In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at Facts and Trends, Aaron Earls discussed the ten worst countries for Christians in 2017. Aaron writes:

For the 16th consecutive year, North Korea tops the list of the most oppressive nations toward Christians.

Open Doors, a Christian persecution awareness ministry, published its annual World Watch List, highlighting the plight of Christians around the world who are arrested, harassed, tortured, and killed for their faith.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article at his personal blog which shares twelve important books about intellectual history and the Western mind.

Here are twelve books I recommend to persons who wish to better understand the rise and development of Western thought. Together, the books form a sort of “starter” course. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level 5 is the category for a book that might be required in a PhD seminar.

 

In a recent blog post, Eric Geiger shared three indicators you might love ministry more than God. Dr. Geiger writes:

Ministry is thrilling. Yes, there are deep and painful challenges, but we get to see the Lord change people’s lives. Ministry allows us to enjoy a front row seat to people grasping the gospel, to people being sent out on mission, and to the beauty of Christian community. Yes, there are plenty of people who throw stones and criticism, but there are also God’s people who offer encouragement and prayers and support to those who lead and serve. Because ministry is thrilling, it can be addictive. Because affirmations exist, we can long for more and more of them. We can, if we are not careful, love ministry more than the God who equipped us for it. If you love ministry more than God, these three things are true in your heart.

 

At The Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Scott Hildreth shared about the little things that make the biggest differences.

Over the years I have worked with missionaries, church staff, and students. These men and women have had passion in their hearts and a vision to changing the world for Christ. They launch into a ministry. Soon they are frustrated and ready to give up. They do not see the fruit or success they hoped for. They suffer from burnout or their family suffers because of an unhealthy work/ministry pace. The back half of this proverb quoted above contains some important tips for successful ministry/missionary life.

 

Trevin Wax posted at The Gospel Coalition discussing why Christians should care about ideas.

I can’t forget the shoes. Piles and piles of them filling the room. Of all the gruesome images I saw at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the room filled with shoes from Jewish victims is the one thing I can’t forget. I think about the people who once owned those shoes, and I mourn the human lives lost in a vortex of unspeakable evil.

The tragedy of the Holocaust reminds me of something I heard as a high school student—ideas have consequences. Adolf Hitler did not come out of nowhere. Before there was the Holocaust, there were decades of philosophical theories advocating superior races, nationalistic laws, and the use of eugenics to weed out inferior peoples. Throw in a dash of “survival of the fittest” from Darwinism and perhaps the pursuit of raw power from Nihilism and eventually we arrive in the concentration camp—a horrifying concoction of various falsehoods.

Ideas do indeed have consequences. But sometimes those consequences are beautiful, as in the early days of Christianity when plagues would sweep through cities in the Roman Empire. While many Roman citizens chose to abandon family and friends and flee the city to escape contamination, early Christians stayed behind to nurse the sick. Because of their belief in a Savior who sacrificed himself for others, they were content to give their lives as well.

 

In a post at his personal blog, Dr. Danny Akin shared six ways preaching aids discipleship in the church. Dr. Akin writes:

Discipleship lies at the heart of the Great Commission, so it should be at the heart of all our ministry as well, including our preaching. Many churches struggle to disciple their people, but I want to suggest that the preaching ministry of the church can and should be one of the main engines of discipleship for the entire body. Here are six ways I believe faithful biblical exposition can help Christians grow to look more like the Lord Jesus and live well before Him.

The Professor’s Bookshelf: Dr. Matthew Mullins

This series at Between the Times highlights Southeastern faculty members as they share about books which they are enjoying now, books which have shaped them personally, and books they consistently recommend to others.

This week, we interview Dr. Matthew Mullins.

Dr. Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at the College of Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What are some books you are reading right now?

  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
  • Public Things – Bonnie Honig
  • What Was African American Literature? – Kenneth W. Warren

What are some of the books which have had the largest impact on your life, thinking, or teaching?

  • Reassembling the Social – Bruno Latour
  • Uses of Literature – Rita Felski
  • The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
  • Desiring the Kingdom – James K. A. Smith
  • Playing in the Dark – Toni Morrison
  • The essays of David Foster Wallace

What are some of your favorite works of fiction?

  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  • Kindred – Octavia Butler
  • Mao II – Don DeLillo
  • Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Anything by Percival Everett

Are there any books which you re-read on a regular basis and why?

I reread the work of Terry Eagleton often because he’s one of the most lucid writers of academic prose around. I have reread Teju Cole’s novel Open City a few times as I often do with texts I teach, but there’s something about that book that especially lends itself to rereading. I reread poetry more than anything else because it’s like listening to your favorite songs over again. Most recently, I’ve reread:

  • The Self Unstable – Elisa Gabbert
  • Glitter Bomb – Aaron Belz

What is one book which you would recommend to a church member and why?

Every churchgoer should read more fiction! You might start with Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and then read its companion novels, Home and Lila. These three novels overlap in terms of the times and characters they imagine, but they differ in terms of their perspectives. As an exercise in regarding the experiences of others, I don’t think you could do much better.

What is one book which you would recommend to a seminary student to read beyond what they might encounter in class and why?

  • A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn.

It’s always good to test the historical narratives on which our worldviews are based, and few books rattle familiar narratives about U.S. history as ferociously as Zinn’s.

In Memoriam: Dr. Michael Travers, The Faithful Professor

By: Dr. Matthew Mullins

Dr. Michael Travers was a professor. He was a teacher and a scholar, but he was also a person of deep convictions, and he professed those convictions with skill, care, and wisdom. He died on March 2, 2017 in Oklahoma, where he served as associate provost, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, chair of the Division of Language and Literature, and professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University. When I first met Dr. Travers I was a directionless college student, one of those people who has no real reason for going to college other than that it is something to do after high school. I had no desire to leave Wake Forest. I had a job and a girlfriend, and although I loved to read, I had hated virtually every minute of formal education I ever experienced. I only applied to one school, The College at Southeastern, and I only did that because it was local, I had some friends there, and my parents promised I could live at home and save on room and board.

I learned a great deal in my first two years but wouldn’t say I enjoyed college. I went to all my classes chiefly because I was working to pay for school and didn’t want to waste my tuition money. But in year three with most of my required courses completed and a host of elective hours to fill, I signed up for a class called “Development of the British Novel” with a newly-arrived professor named Michael Travers.

Everything changed. The books awakened some intellectual enthusiasm and attention in me that had never been there before. The classroom couldn’t be contained by its walls. But it was the professor who changed my life. He didn’t just teach the texts; he loved them and his love for the reading was contagious. He didn’t just lecture or lead discussion; he built us into a community. Perhaps most importantly, he didn’t check his religion at the classroom door, but neither did he subject the books or us to a stifling hermeneutic.

Dr. Travers encouraged me to pursue further education and supported me in the endeavor. He got me my first work as an adjunct professor while I was still in graduate school, and he was instrumental in bringing me back to Southeastern after I completed my Ph.D. in English. That last sentence alone is a testament to his influence. I went from a directionless kid who didn’t really care whether I went to college at all to a professional student who spent a dozen years in school by the time I was finished, and what’s more, I now serve, like Dr. Travers, as a professor of literature.

My entire life, the life of my family, and the lives of my own students have been profoundly altered because of the faithfulness of Dr. Travers. And my story is just one of hundreds spread across his decades-long career. I have talked with numerous students, former students, colleagues, church members, and friends in the last few weeks whose lives have been radically changed by Dr. Travers. The lives he changed will continue to change other lives as his influence grows exponentially. His intellectual and spiritual footprint is vast. He taught us what it means to love God and others through the imaginative power of his teaching and through his steadfast example as a Christian. He loved the Bible as a work of literature, as God’s revelation, as a source of comfort and instruction. No one taught me the pleasure of the word of God like he did. May his memory be for a blessing.

Dr. Matthew Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at the College of Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.