One of the things I so appreciated about
this report from Arthur Sido is his reference to the practice of the
"holy kiss"; and, indeed, I quite agree that the practice will seem
strange to many of us who live in North America. But in Ethiopia it is
practiced among all believers: men kissing men, men kissing women, women
kissing women, and women kissing men (there is usually no distinction
made between the genders).
Of course, the "kiss" is often no more than a light brushing of cheeks
or sometimes even a mere "shoulder to shoulder" hug.
But there is physical contact -- and this in a culture that also
practices the more distant handshake.
In addition (and, brother Arthur, I hope you're sitting down!), men hold
hands with other men in public. I do it all the time -- and love it!
Here I am with Nigussie, an Alaba church leader, as we walk through the
village of Dayda.
Seems to me the church in the U.S. could learn a thing or two from our
Ethiopian brothers and sisters about the "holy kiss."
I was a bit surprised to see that Jim Wallis was
moderating sessions this year in Davos. I'm not sure what the World
Economic Forum has to do with discipleship. World peace initiatives,
mammoth aid drives, gigantic government programs often set out to do one
thing while God is out to do something else. Jesus did not come to
convert civilization but to take out a people for Himself, and His
business should be the business of all Christians. As He put it, "I must
work the works of the one who sent me" (John 9:4). I know I'm beginning
to sound like an Anabaptist. But the church cannot succeed by secular
standards and kingdom values. Jesus calls us to a new community
of discipleship, a countercultural community that walks to the beat of a
Just accepted an invitation to give a guest lecture in a colleague's
class. Josh Waggener teaches church music at the seminary and has asked
me to talk about the poetry of the New Testament when he introduces
early church and patristic worship practices on Feb. 22. Love the
cross-fertilization of the disciplines!
Today Becky allowed me to take her out for lunch. Isn't she sweet?
B & H Academic have announced the release of the second edition of Craig
Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey.
Writes Howard Marshall:
significance that has appeared in the last dozen years seems to have
been missed by Craig Blomberg and his assistants in this careful
updating of his well-received survey text on the Gospels and Jesus
in order to fit it for a fresh generation of students. This is a
rich resource from which even the seasoned scholar can pick up
In Mark's Gospel, Jesus is the servant of all servants, reaching,
preaching, teaching, caring, healing -- tirelessly! I think Paul was the
same way. Just read the so-called Peristasenkataloge (forgive me
for using a term popularized by Rudolph Bultmann but it is a good one!)
in 2 Corinthians 6 and 11. "We have often been overworked." "I have
worked much harder (than the pseudo-apostles.)" "Often I have gone
without sleep." Where in the world did we get the idea that we are to
work only 8 hours a day and only 40 hours a week? Not from the Bible.
Paul says we are to "buy up the time" -- as if time were a precious
commodity to be used to the full.
Thomas Edison was a
famous inventor. By the time he was 80 had had taken out 1,000 patents.
He worked 18 hours a day and slept only when he was tired. This
remarkable man once said, "Time is not a commodity that can be stored
for future use. It must be invested hour by hour or else it is gone
Student, are you
making the most of your time in school? One day you and I will have to
turn in an account of our academic stewardship (Luke 16:1-2). Note that
carefully! We are required to be stewards of God's gifts to us, and not
just stewards, but trustworthy ones (1 Cor. 4:1). When I was in
seminary I determined before the Lord that, with His divine enablement,
I would get an A in every class I took. Did I always succeed? No. But we
will never reach higher than what we aim for.
To be a student is
a great privilege. It is also a great responsibility. Let us, then, be
good stewards of our time and shake off all sloth!
Alan Knox reveals the secrets of his approach to biblical
interpretation. His series on Colossians begins
If I may ... mine is not a "non-blog"
at all. It is an "un-blog."
The Dave Black Blog: The Un and Only!
In the book
The Last Templar, the antagonist named Vance describes the Gospel of
Mark as follows (p. 323):
"None of the Gnostic Gospels had a
passion narrative," Vance pointed out, "but the four gospels
Irenaeus chose did. They spoke about Jesus' death on the Cross and
about His resurrection. They linked the story being promoted to the
fundamental ritual of the Eucharist, the Last Supper. And they
didn't even start off that way," he scoffed. "In its earliest
version, the first of them to be include, the Gospel of Mark,
doesn't talk about a virgin birth at all, nor does it have the
Resurrection in it. It just ends with Jesus' empty tomb, where a
mysterious young man, a transcendental being of some kind, like an
angel, tells a group of women who come to the tomb that Jesus is
waiting for them in Galilee. And this terrifies these women. They
run off and they don't tell anyone about it -- which makes you
wonder how Mark or whoever wrote that gospel would have ever heard
about it in the first place. But that's how Mark originally ended
his gospel. It's only in Matthew - fifty years later - and then in
Luke, ten years after that, that elaborate post-Resurrection
appearances were added to Mark's original ending, which is itself
Who says textual
criticism and source criticism aren't interesting subjects! Especially
if you are a young Christian, settle it in your mind once and for all
what you believe about the historical origins of the Gospels and whether
the final verses of Mark are original.
Torrance was a student
of Karl Barth, who discovered the church fathers.
Yes, one indeed has to discover
the fathers -- and their significance for biblical interpretation.
Perhaps one could also say:
Black was a student of
Bo Reicke, who discovered the church fathers.
What is the significance of the Greek aorist?
ALIVE” IN THE GREEK TEXT IS AN AORIST TENSE VERB…The
aorist tense in Greek grammar signifies (among other things)
completed action. God has completely made us alive; we
are completely alive in Christ…
Alive with Christ
and then decide whether this is exegesis or eisegesis. I think you can
guess where I stand.
For those of you in Australia who were kind enough to request a review
Why Four Gospels? please be patient with us. I am told that delivery
to Australia is about 10 days, so do not think we have forgotten you if
you should not receive your book immediately!
We had a good day today. The kind when you enjoy the fellowship of
believers you've not seen for a while. The kind of day that makes you
glad you know churches like Bethany.
I spoke, Becky spoke, and (I think) the Spirit moved in our midst. I
talked about what God is doing in such places as Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
I feel like we are on the verge of something huge right now in terms of
missions and the kingdom. The world is such an odd kaleidoscope of
conflicting movements and agendas. Many of its problems are due to
colonization and nationalism. The fact is, the world is being readied
for Antichrist, for the Big Lie, for the final delusion. Nations are
choosing the false and God lets them reap the consequences of their
choice. We might as well face it. World news is nothing but a set of
grim facts. Things don't make sense, the nations make fun of the
Christian faith, and demons dance in their glee. This age is a wreck but
God sent His Son to be the Second Adam of a new race of people, and as
many as received Him became sons and daughters of God and heirs of the
coming kingdom. While the world is torn in strife and politicians debate
issues, we cannot forget that our salvation is accomplished and our
Lord's work has been completed on the cross. I do not rejoice over the
distress of nations, but when all these things come to pass I am bidden
to look up because all of this means that the age is fast drawing to its
close and the Lord will soon return. Meanwhile, behind all the bad news
reads the Good News: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
The way has been opened into the Presence of God but it is the way of
the blood. God has no favorites but He does have intimates. My prayer is
that when the nation of Egypt -- or Iran or Iraq -- blows wide open for
the Gospel, we in North America will be willing to offer hope to them,
and even be willing to die in the process if necessary. Such was also
the thrust of Becky's talk as she talked about the faithfulness of the
persecuted flock in Ethiopia.
Becky and I spent
the afternoon in prayer and fasting. Acutely aware of pressing needs
both here and abroad, we brought to bear upon them through prayer the
mercy and power of God. Prayer is not an appendix to Christianity; it is
the very essence of the Christian faith. Prayer does make a difference.
Elijah attempted great things for God and expected great things from
God. In prayer he teamed up with the Almighty and the two of them were
worth more to Israel than mighty horsemen and chariots. Our Lord Jesus
spent most of His time out and about among the crowds, but He withdrew
to pray for further ministry. Sometimes we need to quit talking and turn
to God. There is no use trying to serve the King unless we are willing
to yield our unsurrendered selves, consenting to our crucifixion with
Christ, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and walking in the Spirit.
Tomorrow I will
continue my studies in the Gospel of Mark. This Tuesday my students will
begin teaching the class. I trust that what at first may seem as a duty
to them will end up being a joy. Above all, I hope we will learn the
lesson of Mark: that discipleship is always costly, that it requires the
cross, obedience, and self-denial, that only Jesus can straighten out
our warped thinking when we measure our lives by quantitative, not
qualitative, standards. We learn it slowly but learn it we must: "Apart
from me ... Nothing."
Need a good capper for the day? Then read Allan Bevere's comments on the
Egyptian protests. Ausgezeichnet, Allan!
Rod Decker, who will be publishing his own commentary on Mark in the
(near?) future, has published his
response to my query
about prepositional prefix morphemes in the Gospel of Mark (see 10:10 am
below). Among his many perceptive comments is the following:
I’m not sure I like
the way the question is phrased. It implies that only a certain
answer is compatible with inspiration. If I believe in the verbal
inspiration of Scripture (and I do), of course the prefixes are
inspired. But that’s not the question. The question is, do
prepositional prefixes always change the meaning of any
verb to which they are prefixed? Must κατα- always add a
perfective/intensive nuance? The examples you cite imply that it
does. There is no question that sometimes they do, but
always? Perhaps what we should be asking is, “How do we determine
if/when a prepositional prefix adds some nuance, and if so, what is
This is much
clearer than my original question. Thank you, Rod, for the correction.
Naturally, for one who believes in verbal plenary inspiration, every
word, everywhere is God-breathed. The same goes for a word's constituent
morphemes. The real question is: What do these morphemes mean, in
The compound verb I
struggle with the most is perhaps kataphileo in Mark 14:45. Judas
kisses Jesus. That's clear enough. But what does the prefix kata
suggest, if anything? The ISV has, "kissed him tenderly." Would
"affectionately" work better? I simply do not know. I do know that in
Ethiopia there are various levels of affection/intensity when kissing a
brother or sister in Christ, depending on the closeness of the
Any thoughts on
It hit me tonight, as Becky and I enjoyed dinner at the local Pizza Hut,
just how media crazy our society is. The restaurant had not one, not
two, not three, but four television sets blaring away, each set on a
different channel. On the way home Becky remarked to me, "I hate to
think of how much time I wasted watching TV growing up." I,
unfortunately, grew up watching TV every evening, and when I hit puberty
things only got worse. Truth be told, I've spent a lot of wasted time in
front of the television set, though from time to time one finds
something truly worth watching -- as, for example tonight.
On one TV set they
were showing the news from Egypt. It's hard to watch the death and
destruction going on there. I'm firmly convinced that Egypt has
absolutely the most beautiful scenery in the world, or at least in the
countries of Africa I've visited so far. The week Becky and I spent
there in 1985 was unforgettable. I hadn't reckoned on seeing the Gaza
Pyramids and the Sakhara Pyramids and the Valley of the
Kings and the Cairo Museum and King Tut's Tomb. When B and
I decided to take public transportation from Jerusalem to Cairo people
thought we were insane. And maybe we were. But crossing the Sinai and
the Suez Canal was an unforgettable experience for us, as was our train
journey to Luxor in an overnight sleeper car -- a creepy old relic from
the British era, I'm sure. From first to last our self-guided tour of
Egypt was a fascinating experience, in which we drank deeply of this
historic nation. Before returning to the States I decided to buy my
camel saddle and bring it home with me. Today it sits in my Wake Forest
office, a reminder of a wonderful trip to one of the world's most
historic places, knowing that today it is going through the throes of a
revolution and there is nothing I can do about it
Meanwhile, I try
and remain focused on the work at hand. Thank you, all of you, for the
way you've supported the needs in Ethiopia in recent days. You've shown
your love and care for people you'll never meet. For some reason the
Lord Jesus has allowed you to tangle your lives up in the fabric of a
place many thousands of miles away. Because of your generosity Becky and
I have been able to send the church in Alaba money to repair their damaged
vehicle and to provide medical care for those wounded in the recent
attacks on Christians. Thank you for standing in the gap with us. For
being the conduit of God's mercy and love. For joining us in the
adventure of a lifetime.
Reality is so much
better than living vicariously through a television set, isn't it?
My proposal is simple:
before starting a sermon, the preacher should quickly state the
point he is about to make, then excuse anyone who has heard enough
on that point. What would those of us who are excused do instead?
Well, I suppose we could discuss some other point of doctrine that
interested us more.
This is one of the best blog posts I've
read in a long time. As I said earlier today, much of the "information"
we get about the Bible could be received in one fourth the time if we
simply sat down and read it -- and this might well include a synopsis of
A reminder to all SEBTS doctoral students: The deadline for submitting a
paper proposal for this year's ETS southeastern regional meeting in
Georgia (March 25-26) is Feb. 1. Go
I encourage you to go
through the Scriptures and discover how God responded to an earnest
and fervent prayer. The church in Antioch has grasped this truth and
was practicing it. Their spiritual disciplines and theological
convictions made huge contribution to the inward growth of the
believers and to the outreach ministry of the church.
What do you think? Do you sometimes
fast when you pray? Should you?
Incidentally, this essay is just one
part in a series that Alex has written on the church in Antioch. The
entire series is well worth your time. You will notice a missions
heartbeat in everything Alex writes, as he is an Associate Professor of
Intercultural Studies at Denver and has also taught in Nairobi.
Wow! It looks like Houston Baptist University is
If the Bible is truly God's "GPS for the soul," does it matter which
version we use? Just askin'....
Looking forward to teaching the Word and sharing about the glory of the
Lord in Ethiopia at
Bethany Baptist Church near Moriah, NC tomorrow. Service time is
To suggest that evangelical
Christians should pay attention to the fathers will strike many as
absurd. Is not the very hallmark of Protestant Christianity the
commitment to a text-centered hermeneutic?
But then I add
Though I am very happy to be
classified as a text-based exegete of the New Testament, it will be
clear that I think we have abandoned a rich source of knowledge. For
me, this means that although I delight in studying and reading the
New Testament in its original language, I think it is an advantage
-- rather than a detriment -- to learn Scripture through the works
of Tertullian, Luther, Calvin, and Yoder. Indeed, I believe that the
fragmented and atomistic approach to the New Testament documents
today is often merely an excuse for intellectual laziness.
If you think that's
bad, check out this statement from the same preface!
The late Bernard Orchard once
quipped to me that, if I took the fathers' writings seriously, I --
an evangelical Christian -- would be accused of being a Roman
Catholic in Protestant clothing! I sometimes put the matter this way
to my students: If reading the church fathers critically makes
me a catholic (please note the small "c"), then so be it.
Are the prepositional prefix morphemes found in certain verbs in the
Gospel of Mark inspired? My guess is that they are. In other words, the
author could have used the simplex form of the verb but didn't.
Shouldn't we, therefore, try to reflect that usage in translation? Here
are a few examples involving the prefix kata:
Andrew Rozalowsky has raised a
vitally important question. During my 35 some odd years of teaching,
as I have often mentioned, several factors have combined to shape my
approach to graduate theological education. Let me mention one or two of
1) The purpose of a
seminary, in my opinion, is not to disseminate information. Most of what
we learn in lectures can be gotten in one fourth the time by reading
books. Now here is a very curious thing. I found that most of my college
and seminary professors used the "you sit still and I instill" approach
to teaching. We students would sometimes describe the process in less
flattering terms: "One end gets numb and the other end gets dumb." The
access of knowledge over the past 20 years via the Internet has made
strict lecturing redundant in many cases. The classroom, I think, could
better be utilized for discussion of what the students have already read
prior to coming to class.
2) My second point
is possibly a bit more controversial. In my view, the purpose of a
formal biblical education is primarily to equip students with the tools
they need for their own research. I realize, again, that I have been
influenced by my own experience as a student. As I sat through my
English Bible classes in seminary I was shocked by what I considered to
be a travesty of the text. I think in particular of a course on 1-2
Corinthians in which we barely made it through the first epistle before
the semester ended! The experience of taking the biblical languages and
courses in pedagogy made the greatest impression on my young mind. I
felt that a student's basic commitment was to the truth, and that one
should be able to follow the evidence wherever it led in an atmosphere
of free inquiry. I still feel this way. For me, the opportunity I had of
devoting my time in seminary to honing my exegetical and hermeneutical
skills was enjoyable beyond words -- and all of this within the
parameters of confessional evangelical institutions. (I know some people
who think that one cannot be a true scholar if one espouses evangelical
convictions about the Bible, but I do not agree with them.)
Of course, I have
known some excellent expositors of the English Bible who taught from a
reservoir of Bible knowledge rather than from the canteen of Saturday
night. But I dare say, the reason I had confidence in their preaching
was that I sensed that underneath the 10 percent was the other ninety
percent of the iceberg -- a solid foundation in the languages of
acceptance of the Bible as the written Word of God forces me to study it
in its original languages, and I can think of no better foundation in
seminary than a linguistic education for the cultivation of sound
Once again, Eric Carpenter reminds us that New Testament church
highly participatory. He is right of course. But we must be
careful not to make anything, not even our desire to share together when
we assemble, into a god. The real challenge is to demonstrate the
reality of our fellowship by such things as sympathy, forgiveness,
practical help, prayer, and -- yes -- a commitment to seeing that
everything is done decently and in order during our gatherings (and
sometimes, Eric, this may mean acquiescing to just sitting there quietly
during a worship service out of deference and respect for the church
leadership). What a vast area of thought that opens up! It is not just
during the gathering that we are the Body of Christ. We are saints
together all week long. The need may be to visit a shut-in or help
look after a neighbor's child or express sympathy in an hour of grief or
simply intercede on our knees when a brother or sister has a moral fall.
All of this, I imagine, can happen regardless of how much "outlet" there
is for sharing during the Sunday gathering.
Above all, we must
remember that thegathering exists for the going, as I
have so often said. House churches have often been criticized for being
too inward looking. If you disagree with this assessment, prove your
Who do you know who shares your passion for the kingdom? Whose iron is
sharpening yours? From whom are you gaining courage and maturity?
Help share the workload with us.
We are "yoked together" in ministry.
Stir us up to greater
Delight in our successes and weep
with us when we face disappointments.
Are not afraid to challenge our
faulty thinking. "Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from
an enemy." It's good to hear the truth even when it hurts.
Are intercessors. They have
accepted the responsibility for holding us up before God.
Who are your
special friends, the teammates in your life whose spiritual passion has
been a blessing to you? Why not pause and thank God for them right now?
Playing church or doing the kingdom?
This “Jesus paradigm” – this downward path I have been describing –
offers us a completely alternative vision of the church. The old
Christendom model exalts the church as church. In Christendom
our ultimate identity lies in being “good church goers.” It involves
“accepting Jesus as our Savior.” It means “sound” preaching and
believing the “right” doctrines. Our primary concern becomes “doing
church right.” So if we hold to the right doctrines and preach
expositionally and worship in the right way and refrain from evil
practices, we are “good Christians.” Jesus, on the other hand, came
to inaugurate the kingdom of God. In the Jesus paradigm, our
ultimate identity lies in being kingdom builders. His kingdom now
becomes our focus. Jesus bids us to enter the kingdom and follow
Him. In this kingdom, denominations and church loyalty ultimately
mean nothing. His was never a kingdom of earthly power, status, and
influence to begin with.
Nick Norelli, book reviewer par excellence, has just done it
again. Read his review of
Canaan to Corinth. Nick just made my life more complicated, however. I now have to include this monograph in the final chapter
of my revised Paul, Apostle of Weakness (in which I deal with the
topos of weak/strong in Corinth).
P.S. For a complete
list of Nick's outstanding reviews, go
Many of our churches
have always been committed to missions – globally and locally. Our
challenge to be missional takes those strategies and places them in
the hands of every church member and asks them to be a missionary
where they are day to day. See, being missional is primarily a way
of thinking about the church and how it relates to the world.
(Note: Please ignore the comment of my
colleague Bruce Ashford about Matt's beautiful head.)
My sincere apologies to Brian Fulthorp for causing him such
mental distress. On the other hand, a little cognitive dissonance
ain't necessarily a bad thing!
you are a blogger and would like a gratis copy of
Why Four Gospels? for review, just let me know and I'll get the book
in the mail. That's true even if you live Down Under :-)
Well, did you read the essay by Warfield on the emotions of Jesus I
linked to below? If not, you missed a huge blessing. Did you notice how
Jesus handled disappointment? Did you see what He did when He was moved
with compassion -- or anger? He kept on serving others. It's just
that simple. He took a towel and water and basin and washed the feet of
people. He thought of others more than He thought of self.
I needed that
reminder today. The music had gone out of my life. My singing was
suffering. I have great reason to thank Jesus for His example. Just
think: Deity stooping to drudgery! Whenever I am sad, when the pain
seems unbearable, my God is able to make all grace to abound, but
nothing under the sun can be as dry and flat and graceless as grace
without service, grace that does not glorify God nor help anyone else.
This is what we are
here for. In body and in spirit, whether we are glad or sad, in sickness
or health, our business is to glorify God just as Jesus glorified His
Father -- by doing His will and serving others.
I have a confession to make. For years I failed to understand the power
of Satan to derail the work of God in Ethiopia. Yes, I knew that an
eternal battle was raging between Christ and the devil. But I severely
underestimate the severity and depth of the conflict.
Not any more.
In recent days we
have seen how the devil operates. He is unspeakably cruel. He is cunning
beyond all imagination. And he has unseen hosts of evil at his disposal.
The Bible declares him to be:
the god of this world
the prince of the power of the
the ruler of this world
a strong man, fully armed
a murderer from the beginning
a roaring lion, seeking someone
Today, Satan is
attacking along the front lines of the church in Ethiopia. The problem
is much more then a clash of religions. The problem is diabolical.
Its outward and visible manifestations vary. There might be open
persecution. Or there might be internal dissension and carnality. Either
way, these conflicts and issues are matters of the heart, the will, the
conscience. In other words, our battle, again, is spiritual. It
does not take place in a geographical location but in the most
treacherous depths of our hearts.
This great truth
brings with it an important lesson for me. Even though we can never
succeed in destroying the devil, we can aim for his withdrawal. "Submit
yourselves to God," wrote James. "Resist the devil, and he will flee
from you." God promises that the devil can be turned back, if only
temporarily. What's more, although we should expect attacks as being
usual, we can also also accept them as being usable-- if we allow them
to help us grow our spiritual muscle. Happy the Christian who sees every
attack, every trial, every setback as a means to that great end!
Church in Ethiopia,
as you face the trials, temptations, and pressures of living in
this evil world, may you have it as your settled aim in life to always
seek God's approval in all you do. The battle with the devil is
life-long. He will attack us as long as we live. May we, then, lead a
"life that is worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him" (Col. 1:10),
regardless of the temporary outcome.
Quote of the day:
This is revolution by
Twitter and revolution by Facebook, and technology long ago took
away the dismal rules of censorship.
interested in this subject, you should read an essay by B. B.
Warfield entitled "The Emotional Life of Our Lord." Unfortunately,
it's not included in the 2-volume "Selected Shorter Writings" but it
might be online somewhere.
Sure enough, the entire essay is
Mark students, you might want to take a look at it. Here's a sampler:
It is Mark, for
instance, who tells us explicitly (iii. 5) that the insensibility of
the Jews to human suffering exhibited in a tendency to put ritual
integrity above humanity, filled Jesus with indignant anger. A man
whose hand had withered, met with in the synagogue one Sabbath,
afforded a sort of test-case. The Jews treated it as such and
“watched Jesus whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, that
they might accuse him.” Jesus accepted the challenge. Commanding the
man to “rise in the midst” of the assemblage, he put to them the
searching question, generalizing the whole case: “Is it lawful to do
good or to do evil on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” “But,”
says the narrative, “they kept silent.” Then Jesus’ anger rose: “he
looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of
their heart.” What is meant is, not that his anger was modified by
grief, his reprobation of the hardness of their hearts was mingled
with a sort of sympathy for men sunk in such a miserable condition.
What is meant is simply that the spectacle of their hardness of
heart produced in him the deepest dissatisfaction, which passed into
Read Will Rice's tribute to his Lab
Bohdi. As a dog lover, I
know exactly how you feel, Will. Enjoy the memories.
Claire Patty reviews a wonderful missionary biography:
Evidence Not Seen. She writes:
Darlene's faith in this book
completely overwhelms me. She constantly sought Jesus throughout her
whole journey and never once failed to trust in Him as her Deliverer
and Friend. Though she was almost starved, was working well beyond
her own strength, and was emotionally and physically exhausted, she
always knew her Savior was there for her.
I need to get this one. B and I have just finished reading Hudson
Taylor's bio. What a blessing good biographies are.
To the author of
I Hate Greek Exegesis: I feel your pain. In fact, I've often
inflicted it, I'm sure! Please let us profs know what we can do to
improve our classes and make studying Greek more interesting. We're not
I love this kind of "bar raising":
On another note,
speaking of young adults, we had an 18-year-old lead our Wednesday
evening service last night at church. His name is Justin Gourley. He
taught from Hebrews chapter 2, verses 1-4. Daunting passage! Yet, he
handled it wonderfully! He had prepared, studied, prayed and poured
much time into “studying to show himself approved” and was an
excellent teacher. Thanks so much Justin!
Why would I turn
the pulpit over to an 18-year-old? Because I’m raising the bar.
Today I immersed myself in Mark chapter 2. Translated every verse,
parsed all 121 verb forms that occur, and read through R. T. France's
commentary. Also outlined the chapter (with my own paragraph titles).
Why did I do this? Because this is the assignment for my students next
week, and I do not expect them to do anything I have not done first.
I've also asked them to read
Rethinking the Synoptic Problem and
Why Four Gospels? for next week -- which I also re-read in their
Wow, that latter book is pretty convincing!
Becky and I are in the planning stages of our trip out west to take one
last nostalgic look at places that are deep in our hearts and memories.
Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Canyon de Chelly, Hobson Park, Tamarisk
Grove, Cuyamaca. We especially miss the deserts of Arizona and
California. Right now I'm trying to put together our itinerary and
arrange our camper rental. I think I just found the perfect vehicle.
Can't you just see us tooling around the country in this beauty?
(Shhh, don't tell Becky -- it's a surprise.)
Rondeaus, eat your heart out. Papa B is cooking Chinese food for supper
tonight. By popular demand, mind you.
Staats was a NT
scholar but he had the Waltke style of teaching. No english bible,
thank-you, even though the class was listed in the catalog as
Amen to that. Any time I teach so-called
English Bible classes I keep finding my Greek New Testament in my hands
rather than any modern English translation. Actually, in my opinion, no
seminary should offer English Bible classes, period.
Here are two verses I pondered this morning (Eccl. 10:6-7):
Stupid people are given positions
of authority while rich men are ignored. I have seen slaves on
horseback while noblemen go on foot like slaves.
What a strange
paradox: Servants on horses, and princes walking around like servants.
The equestrians have become servants and the pedestrians rulers.
I thank God for
those in my life who were willing to walk now and ride later. History is
full of them -- men and women content to live in obscurity. Many of them
were my former teachers. Posterity may fail to recognize them, but I
will never forget the impact they made on my life simply because they
got down on my level. On the other hand, I've seen incompetent,
inefficient men elevated to high positions. They have their reward,
I suppose. But I'd much rather see a prince on foot than a flunky on
P.S. For once I
would like to see a chapel speaker whose congregation numbers under 50
yet who is as faithful to the Lord Jesus as any mega-church pastor.
Just accepted my first Ed.D. student at SEBTS. I love education and
The news we've been waiting for:
Becky's Cyber Knife procedure at UNC has been scheduled, starting next
Friday at 12:00 for a "dry run" (simulation), followed up by the real
thing probably early the following week. God has been so good to us. May
not one single complaint or murmur ever come from our lips!
At least two of you have chimed in about my question about the verb
ekballo in Mark 1:12.
The present tense of [ekballo]
in Mark 1:12 is used in its discourse function of marking the
beginning of a new paragraph; the time reference is past. Despite
Mark’s usual use of this compound verb in reference to exorcising
demons (10 of 16 occurrences), [ekballo] need not have any
connotation of force (the word has a fairly wide semantic range;
BDAG, s.v. [ekballo], 299.2); contra Marcus: “the violent
action of the Spirit” (Mark, AB, 234, see also 167).
I think the answer
lies in what the authors are trying to communicate. I think Matthew
has a purpose. I think Mark has a purpose. And, I think Luke has a
purpose. And, John as well. When you compare how each of the
synoptic authors presents Jesus' means of arrival into the
wilderness for his temptations, the authorial intentions are seen
very clearly. Matt. 4:1 reads: [ho Iesous anechthe eis ten eremon].
The use of the verb [anagomai] demonstrates that Jesus was
"led up" to the wilderness. This verb is very fitting for Matthew's
gospel which is presenting Jesus as the Messiah, the rightful heir
to the Davidic throne. That theme is clearly seen even in the
introductory geneology [sic]. Thrice David is mentioned (Mt. 1:1,
6). Like a king, Jesus is led up to the wilderness. Mark's gospel
presents Jesus, not as a king, but as the servant of God (see Mk.
10:45). You know, I actually lend myself to the translation of [ekballo]
in Mk. 1:12 as "cast out." There is quite a few uses throughout Mark
where this is the understanding. The prefixed preposition with the
verb has the meaning elsewhere in the gospel. I think Mark is trying
to communicate that Jesus is cast out into the wildnerness [sic]
like a slave.
Thomas also discusses how the verb is
translated in the major Spanish versions of the Bible. I was also
curious to see how French and German translations handle this matter:
Louis Segond: "l'Esprit
poussa Jésus dans le désert"
Luther Bibel: "alsbald trieb
ihn der Geist in die Wüste"
Any other thoughts? For what it's
worth, I tend to side with Thomas on this one, though I might prefer a
term like "compel" (NLT) over "push/drive."
Don't forget: The irrepressible Michael Green (author of Evangelism
Through the Local Church and many other
books) is a keynote speaker at this year's 20/20 conference on
campus. The dates are Feb. 4-5. For information go
On Tuesday next we'll be looking at the first-class textual variant in
Mark 1:41. Was Jesus "moved with compassion" or was he "moved with
anger"? In 1999, M. A.
Proctor wrote a doctoral dissertation at Baylor defending the latter
reading: "The 'Western' Text of Mark 1:41: A Case for the Angry Jesus."
To me, the external evidence is sufficient to show the originality of
the reading "moved with compassion," and I will argue such in class.
However, I want to use this variant as a launching pad into a broader
discussion of the emotions of Jesus -- emotions that seem to be
highlighted in Mark's (Peter's) Gospel. We'll also take into account
Matthew's statement that has Jesus condemning, not all anger, but only
"causeless" anger (Matt. 5:22). Here again there is a major
textual variant, and once again I have sided with the minority in
defending the authenticity of the little adverb "without a cause." If
you would a like .pdf copy of my Novum Testamentum article in
which I discuss Matt. 5:22, I'd be happy to send it you via email
attachment. Simply write to me at
Evangelical scholarship, to a very great degree, offers few challenges
to the shopworn views of the academy. Instead, it tends to affirm,
almost without exception, everything we've been taught for decades. This
is true of the synoptic problem. The place of a seminary is obvious. I
want my students to face serious challenges to their presumptions, even
if this threatens the shibboleths of their upbringing.
Tuesday in our Mark class we had a lengthy discussion about Mark's style
and diction. Along this line, take a look at this
well-written essay on Markan style. The peroratio is
The stylistic features here strongly
suggest a Gospel that is to be read in a rush, with an emphasis on
the oral performer’s gestures and tone of voice to bring out special
emphases. Alongside the present or continuous past tense and
repetition of immediately”, they suggest a Gospel to be read at a
single performance, at a fast pace, but not without dramatic pauses.
And all in Everyman’s everyday speech.
Tuesday we'll continue the discussion of Mark's somewhat peculiar style
by examining what the
Fathers had to say about this Gospel.
I have no problem whatever with self-educated pastors and church
leaders, not at all. But if you are going to claim you have a doctorate,
please be so kind as to tell us where you received your degree, even if
it is a
diploma mill in India.
Just prayed for the saints in Alaba, and their persecutors. I remain
more deeply committed to the work there than ever before. When they
suffer, it is my suffering also. But there is hope:
The Lord of
Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge (Psalm 46:7).
Wonderful sentiment from a wonderful New Testament scholar of yesteryear
(J. Gresham Machen):
From the beginning,
Christianity was certainly a way of life; the salvation that it
offered was a salvation from sin, and salvation from sin appeared
not merely in a blessed hope but also in an immediate moral change.
The early Christians, to the astonishment of their neighbors, lived
a strange new kind of life—a life of honesty, of purity and of
unselfishness. And from the Christian community all other types of
life were excluded in the strictest way. From the beginning
Christianity was certainly a life.
Bec's up! She had something to eat (I made her some Jell-O and macaroni
and cheese), sent out an email to our private Ethiopia update list about
the persecution in Alaba, and is now sipping some hot tea while watching
an episode of Wagon Train. The quiet around here, however, is
deafening. Seems a bit of laryngitis has set in.
When you say your
prayers tonight, please ask God to help Becky's sore throat to improve,
Was Jesus "pushed" into the wildness by the Spirit to be tested by
Satan? One writer
seems to think so:
Before Jesus can begin
his ministry, the Holy Spirit leads him (in Mark's Gospel he is
pushed) out into the wilderness.
The Greek verb here is ekballo.
The text says that the Spirit "ekballoed" Jesus into the wilderness
(Mark 1:12). The same verb is used to describe the way Jesus would "cast
out" (ekballo) demons. It seems to be a strong term, but did the
Spirit have to force ("push") Jesus to submit to temptation? The
Message has, "At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the
What do you think? How would you
translate ekballo in Mark 1:12?
Substitute teaching is a thankless job that requires gobs of patience.
But nothing prepares you for the classroom quite like it. So my hat's
off to Alex Stewart for subbing for me today in my Greek class while I
was at UNC. Hope you enjoyed the students as much as I do!
Students in my exegesis of Mark class will definitely want to check out
this new book.
Love this quote about teaching (Donald
If a doctor, lawyer,
or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had
different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were
causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without
assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for
nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom
Becky and I are so pleased with our thoracic surgeon at UNC. He tells us
that everything went well today. He implanted 6 gold fiducials without
any trouble, so now we await word from the radiology department for our
next "hot date" at UNC for Cyber Knife. Right now Becky is resting
comfortably -- a little sore but doing fine. As always, she brightened
up every room she went into today and even had a chance to pray with one
of the hospital staff. Ministry is ministry, regardless of the location.
Thanks a whole
bunch for your intercession on our behalf!
Off to UNC on a wing and a prayer. Becky's cancer in her lungs is now in
4 of the 5 lobes. Her brochoscopy today is greatly needed.
What my trips to Ethiopia have taught me:
Practical Christian fellowship
calls for help when it is needed and not merely when it is asked
Believers are, and always will
be, saints together, regardless of race, nationality,
political affiliation, or denomination. Yes, I said denomination.
If I want to serve God I must
never dash ahead of Him in impetuous enthusiasm nor lag behind Him
in double-minded unbelief.
Only when I apply the truth to my
own life diligently can I prove my Christian discipleship to others,
I must live sacrificially
for others. Only then can I can rightly reflect the one who "though
He was rich yet for our sakes became poor so that we through His
poverty might become rich."
Missionary work is non-stop,
24/7. To call Sunday the "Lord's Day" doesn't mean that the other
days belong to me.
Spiritual warfare is never easy,
and we are likely to get hurt. But the final victory is ours.
P.S. Missions is nothing other than
the this-worldly part of church life. The church does not have
missions. It is missions.
Have you noticed just how many verbs in Mark's Gospel contain
prepositional prefix morphemes -- many of them used with an intensifying
force? Simply amazing.
The rain has just started to fall. Yep. I said rain and not snow. Maybe
our "mild" winter is finally coming to an end.
Northwest Nazarene University announces an opening in
You gotta love our registrar Sheldon Alexander. He moved my smallish
Greek exegesis class from a large, impersonal classroom to a comfortable
conference room -- in my own building to boot! -- at the drop of a hat.
That man will do anything for his faculty. What a gem.
Shout out and a big thank you to my assistant Andy Bowden for being
willing to calculate my final grades from J-term for me today. How he
manages to get anything done when he has such a
baby is beyond me.
Eric Carpenter wants to abolish hierarchical leadership in the church.
his reasons. What do you think?
For me, the New
Testament is clear about such matters. In New Testament Christianity,
leadership was provided through qualified plural elders who never
constituted a separate class from the so-called laity and who were
chosen from "among the people." Moreover, their job was not to do the
work of ministry but to equip God's people for works of service. Eric's
goal is clear: to mobilize the whole people of God to do the work of the
ministry (Eph. 4:12) -- and a growing chorus of New Testament
scholarship has begun to affirm his position.
Great news! We have insurance approval for Becky's procedures at UNC.
What an answer to prayer and a reminder that God can be trusted to take
care of us. This whole ordeal has forced me to stop trusting in my own
power, ability, eloquence, enthusiasm, courage, and sufficiency and to
trust instead in the all-sufficient grace of God.
So the next step
begins tomorrow morning at 6:30 sharp at UNC. The surgeon will implant
Becky's fiducials in preparation for the Cyber Knife procedure (to take
place probably late next week). It's all in God's hands. He knows the
outcome; I don't. But this I do know: Through 19 months of turbulence,
we have continued to be sustained by God's presence and to continually
experience His power, purpose, provision, and protection. Our
circumstances may change, but God never does. I once was incurably proud
of my ability to cope. Not any more!
Praise be to God.
As many of you know, Becky and I have had the privilege of going to
Ethiopia twice yearly since 2004 to serve God's church in that great
nation. (B was raised there.) We have adopted an intentionally
cooperative philosophy of missions -- that is, we work side-by-side with
the existing church in Ethiopia and merely come alongside and do
whatever we can to help it. We do not plant "our" churches. This is not
merely a matter of personal taste with us. It is a spiritual issue. By
choosing to work with the existing Body of Christ in Ethiopia, our goal
is to bring believers there and believers in America together as equals.
When Jesus said,
"This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you,"
we see that true love involves the sacrifice of self on behalf of
others. It means being willing to deny our own ambitions, anything in
fact that centers on self, for the blessing and good of others. We are
called upon to forfeit things that we might consider perfectly
legitimate in order that others may find their way to Jesus.
In this regard,
Becky's latest essay at our home page will bring you up to date on what
the Lord Jesus is doing in Ethiopia. It's called
2011 Ethiopia Focus Points.
Among other things, it highlights the glorious work of Bible
As you read it,
remember that as Christians we are never called upon to match Jesus'
love. But we are called upon to mirror it, and to do so as a constant
pattern of life. Perhaps Becky's essay will be a starting point for your
involvement in the work of the Lord Jesus in Ethiopia. Others of you
have already been faithfully supporting the church there. Either way,
whether Ethiopia or some other nation, let us all learn to reflect the
love of Christ by sacrificing self for the blessing of others!
William Barclay tells the following story. Someone was once talking to a
great scholar about a younger man. He said, "So-and-so tells me he was
one of your students." The teacher answered devastatingly, "He may have
attended my classes, but he was not one of my students."
What do I want my
students to learn from me this semester? Among other things, that:
Knowledge without obedience is
Saving faith is always working
Greek is essential but not the
Open Sesame of interpretation.
argue theology with me if you are blind to the lost people all
around you who are dying and going to hell.
God is best glorified not when we
talk about "Christian hedonism"
but when the Body of Christ rallies around a hurting person and
serves him or her with the love of Jesus. (Words are cheap.)
Life is a mission trip. Take it!
(I stole this one from my colleague Alvin Reid.)
As an educator, I
love watching the Master Teacher at work. Jesus called His disciples not
only to learn the truth from Him but to be with Him. In other
words, truth can't be learned in a classroom. Jesus called Peter not
merely because He wanted to teach truth to Peter but because He
wanted to model truth for Peter. In other words:
Christian Education = Likeness Education.
If you don't
believe me, just read Luke 6:40.
Alright DBO readers, it's high time you increased your vocabulary.
Here's your new word for the day:
Derived from the
Greek, it means something like "The moment when you suddenly get a
Want to try it out?
Heard of the lady
who dressed up her dog as a mailman at Halloween?
He bit himself.
B's test is over and all went well. Lord willing on Wednesday she'll
have the fiducials implanted. UNC will call us tomorrow with the
was waiting for Becky I had the delight of completing what I think is
possibly the most enjoyable crossword puzzle I have ever done, and I've
done thousands of them through the years. This from the Los Angeles
Times. The four longest questions were these:
Comfortable situation to live in,
Low paying but rewarding project
Minnesota-based dairy cooperative
"Like that's going to work!"
Lap of luxury
Labor of love
Land o' lakes
Lots of luck
But here was the
clincher. Question 41 across read "Cyberchuckle, and a hint to this
puzzle's four longest answers."
The answer, of
My poor wife. Has been without food or beverage since last night. And
now she gets to drink that oh-so "delicious" contrast in preparation for
her scan. Not to worry: I'll be there to cheer her on -- and to wine and
dine her afterwards!
(Okay, we'll skip the wine part.)
Thanks for all your
For the believer, dying is gain, and to depart and be with Christ is far
better. For the unbeliever, the most practical thing to do is to prepare
for the one engagement he or she is certain to keep.
Speaking of Mark...
Matthew and John seem to be holding their own, while Luke is on the
rise. Poor Mark, though. The man is sinking!
Have you honestly prayed about where
the Lord Jesus would have you serve, beginning in your own community?
Every one of us has a role to play.
A brief reminder to my Exegesis of Mark students. A large part of our
study will concentrate on the apostle Peter, whose words are recorded in
Mark's Gospel. Peter's life can be divided into three parts:
His training (the Gospels)
His testimony (Acts)
His teaching (1-2 Peter and Mark)
Every pericope will
be analyzed from this perspective. For example, we will ask, Why did
Peter omit any mention of his brother Andrew leading him to Christ?
That event is recorded only by John. Perhaps meeting Christ was
not as important to Peter as following Christ was. Moreover, for
the double and triple tradition passages be sure to bring along your
harmony of the Gospels in English or, better, your Greek synopsis.
A final suggestion:
Read books about Peter's life if you can. The two best are:
I love the apostle
Peter. His weaknesses are our weaknesses. And his potential is ours as
Quote of the day (Becky Black):
So often now, the
teachers in our churches are simply reading a quarterly teacher's
manual. Dull, boring, lifeless, monotonous reading. A true teacher
is sharing with the student what he himself has learned to be
true. The teacher has studied the information, has obeyed the truth
in his own life, and is excited about pointing others to the truth.
His enthusiasm is contagious. He is constantly motivating his
students to go deeper. And his integrity underlies his words to his
Last night it was a cold minus 29 degrees
in Speculator, NY. Brrrr. Stay warm, Rondeaus!
The Bible is not a cafeteria line in which we move along with our tray,
taking whatever satisfaction we crave.
Heard the one about the man who wrote a love letter every day to his
sweetheart for 6 months and she ended up marrying the mailman? She had
gotten to know the latter better than her suitor.
Students, our goal
this semester is not to know about Jesus. It is to know Him!
Before I spoke last night I requested testimonies. They do us a great
service in the Body!
As people shared their stories of God's faithfulness and care, all of us
were reminded that Christians were meant to constitute a community
characterized not by its formulas, rituals, ceremonies, or sermons but
by quality of life. Amen!
What a great day it's been.
Tonight I feel led to teach from Luke 3:23, which says that Jesus was
about 30 years of age when He was "starting out" in life. I'll talk
about Eric Erickson's "Age Thirty Transition," apply it to Jesus' life,
and then drive it home for us today. Along the way we'll look at Jesus'
occupation ("builder," not "carpenter"), His baptism at the hands of
John (and the aorist tense verb eudokesa -- "You are My Son,"
says the Father, "whom I love, and Son, what you just did made me very
happy!"), and the need to rebuild our priority system, just as Jesus did
at the age of 30. I asked B to stay home tonight; she has a hugely busy
week ahead of her and needs to conserve her strength. It kicks off
tomorrow with her scan at UNC.
By the way, of the
last 10 sermons you heard, how many of them can you remember and what
were they about?
During our talk this morning Becky quoted from Roger Steer's outstanding
biography of Hudson Taylor.
Listen to the words of the great missionary to China:
China is not to be won for Christ
by ease-loving men and women.... The stamp of men and women we need
is such as will put Jesus, China, souls, first and foremost in
everything and at every time -- even life itself must be
secondary.... Of such men, and such women, do not fear to send us
too many. They are more precious than rubies.
I say this to you
in love but if you are not passionate about the Gospel -- if being a
Great Commission Christian is not what your life is all about -- than
you are dead.
Becky and I have
one all-consuming desire: to invest our resources and strength in the
Gospel without resting or letting up, until Jesus returns or calls us
home. We have no desire to go back to the "good old days" of doing
missions in Ethiopia, when the missionaries did all the work. We long to
come alongside our brothers and sisters there and to cooperate with them
in Christ's matchless kingdom in any way they may wish. The key is to
get up off our pews (and our duffs) and accomplish the work that God has
called all of us to do, if we are truly His obedient followers.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it takes financial sacrifice. And no, you do NOT need to be
supported by others to become involved. B and I are completely
self-supporting in the work we do in Ethiopia so that every cent that
comes to us for Ethiopia goes to where the real needs are. Yes, you will
have to say goodbye to distractions in your life. You will have to say
goodbye to your "right" to take vacations. You will have to leave
comfort behind. Did Jesus ever take a vacation?
biography quotes the following poem from the great missionary. It says
it better than I ever could:
Who spoke of rest? There is rest
above. No rest on earth for me. On, on to do my Father's business.
He, who sent me here, appointed me my time on earth to bide, and set
me all my work to do for Him, He will supply me with sufficient
grace -- grace to be doing, to be suffering, not to be resting.
There is rest above.
Rise up, Oh men (and women) of God!
Be done with lesser things! Give heart and mind and soul and strength to
serve the King of kings!
Off to talk about the glory of the Lord in Ethiopia. Nothing I'd rather
Is the style of a New Testament document inspired? If so, do different
styles in the Greek New Testament require different styles of
translation into English? For example, as I translate through Mark I
find certain passages to be anything but lackluster in terms of
rhetorical style. Any account of poetic effectiveness or literariness
must, I should think, influence the way we translate the Gospel in terms
of impact and appeal on the audience. After all, style is
In the ISV New
Testament an attempt was made to produce in sonorous and poetic English
at least certain portions
of the New Testament (the Christ hymns or the 5 "faithful sayings," for
example) -- that is, passages whose literary quality is unquestioned. (Liars
ever/men of Crete/savage brutes/that live to eat.) In doing so, I
discovered that producing a literary translation is not simple. It will
be interesting to see whether there is a ready and willing receptor
constituency that will appreciative such an approach when the ISV is
published later this year.
But back to my
question: Admitting that there is always some loss in translating from
language to another, should Bible translators pay greater attention to
the rhetorical techniques in Hebrew and Greek? After all, in poetic
language, all of the possibilities of language are exploited to
Becky and I just spent a delightful evening with Thomas and Lesly
Hugdins. Thomas is a former student of mine and is on his way to El
Salvador to become the director of a seminary there. After a fantastic
supper prepared by Miss Becky, we did a little theological deep-sea
diving in the library, focusing on what it means to be "obedient" to the
Holy Spirit of God, rather than simply trying to play the game of being
a Christian. Surely this is the real heart of what it means to be a
Christ-follower. We are accepted in the Beloved, we have fellowship with
the Father and with His Son, and we have His Holy Spirit to guide us
into all truth, every single moment of every day. Nothing is taught more
firmly or frequently in Scripture than the fact that
Jesus + Nothing = Everything --
a great blog title, if you ask me.
surely, is loud and clear. The simple and inescapable truth of the New
Testament is that there is only one key to living the Christian life and
that is abiding in Christ. This is obvious, but it is rarely practiced
because we are trying so hard to be "good Christians." Every believer
should rejoice in the fact that the only way in which we are able to
live a God-pleasing life is that, in His great mercy, the Lord gives us
sensitivity to hear and understand His Spirit. Every Christian should
seek to develop that kind of sensitivity and pray for an increased
ability to recognize the voice of the Lord in his or her life.
Thomas and Lesly,
nuestros queridos, as you leave for El Salvador, our love and
prayers go with you. We are overwhelmed by your love for us but
especially for the Lord Jesus. Until He returns, may He find you
faithful -- and obedient.
ordained by God for those would follow Jesus in obedience. The New
Testament consistently describes the benefits that persecution can have
in our lives. Persecution tests our faith. Through it we grow stronger.
Our duty is to seek His will, not to ask for relief from persecution.
The first chapter of Mark's Gospel has, within its 45 verses, 160 verb
forms. I should know. I just made a list of them for my Greek exegesis
class that starts on Tuesday. The plan is to cover all 45 verses in
three hours. If you think that will be a challenge, what ever are we
going to do when we get to chapter 14 (which has 72 verses)?
The dogs insisted on taking me for a long walk today.
We strode along the farm paths and down into the valley, where some of
the Angus greeted us.
I had a nice conversation with the cows. They mooed while I talked. We
have a saying here on the farm: "It is impossible to worry when you're
Fellow Areopagus author
reviewsChristianity: The First Three Thousand Years by
Diarmaid MacCulloch. No,
"Three Thousand" is not a typo.
For Jesus, one of the
biggest failings of his people was the decision not to reject
violence but rather to utilize it as a tool in an attempt to bring
in God's Kingdom. Time and time again, Jesus continued to insist
that God's people could not be a light to the nations if they
insisted on beating the nations over the head.
We're excited about these upcoming speaking engagements this week:
1) Tomorrow Becky
and I are giving an Ethiopia report at Ca-Vel Baptist in Roxboro.
Service begins at 11:00. Lots of stories and pix, as well as an update
on the persecution in Alaba.
2) In the evening
service at Ca-Vel I've been asked to "preach," which in my book means
"teach." As usual, I'll just open my (Greek) New Testament and let her
3) On Friday I'll
be speaking at Cary Christian
School in Cary, NC from 11:00-12:00 noon. I've been asked to address
the history of the transmission of the text of the New Testament,
"errors" in the Bible, and the value of learning Greek. I am honored
that they use my beginning grammar to teach Greek at CCS.
Of course, spring
semester classes begin for me on Tuesday. Excited for a fresh start and
No controversy has been more overworked these days than the one over
modern Bible translations. It is thought a crowning virtue to be
opinionated about what is the "best" translation. But no translation of
the Bible is perfect. (This includes the
ISV of course.) There is much
artificial whipped-up enthusiasm among Christians today who have found
the "perfect" translation that "finally gets it right." The same
enthusiasm can be worked up by a cheerleader for "slave" over "servant."
Tie that to a book promotion and you have a possible recipe for
One of the
distressing developments in our superficial church culture is a cheap
familiarity with New Testament Greek. It is fashionable to give the
impression that we (and we alone) know what the Greek really
says. I have sometimes referred to this as "evangelical Greek" or, in my
less sanctified moments, "philological voodoo." There is no place in
evangelical biblical scholarship for the frivolous approach by which we
claim for ourselves an inerrant understanding of Scripture. None of us
who has labored in the task of Bible translation is ever worthy to claim
perfection for our product. That includes me, and it includes you.
I will say it to my
shame: I have been guilt of such nonsense myself. Perhaps I still am.
But I want to do better.
To read Part 2 of Paul Himes' excellent series on verbal aspect theory,
Billy Graham on
aging. Wise advice indeed.
My, my. Now we have the Ehrman Project. Friends, it's not about Bart.
Nor is the heart of the matter biblical criticism in my humble opinion.
I was once asked to
debate Bart on our campus by a group of student apologists. I told them
I would agree to the debate on two conditions:
1) Bart would be
paid exactly what I would be paid for participating. (In other words, we
would both waive our speakers' fees. Of course, I do not have a fee. His
is considerable. Since I was willing to waive my "fee," would Bart be
willing to do the same with his? After all, student groups are as poor
as church mice.)
2) The debate would
not focus on biblical criticism. (If you want that kind of stuff, go to
You Tube.) Instead, I proposed that Bart and I have a friendly
conversation about our spiritual pilgrimages. How could the two of us --
who come from very similar backgrounds (he studied at Moody, I at Biola;
he took a prestigious doctorate at Princeton, I at Basel; he has written
primers on New Testament textual criticism, New Testament introduction,
as have I) -- have ended up so far apart in terms of our relationship
with Jesus? In other words, how is it possible for two students of the
New Testament to confront the very same set of facts (e.g., there are
variants in the New Testament text) and for one of them to lose his
faith as a result and for the other to be strengthened in his?
On Tuesday I will begin my
twenty-fourth semester of teaching at SEBTS. My thanks, first of all, to
all the students who've made the journey so enjoyable. But I have to add
how much I appreciate the administration and entire staff here as well.
Just one example: Our registrar was able to have tables installed in my
classroom. This makes writing so much easier than using small desks.
After all, that's our goal: to make the learning experience here as
beneficial and productive for students as possible. I remember
requesting to offer evening Greek courses; the request was approved. I
recall requesting to offer Greek during J-term; the request was
approved. I remember requesting that all three semesters of Greek be
offered during summer school; we now offer each of these classes every
summer. I have never worked with a faculty and staff that was more
committed to serving our student body than this one.
AMThe upcoming Ethiopia
mission trip will involve a great of preparation. Mission trips are like
that. I'll never forget my first trip with Becky. The year was 1978, and
we had been married only 2 years. Off to (West) Germany we went, but not
before preparation. Our orientation took place among the hallowed halls
of Wheaton College in Illinois, which Great Europe Mission used for
training purposes. Not a single one of us short-termers begrudged our
time in Wheaton. The goal of our orientation was 3-fold, as I recall: to
reduce the stress upon our arrival in Germany, to help us avoid making
needless cultural gaffes, and to bind us together as a team. My own team
of missionaries (I played trumpet on a brass octet that did evangelism)
needed to be reminded that shoddiness was unacceptable. Hence we
practiced and practiced until we could play our music almost flawlessly.
Some of us who could speak German also practiced our testimonies with
each other. I memorized mine. It began, "Hat die Musik Ihnen gut
gefallen?" That line was, hopefully, the entrée into a discussion about
Jesus and the Gospel. The team's tuba player and I eventually developed
a very close friendship. Our team also discussed the do's and don'ts of
All this to say: do not overlook
preparation when it comes to missions. And the most important
preparation of all is spiritual.
AMOnce again, a noted buffoon
displays his haughtiness by mocking the Chinese. His infantile ramblings
Oops, I forgot – he is above reproach
since his talent "is on loan from God."
Hold to this [the
first commandment to put God first in your life], and the beast in
the heart has no power. The present loses its confusions, the future
its terrors, and death itself is but the opening of a door.
shalt have no other gods before me."
That is the law of
life and happiness and courage. Courage himself, God the Lion,
stands beside us to help us live by it. Whatever we desire, whatever
we love, whatever we find worth suffering for, will be Dead Sea
fruit in our mouths unless we remember that God comes first.
In the midst of this maddening world I
must indeed remember that "God comes first." It is easy – so easy! – to
make a god out of a person, including one's own wife. It is no
exaggeration to say that this placing of our spouse on a pedestal is
nothing but idolatry. Lewis, perhaps, did this with Joy at times, and
perhaps I am guilty of doing the same thing with Becky Lynn.
It was therefore a good reminder to
read Joy's words:
Hold to this [the
first commandment to put God first in your life], and the beast in
the heart has no power.
Becky's illness has been nothing but a blessing to us. It has had, to
put it mildly, a powerful impact on our marriage. It has forced us to
reconsider our life's priorities, to communicate on deeper levels than I
ever thought possible, and to look beneath the surface of life and
discover the roots of our own reason for being. "It is not good for the
man to be alone," said the Creator. "I will make him a helper suitable
for me." These words describe, not a superficial relationship, but one
characterized by deep love and fulfillment.
Before we were married, Becky and I
dated sporadically for almost three years. It seemed that she was always
available. I loved being with her. She was always encouraging. She was
easy to talk to. She has always had a deep relationship with her God and
has never looked to me for her ultimate happiness. Today it is the same
– only better.
To the young person who may be reading
this blog, I say: your mate will not always be that 25-year old you
married. She will change, and so will you. But a funny thing happens on
the path to seasoned citizenship – you realize that you have the
potential to change into someone even better. Along the way you will
meet wives and husbands so content in their relationship with God and
with each other that they are able to live happily in circumstances as
they are. I imagine Jack and Joy Lewis found that to be true in their
marriage. And, by the grace of the same God they knew and loved, I too
am finding that to be a pleasant reality.
We've got about 2,600 rocks lying around the seminary. Peter calls them
"living stones." His analogy is significant. "When you become a
Christian," he says, "you become a living stone. Don't just lie around
as solitary stones but become part of the building." Of course, the
Building of Christ is far from perfect, but a thousand stones lying
around on a building site are of no value at all. Find your place in the
kingdom, and get working!
Here's one of the
"stones" at SEBTS I get to work with. Yesterday he passed his Ph.D.
orals with flying colors and now he begins the dissertation phrase of
his studies. A hearty congratulations, then, to Mike Rudolph. I hope the
seminary's stone masons weren't too hard on you!
From left to right:
Black, Rudolph, Kellum, Beck.
Today marks the end of my 3-week J-term class at the seminary. According
to my grade book, I think we did okay. But Greek is more than grades. My
students worked hard, and with a joyful attitude. That made it all
It's moments like
this when I look around in amazement at what I'm part of. To know that
many thousands of people invested in this place so that followers of
Jesus could be trained in the biblical languages. (Training, by the way,
that has an even greater ultimate goal: obedience to Christ's commands.)
Just to make things interesting, for some reason the spring semester
began yesterday, which meant that some of our professors ended up
teaching 2 classes at the same time. (Our profs aren't omnipresent but
they can be ubiquitous when the need arises.) As for this prof, I'm
definitely tired, but there's something so wonderful that takes place in
the classroom that it defies my best efforts to describe it. Three weeks
ago my students couldn't tell the difference between an alpha and an
omega. Now their heads are brimming with ideas. I thank God profusely
for this transformation, and ask Him to help them put all of this
knowledge to good use in the kingdom.
Meanwhile, on the
home front I came down today with another one of my patented HAs
(Headache Assaults) that put me flat on my back this entire afternoon.
About 3 hours ago I asked Becky, who had been gently daubing my forehead
with hot compresses, to say a special prayer for me, and an hour later
my HA was gone. James 5:16, I thought to myself: Therefore,
admit your faults to each other and pray for one another that you may be
healed. Prayers offered by those who have God's righteousness are
Amen to that.
As for Becky, the
logistics for her next procedure at UNC are well underway. On Monday her
next PT scan is scheduled, and on Wednesday the thoracic surgeon will
implant fiducials into her chest in preparation for the Cyber-Knife
procedure (which still pends insurance approval). These fiducials, but
the way, are made out of pure gold and, combined with the implants Becky
received for her radiation, make my wife a walking gold mine. Students
in my Wednesday class will want to know that one of my Ph.D. students,
Alex Stewart, will be subbing for me that day. Yes, I know he's not your
attending physician, but he's an awful good resident.
I wasn't kidding
when I said I had the mother of all headaches today. Becky and I find it
comforting that God still answers prayer. And to be totally honest, it's
hard to be too melancholy when you're lounging around the house while
your wife serves you a delicious supper.
Someone tweeted this recently:
first a mission, then a battlefield, now a monument. A metaphor for
We have no "right" to good health, any more than we have a "right" to
our own bodies.
Note: You won't
believe this but it's absolutely true: While growing up in Kailua,
Hawaii, I actually said to my high school English teacher one day, "Why
should I study English? I'm not planning on going to England."
One more piece of
inane triviality: When I arrived in California from Hawaii to begin my
studies at Biola, many had difficulty understanding my (pidgin)
Last night we welcomed about 80 students during the new student
reception held in the wonderful Ledford Center on campus. It was my
special joy to greet the newly arrived international students who have
come from afar to study at SEBTS, including these Koreans.
It's inordinately difficulty to study in a foreign culture and language
(my Basel experience confirms this), but it can also be one of the most
joyful experiences of life to do so (as my Basel experience also
Welcome, all of you. Remember: I am here to serve you in any way I
possibly can. May your years here at SEBTS be the very best of your
PMI am asking everyone who
reads this blog to consider becoming a prayer warrior for Alaba,
Ethiopia, where the battle against Christianity rages.
are being hunted down, believers are being stoned and beaten, and the
civil authorities are turning a blind eye. Now, I am not asking you to
worry about the church in Alaba. Did the early church do that?
Did the apostles wait for the persecution to subside before they went out and
preached? Let us not speak of "closed doors" – which are merely
temporary barriers that Satan erects. The very gates of hell cannot
stand against the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My point is that
there is a cost to following Jesus in many parts of the globe today. This
world needs more men and women who will count the cost and
then obey. Discipleship involves sacrifice. Always has and always will.
The only way to bear fruit is to die. So let's stand with our brothers
and sisters in Ethiopia. This very day they need our intercession. Not
for the persecution to stop but for the church to remain faithful
despite the opposition.
The biggest hindrance to missionary work is not
persecution. The biggest hindrance to mission work is self. Self that
refuses to go or to give or to pray or to sacrifice – or to die.
PMAndrew Rozalowsky, an
up-and-coming linguist, opens a can of worms in his latest blog post,
Words Missing – Where Did They Go? The question is: Can a
translation of the New Testament be considered reliable if it fails to
translate words such as kai? Andrew answers yes, and rightly so.
A word in Greek does not have a meaning; it has meanings, only one of
which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs.
Thus, kai ("and, also, even") may be the equivalent of the
capital letter with which an English sentence occurs, as Andrew notes.
Students of Greek, please remember that
conjunctions are not "insignificant" words. Authors used them to
indicate unity and transition of thought in documents that lacked
capitalization, punctuation, indentation, paragraphization, and all of
the other extra-linguistic features modern printers rely on today to
indicate the progression of an argument. On the other hand, to insist
upon a slavish rendering of conjunctions without regard to their
discourse functions is ridiculous.
Wouldn't it be beautiful if church were something like Cheers? Wouldn't
it be beautiful if church were an environment in which people felt
drawn, welcomed, integral, and wanting to share life within? I think it
would be. When church is done right, that's just what it is. But, if we
critically look at most churches, it's evident many aren't built for
PMJody Neufeld continues her
excellent series on the Beatitudes
We're home! As you know, we had a very important meeting with the
thoracic surgeon at UNC this afternoon. The bottom line is this: Becky's
lung tumors are inoperable. This means that surgery is no longer an
option (if it ever was), just as more radiation and chemo have been
ruled out as therapies since they have proven to be ineffective. There
remains the possibility of treating her with a procedure called
Cyber-Knife (Robotic Radiosurgery), which UNC just "happens" to
specialize in. It involves shooting the larger tumors with extremely
high levels of radiation. Pending approval by the Cyber-Knife committee,
we are looking at this procedure taking place in about two weeks. Before
that can happen, "fiducials" must be placed into Becky's lungs by a
thoracic surgeon to help the oncologists know exactly where to
concentrate the radiation. We have tentatively scheduled this procedure
for next week Thursday. Of course, all of this awaits the blessing of
our insurance company.
How to respond? Just like Paul in
Philippians! Just as Paul could write that his imprisonment had turned
out for the progress of the Gospel, so Becky and I know that our cancer
journey has worked out for the best and the future holds no shadows. Our
one fear is that we might betray Christ by our lives and testimony. Our
single desire is to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel (Phil. 1:27) –
to live in a way that commends the Gospel to our friends and neighbors.
We desire to be more concerned about the needs of others than our own –
to be unselfish, unconceited, to take the path of obedience, to know Him
and the power of His resurrection and the companionship of His
sufferings. We know we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.
We are confident that our God shall supply all our needs according to
His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. On top of it all, we know that our
love for Ethiopia has never diminished. No distance can weaken it and no
amount of suffering can quench it.
So thanks muchly for your prayers. And
for your love. After our appointment with the surgeon I took Becky out
for dinner at the Outback Steak House in Durham. As we ate we thought of
our many cyber friends. I told Becky, "Every time we eat at the Outback
I think of Aussie John,
who has been such a faithful prayer partner with us through this entire
journey." Becky replied, "Won't heaven be wonderful, Dave? We'll get to
meet in person all of the wonderful people we only know now by name."
All I could say was, "Amen, honey,
Bitsy Griffin, I was able to read a very interesting post called
Ten Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Yell At Students. Of course,
we seminary profs never, ever yell at our students. We vent our
frustration by scolding them or through non-verbal language. But the
author is right: to be an effective teacher we must work on "building
influential relationships with students." Easier said than done but a
goal worth pursuing.
Once again, Henry Neufeld provides us with a thought-provoking piece.
This one is called
Cutting Edge? Incidentally, last year I was privileged to speak in
the ICON service Henry is describing at First UMC Pensacola and can
agree entirely with his assessment:
Now I like many of the
elements of worship in ICON. I think many of those elements, and the
way they are blended, has helped make the service successful. But if
you had asked me before this service why I think First UMC is
growing, I would tell you it is because the pastors are preaching
the gospel and making every effort to put it in practice. If you
attend First UMC, you’re going to hear a gospel message.
6:36 PM Zwingli began his reforms in 1522 by attracting to
himself a group of younger scholars including Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz (who was
soon to die at the hands of a Protestant church). They studied the Greek
New Testament together, and it was largely upon this foundation of
biblical truth that Grebel and Mantz began to reject church practices
they believed were foreign to the Scriptures.
Zwingli believed in
lay education, and so do I. That's why I'm so excited about an
opportunity that appears to be in the making. I'm discussing with a
pastor in North Carolina the possibility of starting a course in New
Testament Greek based on my
24-set DVD series. I would come and teach the first 4 lessons
(Friday through Sunday), then they would continue every Monday night
henceforth. The class would be open to anybody -- other area pastors,
Sunday School teachers, home school families, etc. What a great concept!
So here's my
challenge to you: Why not consider doing this yourself in your own local
church? I'd be more than happy to get you started. I'll even waive my
speaker's fee of $3,500 to come. (I'm joking. I never charge to speak
One of my goals in
life is to equip followers of Jesus Christ to be all that Jesus is
calling them to be. He does this through His Word. And one of the most
important Bible study tools, as Zwingli and his followers well knew, is
the Greek New Testament.
Want to give it a
try? If so, let me know. Meanwhile, here's a sample of the old geezer
himself if you haven't seen it
PM You'd be proud of me. At church this morning I ran
into a man I had not seen for a very long time. He greeted me as "Dr.
Black." I responded, "You can just call me Dave if you like." "Oh no,"
said he. "I know how much work it is to earn a doctorate, and it would
do you an injustice if I called you Dave."
I held my peace
and, like a good boy, proceeded to talk about other things.
Like I said, you'd
be proud of me.
PM Becky and I spent the afternoon visiting shut-ins
from our church family. What a joy. I will never stop being grateful to
God that He allows all of us to be His hands and heart to one another. I
think the Holy Spirit is leading us to do this more often, perhaps one
Sunday a month. We cannot be excused from the responsibility just
because we live so far away.
PM I just wrote a lengthy post about church
discipline. Our local church had to exercise it this morning. But the
matter is far too sensitive to talk about on this blog, so I erased
everything I just wrote. I will simply say this. There can never be
peace and joy until first there is righteousness. This is just the
way God has hardwired the Christian life.
I close this brief
entry with a saying of the old Anabaptists:
For we know that both before and
after baptism, we are poor and miserable.
this is what a good online book review should look like.
PM Life has been fairly busy for Becky and me these
days. We've decided to make the very most of the days we have together.
I feel so silly admitting it, but a huge part of this "making the most
of time" for us is the ministry of hospitality. We've begun scheduling
small dinner parties for folks we've wanted to get to know for a long
time. No more excuses. It's time to just do it. Already our calendar is
filling up. Families. Couples. Old friends. Students and their families.
Neighbors. Missionaries. Last night, for example, Becky threw a small
dinner party for Richard and Joy Suggs. What a delightful couple!
Richard was in
the Greek class I taught for a year at Bethel Hill Baptist Church. He
was one of the few stalwarts who "endured to the end." What's more, I
owe him a great debt of gratitude for all the time and energy he spent
in putting together these fantastic
vocabulary flash cards. What a labor of love!
Now, we can't
spend all of our time entertaining guests here at Bradford Hall. Nor is
it wise to get so busy with work and ministry that we forget the
importance of relationships. I imagine the solution is a healthy balance
between the two extremes. Examine your leisure time. Consider it as part
of your stewardship responsibility before the Lord. Look upon your home
as something God has given you to enrich the lives of others. Plan to
have guests -- and then enjoy them. I promise a little
hospitality won't interfere in the least with your sanctification!
AM One of my heroes of the faith is a man named
Balthazar Hubmaier of Friedberg, Germany.
pointed to the authority of the church as sufficient authority for
infant baptism, Hubmaier replied:
You must ask the Scriptures, not
Hubmaier went on to
So what we can never truthfully
be called is Anabaptists [=re-baptizers]. Infant baptism has no
grounds; therefore it is not of God.
I have a photo of
myself being "baptized" as an infant in an Episcopalian Church in
Hawaii. Standing with me are my so-called God Parents.
In reality, my
first baptism took place when I placed my faith and trust in Christ at
the age of 8. Hubmaier eventually wrote a tract on Christian baptism.
The full English title is "The Reason and Cause Why Every Man Who Was
Christened in Infancy Is Under Obligation to be Baptized According to
the Ordinances of Christ, Even Though He Be One Hundred Years Old." It
was not enough to convince Zwingli. This is yet another reminder to me
of how the Anabaptist interpretation of Scripture differed greatly from
that of the Reformers, including Zwingli, who ended up using force to
compel conformity to the state church. How tragic, and how unnecessary.
I devote an entire
chapter in my book
The Jesus Paradigm to the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century.
Their interpretation of the church's fall into error differed from that
of the Reformers in more ways than just infant baptism. Especially
because they refused to accept the Reformers' embrace of
Constantinianism, they fell victim to the sword. But without believers'
baptism, they argued, the true church of Jesus Christ cannot exist.
AM In the movie John Q, a young boy collapses at a
Little League game and is rushed to the local hospital, where the
doctors quickly determine that only a heart transplant will save him.
When the parents' insurance company refuses to cover the costs of the
operation, the father becomes so outraged that he takes some of the
hospital staff hostage in order to get the insurance provider to pay for
How far would you
go -- what price would you pay -- to stave off the death of a loved one?
Becky and I
absolutely believe that Jesus still heals today. But He intervenes
sovereignly and not because we can obligate Him to do so. He will not be
taken hostage. I realize that many of you are praying for Becky's
healing, as I am, and that she would be healed in such a way that allows
no other explanation than God working a miracle. At the same time,
neither one of us is desperate. We are, in fact, convinced that God has
called us to the greatest miracle work of all -- the ministry of sharing
the Good News of salvation to the sin-sick of the world. So as we meet
with the thoracic surgeon on Tuesday we do ask for your prayers. Pray
especially that people will see in our lives the love of One who
delights in saving the lost -- even self-made professionals. May the
entire staff at UNC realize that they too can be healed spiritually --
and forever! -- by putting their faith in the Lord Jesus.
PM Henry Neufeld responds to Will Rice's essay on
small groups with a post called
Organizing Small Groups. His peroration is worth quoting here in
I think there are
small groups that develop naturally in a church that are detrimental
to mission. I would suggest, however, that the solution is not to
force all groups under a regimen of control, but rather the
preaching of the gospel and teaching discipleship, along with
appropriate, Christ-like, church discipline. I don’t mean that
Rice’s good suggestions amount to forcing groups under a regimen.
I’m referring to what I’ve observed in certain churches. I think one
can tell the difference by observing the fruit–if groups of
Christians are gathering and doing mission, it’s working.
PM I have begun scheduling my doctoral students to
teach for me this semester under my supervision. My goal is to give them
opportunities to experience ministry in the classroom. Learning to teach
is largely a matter of trial and error. I want to give them room to
lead, speak, instruct, field questions, etc. That it is the Lord Jesus
-- the Master Teacher -- who creates teachers is a great relief to me --
and fresh incentive for me to join Him in the task of equipping.
PM As I walked the fence line on the farm today,
trying to close any holes that the dogs might be getting through, this
question came to my mind. Time and again in the Scriptures we are called
to worship God in life (Matt. 10:42; Rom. 12:1; Col. 3:17; Heb.
11:11-16; James 1:27; 1 Pet. 3:7). Why, then, do we associate worship
with "worship services" on Sunday morning? True Christian spirituality
is total and worldly. It involves every part of our life
-- including fixing fences.
Areopagus series will shortly announce that a new book on word study
fallacies in Hebrew and Greek is in the works. I think it will make a
very nice complement to Don Carson's classic book on exegetical
AM I've noticed a trend in the blogosphere. Bloggers
have begun posting "reviews" of books they have received gratis from the
publishers. Many of these "reviews" look more like short "book notes"
than full-fledged reviews. Some are no longer than a brief paragraph or
two, and many do not interact with the contents of the book to any
My question is
this: Is this being fair to the publishers? They have given you a
book, for free, that would possibly have cost you up to 30 or 40 dollars
had you purchased it yourself.
generous publishers deserve better than a book note.
AM This week I heard Katie Couric mispronounce
Mauna Kea (she said "Mow-Na-Key-A" instead of "Mau-Na-Kay-A") and an
NPR reporter slaughter the word debris (she pronounced the final
"s"). Just for fun, then, I glanced at this post about the
Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English. Curiously, it
fails to list the meteorologist's tendency to pronounce temperature
as temperture. Of course, if everyone says temperture,
then it must be correct, as people determine correctness and
incorrectness in language, not grammar books. But still -- pronouncing
the final "s" in debris? It just idn't right.
AM Do yourself a favor this morning and read Eric
Carpenter's latest blog post called
Thinking Outside the Reformed Box. This is blogging at its best. And
be sure to read Steve Scott's excellent comment. As I overheard one
student put it on campus: "We believe in the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Bible." Hmmm....
AM Yesterday in our Greek class Alan Knox and I
strongly urged our students to teach Greek in their local churches once
they have finished their own studies in seminary. There is no better way
to learn a subject than by teaching it to others. If you need some
inspiration in this direction, here's a website for you:
NT Greek Class from the
First Baptist Church of Maryville, Il.
In other words:
Yes, it can be done.
AM Should pastors negotiate their salaries? Jump into
AM Quote of the day (Thomas Hugdins):
education that does not keep aflame the student's passion for
reaching the lost with the gospel is officially a failure.
AM Arthur Sido is struggling with the
age-old question: Should the church be involved in society, and if
so, how? He writes, "I don't
see a division between caring for the needy and evangelism, between
doing good works and proclaiming the Gospel. In fact it seems to me that
the gospel proclamation and works of mercy (i.e. solving social
problems) are not enemies but friends."
I agree. The danger of
institutionalized Christianity is just that -- it is an institution in
society that views its own self-preservation as of ultimate importance.
But the true locus of the church is in society, not as one institution
among others but as the leaven of society. The church's one and only
"program" is in the secular world, which means the church can
never withdraw from society.
In practical terms, this has meant for
Becky and me a greater involvement in world missions as well as in
anonymous acts of charity. We are beginning to move out of our comfort
zone and into an other-directed lifestyle. Thankfully, we are not
finding the path a lonely one -- witness Arthur's own commitment to a
missional lifestyle (he is currently serving Jesus in Haiti).
AM You'll never guess what they have in Burji now. A
bank. That's right. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has opened up a
branch office in faraway Soyama town, the leading city of Burjiland.
This means that the urban Burjis now have electricity, internet access,
television, cell towers, and a bank. Amazing. When Becky and I started
working there in 2005 the Burjis had none of these things. Soyama was
simply too far away from civilization.
Truly, the world is
PM Quote of the day (from Henry Neufeld, a true
time to get over the blog prejudice. People want rapidly updated
content, and combining a good CMS with a regularly updated blog will
help you meet that desire.
I don’t want to say
that I’m bored with blogging wholesale but I can’t say that I’m
excited about it either. It’s just kind of blah at the moment.
Nick's is one of the few blogs I read
regularly, partly because he is so honest with himself -- which I
consider to be a great strength in a blogger. His point, if I understand
him aright, is that there is nothing wrong with taking a blogging
hiatus. In fact, that is probably a very good thing for us to do from
time to time. The tendency to feel that we have to blog can grow
out of self-idolatry, that is, the need to establish our self-worth by
our blog-busyness. The fact that we become anxious about all this only
adds to our sense of self-importance. Perhaps blogging also provides a
sop to our consciences over our procrastination to perform other, more
important tasks. Thus the very busyness that we protest perpetuates the
need to maintain the status quo. Especially bloggers who seek honors or
recognition as the "top blogger" show a tendency, I think, to succumb to
the temptation to blog for the sake of blogging, even when they have
nothing to say. Blogging then becomes primarily a matter of its
quantitative dimension. This, I find, to be distasteful in the
Jesus pointed us to a life where our
yokes would be easy and our burdens light. Let us blog, then, as He
guides us, posting what He leads us to post through His Holy Spirit, for
if we allow cares and anxieties to control us we will lose the kingdom
and create an idol.
to fly around the Sea of Galilee? Then check out this phenomenal aerial video:
It shows the youth hostel in Capernaum where Becky
and I stayed during our study tour of Israel in 1987, when we were able
to survey the land in detail from Dan to Beersheba -- and many sites in
continue to pray for the persecuted church in Alaba. Martin Niemöller,
himself a victim of persecution in Nazi Germany, put it like this:
It has taken me a long time to learn
that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.
This recent trip I took
to Dallas is another enlightening experience. Not only was I able to
attend Chuck Swindoll's church. But was also able to chat to some good
old Christian brothers of mine in the company.
church." That struck me. How often do we speak about attending "Pastor
So-and-So's church"? I've been guilty of this myself. Why do we
speak in this manner?
Perhaps the fact that ministry has become a profession has contributed
to the problem. The structure of congregational life in many churches
tends to encourage whatever prima donna characteristics a pastor may
possess. His preaching is often considered a performance that is to be
complimented (along with a hand shake as we go out the door). Where I
live (in the rural South), we often speak of these ministers as
"preachers." And, if they are really good at what they do, we may even
refer to them as "pulpiteers." Thus the church becomes Dr. Smith’s
church or the church where Dr. Smith pastors. (And, believe me, "Doctor"
is the title you want rather than a simple "Reverend.")
I have a good pastor
friend who is fighting this trend in his local church. He is working
hard at equipping the deacons in his church to do visitation and to
assume other pastoral roles. He has, in fact, stopped referring to
himself as the "senior pastor." I admire him greatly for that. I cannot
imagine how difficult it must be to step down from the pedestal on which
the congregation has placed you. But surely it is for the good of the
Body that we do so.
thanks indeed to Alan Knox for teaching my class today and doing a
splendid job of it.
Alan has multiple strengths as a
teacher, not the least of which is his ability to interact with
students. Most teachers are more at ease in speaking than in listening.
They are better at disseminating information than they are at conducting
a discussion. (I think this is also true of many pastors, but that's a
topic for another day.) Alan is an expert at interacting dynamically
with others. That is a great strength that all teachers would do well to
PM I sit here at my computer wondering what in the
world I could say about tonight's Ethiopia team meeting. The question
is, Where do I begin? Perhaps the most valuable thing I can say
is, Thank God for the Holy Spirit. As we sat around the dining room
table and talked and prayed, each of us sensed an amazing Presence.
Of course, it
was the Lord of the Harvest, to whom we willingly submitted our agenda.
Don't miss the fact that missions is simply the work of the Holy Spirit
through weak but yielded vessels. That's enablement. If we are to do
missions God's way, we must continually abandon ourselves to His
adequacy, submit ourselves to His program, and trust Him for His
provision. My friends, when we do this, everything falls into place just
like that! What a blessing to sit back and watch the Spirit produce
unity, amity, and unanimity. And what a joy to be with people who refuse
to live mediocre washed up lives without a sense of purpose or mission.
Christ has given us the most exciting task imaginable -- to be the
bearers of His love and redemption throughout the world, including
"Utopia." The acid test of our commitment to Christ will always be the
depth of our involvement in what matters to Him the most -- world
Later I'll share
with you some of the details about the trip that is being planned. But
first it's simply time for me to fall on my knees and thank God for the
privilege of partnering with brothers and sisters who are committed to
using their tremendous spiritual and material resources for the sake of
the kingdom. None is a paid professional missionary. None is a trained
missiologist. These brothers and sisters are quiet men and women -- and
children! -- who are working behind the scenes to make it happen.
Missions has a grip on them. Their love for Ethiopia is insatiable. And
they are family.
possibly be sweeter?
Below: Members of
our Ethiopia team, all veterans. The Lord has already confirmed in their
hearts that many of them should return to Ethiopia this year. Each is
committed to setting his or her goals on their knees rather than at the
drawing board. We are learning to lay aside our reliance on every human
resource and wait upon God for all things. I love and admire these
people so much I am, really, almost speechless.
PM Tomorrow morning our J-term Greek class will
welcome a guest teacher, Alan Knox,
who will introduce us to the all-important Greek perfect tense system.
I'm looking forward to seeing my doctoral student in action!
PM Carson-Newman College announces an opening in
PM As I have said, tonight we are having a hugely
important meeting here at the Hall to pray about and discuss the next
trip to Ethiopia. Where do we go from here? The Lord will show us
through His Spirit. Everyone in attendance tonight has made a commitment
to Christ, to His church, and to God's purposes in this world. Whatever
strategy and timetable we adopt, we recognize that the task of
evangelism involves bringing people to the point of discipleship. We are
not interested in just another short term mission trip. We are committed
to deepening ties between the church in America and the church in
Ethiopia. If our goal is to merely "decision" the nations, then our
methodology won't really matter that much. If, however, our goal is to
help them become obedient disciples of Christ, then our methods become
critically important. Thankfully, a healthy network has already been
established with the Ethiopian church. As I have often said, Becky and I
work from local churches in the U.S. to local churches in Ethiopia,
by-passing bloated bureaucracies. Administrative overhead is
non-existent. We are all fulltime missionaries. We all realize that to
reach the lost is a difficult, time-consuming, costly investment. That's
why it's so important to have the right team members.
I'm eager to see
everybody tonight. There's nothing quite like sharing life together in
the work of the Gospel. The social bonding that takes place is simply
the annual SNTS meeting is taking place this year at Bard College in
Annandale-on-Hudson in New York.
I'm usually in Ethiopia (or some other
country) when the meetings are held but this year may be a good
opportunity to attend again. My Doktorvater (Bo Reicke) was once
president of the Society, as was his erstwhile colleague Oscar Cullmann
(who at the time of his presidency held three academic chairs
concurrently – in Basel, Paris, and New York). If Becky and I do attend
it will give us an excuse to visit the Rondeaus in the nearby
Adirondacks. What fun that would be.
Courage is not simply
one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing
PM I've already mentioned the name Kevin Brown
several times in this blog. Kevin is an elder at
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in North
Wilkesboro, NC, and a partner in our Ethiopia work. Let me mention one
more thing about Kevin. We have just signed him to write a book for our
Areopagus series with
Energion Publications. It's a book about raising children to assume
adult responsibilities. Kevin is a wise pastor and has established a
"rite of passage" at Mount Pleasant that has greatly increased
involvement of the youth in ministry for the kingdom. Look for the
book to be out in time for the annual meeting of the North Carolina
Christian Home Educators Association in Winston-Salem this May. In the
meantime, you can keep up with Kevin's ministry at his
P.S. Kevin and his
family will be spending a couple of days with us here at the Hall
starting tomorrow afternoon. Can't wait!
PM From Alaba, Ethiopia, our son Nigussie writes:
Still they are
following me to attack. Keep on prayer.
If you are anything like me, when you
read of this constant persecution of the church in Ethiopia you
might feel like giving up. Even as I type this, I am faced with a
growing sense of discouragement. More than once I have asked myself,
Why should I even blog about this? Is it possible for anyone here in
faraway America to do anything about it?
And then I remember: God does not allow
His church to do something He knows is impossible for it to do. With God
it is possible to live for Christ and to do the good works that He asks
us to do. Just as Christ was once bodily in this world, so are we now.
What Jesus began in His flesh He now continues in His Body, the church.
So, despite whatever opposition Satan throws at us, our job is to
demonstrate Christ's authority as His ambassadors in this world.
And so, in the face of incessant,
deadly persecution, I encourage all of us to meditate on the resources
and the power the Lord Jesus has promised us:
Remember: I am with
you each and every day -- right up to the end of the world!
To Nigussie and our brothers and
sisters in Alaba, I say:
You are not alone.
You are not powerless.
You have miracle strength to fight
And we will not fail to pray for you
PM Brief update on Becky: Our appointment with the
thoracic surgeon was postponed to next Tuesday due to the icy road
conditions in North Carolina. But Bec did have an excellent phone
conversation with her gynecological oncologist who assured us that we
are still headed in the right direction, medically speaking, and that no
significant course corrections are needed, at least for now. So a word
of thanks to everyone who emailed us to say they were praying for our
Tuesday meeting (that never eventuated). Please change the date to
next Tuesday. And thanks ever so much.
PM Speaking of Mike Rudolph, he has produced a Greek
verb chart that is fabulous. If anyone would like a copy, just let me
know via email and I'll see that you get one.
thousand thanks to my doctoral student Mike Rudolph for subbing for me
yesterday in Greek class while I suffered from the mother of all sinus
headaches. Also, a huge shout out to my colleague Alvin Reid, with whom
I enjoyed a wonderful conversation over lunch on Monday.
mostly about how we can become better teachers both in and out of the
classroom. The apostle Paul's readiness to have his ministry judged by
the quality of his converts strikes fear into my heart!
enjoy nothing more than serving local churches. That's why I was
pleasantly surprised to see
this announcement over at Matt Capp's blog. I do think my colleague
Heath Thomas is much handsomer than I, though you will notice than
only yours truly is wearing a halo in his photograph.
students! Some nifty Greek grammar videos
Pacific University announces an opening in
I was deeply moved by this photograph of astronaut Mike
Kelly holding his wife's hand in a Tucson hospital. He is right where he
ought to be.
"For better or for worse, in sickness
and in health."
Boyd discusses Constantine's pagan influence on Christianity.
Although I strongly disagree with
Boyd's openness theology, he is an insightful critic of modern
Christendom. His counter-cultural views about war and the sword have
alienated him from many evangelicals. Indeed, the common charge made
against him – and others such as Hauerwas, Yoder, and other critics of
Christendom – is that he is "sectarian." The assumption is that being a
sectarian is something evil. The (largely) pacifistic Anabaptists of the
sixteenth century were also accused of sectarianism because they
rejected coercion. I have argued in
The Jesus Paradigm that the church
cannot have it both ways: that we cannot maintain our faithfulness to
the upside-down kingdom of God while simultaneously operating as a public interest
Few of us in the church seem willing to admit it today, but in
terms of kingdom loyalty Christianity is almost an unabashed failure.
The Gospels are extremely important here: They point us to the Christ of
the cross, not the Empire. I find much cause for encouragement that
there is among the younger generation a group that is beginning to
rethink its view of worldly politics. And this year, when Americans
north and south are commemorating the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of
the Civil War, is a good time to do so. If, for example, I am asked why
I no longer write about this conflict, the answer will be a growing
consciousness on my part that the only kingdom that matters is the
blood-scarred kingdom of my Savior. I have never found it a disadvantage
to be descended from a line of German Pacifists, some of whom (the
Millers) lived along a little creek in Maryland called Antietam, where a
great battle was fought in 1862. I cannot imagine a more counter-cultural
lifestyle than theirs. "Sectarians" they were called, of course, but if
that is the price to be paid for following the downward path of Jesus,
then so be it.
PM The Greek term for "faith" means trust, utter
reliance upon, clinging to, dependence. This week in the life of Dave
and Becky Black there will be plenty of chances to prove our faith. For
starters, on Tuesday afternoon we meet with Becky's new thoracic surgeon
at UNC to discuss our options to remove the four tumors in her lungs.
Then on Thursday here at the Hall we will have our first planning
meeting for our next trip to Ethiopia. I already feel way over my head
in both matters. Jesus made it perfectly clear that "Without me you can
do nothing." Amen to that!
I have already
committed the outcome of Tuesday's cancer meeting to the Lord. In
sickness or in health, by life or by death, whether He gives us a year
or ten years to do so, our business is to glorify God in body and in
spirit. As for the work in Ethiopia, I am reminded that whenever we give
our lives to God, "we lose what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot
lose." Yes, the work there is difficult. But Christians do not dodge
difficulties. We do not wash our hands of the world's troubles by
piously saying, "There are already so many needs right here in America,
why should we go to the nations?" Our Lord did not give the American
church so much abundance so that we would spend it on ourselves
Becky and I are but
stewards of our days and we had better number them so that we may apply
our hearts to wisdom, for the time is indeed short.
PM It happened again.
I was blown away by
the beauty of the Body of Christ.
I've been in
churches long enough to know how rare a thing genuine body life is. But
Bethel Hill has it. Let me mention but two examples. First, Miss Cindi
shared with us how the pregnancy crisis center in our community is
saving lives and reaching the down and out with the love of Jesus.
Her explanation of
the abortion rate in America was heart-wrenching, but I'm coming to the
realization that only Christ has the solution to the scourge of
abortion. Then Becky told the story of the email we received this
morning from our son Nigussie in Ethiopia.
I wish I could sit
here and write to you that things are getting better, that the
persecution of Christians has subsided, but the opposite is true. Our
son told us of the most recent attacks by the Muslims in Alaba -- one
believer beaten, another stabbed three times in the back. As I type
this, my heart breaks for the flock in Ethiopia. The only thing that
keeps me from screaming out loud is to push myself to my knees. It's
such a surreal thing -- this persecution of Christians in a nation that
supposedly has freedom of religion (which is an absolutely ridiculous
notion). In between it all, threading itself through all the pain, there
was the realization that our dog Sheba had been missing for three days
-- stolen, killed by hunting dogs or coyotes, or just plain lost -- who
knew? This morning, as I sat in church, I was acutely aware of my need
for a Savior, to be surrounded by His love and to surrender everything
After we got home from church we had a message on our answer machine
that our dog had been found by a neighbor who had the honesty to report
it to us. My heart sings for joy that the lost has been found even as it
breaks because of the death and suffering I see all around me. Consider,
for example, what a privilege we have of hearing the Word of God in
America. We take it for granted. But this privilege costs plenty in
other nations. I can almost hear the believers in Alaba saying to me,
like Paul of old, "We bear branded in our bodies the marks of the
ownership of Jesus Christ. What marks do you have?" Superficial
religion, that's all.
AM I love to see my students' jaws drop when I tell
them I do not requirement attendance in my classes. But it's true. I've
always found it congenial to make attendance voluntary. I was, of
course, given the freedom to do this in the places I've taught. It is
not surprising that this policy has been questioned from time to time by
colleagues and others, but I have never regretted my decision. When I
saw the lecture halls in Basel fill up with eager students whose sole
motivation was learning (attendance was not required), it occurred to me
that perhaps the American system is too dependent on extrinsic
motivation to get the job done.
imagined that interesting lecturers would attract a fruitful
followership; and, indeed, I think that it exactly the case in Acts
19:9, where the Western text of Acts adds that Paul taught daily for two
years from eleven in the morning to four in the afternoon in the
school house of a certain man named "Tyrant." These, of course, were the
siesta hours in Ephesus. Comments F. F. Bruce:
He must have infected his hearers
with his own energy and zeal, so that they were willing to sacrifice
their siesta for the sake of listening to Paul.
Paul's school was
"open"; and it must have been an interesting place indeed! The inference
to be drawn is that Paul was an engaging public speaker. For myself, I
have made it a policy to try and make my subject matter as intrinsically
relevant and interesting as possible. In addition, in recent years I
have found it advantageous to allow the students themselves to lead the
classroom discussion while I serve as umpire and advisor during the
discussion time. If I disagree with something the student has said, I
can enter into conversation with him or her over the points at issue,
and potentially both of us -- and the entire class in fact -- may be
I suspect that
teaching our students how to teach and to present a topic in class is
sound pedagogy and one that ought to be employed more frequently than it
AM Another good reminder this morning from Eric
Carpenter that we gather for
mutual edification, not for worship (worship is 24/7). But why
mutual edification? I put it this way to my students: The gathering
exists for the going. The commission of our Lord which comes upon
every believer must be given highest priority (Matt. 28:19-20). This
means that, as important as mutual edification is, we must put top value
upon God's agenda for the church. There's nothing wrong in coming
together to be mutually strengthened ... unless it keeps us from
reaching our town and our world for Christ.
We err when we
place too much emphasize on the gathering. "Don't greet anyone on the
way" was how Jesus put it to His disciples. The Lord had a clearly
defined mission for His followers. He had told them what to do and where
to go. Now He's telling them not to get involved in anything that might
detract from that mission. And -- please listen to me carefully -- even
good things can do that. It's called the principle of priority.
The mission of the
church is to point others to Christ. The calling of every Christian is
to build redemptive relationships. So, having been edified during the
meeting, do we feel ready to flow into a web of relationships and
network them for Christ? If not, there is something wrong with the
Evangelism is the
missing link in so much discussion about ecclesiology today. God's
redemptive plan is at the top of His priority list, and each of us is
privileged to have a part. How do we get to that place? First, make a
definite commitment to be a Great Commission Christian. Second, have
faith that God will use the witness of your serving lifestyle to win the
lost. Finally, don't give up! Bathe the lost in prayer. Ask God for
boldness and open doors. Develop a gift-driven life. Target receptive
about it. Our involvement with church activities does not always lend
itself to becoming redemptive people. In fact, it is even possible that
our "mutual edification service" is actually an escape mechanism to
avoid real involvement in the world as salt and light. Here's the
principle: God sows saints (edification) in order to cultivate, sow, and
reap (evangelism). You are the message. No one will receive
Christ through you who does not first receive you. Our attitude, our
whole demeanor, will be different if deep in our hearts we expect God to
use us in His great harvest!
exists for the going. Got the point?
There are millions
of lost sheep out there. We're sent to find them. This involves risk. It
involves leaving our little happy holy mutually-edifying huddles and
getting our hands dirty in the world.
PM Just watched one third of Gettysburg with
Becky. The rest is for tomorrow night. Time now to get caught up on our
reading. Becky's been enjoying a biography of Ann Judson (Adoniram's
My Heart in His Hands. As for me, well -- there's nothing like a
good WW II escape book, this time
Escape from Colditz by Pat Reid.
quite made it to the "Bad Boys" camp at Colditz yet. He first has to
make his escape from the prison camp in Laufen -- dressed as a woman!
Stay tuned for more...
PM As I think of all of the discussions I've had with
students about church leadership, I recall the opportunity to point them
to the wonderful contribution that Alexander Strauch has made to the
topic in his book
Biblical Eldership. But one must read his work carefully and be
constantly checking it with the Scriptures (this is, of course, true of
every book we read). This is why I am always interested to read what
others have to say in their reviews. Over at the Nine Marks website,
Paul Alexander has written a
helpful review that largely supports Strauch's findings. However, I
am bound to note that the review contains a significant demurral:
I share Strauch’s impulse to guard
against a misperceived self-sufficiency in senior pastors, and to be
wary of absolute power corrupting absolutely. But I question whether
the senior pastor title or role is necessarily illegitimate on the
grounds of Christ’s exclusive headship, or whether the title of
senior pastor is mutually exclusive with a plurality of elders.
After all, the letters to each of the seven churches in Revelation
were all addressed to the singular angels of those respective
churches, which most commentators regard as the singular pastors of
those churches. Both Timothy and Titus seemed to exercise a role
akin to what we would call a senior pastor without threatening
either Christ’s exclusive headship or the plurality of local church
For myself, I tend to agree with
brother Strauch rather than the reviewer. One of the most important
lessons in New Testament Introduction courses is a discussion of the
so-called Pastoral Epistles, which, of course, were neither written to
nor about pastors. It is clear, for example, that the church which
Timothy was sent to serve (Ephesus) already had elders -- Paul had met
with them earlier in Miletus. As for Titus, he was charged with
appointing elders in every city on Crete. As I have often said to my
students, it is high time we put the term "Pastoral Epistles" out to
pasture once and for all. As for the "angels" of the seven churches of
Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3, considering the consistent use of the term
angelos in the book of Revelation, it seems likely that the term
is being used to refer to angelic beings in these 2 chapters.
It would seem, then, that the title of
senior pastor is in fact inconsistent with the concept of the plurality
of elders, assuming that the eldership is, as Strauch argues,
non-hierarchical. In fact, I suggest that this is exactly what one would
expect when one looks at the twelve apostles of our Lord, none of whom
can be said to have held the position of "Senior Apostle." Of course,
one of them, Peter, was a spokesman of sorts for the others on many an
occasion, but did this make the rest "Associate Apostles"?
PM Calling all pastors/elders/overseers who think
that Heb. 13:17 is important. You may want to take a look at Rick
word study of peitho. Are believers to "obey" their leaders?
You be the judge.
PM Well, the wedding in Wake Forest was wonderful.
Cari was one of my beginning Greek students several years ago, indeed
one of the most incredibly joyful and pleasant persons to be around on
campus. I did not know Blayne personally but his dad (Waylan Owens)
taught on our faculty for several years before moving to Southwestern
Seminary. I'm fairly sure you would have appreciated the way Waylan
officiated over his son and new daughter-in-law's wedding. And who else
should show up than Chris Thompson, the very first Th.M. student I had
when I moved to Southeastern from Talbot 13 years ago! Chris also served
at SWBTS before assuming his current responsibilities at Firth Baptist
Cari and Blayne now
have a brand new life together. Becky and I pray God's richest blessings
on the young couple as they begin their married journey. I've got to
believe that it is a marriage made in heaven.
AM Andy Bowden's latest blog post reminds my so much
of my own spiritual journey that the similarities are eerie. Read
Marks of maturity. The Christian life is inevitably enriched when we
come to terms with our own hubris, is it not?
AM Oh my, F. F. Bruce must have been reading my mind
when I posted below that I was going to be teaching the teachers at
Calvary Baptist Church. On p. 144 of his autobiography I read these
The gap [between scholars and
ordinary Christians] would not be so wide, I am sure, if more
scholars were to involve themselves in the day-to-day life of a
local church and communicate the fruits of their scholarship to
their fellow church members in a form which the latter could
I have known some distinguished
scholars who did this, to their own enrichment as well as the
enrichment of the others.
AM Just a reminder to those interested in reading the
ancient languages: I am available to tutor you in Ecclesiastical Latin,
this post reminds us.
AM I see that Joel Willitts considers the ESV Study
Bible the "Cadillac"
of study Bibles. And, of course, Mark Goodacre considers Duke the "Rolls
Royce" of graduate programs in religion.
Cadillac better than Rolls Royce?
P.S. I like the ESV
Study Bible, to which I contributed an essay, but I tend to recommend
Nelson Study Bible to students.
AM Today Becky and I have the honor of attending the
wedding of one of my former students at Binkley Chapel on campus. Though
we enjoyed a light dusting of snow last night, the sun is now shining in
all its glory and the roads are fine for traveling. This is a real
answer to my prayers.
See you at 1:00,
Cari and Blayne!
AM Excited to be writing today a reference for my
former grader who is applying to the University of Nottingham to begin
doctoral studies in New Testament.
AM Been reading 1 Thess. 5:12-13 this morning. The
New Testament seems to teach a gracious equality of leadership. If that
is the case, how is it possible for one man to be known as the "pastor
of vision"? There is no super-pastor who can do all the vision-setting,
is there? After all, is there not a direct and living connection between
the Head and every member of the Body?
AM I've been asked to do a 3-hour teachers' workshop
on Saturday, February 26, at
Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. What fun that will be!
My assignment is to walk the teachers through the book of Philippians,
which they will be teaching in their classes beginning in March.
Exegeting a New Testament epistle is like working on a giant jigsaw
puzzle of an ancient walled city in Europe. Just when you think you've
figured out how to put together the walls, the ramparts, the towers, and
the homes you encounter a blue, cloudless sky. The cry, "I got it", is
the final act of triumph. I'll never forget the day I completed my essay
on the discourse structure of Philippians (later published in Novum
Testamentum). It was one of those "ah-ha!" moments the likes of
which I shall never forget. I suspect that those who believe that "joy"
is the theme of this New Testament book will be sorely disappointed with
my essay. But as I read the epistle, I was forced to conclude that joy
is at best the byproduct of something much more important.
I have said that
this invitation is from a local church that is preparing its teachers to
teach well and accurately. I cannot think of a better way to integrate
seminary and church. Nor can I think of a single faculty member at SEBTS
who would not be willing to place his or her expertise in the service of
the church in such fashion.
AM Here's another gem from Fred Bruce's
autobiography. In answer to the question, "How do you maintain your
regular output of writings?" Bruce writes:
I have often contrived to kill
two birds with one stone: to deliver material in the form of a
course of lectures and then publish them in book form" (p. 299).
He adds -- and this
is very significant:
For the rest, it is a matter of
making disciplined use of time.
I may be wrong, but
I suspect that more of us teachers would be able to write a greater
number of books and essays if we followed Bruce's advice. I have noted
previously how, upon graduating from Basel, I set definitive publishing
goals for myself: one journal article every year, and one book every 5
years. I remember thinking to myself at the time (it was 1983), You
will never reach these goals. But met -- and in some cases surpassed
-- they are, and I think the reason is that I find the switch from the
classroom to the writing desk both enjoyable and easy. As it is, the
least we can do is to encourage doctoral students to begin publishing
their better papers as journal articles. I have no hesitation whatever
in encouraging my own students to do this, and they have met with some
PM Almost forgot.
Joyeux Noël to all of our
precious brothers and sisters in Ethiopia!
PM Had a wonderful chat with a prospective student
this afternoon. He was visiting the campus for a couple of days and
getting the grand tour. Teaching in a seminary that lives and dies for
missions is the most rewarding and thrilling work in the world. I have
many colleagues who teach in universities that might have a greater
reputation for scholarship, but I am thankful that the lines have fallen
to me in a seminary and not in a university. Besides, I am of the
opinion that the faculty on our campus can hold their own academically
when it comes to scholarship.
PM Today in Greek class we went on yet another rabbit
trail, this time along the path of ecclesiology. Church structures
must be participational rather than representative, I told my
students. My excuse to bring up this topic? A very good one indeed. The
vocabulary to today's lesson included the adjective hekastos,
which, as everyone knows, is one of the my all-time favorite New
Testament Greek words -- so much so that I even invented a new word in
the English language in its honor (see my book
The Jesus Paradigm for a reference to the doctrine I call
Hekastology). My point was simply this: If we order our churches in
a New Testament way, rather than in a purely traditional way, growth
toward maturity will be more participational, and church gatherings will
be far less characterized by spectatorism. The professional model of
ministry says, "If something needs to get done, let's hire a
professional to do it" and "let only those who do it best do it all the
time." As a result, only the "best" teachers teach, and only the most
"proficient" musicians sing or play an instrument. A participational
structure, on the other hand, creates opportunities for as many people
as possible, within reason of course.
I didn't say this
in class, but I for one sure am glad I grew up in a church in Hawaii
that let little old moi play a trumpet solo or sing a song I had
composed (accompanying myself on the guitar) or "preach a sermon" even
when I was far from proficient in any of these areas. I think I am a
better Christian for it -- though I wouldn't bet on it.
PM Never shop at Wal-Mart on a Friday night. Never.
PM The house sure seems quiet since I got home today.
(Right about now, Caleb would have been practicing his ukulele.) It's
back to me and my girls ( = Becky plus our two female Shelties). We miss
the Rondeaus but I am thankful to report that they arrived safely in
Upstate New York yesterday, where they were promptly greeted with --
what else? -- a snow storm. For me, it's time to start enjoying all
those pleasant memories that were formed during the past 6 months.
Including some fancy uke strumming.
PM In the midst of all the discussion nowadays about
how to "do" church, Kevin Brown offers some
PM Last night I checked out a delightful little book
from our seminary library. F. F. Bruce's autobiography is called
In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past. Mind if I share with you
a few takeaways? For starters:
What we learn when the mind is
plastic tends to stick, and I began Greek under his tuition at the
age of thirteen (p. 38).
Bruce is referring
to Elgin Academy, where he began his studies in the classical languages.
Oh, how I wish I could have started my Greek or my Latin or even my
German studies when I was only 13! That's why I am so excited when I
hear of families -- entire families -- studying New Testament
Greek from my beginning grammar. When I was 13 years old I was surfing
my life away. And then I ended up attending a high school that required
no foreign languages to graduate. Little wonder that when I began
my studies at Biola I thought, This is probably too little too late.
Moms and dads, I
hope you'll consider teaching your kids the classical languages. And, if
you must chose between them, Greek is the way to go as it opens a huge
door of discovery in reading the New Testament in its original tongue.
Just my unbiased
PM I have been very impressed with what I will call
the utter professionalism of the medical staff at UNC Hospital. I sense
a gravitas that comes only after years of service in the health care
profession. At the same time, the oncologists are affable and congenial
-- certainly no ivory tower stoics. As I said, they are true
professionals. They are committed to excellence in what they do, and it
I desire to become
such a professional in my own line of work. Depth and winsomeness rolled
into one. Knowledge and passion. I figure if professionals who
minister to the body can have this air about them, how much more should
those of us who minister to the eternal soul. When asked what kind of a
"Doctor" I am, I often quip, "I practice internal medicine." There are
probably a dozen other ways I could have invested my time and talents,
but I will be forever glad that God called me to a career in teaching.
If I only thought about the task God gave me, and forget about the
enabling power He's promised, I'd either give up or fall apart. We don't
really test God's resources until we attempt the impossible. As a Doctor
of Internal Medicine, I'm overextended by divine design. That's what so
exciting about teaching. It's inviting 5,000 hungry men to sit down for
a meal prepared from the meager contents of one's lunch box. It's the
response of trustful obedience to an impossible situation. To keep
things in focus, I find it helpful to report to the Headmaster every
morning. I willingly submit my work to Him, expressing to Him my desire
to be a channel of blessing to my students, and thanking Him ahead of
time for what He is going to do.
If you're a
"professional" teacher, I imagine you could do the same thing.
Great news! Wieland Willker has updated
his textual commentary on the New Testament again. It now contains about
2,500 pages. What a magnificent gift to the world of scholarship. I just
checked his data on Matt 5:22 and am completely impressed, even if he
does dismiss my arguments out of hand and without comment:
David A. Black "The
text of Mt 5:22a" NovT 30 (1988), 1-8 [he argues for the inclusion
of [eike], but the arguments are not convincing.]
richest man in Africa lives where? Did you say
friends at Denver Seminary will be holding a conference called
The Holocaust and the Bible February 10-11, 2011. One paper strikes
me as particularly interesting:
Erwin Lutzer – "The Church and the Holocaust" - What was the
role of the church in Hitler’s Germany? The church has often come
under scathing criticism for either siding with the Holocaust, or
being silent when confronted with the reality of Hitler’s purges.
This message/seminar is intended to give a balanced picture of the
churches' involvement, both negative and positive with a view to
addressing the larger question of what the role of the church should
be in a an evil society, where following Christ exacts a heavy
price. In the end we must ask whether we would have fared better
under similar circumstances.
PMI just finished editing the next addition to our
The Politics of Witness, by my co-editor Allan Bevere.
Allan's goal is clear:
the abolition of Constantinianism. He writes:
In other words, the
church's first task is not to work to coerce the state to take care
of the poor. The church's first task is to live lives of simplicity
and generosity and take care of the poor ourselves. In so doing we
will be witnessing to the nation that it would be a better state if
it took care of the poor as well. The church's first task is not to
coerce the state into outlawing abortions. The church's first task
is to reject abortion as a Christian option and live in such a way
that we welcome all children into the world. In so doing we will be
witnessing to the nation (as Tertullian stated to the Roman Empire)
that it would be a better state if it didn't kill its children.
Well put indeed. Allan observes that "both
the right and the left seek political power in order to fundamentally
transform America according to their understanding of biblical values
while ending up being nothing more than faith-based extensions of the
Republican and Democratic Parties." I couldn't have said it better.
pleased to commend both book and author. Not that Allan Bevere needs
commendation from me; his one and only desire is to be found worthy by
the One who judges rightly. And his book will commend itself. It fleshes
out theory in a very practical way. I will be very excited to see this
book in print.
PM Came home early from school to assist Matthew
packing his U-Haul truck. Nate also was a huge help. Believe it or not,
we managed to get everything loaded. They are leaving at 6:00 in the
morning. Tonight -- by request of the Rondeaus -- B is cooking Romanian
stuffed peppers for supper. Then Papa B is telling the boys their final
Henny, Jenny, and Penny story for a long time to come. Becky and I have
loved having a family of 5 living with us for the past 6 months. We are
not eager to see them go, but we are excited to see how the Lord will
lead them in the future. Matt will be interning at a church in New York
and (Lord willing) beginning his doctoral studies in the field of
Christian ethics. I expect great things from that young man for the good
of the kingdom in future years.
Pray for me -- I'm
already having withdrawal symptoms!
PM Because of the chance of snow on Friday, the
Rondeaus have moved their departure up to Thursday of this week. This
meant, among other things, that it was time for their puppy to have a
bath before making the long journey north to New York. Matt snuck in and
snapped these pix.
I had lots of
eager help washing Alpha.
Also gave the
boys a lesson in do-it-yourself doggy bathing.
Alpha is now
sleeping peacefully upstairs in the boys' room, probably dreaming about
the girlfriend I'm told is waiting for him in Speculator.
PM Rumor has it that God helps those who help
It's only a rumor,
I am so helpless
that I couldn't make it through a single day without the Lord Jesus.
That's Okay. It's perfectly natural for the Christian to want to depend
upon God for EVERYTHING. Strength in time of weakness. And guidance when
we feel lost and overwhelmed. The bottom line is this: Without Jesus, I
am going to hell. Without him, I am cut off from all that satisfies,
from all that fulfills and is meaningful. The Bible calls us clay pots
with treasure inside. How true.
At no time do I
feel so dependent upon God as when we meet with Becky's oncologists at
UNC. Today's meeting was no exception.
The tumors have
increased in size. Further chemo is no longer an option.
How did we get
to this place? I asked myself. Surgery. Then 16 months of
treatments. Chemo. Radiation treatments (35 of them). More chemo. Then
another chemo drug. Still, the tumors in her lungs grew. Metastatic
endometrial cancer, they call it. And not just plain old uterine
cancer, but clear cell -- the most aggressive kind. That's what we're up
But there's also
good news. The oncologists have agreed to pursue a technique called
Cyber Knife with Becky. At least they are willing to ask themselves
whether this procedure is suitable for her condition. We should have a
good indication by Friday of this week whether or not this is an option
for us. (So far, the signs look promising.) If so, the doctors will try
to destroy 2 of her 4 lung tumors (the largest ones) with highly
concentrated doses of radiation. Certainly worth a try. Then keep an eye
on the situation, do another CT-scan in a few months, and re-assess.
So that's where
things stand as of Tuesday, January 4, 2011.
How are we doing?
At perfect peace with God and ourselves. It takes diligence, courage,
and faith -- in about equal amounts. Remember, the Lord never calls us
to do something unless He enables us to do it. Let's put it straight.
Faith is always a return to reality about God and His character. More
than anything else, faith involves the yielding of rights. As we yield
our rights, God provides the power.
A million thanks
for your continued prayers on our behalf. Prayer is a wonderful thing.
It revamps our expectations. It opens us to God's agenda. It puts
everything in proper perspective.
orphans and widows and the helpless and hopeless are things that the
church should be involved in. With that said, mercy ministries ought to be ministry
extensions of churches who are avidly evangelizing and making
disciples. That is the primary
Well said, Thomas. Our top-notch health
center in southern Ethiopia exists for one reason: to share the love of
the Lord Jesus and His Gospel with everyone who comes to us with their
physical ailments. If folks reject you, they're going to reject you
because you're a messenger of Christ, not a health-care provider. At the
same time, evangelism is simply loving people until they ask you why.
Don't minimize gifts of mercy in your zeal for evangelism!
Incidentally, I hope you will join me
in giving God a huge THANK YOU for granting Thomas and his wife Lesly
clear" to move to El Salvador. What an answer to prayer.
PM One of the pastors/elders at my church (Bethel
Hill) is pursuing a Ph.D. at SEBTS. About half of my own doctoral
students are pastoring or will be when they graduate. I therefore agree
completely with Brian Fulthorp when he writes:
this just proves all the more the need for more pastors to pursue
PhD work in the midst of their vocations(not all, just more) – but also the need for more pastors to be
intentionally involved in such groups as ETS (SBL might be too
academic of a setting and many aren’t even Christian let alone
interested in speaking to or with the church – so ETS might be the
better venue for this kind of conversation) – or for Pentecostal
pastors to be part of SPS and so on – as I understand it, many in
academia want to engage the church but the church in many ways
hasn’t been interested in engaging academia – but being
intentionally involved in ETS and such societies sure would help.
PM Loved being on campus yesterday and today. Got
reconnected with a lot of my colleagues, including Maurice Robinson.
Earlier I had emailed him for a status report on his health. Here's what
he wrote (published here with his permission):
Still recuperating, but getting less pain every week;
right now, however, I have a cold and cough (which hurts every time
due to the healing sternum); also my breathing capacity is still
only about 75% of pre-surgery levels, and my voice remains weak.
Pray primarily that pain will all go away, the
cold/cough will be cured, and that my voice will gain strength by
the time classes start.
PMOver at the Evangelical
Textual Criticism blog there's mention of a new dissertation on
conjectural emendations in New Testament textual criticism. Here's the
Conjectural Emendation in New Testament Textual Criticism with the
Epistle of James as a Case Study.I read
it with great interest since I previously published an essay entitled
"Conjectural Emendations in the Gospel of Matthew" in
Novum Testamentum, in which I argued against the numerous
emendations being proposed for that Gospel (some of them downright
silly). As an
amateur textual critic (yes, I consider myself a rank amateur even
though I did publish the definitive
80-page work on the subject!), it will be fascinating to see why the
author thinks the command "Not many of you should become teachers" in
James 3:1 should be considered "curious" and therefore emended. The
injunction seems clearly to be part of James' "warning against
self-exaltation" (so Peter Davids in his James commentary). Perhaps a
follow-up blog post is called for?
PMMy, this is a good day in the blogosphere. Alan Knox
quotes one of my favorite scholars, Oscar Cullmann. Cullmann is here
thinking way outside the box of conventional thinking about the church.
It's really a great lesson for all of us.
Incidentally, I had the
great, great honor of knowing Professor Cullmann. Although he was
retired by the time I arrived in Basel in 1980, I was privileged to meet
privately with him several times in his home in the Birmannsgasse. He
was known in Basel for his outstanding theological exegesis of
Scripture. Indeed, I still think his
Christology of the New Testament is the best book ever written on
Speaking of publishing, Alex Stewart, one
of my great doctoral students, just had an article published in the
the cap I'd say. Heartiest congratulations, Alex. Well deserved honor!
I would add (although to be
honest with you I'm not sure I should be the one giving this advice; I'm
not as good at writing as I wish I were):
Set goals for yourself.
Edit your work
Try and contribute to
each of the various genres of scholarly publication. These include
peer-reviewed journal articles; book reviews; edited volumes;
monographs; textbooks; surveys; and electronic writing.
In the end, writing
probably has more to do with self-discipline than inspiration.
that the largely Christian south Sudan will peacefully separate from the
Islamic north in a referendum to be held this Sunday, January 9. This
referendum was stipulated in an agreement ending the Sudanese civil war
half a decade ago. Partition is hardly a simple matter, and the issue of
boundaries could lead to further trouble, as it has elsewhere.
Looking forward to
two new books from the able pen of my colleague Andreas Köstenberger
PMOne of my J-term Greek students, along with her husband,
has a wonderful outreach to the children of Wake Forest. You can read
here. What awesome students God gives us here at SEBTS!
PM Tonight were watching old episodes of The
Rockford Files. Partly to reminisce about the 27 years we lived in
Southern California. We've been to that place! Remember those hair
styles? Look at those ties! If you never lived in the '70s and '80s
you simply can't enjoy this series!
violence accelerates in places like Iraq, Egypt and India, a
government crackdown on Christian churches gathers steam in China,
and European bureaucrats continue to drive Christianity from the
public square, “Christianophobia” will become a buzzword.
Don't look for it to become any easier
to be an obedient follower of the Lord Jesus in 2011, at least outside
of North America. If you're interested in my thoughts on the matter, you
might take a look at
Persecuted Church: An Obstreperous Flower. Then pick a body of
persecuted believers in some nation and commit to pray for them in 2011.
Dave Black discusses RSS feeds, of which he
12:18 PM Yes, yes, yes, let’s hear it
You may have bookmarked this blog,
and/or other blogs and webpages. But you
have no idea when new content is posted.
So every now and then you click your
bookmarks to see what is new. Sometimes
nothing is new, and you’ve wasted a
Impeccably good logic. Unless, of course,
when you click on a bookmark and the site
you visit is always publishing something
But you can get an RSS feed of Dave Black’s
blog. Really you can! Here’s how you do it:
The site will give you back an RSS feed
that will follow updates to that page
Put that feed URL into your RSS reader
For example, my reader currently shows the
selection I quoted above as the latest update.
Wow! So there you have it. Super
neat. Thanks Henry!!
PM Yes, yes, yes, let's hear it for
You may have
bookmarked this blog, and/or other blogs and webpages. But you have
no idea when new content is posted. So every now and then you click
your bookmarks to see what is new. Sometimes nothing is new, and
you've wasted a click.
Impeccably good logic. Unless, of
course, when you click on a bookmark and the site you visit is always
publishing something new!
PM In the latest issue of
Catalyst (an online
magazine for Methodist seminarians) you'll find an extremely useful
Building an Old Testament Library: Genesis-Ruth by Bryan Beyer of
Columbia International University. Only one major lacuna that I can see,
and that is Fred Bush's commentary on
Ruth in the Word Biblical Commentary.
AM I am very humbled to be associated with
Energion Publications and its
owner and publisher Henry Neufeld. After Baker Academic (6
books), I believe I have published more titles with Energion than
with any other publisher.
that: I see I have
5 titles with B & H Academic. Ugh, my brain is acting up again!]
This year will
mark the first time Energion will be present at the annual scholarly
meetings and, Lord willing, I plan to help man the display booth. In the
meantime, look for several significant additions to Henry's publications
list this year, including Allan Bevere's
The Politics of
Witness. Allan holds a Ph.D. from Durham University in England and
teaches at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio. And, if you're at all
interested in the theology of John Piper, Phil Hopkins'
God's Desire for the
Nations has just been released and promises to become an influential
work in the field.
This year Allan and
I will be looking for qualified submissions in the field of biblical
studies and would love to entertain a proposal from you. Feel free to
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with your ideas.
May God richly
bless those of you who will be writing and publishing in 2011 for the
honor of the Lord Jesus and the edification of His church!
AM I'm staying home today because I feel a head cold
coming on and I can't get sick because of B's blood counts. Speaking of
Becky, we hope to hear from her gynecological oncologist tomorrow with
the results of her CT-scan. There are, we believe, three possible
The tumors in her lungs are gone
(in which case she will probably have a couple more Adriamycin
treatments just to be sure)
The tumor count remains steady at
two (in which case there is the possibility of surgically removing
The tumors are still there and
have also shown up in other places (in which case we will probably
stop all treatments and let things go their natural course)
As I thought about
these possible outcomes this morning my mind went to Daniel 3 and the
story of the three men who walked in fire. They told the king, "We will
never honor your gods! Besides, our God is able to deliver us from the
fiery furnace." And then they added:
"But even if He
What an attitude!
With it we can face anything that comes into our lives in 2011. Yes, our
God is able to heal Becky. But even if He doesn't, He is still with us.
We will still trust Him and seek to honor and obey Him. Love so amazing,
so divine, demands our souls, and lives, our all. Christ's death and
resurrection challenge our right to live our lives the way we want to
It would be
wonderful to be able to report to you this week that Becky's cancer is
gone. But even if we can't, even if He doesn't take it away, He still
invites us to come to Him and find rest. No matter what, God's grace is
still available but we must lay hold of it and delve deeply into our
AM Kevin Brown (who blogs
here) and his daughter
Katy went with us to Alaba a couple of years ago. I tell you, here are
some folk whose walk squares with their talk! Katy was only 15 at the
time but pulled her load as ably as anyone on our team.
Well, I'm happy
to announce that Katy has started her very own blog. It's got a great
name too: Hearts on
Things Above. Katy describes herself as follows:
I am Kathryn Mary
Brown... a no one, made into a Child of God because of the love of
Christ. I live at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC. So, I
have a southern accent with a southern love for fine things. I love
deep thoughts... in literature, music, history, especially in the
Word of God. I love people and communicating with them through,
writing, talking, acting. That's enough about me. :)
Glad to see you blogging Miss Katy. May
our Father be pleased to bless your efforts for His glory.
P.S. Unlike a reprobate blogger I know
who has neither an RSS feed nor a comments section, Katy has both. I
might suggest that you send her a word of welcome as soon as you can.
AM Tomorrow morning, at 9:00 am sharp, our Greek
class begins. Let's begin it with God. That's how the Bible begins ("In
the beginning God...). We can't get off to a good start without Him. How
foolish to think that we can accomplish anything without Him. Many
mistakes would never have been made had we prayed as much in advance as
we complained after the mistakes were made. In studying Greek you must
start off with a commitment to succeed or you will never finish the
course. Even if you only fall behind in one lesson, you will find it
almost impossible to catch up. Remember: Our pace is one chapter per
day! We read that our Lord "set His face steadfastly to go to
Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Paul says, "This one thing I do" (Phil. 3:13).
Make up your mind to place God first in your studies. Then bring all
other things -- your study habits, your time management, your need to
balance family, study, and work -- into their proper place in relation
Set your face like
a flint and you will not be ashamed.
AM Over at the Bethel Hill blog, Becky has posted
part 2 of her series called
The Chosen One.
PM If Brian Fulthorp's first two blog posts of 2011
are any indication, we can expect some excellent blogging from his
keyboard this year. Be sure to read his latest essay called
What's your single passion?
publisher would be interested in it is beside the point. My efforts
would be directed toward bringing out the nuances of the Greek text that
I've discerned in the past 34 years of teaching Greek. Of course, I
suppose many of the renderings would be similar to those in the
ISV New Testament, as I was the editor of
that work and produced the base translations for all 27 New Testament
Am I crazy for
thinking about doing this? Probably. But that's never stopped me before.
So, what do you
think? (Allan, I'm not asking you!)
If you have
never been on a "mission" trip, go with your local church this year.
If your local church does not have any "trips," find one that does.
I promise you that nothing will radically change your heart more
than getting your hands dirty in the work of the gospel. That's one
side of the coin... here is the other side. When you wake up to go to work, every day
this year here in the US or wherever you are in the world reading
this, wake up and go on a "mission" trip.
I agree! As my friend Alvin Reid puts
Life is a mission trip. Take it!
PM Tonight for the last time Papa B cooked Chinese
stir fry for the Rondeaus. They must have enjoyed it. They said it was
the best supper they had had all year long!
PM Last Saturday it was snowing and the weather was
frigid. Today it's raining and the temps are hovering around 60. What a
difference a week makes.
PM If you are at all interested in the study of 1
Peter, I've got a new blog for you. It's called (quite appropriately)
the Paroikos Bible
Blog. It is written by yet another of my Ph.D. students who has
decided to take up blogging after the oh-so gentle nudging of his
I encourage all of
my other (reprobate and recalcitrant) students to join us on this
PM Before I forget: A huge THANK YOU to Liz for the
outstanding breakfast she prepared for the entire household (dogs
included -- they licked the plates):
poached eggs, link sausages, hash browns, fresh biscuits, and apple
juice. Gonna miss you Lizzy Pie!
PM The rubber hits the road in John Piper's
post-absence report. By the way, I love such honesty and
transparency in a leader. Without devoting a lengthy post to this issue,
let me just say I'm praying for John and his marriage.
And while the man I
see in the mirror every day is far from perfect in this area, he can
attest to the wonderful power of God's grace to overcome selfishness and
sullenness. I have no idea what the future holds for John Piper. All I
know is that he is watched over and cared for by One whose
compassion never runs empty. One whose mercies are new every morning.
One who is faithful no matter how much self threatens to consume us.
PM One thing I love about Eric Carpenter is that he
is no "half-way man" (this term was used by the Anabaptists to describe
their former leader Zwingli) -- afraid to face the consequences of his
own beliefs and teachings. Obedience to Jesus always involves
risk-taking. Following the Spirit's lead in our lives demands sacrifice
of creature comforts. When the Spirit impels us toward something we may
not want to do or dread to undertake, we must follow the Lord whatever
happens to us. America has made financial "security" its main business.
But very few are interested in righteousness. It is not time for drunken
Noahs but for disciples who have an understanding of Scripture to know
what they ought to do and who are enabled by the Spirit to do it.
AM I've been corresponding with someone who is
currently teaching the book of Hebrews in Mozambique. In passing he
There are openings at Sofala Bible
Institute (Instituto Bíblico de Sofala. Send them our way!
If you're thinking of an academic
career, teaching overseas is a wonderful option you should consider. You
can take a peek at the school's website
(in both Portuguese and English).
Also in passing, I mentioned to him
that my roommate in college was a Brazilian who taught me just enough
Portuguese to be dangerous. Here we are in a previous incarnation:
Rubens was quite a jokester. He was
also brilliant. Blind from birth, he played classical piano and clarinet
and spoke 5 languages fluently. During our 4 years as roommates he
really put me to shame.
What happy memories!
AM Andy Bowden stirs up another hornet's nest with
Frontiers of Fat. He dares to challenge the thinking of all the
"experts" who pontificate behind their mahogany desks. Good stuff, Andy.
(Oh wait -- I
sit behind a mahogany desk!)
AM I wish
this book were ready
for my spring class on the Greek text of Mark!
sixteenth century Anabaptists have much to teach us about following
Christ. Discipleship – following after Jesus' example – became the key
Anabaptist criterion for describing the life of faith. They believed in
serving instead of ruling
suffering instead of inflicting
breaking down walls instead of
biblical authority instead of
brotherhood instead of hierarchy
the towel instead of the sword
the headship of Christ instead of that
of any pastor
the way of peace instead of “just war”
the church as a living organism
instead of as a human institution
the reign of God instead of a
the catholicity of the true church
instead of sectarianism
the power of suffering instead of the
cult of power
the Bible as a book of the church
instead of as a book of scholars
loyalty to their heavenly citizenship
instead of to the principalities and powers
Spirit-orientation instead of forced
structures of church life
being a “light to the nations” instead
of a Christian enclave
knowing Christ instead of merely
knowing about Him
faith that works (in both senses)
instead of dead orthodoxy
effectual grace as a living reality
instead of as a theological dogma
every-member ministry instead of
baptism into Christ instead of baptism
into a denomination
a unity that is lived instead of a
unity that is merely extolled
welcoming the despised and
marginalized instead of ignoring them
a hermeneutic of obedience instead of
a hermeneutic of knowledge
individual conscience instead of
volunteerism instead of
allegiance to Christ instead of
allegiance to the state
Above all, the Anabaptists believed in
obeying Christ's call to abandon self and follow His example of
humility, service, and suffering. The way of Jesus, they taught, is the
way of suffering servanthood. It is the ultimate in downward mobility.
We've been getting lots of requests for our essay "Literary Artistry in
the Epistle to the Hebrews." I will send them out on Monday when I
return to campus. I'll also throw in my essay "Who Wrote Hebrews? The
Internal and External Evidence Reexamined" just for fun (and to destroy
whatever vestige of academic credibility I may still have in your eyes).