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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

SBJT Forum

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:50

The post SBJT Forum appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Book Reviews

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:47

The post Book Reviews appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Unleashing Your Potential as an Emerging Leader

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 12:00

Many persons in vocational Christian service got their start by working with young people. Youth ministry is great preparation for future service in other capacities. But it is much more than that. Youth pastors have the potential to impact the world for Christ in a powerful way, because young people often make important decisions about their future lives under the influence of church mentors and student ministries workers ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Story of Genesis 11: “And He Walked West”

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:00

Everyone loves a story. I think that is one of the reasons the Old Testament is primarily a story. However, many of the stories of the Old Testament often lack the kind of details that help you understand the characters. A good practice for you is to think through certain stories of the Old Testament and seek to create some depth to the characters. Of course, you have take some freedom and read between the lines, but it can be a lot of fun and very enriching to you and others. It can also serve as a discussion starter. I am offering you one such story based on Genesis 11. I simply try to draw the reader further into what it was like to be a character in the story. Happy reading ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Don’t Judge Me!

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 09:44

Standing for biblical truth elicits many negative responses from those outside the church as well as from some within. This is not surprising since Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated on account of Him (John 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13). While we may simply shrug this off as part of the reality of life, what is more challenging to navigate is the suggestion that by using the word “sin” for certain activities, we violate Jesus’ command not to judge. In popular sentiment, “do not judge” means that one cannot say any behavior is wrong. This understanding is pervasive, but it is severely flawed.[1]

There are pitfalls of judging that we must avoid, but doing so does not mean we cannot call sin what God has called sin. In fact, if we refuse to do so, we act as God’s judge, claiming that our perspective on the situation trumps His own. Similar to the rejection of God’s testimony in 1 John 1:10 and 5:10, this is tantamount to calling God a liar. We must call sin, sin, but we must also remember that God knows all of the details of the situation. We never will, and we often lack key information. As John 7:24 notes, we must not judge by mere appearances but must make a just judgment. If we wish to do so, we are wise to listen well and listen long, remembering the folly of giving an answer too quickly (Proverbs 18:13).

Jesus frequently identified sins, and Paul did the same. Jesus gave instructions for how to deal with a brother who has sinned against you (Matthew 18), and Paul told the Corinthians that he had already judged the brother who was engaged in sexual sin with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5). Even the Matthew 7 passage most commonly used to prohibit judging includes parameters for identifying sin in someone else’s life.[2] None of these required activities would be possible if identifying something as sin were not permitted. Furthermore, if you cannot rebuke someone else who has wronged you, there is no room even to say, “Don’t judge me.”

In addition to identifying certain behaviors as sinful, believers must judge in at least three other senses: evaluating the merits of a dispute between fellow Christians, evaluating the character of ministry candidates, and evaluating the teachings of those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord.[3] With respect to the first, Paul chides the Corinthians for failing to do so (1 Corinthians 6). Rather than turning to fellow believers to settle a dispute, some went to the courts. In doing so, they guaranteed defeat regardless of the outcome. In the pastoral epistles, Paul lists many qualifications for ministry candidates, primarily focused on character (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).[4] The evaluation of these qualifications requires wise judgment. Third, believers are commanded not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). In addition to the content of the message, understanding the character of the speaker is quite important in this evaluation.

While many activities commonly associated with judging are actually required Christian duties, there are some pitfalls that we must avoid, the first of which is hypocrisy. In Matthew 7, Jesus refers to a person concerned with the speck in a brother’s eye instead of being concerned with the log in his own eye. In Romans 2:1-3, Paul rebukes those who pass judgment on others while they themselves do the same things. Before focusing on others, we must deal with the sin in our own lives. Whether it is the same sin we see in others or something completely different, let the light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s conviction address us first. This does not mean that we cannot speak to others about sin until we are completely done with sin (that will never happen), but rather that we have dealt significantly and in an ongoing manner with our own sin.

Another pitfall associated with judging is a condemning attitude.[5] I recently saw a friend who was called out for a mistake. Such was fine, but what came with it was not. In addition to calling out the error, I saw broad-brush insults and an attitude of arrogant superiority. If we are tempted to think that someone is beyond hope or that we are far superior to them, let us remember that most of the heroes in the Bible made extreme mistakes. What is more, all of us are just one bad decision away from a radically different life. Our role is not to condemn. That must be left to God. This, of course, is part of the reason that we must warn about sin. Since sin and the wrath of God are real, we must warn others about the coming judgment. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”

Just as condemnation is not our role, there are times when we are tempted to address a situation that is none of our business. Romans 14-15 help us here. If the matter is something of a preference rather than a biblical mandate, we are told to keep our perspective to ourselves. Two questions may provide assistance. Are we trying to enforce a law that no longer has authority based on the finished work of Christ (clean and unclean foods, for example)? Are we trying to enforce a law that never had biblical authority in the first place? Determining the difference can be challenging, but it is a task that believers can accomplish by the power of the Spirit.

There are contexts in which Christians must judge, but we must judge justly. As we do so, may we remember the manifold grace and mercy of God in our lives and respond to others in a way that affirms not only the seriousness of sin but also the love and forgiveness that God offers through Christ Jesus.

[1]David Croteau addresses misunderstandings about judging in chapter 7 of his helpful book, Urban Legends of the New Testament.
[2]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 38.
[3]In the future, the disciples will take part in judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), and believers will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
[4]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 183.
[5]Croteau affirms the same with respect to Matthew 7:1-2.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Don’t Judge Me!

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 09:44

Standing for biblical truth elicits many negative responses from those outside the church as well as from some within. This is not surprising since Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated on account of Him (John 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13). While we may simply shrug this off as part of the reality of life, what is more challenging to navigate is the suggestion that by using the word “sin” for certain activities, we violate Jesus’ command not to judge. In popular sentiment, “do not judge” means that one cannot say any behavior is wrong. This understanding is pervasive, but it is severely flawed.[1]

There are pitfalls of judging that we must avoid, but doing so does not mean we cannot call sin what God has called sin. In fact, if we refuse to do so, we act as God’s judge, claiming that our perspective on the situation trumps His own. Similar to the rejection of God’s testimony in 1 John 1:10 and 5:10, this is tantamount to calling God a liar. We must call sin, sin, but we must also remember that God knows all of the details of the situation. We never will, and we often lack key information. As John 7:24 notes, we must not judge by mere appearances but must make a just judgment. If we wish to do so, we are wise to listen well and listen long, remembering the folly of giving an answer too quickly (Proverbs 18:13).

Jesus frequently identified sins, and Paul did the same. Jesus gave instructions for how to deal with a brother who has sinned against you (Matthew 18), and Paul told the Corinthians that he had already judged the brother who was engaged in sexual sin with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5). Even the Matthew 7 passage most commonly used to prohibit judging includes parameters for identifying sin in someone else’s life.[2] None of these required activities would be possible if identifying something as sin were not permitted. Furthermore, if you cannot rebuke someone else who has wronged you, there is no room even to say, “Don’t judge me.”

In addition to identifying certain behaviors as sinful, believers must judge in at least three other senses: evaluating the merits of a dispute between fellow Christians, evaluating the character of ministry candidates, and evaluating the teachings of those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord.[3] With respect to the first, Paul chides the Corinthians for failing to do so (1 Corinthians 6). Rather than turning to fellow believers to settle a dispute, some went to the courts. In doing so, they guaranteed defeat regardless of the outcome. In the pastoral epistles, Paul lists many qualifications for ministry candidates, primarily focused on character (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).[4] The evaluation of these qualifications requires wise judgment. Third, believers are commanded not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). In addition to the content of the message, understanding the character of the speaker is quite important in this evaluation.

While many activities commonly associated with judging are actually required Christian duties, there are some pitfalls that we must avoid, the first of which is hypocrisy. In Matthew 7, Jesus refers to a person concerned with the speck in a brother’s eye instead of being concerned with the log in his own eye. In Romans 2:1-3, Paul rebukes those who pass judgment on others while they themselves do the same things. Before focusing on others, we must deal with the sin in our own lives. Whether it is the same sin we see in others or something completely different, let the light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s conviction address us first. This does not mean that we cannot speak to others about sin until we are completely done with sin (that will never happen), but rather that we have dealt significantly and in an ongoing manner with our own sin.

Another pitfall associated with judging is a condemning attitude.[5] I recently saw a friend who was called out for a mistake. Such was fine, but what came with it was not. In addition to calling out the error, I saw broad-brush insults and an attitude of arrogant superiority. If we are tempted to think that someone is beyond hope or that we are far superior to them, let us remember that most of the heroes in the Bible made extreme mistakes. What is more, all of us are just one bad decision away from a radically different life. Our role is not to condemn. That must be left to God. This, of course, is part of the reason that we must warn about sin. Since sin and the wrath of God are real, we must warn others about the coming judgment. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”

Just as condemnation is not our role, there are times when we are tempted to address a situation that is none of our business. Romans 14-15 help us here. If the matter is something of a preference rather than a biblical mandate, we are told to keep our perspective to ourselves. Two questions may provide assistance. Are we trying to enforce a law that no longer has authority based on the finished work of Christ (clean and unclean foods, for example)? Are we trying to enforce a law that never had biblical authority in the first place? Determining the difference can be challenging, but it is a task that believers can accomplish by the power of the Spirit.

There are contexts in which Christians must judge, but we must judge justly. As we do so, may we remember the manifold grace and mercy of God in our lives and respond to others in a way that affirms not only the seriousness of sin but also the love and forgiveness that God offers through Christ Jesus.

[1]David Croteau addresses misunderstandings about judging in chapter 7 of his helpful book, Urban Legends of the New Testament.
[2]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 38.
[3]In the future, the disciples will take part in judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), and believers will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
[4]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 183.
[5]Croteau affirms the same with respect to Matthew 7:1-2.

Categories: Seminary Blog

4 Reasons college ministry is a sacrifice worth making

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 09:16

Can a small church really have an impact on a college campus? Even if it has a tiny staff, lacks modern facilities, and has no coffee bar? The answer is unequivocally yes.

Almost five years ago, my wife and I moved to South Carolina to pastor a church situated just a few blocks from a small college. When I began to ask local pastors about the campus, they joked that it was as spiritually alive as the vast cemetery that bordered it. One church in town had a handful of college students on Sunday. That was it.

So we set to work. And it was rough. College ministry took place during odd hours. Initially, the staff were less than enthusiastic. Most students were at games and practices, studying, or sleeping in on Sunday morning.

I now understand why most churches give up on campus ministry: It’s inefficient and can produce frustrating results. Campus ministry sucks up time, money, and energy that can be easily spent elsewhere. But I want to encourage churches like us to persevere. Ministering to students will cost a church a lot, but it’s worth it for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.

Here are four realities that should drive even small churches to minister to college students.

  1. They need the church more than you need them.

When a small church begins to pour into college ministry, it makes no practical sense any way you slice it. Spending your precious resources to reach penniless young people seems like financial foolishness. Even if they begin to attend or even join your church, they can’t give back in a substantial monetary way.

On top of that, college students bring heavy spiritual burdens to a congregation. Just sit down for lunch with one sometime. They will unload about the inability to afford the next semester, the stress of their parents’ looming divorce, the panic of failure on the field, in the classroom, or in a relationship.

One of my best friends is regularly burdened for the nominally Christian students he tries to mentor throughout the semester. Many of them know they are living in sin. They struggle with guilt and aimlessness. In conversation I’ll ask him, “Are any of these kids going to church?” To which he says, “No.” “Are they reading their Bibles? Are they praying?” He only smiles knowingly. They don’t realize it, but we both do. They need a local church—a body of believers to disciple, challenge, confront, and encourage them week by week.

  1. They have theological and experiential hang-ups.

College ministry often means dealing with the fallout of entertainment-driven youth group. The only contact that many Christian and non-Christian high school graduates have with the church is bounce-off-the-walls retreat weekends, gross out games, and Nerf guns. When they arrive at college, local congregations have the hard, unpleasant task of walking them through the let down of joining “normal” (read boring) church.

They may come to college with a bad taste in their mouth from hypocrisy they witnessed in a home church. Many international students may come to America with a completely secular worldview. I met a student this year who marveled that we had a church building like it was some kind of tourist attraction, saying, “I’ve never been in a church building before!” Churches who reach out to these students must have the patience to share the gospel slowly and intentionally. It will require lots of time, and still many students may disappoint and fall away.

Students can be a bit like theological kayakers. Minor rapids feel like waterfalls and every cultural or personal issue threatens to overturn the boat. What they need are spiritual fathers and mothers who will gently and calmly talk through their real issues and struggles. They need mentors who are willing to listen, willing to ask probing questions, willing to love them as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

  1. College ministry is an investment in the future of other churches.

Perhaps the most selfless aspect of college ministry is that you are going to so much effort to pursue and invest in young men and women who will leave in four years or less. This alone seems exhausting. Wouldn’t churches—especially small churches—be wiser to invest in reaching established families in the community?

Campus ministry requires a kingdom perspective. There is a reason why the Lord is gathering students from across the world into your city. It is an opportunity for churches to invest in the future of the capital “C” Church. This is the greatest joy and act of selflessness: training up disciples of Christ and sending them out to serve other local churches. Our ministry among even a small handful of students can have immense kingdom impact as they depart our fellowship and enter the world to become faithful husbands, wives, businessmen, teachers, and church members elsewhere.

  1. You will see mustard seed success stories.

Certainly, college ministry will drain your church. However, you’ll be surprised by how your church comes to love—even need—these students. Our college students have become vital to every aspect of our ministry: music, children’s Sunday school, ushering, outreach, prayer, small groups, the list goes on. Their energy and enthusiasm can inject a church with new life. The Spirit has given them gifts that were meant to build up your church. (And they make dependable babysitters!)

I think you’ll also be surprised how college students come to appreciate the authenticity of “boring” church. Many of them are just looking for honest relationships. So much of college life can be about faking it and hiding insecurities. When a church is comfortable with its uncoolness, it allows students to feel safe to open up and ask questions. Doors for the gospel will swing wide.

Pray about how you and your church—large or small—can begin to engage the student population in your community. Four years is longer than you realize. So much discipleship can happen if churches will see the need for the Gospel on these campuses. Pray and strive for mustard seed-sized success. Success is a small Bible study with three or four young men. Success is two students catching a vision for church membership. Success is a student spending time with an elderly church member.

These small successes will require a vital selflessness from your church. We have to trust that though Christ’s kingdom begins as a mustard seed, it grows to become a large tree (Luke 13:18-19).  May the love of Christ compel us into the sticky lives of these young men and women with patience, mercy, and grace.

 

The post 4 Reasons college ministry is a sacrifice worth making appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

How Do We Make Theology Come Alive for Students?

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:00

How do we make theology engaging and interesting for students? While I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out, and am always looking for some creative and new ideas, here are four lessons I have learned from roughly two decades of teaching and speaking to students on theological issues ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Older Men, Younger Men Need You

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:48

There is a sad and wide gulf between older men and younger men today. Generational discrimination and segregation are alive and, well, discouraging.

We have to pass the torch somehow, but so many of the bridges have been burnt. Younger guys need older guys. Older men, by God’s design and grace, there are things we will get from you and no one else. Especially those of us without dads, or Christian dads, or engaged and intentional Christian dads. Yet the decades sadly so rarely seem to play well together.

As a younger man myself, I have tried to identify how exactly older guys can love, exhort, and invest in younger men around them — men like me. On behalf of other younger men, with humility and boldness, we plead with our older brothers for five things.

1. LOVE

Young men are often asking of older men, “Do you care about me? Do you really care?” We can watch YouTube videos for advice, wisdom, and inspiration for life’s complexities. With Christian blogs today, we can access answers to most every life question without even picking up the phone. We should still ask you, but we don’t need older men mainly because they’re smarter.

Young men need steady love, a love that shadows the love of the Father (1 John 2:13-14). We need that, and we are on a journey with monsters on the horizon — monsters deep in our own hearts and all around us. You, the older man, are not necessarily our dad, but you are a “father’s friend” — a “neighbor who is near” (Prov 27:10), who teaches us about “reproach,” “prudence,” “suffering,” “adultery,” and “cursing” (Prov 27:11-14) — how to do (or avoid) all of it. The king says “do not forsake … your father’s friend.” So, we’re here. At least some of us are. Not forsaking. Maybe annoying, but not forsaking.

2. STORIES

Young men need to hear, “Everything’s going to be okay.” Most days we’re pretty sure our lives are an utter failure, a disaster zone even.

We hear: “You’re not a man.” We need: “You are a man. Let’s act like it.” We hear: “You can’t beat this.” We need: “I know that voice. This is how you fight it.” We hear: “She doesn’t love you, so life is worthless.” We need: “This is a season. God knows your needs. Talk to me about it.”

God taught you lessons when you were young. You pray, “From my youth you have taught me,” and, “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Ps 71:17-18). Now, for every gray hair, we want one story of God’s faithfulness, one lesson from years of learning God and his world. One “you’ll be okay” for every silver lock.

Was there a time when you had that same life experience? Tell us about it. We need to hear, “God is faithful in that situation, because I’ve seen it — I have felt it. I don’t know what it will look like for you, but he is with you, and he is faithful. And so am I.” Tell relevant, helpful stories. You can’t see the end of any young man’s story. But you can be a historical anchor for the hope that God is actually involved in this tragic world — in a young man’s tragic life — because sometimes we’re not so sure.

3. PRAYER

It’s hard for most Christians to spend time alone with God. For you to take time with the Father — with your Father — to intercede for us, to pray for our good, and to ask for wisdom for us, means more than you know. With all the brokenness between generations today, it would be an unusual and undeserved blessing to take your prayers for granted.

Paul feared the Ephesians would “lose heart,” so he prayed that God would, “grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit” (Eph 3:13, 16). We often lose heart while we make our own way. We need strength. We’re praying our immature hearts out. Take those ten or fifteen years you have on us and do with them in prayer what we haven’t learned to do yet as unskilled, inexperienced, and scared younger men.

4. SELF-SECURITY

Don’t feel the need to compete with us. We’re not your peers, so don’t measure yourself against us. If we need your more mature, fatherly help, chances are we’re not getting it from our dads. Most guys who have distant or absent fathers feel like they have been competing with other men their whole life — for stats, for affection, approval, and acceptance.

Be a friend in the war of life — a fellow soldier. We need support, friendship, and non-competitive camaraderie like that — we need a person to manifest to us, face to face, God’s disinterest in comparative performance. It’s really hard to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). But we might just learn how to do it for others through your example.

One of the most practical shapes this takes is in the form of good listening. In listening to a young man talk about himself, you will hear embedded in his words a “plea for grace” (Psalm 86:6), and you will be more equipped to speak “a word fitly spoken,” which is “like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov 25:11).

We also might need help hearing you, because we can be impatient and stubborn and defensive (what do you do with an apple of gold anyway?). God models this humility and patience: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). God is kind because he doesn’t have anything to prove. That security produces amazing results in relationships, and in men in general.

5. VULNERABILITY

Be patient. We are slow. Don’t feel like you need to yell at us. We’ve been yelled at. Be firm if we need it. We need to be able to ask you anything — and get an honest, non-judgmental answer. This includes wisdom for Christian growth in general — in fighting sin. We need to feel, “We’re in this together,” not, “You’re such a failure.”

Most men already feel like failures. Be original, and be with us. Is 1 Cor 10:13 really true? “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” Help us to learn to practice the tension of that verse: that it is “common” — not weird or stigmatized or something to keep in the dark — and to embrace the call to “endure it,” which is nearly impossible without community. We need a place — a man — that challenges us to grow, but also makes it safe for us to confess.

EVERY BOY WANTS TO BE A MAN

This was not written for the courtroom, fathers. These “needs” are not a condemnation of you. No, they are meant for your veneration. “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who has been from the beginning” (1 John 2:13). Young men have failed older men in many ways — through incompetence and inconsistency, through shortcomings and shameful acts, through critiquing everyone else and coddling ourselves — our lives our fraught with failure. It’s true.

No matter what the young, stubborn punk in your life says, we want to mature; we want the skilled, heavy, healing hand of corrective (not punitive) discipline; we want to be told we’re wrong; we want to grow. Every young man wants to be a man who can receive the love of Christ, and out of that, become a skilled lover of God, a helpful lover of friends, and a serving lover of a woman.

We want to be like you inasmuch as you are like Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

 

This article originally appeared at DesiringGod.org. Used by permission.

The post Older Men, Younger Men Need You appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

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