and the kids are weeping when I’m explaining to them that hands were cut off for trying to read the Bible. You know, these are African-American slaves trying to read the Bible! They’re being castrated and dismembered because they were trying to read the Bible. When you see that, you know we’ve made a little progress but we’ve not made a ton.

Because if you don’t know that, maybe you’re not valuing the same Bible the way that I am, you’re not valuing education the way I am. In a class a couple of weeks ago, we were reading a book called Academic Profiling: Asian Americans and Latinos in Education and a student said, “I just don’t know what to say.” And I told her: “Just don’t say anything for the next four years — on race — until you’ve read these books, and then you will have a different posture to speak from.” I wasn’t trying to belittle her, but if you want to speak, you have to have the knowledge to be able to speak so that you’re no longer asking the question, “What’s the deal?” When someone asks, “What is the issue?” I say, “You just haven’t been exposed enough. You’re not around enough people who don’t look like you.”

CS: When we talk about removing the stain from the denomination, there’s also individual stains. My ancestors were slaveholders and that’s something that grieves me. A lot of people don’t bother to find out. They’d rather not know their family history. They’d rather not feel responsible for it. I don’t think shame should define me but I do want to be cognizant of the sins of my ancestors and be driven to pursue reconciliation. How would you encourage whites to look at those dynamics, and should that shape how they pursue reconciliation?

KJ: First, recognize that there is another side out there. Second thing, I want to encourage our brothers that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And that’s biblical. There is no condemnation. So as we wrestle with the truth of all of our sin, we know that there is no condemnation in us. But we have to do something, we have to work out the gospel, we work out our salvation to make our calling and election sure. So, when you’re assaulted with the truth, what do you do with it? You work it out in whatever fashion you can — in your local church, in your local school, in your local small group. You work those things out. That’s a part of working out our salvation: taking knowledge and doing something with it to help those who are marginalized people.

JW: I would encourage people to keep learning the gospel on a regular basis, to keep learning how the gospel intersects with every area of our lives and to plead with God to show us how the gospel changes everything. We should also keep learning about racial hierarchy, racialization, white supremacy, and the different ways in which racism manifests itself both systemically and individually.

Race and racism are complex. And no one has all of the answers. But they exist in the American context because of original sin and because of the old belief in a pseudo-scientific, racist, racial hierarchy that was rooted in a biological fiction and eventually given scriptural sanction. Racism drove years of slavery, lynching, Jim Crowism, and the residue of the construct of race and racism still affect Christians today, both individually and systemically. This is part of our heritage as American Christians, and this is part of our heritage as Southern Baptists. So, we need to own that history. We need to work to understand that history, and then to baptize that history in the gospel as we seek to learn from the past and to live out the new life in Jesus in the present in our churches and in our communities.

So, when I walk into Southern’s library, I love the fact that it says “Boyce” at the top of the building. He was a founder of this institution, its first president, and he was a racist. I’m blessed to teach at his school. I love his school. I’m a four-time graduate of his school. His school is my school. I check out books from his library. I’m having this conversation in his building about race as the racist past of Boyce and our founders haunts me. And I want that ghost here, to haunt me, as I am talking about the redemptive power of the gospel in front of that shadow and as I seek to serve our denomination and Southern Seminary well. Kevin and I are living testimonies to the power of the gospel and the progress that we’ve made as Southern Baptists since our founding. And we pray God will use our book to help us make even further gospel-centered progress on this issue in the SBC and beyond.

The post Overcoming the shadow of racism appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Creating a Place of Refuge

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 06/01/2017 - 12:00

Summer movies are often the stories of heroes; whether real-life or Marvel®, both are super. These stories inspire as they entertain us. The problem is, most of the time, we are content with letting someone else be the hero. We are too busy, too passive, too self-absorbed, or too afraid of what would happen if we got involved; and so the people around us stay unknown to us and do not receive the help they need. The result is preconceived biases that isolate us from one another and a lack of care and compassion for those who need a place of refuge and relief ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Triadic Hermeneutics

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/31/2017 - 13:29
When we exegete a passage, three poles must always be in mind. First, there is a historical dimension to every text. This includes not only the historical facts a text may claim, but also includes the historical context under which the entire text is to be understood. Second, there is a theological dimension, which speaks... Read More
Categories: Seminary Blog

Business as Ministry: Work as a Reflection of God

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 05/31/2017 - 12:00

All legitimate work in the world has intrinsic value and God calls men and women to be faithful in working in various arenas as their service to Him. Of course, there are some limits to this, since it would difficult to see how God could call someone to produce pornography or engage in the illegal drug trade. But excluding those exceptions, God calls people to work in business, not only because of what it accomplishes, but because it has value in and of itself to God. Business is the work of God in the world in the same way that being a pastor is the work of God in the church and in the same way that missionary service is the work of God on the mission field. All have value to God because of the value of the work done, and that work is an intrinsically good thing that has value as it's done with excellence ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Dualism, Non-Reductive Physicalism, and the Spiritualization of Death

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 12:00

Recently I was in discussion with a friend who was concerned about the tendency of some Christians to spiritualize death and dying by appeal to the afterlife. To “spiritualize” death and dying is to utilize spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with unwanted feelings over the loss of a loved one. “I just try to think of how happy she is with Jesus.” “When we see him again in heaven it will seem like no time has passed.” “I am just glad she’s finally at rest in Jesus’ arms.” To spiritualize death and dying in these and other ways is a defense mechanism. It is a way to defend against experiencing some painful part of reality as it actually is ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Pastors and future pastors: 6 reasons you should attend the SBC

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:40

It is rare to find an evangelical Christian under 50 who has been a part of one denomination for their entire church life. I was born into a family that was deeply committed to the local church and equally committed to the vision and mission of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have many cherished friends in other denominations, Baptist and non-Baptist, but I have remained a Southern Baptist from cradle roll.

My first real awareness that I was a Southern Baptist in distinction from other Baptists in the Deep South came toward the end of my senior year in high school, 1985. My parents rode a church bus for 15 hours to Dallas to participate in what eminent Southern historian John Shelton Reed aptly called a “pitchfork rebellion.” (so-called because Southern Baptists came from the hills of Georgia, the plains of Alabama, the swamps of Louisiana, to rise up against liberalism).

I remember our pastor telling the congregation that the Bible was under attack by liberal scholars in our denomination and electing Charles Stanley was an important step in reasserting our footing upon God’s Word. That was all it took for our church—and my parents—to join 45,000 messengers in Texas to vote for a president who supported the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, an important moment in what we now call the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC.

Three decades later, I am privileged to serve as a pastor, and I see the importance of participating in the annual meeting. This was reinforced during my years as a student at SBTS, and I want to encourage pastors, student/pastors, and future pastors to attend the SBC for at least six reasons.

  1. Because fellowship and encouragement are vital for pastors.

    Pastors need each other. For many of us, the annual SBC meeting is a bit like a class reunion. We see friends from our seminary days and past ministry positions. And we make new friends among the hundreds of pastors (often accompanied by their families) who travel to the annual meeting. Relationships have been deepened over the years, and I have often left the meeting encouraged to press on in the work of ministry. This has been especially helpful during seasons of affliction and discouragement.

  1. Because you need to know how the denomination functions.

    In my pre-ministry life, I worked as a newspaper journalist and it was always clear to me that few journalists could grasp the SBC’s denominational polity. Most of them call us a “church” as in the Roman Catholic Church and seemed to view various leaders as the single authoritative head. Upon entering ministry, I soon realized that many Southern Baptists—including many who have been Southern Baptists long enough to remember Royal Ambassadors and Sunbeams—do not understand how the wheels of the denomination turn. Strictly speaking, the convention is just that—a convention. It exists only two days each year for these meetings. Obviously, the denomination continues to run the other 363 days through various entities as the Executive Committee, NAMB, IMB, Baptist Press, the six seminaries, a number of standing committees, and more. But business that drives the remainder of the year is done the second week in June. Thus, these two days are very important and those who lead in local churches should respond accordingly.

  1. Because we need to be encouraged to do evangelism.

    Thom Rainer research has shown an overall decline in interest in evangelism among churches in America. A critical part of the SBC’s mission is cooperation for the sake of spreading the gospel both locally and globally. Attend an SBC annual meeting and through our denomination’s themes and events such as Crossover, you will be reminded of the centrality of evangelism. Evangelism and missions are the one consistent refrain to SBC meetings over the decades.

  1. Because denominations still matter.

    One clear trend among younger evangelicals (by which I intend baby boomers and those younger) is a move away from denominations. Many view denominations as the ecclesiological equivalent of the cassette tape—inherently flawed, prone to brokenness, in need of replacement by better technology. By no means am I here to promote a form of sectarianism, but I still consider denominations—when they are healthy—a good thing for precisely the many reasons my good friend Nathan Finn enumerates in this article at The Gospel Coalition. For one thing, they unify us in general around doctrine. While there are certainly differing convictions on secondary theological matters within the SBC, our denomination still rallies around our confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and may assume broad agreement on its doctrines.

  1. Because both large and small churches should be represented.

    It is easy to get the idea that the SBC is composed mostly of churches of more than 1,000 members. Not so. The vast major of the churches in our denomination marks a weekly attendance of 100 or less—including the congregation I serve. Most seminary students who work as pastors labor in very small congregations. The beauty of the SBC is its inclusion of all our churches. If you pastor a small church and can afford to do so, go to the SBC as a messenger and participate in the meetings. Take members with you, particularly young men who have shown an inclination toward gospel ministry.

  1. Because it promotes a spirit of cooperation among pastors and churches.

    The SBC Annual Meeting draws pastors and church staffers from the four corners of our country and every place in between. The SBC is, by design, a big tent. Large church pastors, small church pastors, medium-sized church pastors, tiny-church pastors spend two days (three or four if they attend the pastor’s conference) conducting denominational business together, singing hymns together, fellowshipping together. Our annual meeting is an excellent reminder that we are together for the gospel, together to promote the fame of Jesus and his redeeming love for sinners. No matter a church’s size or place, conservative pastors and churches in the SBC who seek to be faithful to the gospel and the Great Commission can surely be together for that.

If you are a pastor or plan on being a pastor, I hope to see you in a couple of weeks in Phoenix.

­­­­­­­­­

The post Pastors and future pastors: 6 reasons you should attend the SBC appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Teenagers, Competitions and the Sabbath

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:25

A youth pastor told me he was missing some of his core teenagers on Easter Sunday morning. They were playing in a school volleyball tournament. How did our culture come to this?

Plenty of parents take zero interest in their children and their activities. Youth leaders celebrate good parents who support their kids’ endeavors, hoping that worthwhile activities will give their offspring a boost in life. But for believing families, all such decisions fall under the command, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Our crumbling culture increasingly will call teenagers to give their Sunday mornings to academic, artistic and athletic competitions and activities. For the moment, traveling sports teams are a special concern, often pulling teenagers out of church for six or more Sundays. Managers pressuring teenagers to work Sunday mornings also are an issue. All this should concern believing parents for at least three reasons.

Inconsistent with God’s Commands

The same God who said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” said, “You shall not commit adultery.” Believers do not get to cherry-pick the commandments. Is sending a teenager to a tournament on Sunday morning any different from sending a teenage couple to a motel on prom night?

God created the Jewish Sabbath (and its Christian equivalent) to give mankind a weekly way to remember and honor Him. “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it … then you will take delight in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

One of the central ways God chooses to be honored on His day is through the coming together of the church to worship, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Sunday worship is God’s plan for all nations through all generations.

Jesus pushed back on the Pharisees and their legalism concerning the Sabbath. They had lost the fact that Sabbath observance was to give honor to His Father and provide occasion for His people to worship Him. Today, He likely would resist with equal intensity anything that takes eyes off of the Godhead and precludes the weekly assembling of the body of Christ.

Inconsistent with the Goal of Parenting

Believing parents have no higher goal than this: To see their children leave home to live lives that bring great glory to King Jesus. Children exist for the glory of God, so every parenting action and decision should directly support that purpose.

Parents know that college athletic scouts are more likely to study prospects on a traveling sports team than a school team. For lukewarm church parents, the fact that a traveling team plays on Sunday is less important than the prospect of a scholarship.

Transformed parents work toward and celebrate the accomplishments of their children. But when choices have to be made, they always come down on the side of decisions that glorify Christ now and into the future.

Wise parents explain their decisions to their children. But instead of saying, “Our family always keeps the rules, and going to church is a rule,” discipling parents say, “Our family loves and adores King Jesus, and keeping His day sacred is our way to show that.”

Of course, parents have to set the example with their own choices. For example, after a Saturday night meeting out of town, Dad may have to decide between:

  1. Catching a 7:00 a.m. flight home in order to worship with the family, or
  2. Leisurely grazing the hotel breakfast buffet and then flying at 10:30 a.m.

Kids absorb and pursue what they perceive to be a parent’s priority. Actions always speak louder than words.

Inconsistent with the Life of a Young Disciple

As with all believers, teenagers need their hearts connected to the heart of Christ by a double helix. They need a strand of intimate, warm love intertwined with a strand of adoration and awe (almost holy fear).

Godly parents nurture the “love” strand so that someday a 25-year-old would rather spend Sunday morning with his Beloved than anyone else. And parents nurture the “awe” strand so future young adults so honor God that skipping church never seems like an option.

Teenage disciples are called to “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). “All things” means all things—including a scholarship given by a college scout on a Sunday morning; or moving from JV to Varsity because coach saw a player working hard in the weight room on Sunday morning; or making first chair in the state orchestra performing on Sunday morning. All those things are good, but Jesus is better.

Teenage behavior patterns tend to last a lifetime. The boy who misses some Sundays becomes the dad who leaves his family at home while he hunts on Sunday mornings. Parents who allow their children to be inconsistent on Sundays need to look ahead. They may grieve when they try to call their future grandchildren, Sunday at noon, and discover they still are in bed.

Church parents sometimes look for excuses to help explain inconsistent respect for God and His fourth commandment. I have heard parents say, “I realize the girls are out five Sundays in a row, but you need to know the coach always reads John 3:16 before Sunday games.” God instructs His children to give Him their attention for a day, not for three minutes. He desires hearts united in worship, not a tip of the hat.

Such reasoning only appeals to those who assume church-going is a religious rule—and therefore any ritual performed satisfies that rule. This is similar to the church member who will not tithe, but drops a dollar in the plate. On Easter.

Parents who deeply desire to see lifetime disciples come from their home will instill love and awe toward King Jesus, toward His day, and toward the weekly gathering of His people.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Teenagers, Competitions and the Sabbath

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:25

A youth pastor told me he was missing some of his core teenagers on Easter Sunday morning. They were playing in a school volleyball tournament. How did our culture come to this?

Plenty of parents take zero interest in their children and their activities. Youth leaders celebrate good parents who support their kids’ endeavors, hoping that worthwhile activities will give their offspring a boost in life. But for believing families, all such decisions fall under the command, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Our crumbling culture increasingly will call teenagers to give their Sunday mornings to academic, artistic and athletic competitions and activities. For the moment, traveling sports teams are a special concern, often pulling teenagers out of church for six or more Sundays. Managers pressuring teenagers to work Sunday mornings also are an issue. All this should concern believing parents for at least three reasons.

Inconsistent with God’s Commands

The same God who said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” said, “You shall not commit adultery.” Believers do not get to cherry-pick the commandments. Is sending a teenager to a tournament on Sunday morning any different from sending a teenage couple to a motel on prom night?

God created the Jewish Sabbath (and its Christian equivalent) to give mankind a weekly way to remember and honor Him. “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it … then you will take delight in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

One of the central ways God chooses to be honored on His day is through the coming together of the church to worship, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Sunday worship is God’s plan for all nations through all generations.

Jesus pushed back on the Pharisees and their legalism concerning the Sabbath. They had lost the fact that Sabbath observance was to give honor to His Father and provide occasion for His people to worship Him. Today, He likely would resist with equal intensity anything that takes eyes off of the Godhead and precludes the weekly assembling of the body of Christ.

Inconsistent with the Goal of Parenting

Believing parents have no higher goal than this: To see their children leave home to live lives that bring great glory to King Jesus. Children exist for the glory of God, so every parenting action and decision should directly support that purpose.

Parents know that college athletic scouts are more likely to study prospects on a traveling sports team than a school team. For lukewarm church parents, the fact that a traveling team plays on Sunday is less important than the prospect of a scholarship.

Transformed parents work toward and celebrate the accomplishments of their children. But when choices have to be made, they always come down on the side of decisions that glorify Christ now and into the future.

Wise parents explain their decisions to their children. But instead of saying, “Our family always keeps the rules, and going to church is a rule,” discipling parents say, “Our family loves and adores King Jesus, and keeping His day sacred is our way to show that.”

Of course, parents have to set the example with their own choices. For example, after a Saturday night meeting out of town, Dad may have to decide between:

  1. Catching a 7:00 a.m. flight home in order to worship with the family, or
  2. Leisurely grazing the hotel breakfast buffet and then flying at 10:30 a.m.

Kids absorb and pursue what they perceive to be a parent’s priority. Actions always speak louder than words.

Inconsistent with the Life of a Young Disciple

As with all believers, teenagers need their hearts connected to the heart of Christ by a double helix. They need a strand of intimate, warm love intertwined with a strand of adoration and awe (almost holy fear).

Godly parents nurture the “love” strand so that someday a 25-year-old would rather spend Sunday morning with his Beloved than anyone else. And parents nurture the “awe” strand so future young adults so honor God that skipping church never seems like an option.

Teenage disciples are called to “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). “All things” means all things—including a scholarship given by a college scout on a Sunday morning; or moving from JV to Varsity because coach saw a player working hard in the weight room on Sunday morning; or making first chair in the state orchestra performing on Sunday morning. All those things are good, but Jesus is better.

Teenage behavior patterns tend to last a lifetime. The boy who misses some Sundays becomes the dad who leaves his family at home while he hunts on Sunday mornings. Parents who allow their children to be inconsistent on Sundays need to look ahead. They may grieve when they try to call their future grandchildren, Sunday at noon, and discover they still are in bed.

Church parents sometimes look for excuses to help explain inconsistent respect for God and His fourth commandment. I have heard parents say, “I realize the girls are out five Sundays in a row, but you need to know the coach always reads John 3:16 before Sunday games.” God instructs His children to give Him their attention for a day, not for three minutes. He desires hearts united in worship, not a tip of the hat.

Such reasoning only appeals to those who assume church-going is a religious rule—and therefore any ritual performed satisfies that rule. This is similar to the church member who will not tithe, but drops a dollar in the plate. On Easter.

Parents who deeply desire to see lifetime disciples come from their home will instill love and awe toward King Jesus, toward His day, and toward the weekly gathering of His people.

Categories: Seminary Blog

El Pecado de la Adicción al Trabajo

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:00

Cada vez estoy más convencido que ser un “trabajador obsesivo” es la adicción más común entre las personas que están en el ministerio cristiano. Evidentemente esta condición se presenta entre todas las personas sin importar su ocupación o religiosidad. De hecho en inglés el término “workaholic” ya forma parte del vocabulario común ya que representa una realidad cada vez más presente en nuestras sociedades. Pero es fácil convertirse en un trabajador obsesivo y disfrazar esta situación con piedad y buenas intenciones. De la misma manera es muy atractivo sumergirse en el trabajo y echarle la culpa a Dios o a la obra de Dios como excusa por esta situación ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

How to read the news like a Christian

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 16:18

When I was younger, if you wanted to know what the latest news was, you read the newspaper in the morning or watched the national news at 5:30 and the local news at 6:00 and 10:00. Then CNN and Headline News showed up and you could get a feel for what was going on every 30 minutes. Even then though, you had to seek the news. You opened the paper or turned the channel to the news.

We live in very different times now. Our phones give us a steady stream of headlines. At every turn, a news headline that scares or angers you begs for your attention.

How do Christians process the constant barrage of news and information at our fingertips?

Read the news like your time is valuable

We live in an economy where the advertisers fight for your attention. They don’t have to get you in front of a television or sitting down to read the newspaper anymore. A device constantly begging for your attention sits in your pocket and one “quick check” can send you down a rabbit hole of links and discussions.

Steward the time you spend looking at your phone and set specific times during the day when you will get on social media or check news headlines. If you try to constantly “stay informed,” you will end up never accomplishing anything important while you take in a steady stream of relatively unimportant information. You only have one life, don’t spend it staring at your phone.

Read the news like your hope is real

When we think about the issues taking center stage in our day, many of them concern things that make us anxious– rising healthcare costs, a shrinking economy, the threat of terrorism, and battles over free speech and religious liberty. When we hear about another terrorist attack, a liberal professor stifling free speech, or an increase in our healthcare premiums, our natural tendency is to worry and panic.

In times like these, we need to review what is true for those who trust in Christ. We know that God providentially rules over all of human history and he is working all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28-30) We know that Jesus has ascended into heaven and is preparing a place there for those who belong to him. (John 14:1-6) We know that those who are in Christ will share in his inheritance because we are God’s sons and daughters. (Rom. 8:16-17)

We could spend all day reviewing the glories that are coming to those who are in Christ and we need to look at the daily news in light of these overwhelming realities. This doesn’t mean that healthcare, abortion, social justice, and civil liberties don’t matter, instead, it reframes how we think about these issues. If we don’t get justice in this world, we know that ultimate justice is coming. If our opportunities for a comfortable retirement are declining, we remember that we look forward to something much better than retirement. Our great future hope changes the way that we look at everything.

Read the news like you love Your neighbor

Most of our news comes to us with a partisan slant. The headlines grab our attention by reinforcing the bad things we believe about our political enemies or show how our heroes are being disrespected. What ends up happening is that we grow in our animosity towards the other side. We start thinking that they don’t just disagree with us on political issues, but are dangerous people who must be stopped.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is. He answered that the first is to love God and the second is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Then, the questioner asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer this question. He showed a man taking personal responsibility for the suffering of someone who would consider him a social, political, and religious enemy. Love for our neighbors looks like this. It crosses all of the lines that we like to draw.

Christians must not fall into the trap of reading daily news to feed our loathing of other people. Because Jesus loved us when we were hostile to him, we love the people with whom we disagree. We read, not to get angry and lose our cool, but to better understand how to engage those who stand on the other side of important issues. If you find that reading the news causes you to in personal animus towards other people, it’s time to review the message of the Gospel and remember the love and patience God has shown you. 

Read the news like you have heard Solomon’s wisdom

Too often, we react to the news like people who aren’t growing as believers in Christ. Too often, we draw strong conclusions and develop unrelenting opinions based on incomplete information. We read the title of an article or hear an out of context quote and rage inside. Then we start reading the comments and shake with anger at people we have never met. This takes us to a place of anger, anxiety, and unkindness.

The Proverbs speak to us about listening and making sure we have thoroughly heard a matter before we develop a strong opinion and lose our cool. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (18:13) “Good sense makes one slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (19:11) Solomon reminds us in these passages that wisdom calls us away from quick conclusions and hot-headed reactions. Instead, it beckons us to make sure we have heard what is being said and respond with a cool spirit.

Getting angry or anxious because of the news is not a new phenomenon. Things will take place in this world that will tempt us to shake our heads, grit our teeth, or fret over the future until Jesus returns. Until that great day, we walk by faith in the promises of God, remembering to love as we have been loved and live in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.

 

The post How to read the news like a Christian appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Royally Bad Objections to the Kalām Cosmological Argument

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 12:00

Dr. Craig,

I can't tell you how much of a blessing your work has been to me. You have been a great inspiration to me, and I consider you a fine example of what a Christian scholar should be.

I have been listening to a series of lectures entitled "The Big Questions of Philosophy" published by The Great Courses in which Professor David K. Johnson of King's College attempts to answer philosophically some of life's biggest questions. Because of the growing popularity of these lectures (especially now that they have been made very affordable through Audible), I thought it might be beneficial to get your thoughts. Professor Johnson demonstrates a deep familiarity with Christian apologetics. So much so that the lectures could almost have been entitled, "An Unbelievers Guide to Christian Apologetics." That may be a little bit of an exaggeration but not by too much. He singles out Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and yourself. I hope one day you might have time to produce a podcast debunking his claims in general, but for now I wanted to ask you about something in which he mentions you by name specifically ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Finding Favor and Extending Favor

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 12:00

Job interviews are a nerve-wracking ordeal. The feeling of being out of control regarding one’s future leads to subservient postures in relationships. This was the situation the Moabite, Ruth, found herself in after returning with her mother in-law to Bethlehem (Ruth 1). However, in this amazing Biblical narrative is a posture of grace-seeking that is reminiscent of our seeking God; it is the God-action of finding favor in others that we should model in our working relationships ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Pages

Subscribe to Bible.org Blogs aggregator - Seminary Blog