faculty_blog_header_summer

Written by Todd Mangum Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00

This is Holy Week, Passion Week, the last week of Lent, the week of reflection on Christ’s suffering and death, the week before we begin the celebration – praise God! – of Christ’s resurrection, the conquering of Death, and the entry of His Kingdom. It’s only appropriate to reflect here then, theologically, on Christ’s suffering and death.

Christ’s death was necessary to provide atonement for sin, of course – the book of Romans (Romans 5, in particular) makes that clear. And the reasons are so familiar (partly because of Passion Week sermons!) that there’s no need to rehash them here. Yes, Christ’s death was necessary to provide a substitutionary, atoning sacrifice.   

But there’s nothing in the atonement that required the kind of death Jesus died. Any death, given Jesus’ total innocence, would have done it. Theoretically, he could have died in His sleep at a ripe old age and that would have done it insofar as an atoning sacrifice for sin; that still would have been enduring the “capital punishment” for sin when He was guilty of no sin.  

So why did He go through all that? And by “all that” I mean the tortures and humiliations so horrific that their very depiction and memory are feared to be to this day inflammatory of prejudicial backlash. Recall the controversies along this line with which Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ was greeted.

The closest thing to an explanation we get in the entire New Testament is Hebrews 2:10:

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”

Notice that the writer of Hebrews does not say “necessary.” It was necessary for there to be a sacrifice of death (Heb. 8:3); it was necessary for the “Heavenly Temple” to be “cleansed” with a blood sacrifice (Heb. 9:23) – so OK, “blood” sacrifice sounds inherently violent.  But the level of Christ’s suffering – the beating, the torture, the mockery . . . only “fitting.”

How so?

(I’m going to need another blog for that one. . . . Stay tuned Good Friday.) 

           

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical.  He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention.  Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.  See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/todd-mangum.

 

Written by Susan Disston Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00

A new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church was elected this month. Within two days, The Economist featured a cautionary subtitle to a front page article: “Pope Francis inherits a mess but has great opportunities. He will need to act quickly.” (March 16, 2013, print edition)

Indeed, Pope Francis is the new leader of a problem-besieged church. But the world senses that he will find opportunities that his predecessors overlooked. Perhaps that’s because we’re finding out that this Pope has prepared himself for transformational leadership. Pope Francis brings to his office a commitment and sensitivity for justice and for the poor; one that makes him stand out in a prophetic way from his peers and imitates the ministry of his namesake, Francis of Assisi. For example, the Pope-elect, “when he was archbishop of sprawling Buenos Aires, moved out of the palace of previous prelates and went abroad to literally wash the feet of AIDS sufferers in hospice.” (Barone, www.phillie.com, March 15, 2013).

Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone (St. Francis of Assisi) and Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) entered into lifelong ministries of advocacy and giving to the poor. It is likely that that both studied the Gospels and let the words of Jesus propel them into ministry. The world observed the fruit of this study when Pope Francis asked for the prayers of the people from the balcony of the Sistine Chapel in the first hours after his election.

What can we expect when we study the Gospels?  Tom Wright—biblical scholar and pastor—suggested that the Gospels were written to transform, not just to inform the reader. He said people should seek out all four Gospels and “struggle with each book” and its unique portrait of Jesus. He explained,

  • John’s Gospel is designed to bring you to your knees in wonder, love, and praise.
  • Luke’s is meant to make you sit up and think hard about Jesus as Lord of the whole world.
  • Matthew’s is like a beautifully bound book which the Christian must study and ponder at leisure, steadily reordering one’s life in the process.
  • Mark’s is like a hastily printed revolutionary tract, stuffed into a back pocket, and frequently pulled out, read by torchlight, and whispered to one’s co-conspirators.” (from The Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary.” Eerdmans, 144ff.)

In other words, we can expect to encounter Jesus in life transforming ways as each in our own way face the daily “mess” and the many opportunities that require us to “act quickly” and with wisdom. Our struggle to encounter Jesus can then lead us into prayer. Wright reminds us that the Gospels lead us to Jesus every time.

Susan Disston is the assistant dean of curriculum and assessment at Biblical Seminary. http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/adjunct-faculty-theology

   

Written by Kyuboem Lee Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00

The 2013 Justice Conference took place in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Convention Center February 22-23. Several thousand justice-seekers from all around the country (and the world) gathered to sit at the feet of the likes of John M. Perkins, a Nicholas Wolterstorff, Ken Wytsma (the founder of the conference), Eugene Cho (One Day's Wages), Gary Haugen (International Justice Mission), and many others.

It was a great time for me to connect with friends old and new, and get a pulse on what was happening in the Church with regard to Justice. I was witnessing a movement. Most of the attendees were in their twenties. Nicholas Wolterstorff observed that there was a time when getting 25 people together to talk about justice would have been a success; now, he had a crowd of a few thousand before him.

The conference has stimulated me to write down takeaways and thoughts, and share them as tweets. Here they are, collected together:

  1. #justice2013 takeaway: Pastors, something is happening with young Xians re justice. Are you being equipped theologically to guide them?
  2. #justice2013 takeaway: Justice is an optional part of gospel ministry only if justice is an optional part of God's character.
  3. #justice2013 takeaway: Pastors, if your gospel lives only in the individual moral sphere, you will lose the new generation. And the world.
  4. #justice2013 takeaway: There is a profound & urgent need for theological education (specifically pastoral training) for shalom.
  5. #justice2013 thought: How will the Church keep "justice" from becoming merely a commodity the privileged can indulge in?
  6. #justice2013 thought: What transformations will theo ed institutions need to undergo so they can raise up leaders for communities of shalom? (This one got some interesting discussion over on Facebook take a look.)
  7. #justice2013 thought: If there is 2 b theo ed 4 shalom->churches of shalom, what must happen 2 overcome injustices in higher ed? Ordination?
  8. #justice2013 thought: Activists need pastors & churches who connect their work 2 gospel, else they r n danger of getting co-opted by world.
  9. #justice2013 thought: The Church must persistently draw the connection between justice and gospel, else we will be left w a secular justice.
  10. #justice2013 thought: The Church must persistently draw the connection between justice & gospel, else we will be left w sth less than gospel
  11. #justice2013 thought: If justice is to reign Xians must upend postcolonial relationships in institutions, churches & yes justice ministries.
  12. #justice2013 thought: To commit to justice means a lifelong journey of repentance from apathy, paternalism, privilege-seeking & triumphalism
  13. #justice2013 thought: 2 commit 2 justice = pursuing just partnerships across racial, cultural, socioec boundaries; 2 b more than urself.
  14. #justice2013 thought: 4 justice 2b true, main action has 2b @ the grassroots, not in the stratosphere of privilege; bottom-up, not top-down.
  15. #justice2013 thought: Justice must be firmly grounded in the gospel. It will save us from messiah complex, burnout, reliance on techniques.
  16. #justice2013 thought: Preaching w/o justice doing isn't good news; justice doing w/o gospel sharing isn't in the end loving.
  17. #justice2013 thought: Justice doers, beware of exploiting hurting 4 celebrity & feeding god complex. You too need 2 answer 2 a just King.
  18. #justice2013 thought: Don't be in love with the idea of yourself doing justice; be in love with the just King.
  19. More #justice2013 thought: Biblical theology of justice may keep word & deed, individual & social, godliness & justice together in Jesus.

More thoughts and discussions will come, surely -- I invite your conversation. But talking should also mean walking; here's to seeing more God-glorifying justice-doing in our world.


Dr. Kyuboem Lee serves as a lecturer of Urban Mission at Biblical Seminary. He is the founding pastor of Germantown Hope Community Church in Philadelphia, and the General Editor for the Journal of Urban Mission (http://jofum.com).

   

Written by Charles Zimmerman Monday, 18 March 2013 00:00

Where have they gone & where are they now? 

This month I continue with blog posts seeking to update you on some graduates of Biblical Seminary.  This month we visit with Ed Welch, a 1978 MDiv graduate. 

A chance to reflect on my time at Biblical. What fun! Thank you, faculty, for the opportunity.

I attended Biblical from 1975-1978. Dave Dunbar graduated the year before I came and he was always being cited as one of my illustrious predecessors - I always hoped there would be a little residual glory from his student days that would shine on me (one could always hope). I went through the M.Div. program, which was only program.

Dr. MacRae was President and all the original faculty were teaching in those days. Most people grow, in part, through amassing good biblical understanding and through observing the lives of those teaching it. What I remember from Biblical certainly includes lots of solid biblical material, but what really sticks is the influence of a faculty that showed grace to each other, grace to those who disagreed with them, and grace to students. Humility could sum it up. That day-in-and-day out humility – in class, in chapel, in the way they answered student questions – has left its mark on me.

I have lots of specific memories.

  • Tom Taylor starting a chapel with, “Ah yes, my devotional soul is stirred up this morning.” At that moment I hoped that I would be able to start every sermon I would ever give with the same sentiment.
  • Bob Vannoy and his careful scholarship
  • Bill Harding and our recitations of the Hebrew alphabet, in which we all tried to replicate his basso profundo, sometimes with a few chuckles.
  • Having my friend Mark Schmitz comment after my senior sermon, “Welch, you are the only person I know who, when he gets dressed up, still doesn’t look dressed up.” It is an observation that has stood the test of time.
  • Bob Dunzweiler starting a chapel with, “When I preach, I envision my arms going around everyone present.” I have tried to conceive of myself as rubber man with those stretchy arms ever since.
  • John Grauley, whose counseling class was the primary motivator behind what I am doing today.
  • Living my first semester in what is now part of the seminary library. It was  a small classroom with six other people, one who slept about three feet away. The good news was that I could wake up one minute before class and still be on time. The bad news was that I looked a bit rumpled, though only once did I wear a pajama top to class, and I probably didn’t smell too good.
  • Fellow students who were very patient with me. At the time I didn’t fit the profile for a seminary student in all kinds of ways, and everyone was gracious as they secretly hoped that I would one day grow up.

Since Biblical, I went off to graduate school, married Sheri, had two fine daughters who gave me two fine sons-in-law and four grandchildren that should expand to seven by the end of May 2013, started working at CCEF in 1981 and have been a stick in the mud (a pig in mud?) ever since. I am still at CCEF in PA where I teach, write and do biblical counseling, and I will probably stay there as long as they will have me. I am also an elder at Bridge Community Church, which has taken me to Swaziland a number of times.

I am in the dark ages with social media. My contact information at CCEF is though a secretary (Amy at acarter@ccef.org), but I am, finally, considering going on Facebook (while Facebook people head off to Twitter and beyond). It is the only way I can get updated photos of my grandkids.

Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology.  He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton.  He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan.

   

Written by Dan LaValla Wednesday, 13 March 2013 00:00

"Black and White" written by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson in 1954 became a number one hit for Three Dog Night in 1972. On February 10, 2013 one of the stanzas in this song, “A child is black, a child is white, together they grow to see the light, to see the light,” became real to me during a worship service. Our church, First Baptist Church of Lansdale, PA, joined our sister church, Zion Baptist Church of Ambler, PA, for a combined worship service. Although our congregation is multiracial, it is predominantly Anglo (as am I) and our worship style follows Anglo traditions; Zion Baptist is a predominantly African-American congregation and follows African-American worship traditions. In honor of Black History month, during the service, between the songs of worship and the reading of scripture/sermon, a young African-American man of Zion Baptist (probably still in high school) read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream…” speech.

I have been quite familiar with this speech for most of my life, having read it in high school (many years ago) and on several occasions, have heard excerpts of it on the radio and seen video clips of MLK, Jr.’s actual delivery of the speech. It is undeniably one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history. The words not only reflect the genius of MLK, Jr., but strike at the heart of the Constitution and the rights, freedom, and justice it is meant to grant and protect for all people in the United States. I hate to admit that prior to February 10thI listened to and read “I Have a Dream…” primarily as academic exercises and solely from an intellectual perspective. 

However, listening to this young man deliver the speech on February 10thand being in the midst of my African-American brothers and sisters in the Lord brought new meaning to the words. Also, hearing the speech in the midst of a worship service made me realize it is more than a political statement and for American Christians, it has as much to do with Biblical principles as it does political. In light of Galatians 3, especially verses 26-28, all believers are one in Christ. In God’s eyes there are no earthly distinctions that override this oneness in Christ. This oneness in God’s eyes disregards differences in our race, ethnicity, gender, or societal status. So too are the inalienable rights of citizenship in the U.S. granted by the Constitution irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, or societal status. 

Finally, I would like to point out one more revelation I experienced that night. Back in November, I found myself with the medical diagnosis of a “significant herniated disc” in my lower back. For the first time in my life I am living with chronic, continuous pain. Thankfully, my long-term prognosis is good, but living with constant pain for months impacts your emotional, cognitive, and spiritual perspectives. So as I sat there on February 10th, I sensed God’s spirit communicating through the pain so that the words of “I have a Dream…” did not only convey the hope and progress of our society that I usually heard, but also the sorrows of our present reality. The sorrows associated with how alienated people are from one another because of race, ethnicity, gender, and other distinctions. In order for us to follow more effectively Christ’s top two commands, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27), it would behoove each of us to make an effort to not only respect one another’s differences in the Lord, but to also make a whole-hearted effort to embrace and experience our differences so that we can learn how to actually demonstrate Christ’s love to one another in our daily actions!


Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association; he serves on the Ministry Board and chairs the Missions Committee of First Baptist Church of Lansdale. He is very active in his community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla.

 

   

Written by Dave Lamb Monday, 11 March 2013 00:00

“When a pastor commits a sexual sin does he need to confess it to the entire church?”

This question was asked during my Psalms class last week as we were discussing Psalm 51.  According to the heading, the psalm was written after David committed adultery with Bathsheba. 

Psalm 51

To the choirmaster, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.

While the whole class suddenly engaged actively in the discussion, the student’s question felt particularly relevant personally since at my church they announced on the previous Sunday that a member of the staff was being released due to an incident of sexual sin. 

Students commented that specific sins are rarely confessed publically in church contexts.  The rare exception to this pattern is sexual sin.  I wondered if we made it a more common practice to confess “smaller” sins to each other as Scripture commands (James 5:16), if there would be less “bigger” sins to confess. 

I also noted to the class that while we don’t know all the details, we do know David confessed his sin to Nathan (2 Sam. 12:13) and he also wrote down his confession in the form of Psalm 51. 

We are unsure of who may have read the psalm while he was alive, but David’s confession has been read rather widely over the course of the past 3000 years.  And Scripture has no qualms narrating in detail the story of David’s adultery, deception and murder (2 Sam. 11).  The Bible itself models openness and honesty about sin since none of the “heroes” of Scripture (except Jesus) comes out looking completely pure: Abraham lied about his wife, twice (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18); Moses committed murder (Exo. 2:12); Elijah was suicidal (1 Kgs. 19:4); Peter denied Jesus, thrice (Mark 14:66-72). 

So, when it comes to sin, pastors and all church leaders need to be open, honest and specific about sins.  I think pastors should confess not just sexual sins, but other sins.  When pastors tell real life stories, their congregations need to hear about failures, struggles and sins

In Psalm 51, David provides a model of confession:

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

3For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…

While the psalm itself is vague about the details, speaking generically of “transgressions”, “iniquity” and “sin”, the heading makes it clear what the context of the sin was.  The vagueness of the language of the psalm invites the reader of the psalm to “fill in the blanks” with their own sins.  If David spoke of adultery and murder, those of us who haven’t committed those crimes, at least not yet (although see Matt. 5:22, 28), might find it difficult to identify with the words of the psalm. 

The important thing to remember when it comes to confession is that as big as our sins are, God’s mercy and steadfast love are bigger.  David begins the psalm not with his sin, but God’s mercy. 

Our reluctance to confess sins as openly and honestly as David communicates that we don’t believe God’s mercy can really wash and cleanse us.  As political and spiritual leader of the nation, David could have easily rationalized keeping his sin secret.  But his cover-up of the initial sin of adultery led to more sin—deception and murder.

As David confesses, his divinely cleansed heart (Psa. 51:10), allowed him to go on to teach other transgressors God’s ways so that they could return to God (Psa. 51:13).  May we follow David’s example, not in sinning, but in confessing and teaching other sinners. 

Where do you see confessing in the church? 


David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.

 

**Note: Image (Nathan Confronts King David, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld) from: http://www.boomerinthepew.com

   

Written by Phil Monroe Saturday, 09 March 2013 00:00

Have you been to a medical practice recently to deal with an injury or sickness? If so, I’m guessing you were asked to rate your current pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. Pain assessment and management is a growing part of today’s health care services. This is helpful since many have pain as their primary presenting problem. There are a number of syndromes and disorders that cluster around pain as the presenting problem: Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, back pain, etc. Depending on which research study you read, some 9-17% of the population struggles with some form of chronic pain.

Common Pain Presentation?

While these various forms of pain are quite different, there are some commonalities. Chronic and diffuse pain sufferers frequently experience some form of inflammation, fatigue, sleep disruption, negative mood, and poor memory (it is hard to pay attention to new information when you are weighed down by pain). These symptoms develop into vicious cycles. If you don’t get restorative sleep, you experience more fatigue, you are more prone to negative thought patterns, your pain levels go up, memory goes down…and thus you don’t sleep well the next night, and so on. Researchers describe this vicious cycle in terms of “allostatic load”–the deleterious effects of chronic stress hormones without restorative sleep.

Is It Just In My Head?

When pain is diffuse AND there is a lack of visible evidence for the pain (a big red spot, a swollen limb, etc.), chronic pain sufferers and their families struggle to understand whether or not the pain is real. In addition, family and sufferers wonder just how much can be expected of the person in pain. Thus, it encourages more “I should be able to…” thinking in all parties. As a result, pain sufferers tend either to do too much (creating more pain) or withdraw even further (creating more emotional distress).

As with all physiological problems, mood, perceptions, focus, and stress levels impact severity of the problem. While chronic pain is not just a mental state, how we respond to chronic pain may help alleviate or elevate the pain sensation we experience. Ironically, many pain sufferers resist counseling because they fear that others will believe that their symptoms are all in their head. Those who refuse to acknowledge the psychological factors in pain sensation and management miss out on important means to cope with the pain and to lower pain perceptions.

Chronic pain sufferers must accept the need to adjust their lifestyle to accommodate more rest. They must fight to get the best restorative sleep possible. Sleep may even be more important than pharmaceutical interventions (and I am not knocking medical treatments nor saying that just getting sleep will solve the problem).

Faith and Pain?

One of the biggest challenges for believing pain sufferers is the matter of hope and faith. When we suffer problems, we often expect and hope they will go away. When they do not get better it is easy to slide into despair. Despair usually is the result of things not going the way we hoped or expected. Part of living with chronic pain requires grieving what is lost. Without good grief, it is hard to accept–even enjoy–what strength and health we do have. Without hope, we may lose what self-efficacy we once had. We may stop doing the basic care-taking activities within our grasp. Interestingly, one of the clearest signs of this struggle is the massive dropouts in pain management research. Frequently, dropouts number about 50% in these studies. This means that before a study gets too far along many are dropping out because they assume the new treatment won’t work.

Faith is not that things will go my way right now but that God is in control, cares/protects me, and is working for my ultimate redemption–even when the opposite seems to be true. Faith is acting in a manner consistent with said assumptions even while grieving over real losses. Such faith enables us to be mindful of our thoughts so that we do not practice into beliefs counter to what we have come to know as true.

A Realistic Picture of Suffering Well

The chronic pain sufferer who grieves well

  • asks God for relief
  • stays in community with others
  • seeks relief through human means yet has an attitude of waiting on the Lord, and
  • explores and confront hidden sin in self that the pain may reveal

Grieving well does not mean coming to a place where the pain were nothing. That would be living in a false world. Rather, the faithful Christian notes God’s presence in distress and rejoices when they find 5% improvement—even as they cry out for greater relief and healing.


Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychologyand Director of the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He also directs Biblical’s new trauma recovery project. You can find his personal blog at www.wisecounsel.wordpress.com.

   

Page 11 of 23

Blog Mission

The purpose of this blog will be to expand the influence of our faculty, maintain contact with our graduates, and invite other friends to think with us about important biblical and theological ideas.

Biblical's Faculty

Biblical’s Faculty:

We are committed to ongoing engagement with culture and the world for the sake of our witness to the Gospel, and to continual learning from Christians in other cultural settings.

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 01 October 2014 - by Dan Williams
Written on 29 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 26 September 2014 - by David Lamb
Written on 24 September 2014 - by Dr. Diane Langberg
Written on 22 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 19 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 22 August 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 01 August 2014 - by Susan Disston
Written on 18 July 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman
Written on 11 July 2014 - by Bryan Maier

Previous Blog Entries

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)

 

admissions@biblical.edu

Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x162

215.368.5000 x162

215.368.7002 (fax)

 

development@biblical.edu

Home

Site Login