Written by Charles Zimmerman Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00

Where have they gone & where are they now?

This month I continue with updates on some graduates of Biblical Seminary.  This month we visit with Mike Beates.  Mike was most recently at Biblical for our Conversations on Christianity & Culture series, where he gave a presentation along with Joni Eareckson Tada and others on Disability and the Gospel

What years did you attend at Biblical, and what degree(s) did you receive? 

I was at Biblical from 1984-88. I received the M.Div. and the S.T.M. (New Testament) degrees. 

What have you been doing since then?  Be sure to include information about your family.

Leaving Biblical, I took a position with Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Fla. developing educational resources, planning conferences, and editing Tabletalk magazine. During my tenure at Ligonier, I was ordained by the PCA in 1992 and served a dual call with Ligonier and as an associate pastor (without pay) at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Winter Park, Fla. In 1996, I was called by Reformed Theological Seminary to be Dean of Students while continuing with the local church. After 9/11, RTS cut back staffing and let me go, so the church took me on as a full time associate. I shepherded the church through the notable death of the pastor, Dr. Jack Arnold in 2005.  In 2008, I was called to teach Bible and history at The Geneva School (a Christian and Classical school) in Winter Park, Fla. More recently, I became Dean of Students at Geneva so I am shepherding 450+ students (and in many cases pastoring their parents), and helping to administer the school while still teaching the Bible classes.

My family when I left Biblical was comprised of my wife, Mary, and three children, Jessica, Jameson, and Abraham. God added Abbie by birth in Winter Park, then Elias, Shoshanah, and Josiah by adoption. They now range in age from 31-20. Mary continues her ministry in our home and has served with Bethany Christian Services “Safe Families” division as a foster mother to numerous children over the years.

Jameson (married to Tara with our grandson, Jackson) is a social worker in Reading, Penna., hoping to teach and coach. Abraham is a Naval Academy graduate and pilots a Sea Hawk helicopter for the Navy, currently stationed in Mayport, Fla. Abbie just finished a year serving Christ with “Campus Outreach” and is now preparing for medical school. Shoshanah is a baker with a local restaurant; Eli is a scholar athlete, playing soccer at Stetson University (aspiring to play for the men’s national team some day!); and Josiah has just landed a job with a local hospital in Orlando. We are thankful to God for them all. 

Jessica (our oldest) has always lived with severe and profound disabilities, so her life has shaped our family in many ways, not least bringing us into contact with Joni Eareckson Tada and her ministry, Joni and Friends. I have been blessed to serve on the International Board of Directors of Joni and Friends since 2000, and authored a book released last July entitled Disability and the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).

Tell a favorite memory from your Biblical days. 

I distinctly remember coming to Biblical from serving with Young Life staff and realizing that while I had been among the more conservative Young Life staff, I was probably one of the more “liberal” students at Biblical! And I remember at orientation Tom Taylor saying, “At Biblical Seminary, we are Reformed, . . . but we’re happy about it!” I have never forgotten that sentiment and try to live by it.

I was also deeply affected by Fred Putnam’s God-centered and devotional instruction in Hebrew, including his “lunch time reading club” that took a small group of students through Ruth and much of 1 Samuel. In fact, I mimicked this at RTS, conducting a similar club for 8-10 years where together we read (among other things) Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, and Genesis.

Contact information:

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mike.beates or also on Facebook under the title of my book “Disability and the Gospel”; and a recent interview in Tabletalk can be seen here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/disabilities-and-gospel/

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 Bryan Maier Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

As a marriage counselor, I have been amazed at the propensity of many politicians who disregard their marriage vows and engage in sexual behavior that at one time would have brought great shame on their marriage and career. Now it seems almost like a resume booster.  To add insult to injury, many of these men (it is usually men) ignore the scandal and keep on running for office (or staying in office).

Of course, the race for mayor in NYC is the most current version of this scenario but one does not have to look for very long to realize this happens a lot. It is not restricted to one political party (i.e. Mark Sanford or Bill Clinton, take your pick) nor is a current phenomenon (i.e. JFK, FDR or even Warren Harding who was accused of conceiving his daughter (with his mistress of the time) on the very floor of the US Senate.

Most of these men are married and thus when they are caught the media tries to secure some kind of response from the wife. Again, responses vary but one common pattern is the “stand by your man” response.  This usually involves the wife making supportive comments before the camera and cooperating with her husband’s portrayal of himself as a victim of some kind of disorder (two weeks in a treatment center ought to do it) rather than as a dishonest self-serving power hungry narcissist.

My thoughts about the women in these situations have been sparked by a book I am reading on the Kennedy women.  It is common knowledge now that whatever else Camelot was, it was a time when the White House was a place where sexual misbehavior was the norm. The “war on women” is nothing new. To cite just one lesser known example, JFK’s daily “swim” was nothing more than skinning dipping with two female members of the White House Staff. Like his father before him, adultery was the norm for JFK.

While all this is well documented, what is fascinating is the response of the women who were married to the Kennedys.  They all chose a form of absolute denial. They continued to appear with their husbands in public and support his career. They even vacationed separately knowing what their husband would do with his time. It is true that divorce carried a much greater stigma back then than it does today, but these were not poor, uneducated women who had to stay married for financial reasons. These were all daughters of wealthy families who could easily have made it on their own.

So what made them stay?

For some they traded their dignity for a position of power and prestige. Others received payoffs of a different currency. But they all decided for one reason or another that they would endure their husband’s behavior, which in the long run only reinforced such actions.  I am not blaming the women in these cases. The men are 100% guilty for their actions. I am just saddened that their wives choose to stifle their own voice.

What is the church doing to support the voices of women, not only those with unfaithful husbands but those who have been victims of sexual or physical abuse?  Are we aware of the temptation to cover up trauma and reinforce denial rather than truth? Will we cooperate with a cover-up even if the women in these situations are part of it? Is there a currency with which we could be bought off? I don’t have all the answers but as we watch politician’s wives sell their souls, how can we empower women to make other choices?

If this in an important issue to you, I would encourage you to check out the Global Trauma Recovery Institute at Biblical Seminary.

Bryan Maier, Psy. D. is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.


Written by Dan LaValla Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:00

Last month, I had the privilege of serving on a short-term mission team of 28 men and women and high school youth who traveled to Kodiak, Alaska where we served the Kodiak Baptist Mission (KBM) for youth and families. On the first day, we divided up into five teams according to the giftedness and the work each person wanted to take on. I was on a team of six that took on the roofing and repairs of a three-story house and consisted of a professional roofer/general contractor, KBM’s executive director and maintenance director and my two sons (ages 14 and 17).

This was the closest I have ever come to experiencing the dynamics described in 2 Cor. 8:7-15: specifically, a unity in Christ characterized by a shared equality that was based on mutual respect and humility regardless of one another’s abilities and assigned responsibilities.

Reflecting on the trip upon our return home, I realized the conditions for experiencing the dynamics of 2 Cor. 8:7-15 were ideal for several reasons. First, all six members of our team put aside their selfish motivations for a unified goal to serve Kodiak Baptist Mission to the fullest of our abilities in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, our team’s abundance of time and effort were providing the skills and resources that Kodiak Baptist Mission lacked to make the repairs on their own.

Third, the project was too immense to accomplish for a team our size under normal circumstances, requiring several hours of overtime for eight consecutive days, through the final workday of our mission trip to complete the project.

Finally, we had the privilege of experiencing daily encouragement from our gracious Lord by witnessing miraculous answers to the prayers of many that helped us overcome extenuating circumstances.

While our team worked with minimal interpersonal tensions and strong relationships formed for the hours we worked closely in a limited space, not all of the above lessons were realized in the midst of the project or without challenges. As the coordinator of the mission trip, I admit that I felt our team was called to accept the roofing project, but I accepted with some fears and concerns about whether or not we would complete the project without injuries.

First, the size and conditions of the roof and house were extremely difficult; the executive director later informed us later in the week, several teams over the past two years declined the job for the number of difficulties involved.

Second, Kodiak’s climate is a temperate rain forest where it is common to rain three to four days per week and any bit of rain would have slowed us down enough to prevent us from finishing. Our church prayed for 40 days leading up to and throughout the trip and each team member recruited a minimum of ten additional prayer partners all of whom were praying for suitable weather to complete our assignments. For our entire trip, the weather was dry, a stretch the native islanders had never observed. The successful completion of the project was obviously the result of willingness to accept a calling with faith and not just on assessing our human capacity, selfless commitment to serve God and His mission, answered prayer, and our team working with mutual respect and humility towards one another.

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 and is very active in his church and 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, 12 August 2013 00:00

I was running in the rain a few weeks ago.  Later that day, a friend from work who spotting me on my rainy run asked, “Why do you run in the rain?”  (Usually when friends honk at me on my runs, I wave, but without my glasses I have no idea who I’m waving to.)

I said, “I like to run in the rain.”  I don’t understand the fear of rain.  If it rains we stay inside, we use umbrellas, we cancel golf tournaments and baseball games (but not football…).  We don’t go on runs. 

I like the rain.  I don’t like the fact that it makes my hair frizzy, but compared to the bigger problems facing humanity (national debt, climate change, royal baby names), a little moisture on the head seems trivial. 

The main thing I like about running in the rain is that it connects me to God.  God dwells in the heavens, humans dwell on the earth.  Rain connects heaven to earth.

Psalm 68 captures this idea as it describes God with his people in the wilderness. 

Psalm 68:7-10 (NRSV)

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

8the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God,
the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;

10your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness,
O God, you provided for the needy.

OK, so God and his people were not running, but they were marching, slightly slower than running, as they went through the wilderness.  Then the heavens poured down rain, and they didn’t go inside or under their umbrellas, they said, “bring it on.”  They saw the rain as a blessing. 

Why was rain good?  Because it represented two good things. 

First, rain represented God’s presence. Rain came from heaven where God dwelt and the rain in Psalm 68 is clearly connected to God being with his people.  He used the pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to guide them (Exo. 13:21-22), but according to Psalm 68, he also used a shower of rain to signify that he was with them.  He was God with them, not technically in the flesh, but in the water. 

Second, rain represented God’s provision.  God rained abundantly.  He showered rain everywhere, which somehow restored his heritage as it languished.  God’s goodness was connected to how he provided rain for his people.  It was a way he provided for the needy.  We all need water.  God provides it with rain. 

Next time it rains, don’t avoid it, bask it, run in it.  Gene Kelly advises singing in it, which is good, but remember who sends the rain.  Thank God for it, and connect to the God that provided the rain. 

What do you do in the rain? 

I should probably stop writing, our grass is long, it’s going to rain, and I don’t like mowing in the rain. 

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.


Written by Derek Cooper Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00

In my book, So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary, I tried to help individuals who were wrestling with the question of whether they should attend seminary. It’s an important question, and I addressed any number of issues related to it. One of the first issues I tackled in the book had to do with myths that many people held about seminary. In the previous blog, I discussed five myths about seminary. In this blog, I will discuss five additional ones, before offering some final comments about seminary myths. As before, these myths will be included as questions, as I often get inquires from prospective students with these types of concerns.

10 Seminary Myths / Questions

6. Do I have to know exactly what I’m going to do upon graduation?

No. You definitely do not need to know what you are going to do after seminary - only that you are called to go to seminary. Remember that most of us did not go to college completely sure of what we wanted to study or do for the rest of our lives. And for those who did know this, they probably changed their minds! You can go to seminary without knowing whether you want to be a teacher, a pastor, an administrator, or a layperson. In addition to the different programs and classes that you will take, both faculty/staff and fellow students can help you figure out exactly what you are going to do upon graduation (while you are still in seminary).

Nevertheless, it would naturally be helpful to have a good indication before you enter so as to save money, time, and frustration. I personally went to seminary not knowing exactly what I would end up doing. Would I be a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, or none of the above? What mattered most was that I believed that I was supposed to go to seminary. The rest fell into place while I was there. If that describes your situation, go to seminary. While in school, you will get a better feel for your interests and abilities. 

7. Do I have to be a pastor?

No. The general makeup of seminaries today has evolved considerably over the years: from ones historically made up of pastors and priests to ones currently full of students who are pursuing a variety of diverse career paths. Although seminaries will always be filled with future pastors, other more non-traditional opportunities abound. You can be an educated layperson, teacher, musician, writer, counselor, missionary, administrator, or professional basketball player (all right, not exactly, but you get the point). When I graduated from seminary, I got a job teaching Spanish to high school students!  It never occurred to me in a thousand years that I would end up doing that after seminary, but life is full of surprises. I personally know of graduates who have entered fields very different from what they had imagined - including medicine, business, art, the military, and so forth. There is no set path.

Obviously, if you want to be a pastor, seminary is the place for you. But if you do not want to be a pastor at all - like most all of my friends from seminary, quite frankly - then you will actually fit in more than you think. The trend today is for many seminarians to be in pursuit of professions outside of pastoral ministry. One of my good friends from seminary, in fact, entered seminary believing that he would be a pastor upon graduation. But when he graduated from seminary he took a full-time position at an art gallery.

8. Do I have to finance it myself?

No. There are many ways to keep money from coming out of your own wallet to pay for seminary. There are scholarships, denominational monies, local church support, grants, loans, assistantships and other part-time jobs that could defray the cost of seminary education.  However, do not rely on this as if it is already in the bank.

Research your school of choice and be sure not to enter into seminary with an extremely heavy debt. This is because the costs of seminary, like everything else in the world, are on the rise and definitely not cheap. One class, for instance, might cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. You have to be sensible financially when in graduate school because most people will have already accumulated a

certain amount of debt while in college. For this reason, many students work full time for a couple of years before seminary. This way you will have less debt after graduating. Of course, you could consider robbing a bank in order to finance your theological education; however, that is probably not the best way to secure money for seminary!

9. Do I have to write a dissertation?

No. Dissertations are usually only reserved for more academic and advanced degrees.  The run-of-the-mill seminary degree, the Master of Divinity, rarely requires a written dissertation. If you are interested in writing a dissertation while in seminary, then you should probably take a more academic route in your studies (or attend a graduate school of religion instead of a seminary). This is a viable alternative for those individuals who want a seminary education but do not want to become ordained pastors or priests. But only the advanced or purely academic degrees at a typical seminary will require a dissertation, not the standard degree. 

10. Do I have to live on campus?

No. Seminaries are, by design, graduate institutions. Practically speaking, this means that their students are adults and thus not able to drop everything - their spouse, children, house, car, pet, and iPad - for a degree. In contrast to many undergraduate institutions, therefore, graduate schools do not require students to live on campus during their studies. Students live wherever it is convenient for them to reside.

Nevertheless, many seminaries do have residential apartments on a limited availability. If you are willing and able to reside in them, there are many bonuses: They foster community; they are usually cheaper than houses and apartments in the surrounding area; they are in walking distance to class and the library; and they will enable you to make life-long friends. However, each seminary is different. Some campuses offer no housing; some offer excellent accommodations for both singles and families; others have hosing only for singles. 

My advice would be to live on campus if you are able, but stay where you are if you unable to move. Just remember two things: (1) Your seminary education does not have much value without the vibrant community you experience along the way. The friends you make at school are just as important as the classes you take. (2) Your primary obligation is to your spouse and children (if you are married or have children, that is). Keep in mind that your family is probably sacrificing a great deal so that you can go to seminary; therefore, be very considerate of their sacrifice.

I personally have only lived on the campus of one of the seminaries I attended. But it was a great experience. However, there is usually a high demand for living on campus and housing is frequently limited—if you are interested. As a result, you will need to contact the housing department at your seminary of choice and complete a form in order to be considered. And do not delay: Campus housing goes quickly. Upon being accepted to a particular seminary, the question of whether to consider campus housing or not should be on the top of your priority list.

Putting It All Together

Well, did we bust any myths? I thought so. There are many aspects that you need to consider when looking into seminary. In fact, there is one thing that you must always be telling yourself: The more accurate knowledge you have about seminary, the better off you are going to be. In all honesty, it is not my intention that just anybody goes to seminary. And it is not even my intention in this blog to try to encourage or discourage you or someone you know from going to seminary. My intention is to give you the best information possible so that you can base your decision on factual information. Seminary requires a great deal of time, money, and effort. Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. You will hopefully discern this by prayer, discussion with your community of faith, research, and conversation with friends and family who will have your best in mind.

Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of world Christian history and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Biblical. He is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/derek-cooper.


Written by Derek Cooper Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

In my book, So You're Thinking about Going to Seminary, I tried to help individuals who were wrestling with the question of whether they should attend seminary. It's an important question, and I addressed any number of issues related to it. One of the first issues I tackled in the book had to do with myths that many people held about seminary. In this blog, I am including five myths about seminary. They will be included as questions, as I often get inquires from prospective students with these types of concerns. In the following blog, I will include five additional myths before bringing the discussion to conclusion.

10 Seminary Myths / Questions

1. Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree in Bible, Religion, or Theology? 

No. Most all seminaries allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree to enter. Although seminaries do not necessarily require a certain college major, they generally prefer students who have taken several courses in the liberal arts. In other words, they prefer students who will have studied literature, history, philosophy, logic, and languages. This is because these courses are believed to better prepare you for the types of subjects that you will study in seminary.

What if you have never even taken a class in literature? That is not a problem; it will not keep you out of seminary. When all is said and done, seminaries admit students from every possible undergraduate field available: from architecture to zoology (but, sorry, seminaries do not usually let you dissect cats!). My advice is that in college you should study what you love learning about and what you do well in.

Following this advice may get you a degree in anything from Engineering to a degree in German. (I was a Spanish major, and my first job after seminary was teaching Spanish to high school students.) But any degree is acceptable. You will most likely get more mileage out of your German degree while attending seminary, but a degree in Engineering would always provide you with a back-up job if necessary. I personally know many students who have majored in Engineering and have done very well in seminary. Besides, these students make you laugh as they walk around with Hebrew or Greek cards tied around their belts when studying for language classes! (You will get it when you go to seminary.)

2. Do I have to have years of ministry experience?

No. Because seminaries exist in order to prepare you for ministry, it is not a prerequisite for entrance. You do not go to medical school, after all, because you know how to perform an appendectomy: They are supposed to teach you how to do that—at least the really good ones do! However, seminaries will expect that you have had some involvement in the Christian community. This involvement need not be extensive, but they would like to see some kind of experience on your part—whether as a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader, a summer camp counselor, or something similar. But again, your seminary will help you with this.

If you are not already involved in a local congregation, I would encourage you to become active as soon as possible. It would help you tremendously to spend a couple of months in ministry in some capacity before going to seminary. This activity need not be formal; the important thing is that you get some experience. You may even find out within a week that you are not cut out for such a career. Then you will get to dissect more of those cats after all while in veterinary school!

3 Do I have to take a standardized test of any kind in order to start seminary?

No. Very few seminaries require students to take standardized tests before being granted admission to seminary. Usually all that is required for admission into a basic seminary degree are letters of recommendation (oftentimes from a former professor, your pastor, and a friend), a completed application (with usually includes answering several questions), a marginal fee to cover the time necessary to read and review the materials, and sometimes a telephone conversation.

There are rare exceptions for more academic programs, but the standard seminary degree, the Master of Divinity, does not generally require these types of tests. Standardized testing, at the seminary level, is almost always reserved only for students applying to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

4. Do I have to first enter the workplace after graduating from college?

No. Just like the myth above, a seminary will not reject your application as a result of little or no work experience. (I had no experience at all before attending seminary, and I think I turned out all right!) Seminaries would certainly be enthusiastic if they observed that you have had past career experience, but you should not get a job after college just to improve your application. Remember that all schools thrive on diversity. This means that seminaries admit students of all different backgrounds and personal histories: students directly out of college, students who have worked for twenty years, domestic students, foreign students, and students who have traditionally been overlooked or neglected from theological education. Do you have a great opportunity to work for a couple of years before going to seminary? Then do so. If not, go straight to seminary and gain experience along the way. Ultimately everyone has different circumstances, and you must decide when your circumstances are right for attending seminary.

5. Do I have to attend school full time?

No. Many schools these days actually participate in distance learning or they offer classes at non-traditional times. Some classes are held one day a week; on the weekend; in the evening; during the summer; as well partially or fully online. Biblical Seminary, for example, offers a degree for people who work full-time, which can be earned in three years. It’s called the LEAD Master of Divinity, and excels at allowing those with full-time jobs to also attend seminary full-time (and even have a life outside of work and school!). Students take their classes in the evening and on the weekend.

However, for those who want or need to attend seminary part time, most all schools these days allow for this. Many schools, in fact, offer classes online or in a modular format (which means that some class time is held on campus while the rest is offered online). As a result, it is relatively easy to attend seminary on a part-time basis.

Of course, you can always attend full time or part time for a while and then full time. Just bear in mind that the longer you stay in school, the longer it will take to graduate. But by no means rush things for that sake alone. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Are you supporting a spouse and kids? Do you have a mortgage? Are you bankrupt? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to attend school part time so that you can work either part time or full time as well. By contrast, are you debt-free? Are you single? Are you ready to start your career? Then go to school full time. Find a job in the summer or on a part-time basis. Or better yet, do not work at all! Whatever the case, do not fall for the myth that you have to attend seminary full time.


I hope that in these brief questions we have already begun to break some myths about seminary. In the next blog, I will conclude this discussion about myths with some parting words as you continue to think about seminary either for yourself or for someone you know.

Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of world Christian history and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Biblical. He is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/derek-cooper.


Written by Sam Logan Monday, 05 August 2013 00:00

Why would we want to build credibility among Muslims?

Well, there are short and long answer to that question. The short answer is all I will try to provide here.

The fundamental reason we would want to do this is that Jesus deserves their praise, just as He deserves the praise of every single part of Creation.  Of course, we know that only the Holy Spirit can cause a heart to want to worship and honor Jesus and that, in one sense, therefore, even “preaching is foolishness.”  But we still preach and we still work to prepare the best sermons we can and we still deliver those sermons with energy and enthusiasm.  God’s absolute sovereignty does not eliminate our responsibility to be the kind of channels for the Spirit’s work that the Scriptures call us to be.

Many passages of Scripture describe the kinds of channels that we should be – wise but gentle (Matthew 10: 15 – 17), well-prepared (I Peter 3: 14 – 16), loving (I Corinthians 13), consistency between our message and our lives (James 3: 13 – 16) and “all things to all people” (I Corinthians 9:22).  Of course, there must never be any compromise with the truth but Jesus, Peter, and Paul knew that and none of them, in giving the commands above, was suggesting the slightest such compromise of the essential Gospel message.  But they were teaching us that the qualities of the messenger matter.  And all of the qualities mentioned in the cited passages (and in many more such passages) involved “credibility.”  How we live has a significant amount to do with whether those to whom we are speaking even listen to us.

Living biblically before Muslims is, therefore, critically important if we really do want them to bring to Jesus the honor and worship and obedience which He deserves.  I will mention here just three (of the many) things that such living might entail.

1) Oppose injustices committed against Muslims.  I will say this even more strongly – oppose injustices against Muslims as vigorously and publicly as you oppose injustices committed by Muslims against others.    The July 1, 2013, of Time Magazine included (pp. 42 – 45) an article which described attacks on Muslims and Christians by Buddhists in Myanmar.  In addition to my service at Biblical, I work with the World Reformed Fellowship and the gruesome details of the Time article were personalized in an e-mail which I received from one of our members in Myanmar and which I posted as a “News” item on our website (http://www.wrfnet.org/). Loud and vigorous denunciation of the violence against Muslims in Myanmar would in no way compromise the essential Gospel message.  But it would go a very long way toward giving us credibility with the Muslims with whom we share that Gospel message.

2) Find ways of expressing appropriate support for Muslim communities.  The key word, of course, is “appropriate.” Such support must never compromise the essential truths of the Christian faith but, then, that is true of any support we give to projects involving non-Christians.  At the end of the street where Susan and I live is a small neighborhood park.  This park is used by all kinds of folks in our area, not all of whom have a discernible Christian identity.  It is biblically appropriate for Susan and me to work with ALL of our neighbors to make sure that park is clean and safe. How can we do something similar with those who are clearly Muslim (and whom we want to come to the point of worshipping Jesus)?

Let me get specific (although that is always dangerous!). When a Muslim community in New York City announced plans to construct a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center, “building credibility” with our Muslims neighbors would have been dramatically enhanced by Christians giving their support for that project (I told you that getting specific was dangerous!). Perhaps some Christians had solid and genuine biblical reasons for opposing that location for the mosque and, if so, those reasons must be honored. But there would have been other ways of “coming along side” the Muslim community in that situation and becoming the kinds of channels the Scriptures command sometimes requires us to be creative in such efforts. However one regards the particular instance of the mosque in NYC, if we want to be credible witnesses to Jesus in the Muslim community, we must find ways to work toward the kind of behavior toward Muslims which the Lord commands His people to demonstrate toward their Babylonian captors in Jeremiah 29:7 and which Peter commends to the Christians living under Nero in I Peter 2: 13 – 15.

3) Where appropriate, seek the advice of Muslim leaders on religious matters.  There’s that word again – “appropriate.” There are many religious matters on which it would be INappropriate to seek the advice of Muslim leaders.  But the Muslim community faces some of the same challenges which the evangelical Christian community faces, especially in the area of sexual sins, and asking for advice from an Imam in responding to those challenges would NOT be inappropriate.  Asking for advice does not necessarily mean following that advice.  But seeking counsel from Muslim spiritual leaders will communicate to them that we want to hear them and if we really do want to hear them, the chances are just that much greater that they will, at some point, be willing to listen to us.   Once again, it is a matter of being the kind of credible messengers that will assure that rejection of our message will be cause by the scandal of that message and not by the offensiveness of the messenger.

I have focused in this blog on building credibility among Muslims.  But if these comments have any value at all, they have value with respect to whatever non-Christians we are seeking to win to Christ.  Knowing Jesus and His infallible and inerrant Word is of primary importance in Christian life and ministry.  But “primary” does not mean “only.”  The qualities of the messenger really do matter, no matter whom that messenger is addressing.

Sam Logan is Senior Counsel for Major Gifts at Biblical. He also serves as the International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship (www.wrfnet.org). He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is President Emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia).. He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan


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