Photo by www.phototravelpages.com

Written by Dr. Larry Anderson Tuesday, 21 February 2012 00:00

"It's all right to talk about 'long white robes over yonder,' in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about 'streets flowing with milk and honey,' but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do" (Dr. Martin Luther King; "I've Been to the Mountaintop," April 3, 1968). The next Day Dr. King was assassinated!

Jesus quotes these words in Luke 4 which were taken from Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor...." That same day, an attempt was made on Jesus’ life!

In the succinct time and space of a blog I obviously can’t wrestle with all of the implications of this passage, but what I will say is Jesus was definitely letting those in the synagogue know that the Lord/Messiah had come, and they were witnessing the favorable year of the Lord. They were witnessing a year when poverty would be dealt with, hearts would be mended, and injustice would be eradicated.  It was nice to hear these words, and pleasant to reflect on what a great and noble prophet Isaiah was, but it’s a different story when Jesus challenges the hearers of these words to put them into action. When we have to deal with equality, racism, and systemic oppression, it can become a bit uncomfortable as witnessed in the congregation’s response in their desire to kill Jesus on that beautiful Sabbath morning. 

As I sit here on January 16, 2012, I ask myself how much has changed in the two thousand plus years since Jesus preached that morning? I ask myself how much has changed since that evening forty four years ago when Dr. King preached that message?  Are we still simply spiritualizing the call to proclaim the Lord’s favor? Although the battle is no longer primarily Jew against Gentile, our world is still very much separated by skin color, economic status, and political party affiliation.

Why bring up such a touchy subject in an academic blog? Because too often we hide behind our exegesis of the Word and miss the execution of the Word. Missional Theology forces us as followers of Jesus and ambassadors of the mission to pick up our crosses and continue the self-sacrificing radical movement our Lord proclaimed He was ushering in on that Sabbath morning. 

There have been more homicides in the City of Philadelphia this year than days. Teachers, coaches, priests, judges, political figures are all in the news for repulsive acts we never imagined they were capable of. The questionable practice of incarceration concerning minorities has been termed "The New Jim Crow." The economic and educational divide amongst the ‘haves and the have not’s continue to plague a nation ironically known as 'the land of equal opportunity.'

 However, this blog is not about pointing the finger at any socioeconomic group or political party or race of people void of the Spirit of God. This blog is to celebrate the missional movement my seminary has helped pioneer and afforded me the right to thrive in. To actively incarnate the life of Jesus is to continue the mission of bringing the Gospel to bear on every aspect of life that is not just and godly. This King Holiday, I am encouraged because I am equipped with a theology that is not stagnant, but fluid in nature which reflects the Spirit of God.  It challenges every ounce of my being not to sit back and simply preach or teach truth, but actively seek to demonstrate truth and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.  


Larry L. Anderson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.  

 

Written by Dr. Phil Monroe Monday, 20 February 2012 00:00

We often fail to thank those who have significant positive impact on our lives. It is not like we don’t recognize the impact. Rather, we (okay, I) allow the rush of the present life to get in the way of going back to significant others and thank them. Far too often I am like the 9 lepers who didn’t take the time to find Jesus and thank him for his impact. Well, on February 5, I lost the chance to tell one person of their impact.

For fifteen formative years Mr. Ballard—Arthur “Bud” Ballard—was as much a grandfather to me as I ever had. Both my biological grandfathers had passed away before I could know them. Mr. Ballard was not a famous person. He wasn’t a scholar. He did not obtain a high and lofty position in the community, in politics or the church. What he was to me was man of quiet conviction, a man with laughing eyes, a man who took pleasure in things like serving others, fixing broken things, tending his garden, telling stories, engaging the mind of a boy, and hunting. I’m sure he had many heartaches and frustrations but I never saw them. There was evenness to Mr. Ballard, constancy, which I observed in few others. As a youngster I have memories of being my typical impulsive self around Mr. Ballard while we worked on some project. Okay, he was working and I was “helping.” What I remember is how he smiled at my foolish ideas and then quietly suggested a better way or asked a question that helped me see the limits of my understanding.

This quiet constancy was no more on display than in our annual hunting excursions. When you live in Vermont, there is any number of places to hunt. Mr. Ballard owned a remote hunting camp (think shack with bunks attached to the wall, a stove, and a sink but no outhouse or running water—unless you count the nearby stream). It was a large forested mountain with lots of room for deer to roam. Without the benefit of many hunters, we could hunt for long stretches and see absolutely nothing but trees and snow. Mr. Ballard, along with my father, had a way of tolerating impatient boys, keeping them engaged, teaching them how to use a gun and the skill of starting a fire in the pouring rain to warm fingers and toast sandwiches. 

There’s one more thing Mr. and Mrs. Ballard did for our family. They treated us like family in a place where we had no extended family. My father was the pastor of a church in a small town. He was their pastor. While I didn’t hear all of the conversations between my parents and the Ballards, I never heard any conversation where church politics were being discussed. As a child, I had some inkling that we could be regular people with the Ballards.---

Grandfathers ought to be those who teach us about what it means to be Christlike men and women. I know that not everyone gets that training opportunity from their earthly grandfathers. I am grateful for the teaching I received from Mr. Ballard for those fifteen years. Today, I am writing to his wife of 69 years what I should have said to him a long time ago.  

Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychology and Director of the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates. He blogs regularly at www.wisecounsel.wordpress.com. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/phillip-monroe

   

Written by Dr. Phil Monroe Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:00

Is Your Church Prepared to Handle an Abuse Allegation?

Someday, we may look back at 2011 and discover that we finally reached a tipping point in abuse reporting in the United States—when reporting abuses became the norm over cover-ups and silence. In any case, we are witnessing a tremendous surge in reporting of abuse. As difficult as it is to learn about sexual abuse of the most vulnerable in our society, it is doubly hard to hear that other leaders knew of the abuse and did not stop it or report to the right authorities. While hindsight always tells us that the right response to abuse allegations is to report, the repeated failure to report ought to suggest to us that maybe it is quite hard to make the right choices under pressure.

Why is it hard to report when allegations come our way?

When faced with an allegation, many of us freeze up. “No! It can’t be possible,” we think. This is something that happens in other settings. We think we know the alleged perpetrators and that they couldn’t have done it. We worry that the report might be false. We worry about the impact that the revelation of the allegation will have on the church community or the family of the one being accused. We worry that reporting to public officials will lead to further distrust of the church. In short, fear, denial, deception, and a desire to maintain our own sense of security encourages many to ignore reporting. For more reasons (e.g., groupthink, abuser winsomeness) why we fail to act when we hear of abuse, check out this post I wrote for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

Is Your Church Prepared to Act?

Elementary schools run routine fire drills in order to cut down on unnecessary decision-making in a crisis. We do not want teachers contemplating what books to save or which direction to lead the children but to follow the previously practiced drills. So too, churches do not want to wait until an allegation arises to decide what course of action to take. Do your leaders know why they would report, to whom they would report, and how to minister to victims and perpetrators alike?

What can you do to get prepared?

  1. Start a discussion group about caring for victims and common deceptions by perpetrators
  2. Build a theological argument for why it is essential to report as part of pastoral care
  3. Train church leaders to know who to call when they learn of abuse allegations
  4. Take our July course , Preventing and Responding to Abuse in the Church! (watch our website for more info!)
  5. Learn about reporting laws in your jurisdiction
  6. Develop a policy for how the church will handle alleged victims and perpetrators, their families, and the church community
  7. Find another church who has experienced abuse and learn from their mistakes and successes
  8. Seek out ministries like www.netgrace.orgor local counselors who can provide consultation

Follow the advice of Rev. Al Mohler to report first and pastor second. In this way we practice true religion (James 1:27).

Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychology and Director of the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates. He blogs regularly at www.wisecounsel.wordpress.com. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/phillip-monroe.

   

Written by Dr. Todd Mangum Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00

Pam Smith, our VP for student advancement, recently shared with me this picture, with the comment of what a great illustration this is as to why seminary training is so valuable and necessary today.

Biblical Seminary Faculty Blog

Now, just so you know, I do know the vested interest we both have in this observation.

I’ll still say it, though. God has indeed provided us many effectual resources: His Word, the wise and intelligent thought and testimony of saints and Christian thinkers and theologians before us, His Spirit-indwelt community, the Church; etc.  There is an “independent streak” running through our culture today, though, that disdains “tradition,” “institutionalism” or “formal training” even such as would actually help Christian leaders take better advantage and benefit from these vast resources God has given us.

And, there’s no question that God is capable of astonishing resourcefulness in contexts in which resources are scarce – where Christianity is illegal, for example. But I fear that, today, many well-meaning Christians look to the “primitive Christianity” of places like China or Africa and hold them up – not as examples of how the Spirit of God “still finds a way” in a context where resources are scarce – but as paragons of what we should aspire to, as though the training and assets we have in this country for fostering discipleship are somehow to blame for the church’s deficiencies. That seems to me like advising a person to gouge out their eyes to try to gain the heightened sense of hearing and smell that the blind “enjoy.”

I think that’s a mistake.  You?

 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 Dr. Todd Mangum Tuesday, 14 February 2012 00:00

In the last couple of months, the internet world has been host to a different, very contemporary kind of theological debate.  First, Youtube sensation, Jefferson Bethke, posted this clip, in which he asserts that embracing Jesus without religion makes for the best kind of Christ-follower:

 I’m guessing that ten years ago this would have been the end of it – with this “statement” sufficing to spark a thousand snarky blog posts agreeing with it, adding their own list of pet peeves against the church and offering their own complaints against organized institutional religion.

But today, even dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are catching up to the digital age. And so, none other than Father Pontifex, a Catholic priest, with the help of a group called, ‘spiritjuices,” posted this response:

Now, I’m an evangelical Protestant, and I’m told that the first video “really resonates with a lot of young people today” – and I understand that.  But, in the final analysis and on balance, I’d say the priest makes the better, more biblical case overall.

What do you think?

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 Dr. David Dunbar Monday, 13 February 2012 00:00

In a previous blog I introduced the recent book by Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible (Brazos, 2011). The book is a thorough critique of “Biblicism” as the author finds it practiced in much of the Evangelical world. One of the ten qualities of Biblicism he describes is “Solo Scriptura.”

This is an obvious play on the term sola Scriptura which was used by the Protestant Reformers to reference their understanding of the authority of the Bible. For the Reformers the Bible had a unique status as the touchstone of truth superior in authority to philosophy, tradition, or the church’s magisterium. This did not mean, however, that Scripture was their only authority. In varying degrees in the different wings of the Reformation the theological traditions of the church, particularly the patristic writers and the early creeds, were valued and acknowledged.

But this historically informed approach to the Bible has been lost to much of the Evangelical (and Fundamentalist) wing of the church. Sola Scriptura has become Solo Scriptura—only the Bible.  Christian Smith defines it this way:  “The significance of any given biblical text can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, historical church traditions, or other forms of larger theological hermeneutical frameworks, such that theological formulations can be built up directly out of the Bible from scratch” (p. 4).  This outlook fits nicely with another element of popular interpretive wisdom that Smith calls “Democratic Perspicuity.” According to this wisdom, “any reasonably intelligent person can read the Bible in his or her own language and correctly understand the plain meaning of the text” (p. 4).

In a previous post I discussed Smith’s central concern:  pervasive interpretive pluralism.  Evangelicals have a history of divisiveness, in part because they can’t agree on what the Bible says over a wide range of topics. Solo Scriptura contributes directly to this problem because it reinforces in the arena of biblical interpretation the individualistic tendencies of the wider culture.

I believe Smith has laid his finger on a sore spot in the Evangelical church. When Biblical’s faculty revised its doctrine statement in 2006, this was a concern we chose to address.  One of our four major “convictions” is “The indispensable significance of the Christian Tradition.”  We find this tradition summarized particularly in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed to which all of our faculty subscribe.  Here is our reasoning:  “We subscribe to these statements because we value the historical interpretive work of the church and wish to identify with the great cloud of witnesses upon whose work we are dependent. We believe that by embracing and functioning within these ancient guidelines we can create a safe place for faculty and students to explore the mission of God in relation to contemporary culture.”  Like the Reformers we want to practice a nuanced version of Sola Scriptura . . . not Solo Scriptura. 

If you wish to read our entire statement of Theological Convictions, look here:  http://biblical.edu/images/stories/admissions/convictions0808.pdf.


Dave Dunbar is president of Biblical Seminary.  He has been married to Sharon for 42 years.  They have four grown children and six grand children.

 

   

Written by Dr. David Dunbar Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:00

Good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit. Jesus says this is true of human character (Matt. 12:33).  But is this principle applicable elsewhere?  Christian Smith has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking book [The Bible Made Impossible (Brazos, 2011)] to argue that this is precisely what we find with much of the Evangelical approach to interpreting Scripture—a bad theory of what the Bible is and how we should interpret it leads to deplorable results.

The bad theory Smith describes as “Biblicism” which actually turns out to be a complex of ten inter-related ideas about the nature of the Bible and the appropriate ways to discern its meaning. It is not my concern at this point to examine or even list those ten points although I will do a bit of this in some future posts. Suffice it to say that Smith has pretty accurately captured the shape of a broad swath of biblical interpretation as practiced by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists.

He is convinced that the Biblicism he describes is wrong because it doesn’t in reality produce the results that it claims for itself.  Not only does not, but cannot. According to Smith, “Biblicism does not live up to its own promises to produce an authoritative biblical teaching by which Christians can believe and live”(p. 173). What it produces instead is “pervasive interpretive pluralism.” In other words, a theory which says that the Bible is clear and easily understood by anyone who approaches it without preconceptions produces a myriad of competing and even contradictory exegetical positions. This in turn results in a sad history of sectarian division and denominational infighting, i.e., a bad tree produces bad fruit. Evangelicals are not particularly troubled by this, Smith believes, because they live in denial of the true state of affairs. I would add that we are not sufficiently troubled by this also because we value a certain understanding of “truth” above the teaching of Jesus that his followers need to be one in the unity of the Father and the Son (John 17:20-23)--which is another kind of truth!

For now just a couple quick observations:  First, good teachers sometimes over-state their case to make a point.  Smith is no exception, but that is not a reason to ignore what he says. There is much here that can help us.  Second, Smith should not be read as a liberal Bible-basher.  He clearly distances himself from liberalism and reading him otherwise would not be fair to what he writes.  I would rather describe his approach with the proverb:  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

 
Dave Dunbar is president of Biblical Seminary.  He has been married to Sharon for 42 years.  They have four grown children and six grandchildren

   

Page 20 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 18 July 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman
Written on 11 July 2014 - by Bryan Maier
Written on 09 July 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 04 July 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 02 July 2014 - by David Lamb
Written on 23 June 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 20 June 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 18 June 2014 - by Derek Cooper
Written on 09 June 2014 - by Kyuboem Lee
Written on 06 June 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman

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