Suggested Reading Before You Begin Seminary

Seminary is (or should be) a time of intense study, filled with lots of interesting reading. Yet, in order for seminary students to make the most of their time, they ought to have a good grasp of the academic and, especially, spiritual skills and disciplines required to succeed in seminary. To that end, Southeastern’s Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (Dr. Chuck Lawless) provided the following list. Are there any key books that you think we are missing?

Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. rev. ed. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone, 1972. (426 pp.)

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2014. (272 pp.)

Blue, Ron. Faith-Based Family Finances: Let Go of Worry and Grow in Confidence. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. (592 pp.)

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. repr. Minneapolis, Minn.: Desiring God, 2014. (254 pp.)

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Publishing Group, 2006. (192 pp.)

Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Edited by L. Arnold Hustad. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2015. (496 pp.)

Fee, Gordon D. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 4th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. (298 pp.)

Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999. (528 pp.)

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group USA, 2008. (310 pp.)

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 1952. (260 pp.)

Miller, Paul E. A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2009. (288 pp.)

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973. (286 pp.)

Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010. (289 pp.)

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? 50th Anniv. Ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2005. (292 pp.)

Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. 5th ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009. (293 pp.)

The Holy Bible.

Thielicke, Helmut. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962; repr. Eastford, Conn.: Martino Fine Books, 2014. (58 pp.)

Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. (240 pp.)

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. rev. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2014. (352 pp.)

Williams, Joseph M., and Gregory G. Colomb. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: Longman, 2010. (288 pp.)

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Christ Is Sovereign Over All

The title for this post is drawn from a famous statement by the Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). The full statement reads: “There is not a square inch in a whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Where did Kuyper get this idea? I suspect, at least in part, from the Great Commission text of Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What Jesus has authority over belongs to Him. What belongs to Him He rightly claims as “Mine!” All of creation is Christ’s. As we advance the gospel across North America and to the nations we reclaim souls and territory that belong to King Jesus. This world belongs to the Son of God, not Satan.

C.S. Lewis certainly understood this to be the nature of our assignment. He said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” Lewis was right. We are indeed locked in a cosmic conflict for the souls of human persons. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. We are also locked in a cultural conflict that will determine in many ways how we think and work, how we live and die.

I am in complete agreement with Francis Schaeffer, whose letters and papers are archived in our library at SEBTS. This wonderful Christian thinker, whose writings have had a profound influence on my life, put it like this: “Christianity provides a unified answer for the whole of life.” Did you catch the key word? The “whole” of life. In other words, our Christian faith is to translate into a Christian life, a way of thinking, acting, playing and living. No area is off limits. No discipline is out of bounds. Our surrender to Christ’s Lordship will impact the totality of our lives. It will shape and determine what we call our “worldview.”

Southeastern Seminary houses “The Center for Faith and Culture.” It is named after my former teacher and colleague L. Rush Bush, who served as the Dean of SEBTS for right at 20 years. The Center reflects well the heart and perspective of its founding director who believed all of life should be permeated by a Christian worldview. Bush said, “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to ones thoughts. A worldview is that set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” Complementing this excellent statement, I often say a worldview is a comprehensive and all-encompassing view of life by which we think, understand, judge and act. It guides and determines our approach to life and how we will live.

Because the seminary I serve is committed to cultivating a comprehensive Christian worldview, we allow these ideas– axioms if you like–to inform how we teach in the classroom. It is also why we hold conferences that address issues like creation, abortion, sexual identity, adoption, marriage and family, government, economics, politics, law, philosophy, ethics, the environment, poverty and more. Faith and culture meet at the intersection of real life, and SEBTS is committed to being in the center of all of it!

Schaeffer says, “Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched.” I believe that. And Kuyper adds, “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at any price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” We at Southeastern believe this too, and we indeed accept the call to battle, laying our convictions bare for friend and foe alike!

This post originally appeared on Sep. 22, 2014. online gameonline game mobile

John Ewart on Decision, Discipline, Dependence, and Deliverance

I had the privilege of speaking to our alumni at the North Carolina Baptist State Convention meeting this week. It was a joy to see old friends and make new ones. Hats off to our alumni office and our staff for pulling together a great time together. In my talk, I turned to an Old Testament story found in 2 Samuel 23 to illustrate a few key characteristics of a leader in God’s service. I love this little passage and wanted to pass it along to you.

This chapter tells of King David’s mighty men. They were unusually strong and courageous soldiers. In verse 9, we discover Eleazar, son of Dodo. It is from his life we glean principles to strengthen us to become better leaders for the kingdom.

First, we learn the Principle of Decision. Eleazar did not simply wake up one morning and decide, “I believe I will be one of the king’s three mighty men today.” Decisions were made long before by him and by God in order to prepare him for this service. He had been created in a certain way, equipped and prepared physically, mentally and spiritually by God in order to be used by the king. He made decisions to prepare for this role as a general of generals.

If we want to be used by God we must decide now to serve our King and to prepare ourselves that we might be ready when the call to service comes. Preparation for battle must occur before the battle actually arises. We must be spiritual, physically and mentally prepared before the opportunity comes our way or we might fail or miss the chance to be used. Nate Saint, the missionary martyr, said his life changed when he came to grips with the fact that, “obedience is not a momentary option…it is a die cast decision made beforehand.”

Leadership development involves training for what opportunities and challenges the future may hold. Instead of reactively recruiting people for ministry, why would we not proactively be equipping people for ministry yet to come?

The second principle we learn in verse 9 is the Principle of Discipline. Eleazar stood with his king even when everyone else ran away. The idea of the Hebrew army withdrawing refers to them going up or ascending. As the enemy poured over one side of the valley the Israelites retreated up the other, leaving their king and Eleazar down in the middle!

People retreat for two reasons: misdirected fear and misdirected faith. We forget who God is and who we are and the difference between the two. We fear the wrong things and we believe and trust in the wrong things, or people.

Leaders must learn to stand with their King even when it is not popular, the enemy is attacking, and they are all alone. This is not easy. Leaders stand because they are disciplined. They are disciplined because the right decisions have been made beforehand. We need effective leaders showing others how this is done.

Principle number three is the Principle of Dependence found in verse 10. Eleazar did not wait until he was overwhelmed by the enemy. Instead, he went on the attack with the only weapon he had. He was absolutely dependent on his sword to be strong and to work properly. He swung that sword so long his hand cramped to the hilt. The word means to be joined, to be one. He was one with his sword.

That battle wasn’t the first time the general had ever used his weapon. He was likely a master swordsman. He was one of the three mighty men! He probably had trained many a man in swordsmanship. You see decisions had been made, preparation and experience had taken place to lead him to this discipline and dependence.

Have we became master swordsmen? Have we practiced and prepared, spent time training, so that when the moment came, we could stand with our King? Read Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12 and ask yourself if you need a little sword drill today.

Our last principle is the Principle of Deliverance in verse 10. I cannot think of a greater testimony than to acknowledge that all the victory, all the honor and glory belong to and are caused by, the Lord. God delivered Eleazar that day. There is no way he should have survived. God saved him and brought glory to Himself. A godly leader has no problem proclaiming that God did it. In fact, isn’t that the entire goal?

I find the last part of the verse almost humorous if it were not so sad. After the battle was all over and all the hard work was done, here comes the Hebrew army crawling back over the hill to strip the dead. I know a lot of churches and leaders like that. They want to enjoy all the benefits but not all the effort. They settle for spiritual leftovers.

How about you? Are you settling? Or are you serving your King, standing your ground, drawing your sword, and celebrating His victory? Learn and live out the principles of Decision, Discipline, Dependence, and Deliverance. Teach them to someone else.

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