In Case You Missed It

Lesley Hildreth recently published an article on the IMB website giving 5 ways to respond to your child’s calling to missions. Leslie writes:

This summer my daughter committed to spend six weeks in Montreal, Canada, to work with the North American Mission Board’s GENSEND program.

Seeing your child follow the Lord and have a desire to see others come to know Him is very rewarding for a Christian parent. However, it can also be very challenging. At times I find my flesh fighting against this reward as my heart aches in her absence. Because when our children are away, we miss them.

However, my prayer is that my heart will long to see the nations come to Christ MORE THAN I will ever long for the presence of my own precious child. As a mother, I cannot imagine sacrificing my child for anyone, BUT GOD – because of His love for us – gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

So how can you respond when someone you love goes to the mission field?

Derek Brown recently posted this article giving 30 recommended books for Christian college students.

The following is a list of recommended books for Christian college students. I have compiled this list based on what I perceive to be the most important issues facing students today. I have also included several important devotional and theological works in order to ground students in a glorious vision of God and a deepening walk of practical faith and obedience.

In this article, Jackie Hill Perry poses three questions for a woman who might be considering abortion.

I do not presume to know you, your circumstances, or the complete array of thoughts at home in your heart, but I do know that if you are considering abortion, it is because your mind and heart have been led to believe lies. These lies come from a dark place, where light and truth don’t reign, only pride. The same pride that caused Eve to assume true freedom and happiness could only be experienced apart from the will of God. Now, due to sin’s influence on your logic, you are following in her footsteps.

I beg you to walk another way. By faith, take another route — the path that leads to life, not death.

Josh Squires posted a helpful piece at Desiring God giving five ways to go from head knowledge to heart application.

Sometimes you get to share with someone an idea that they’ve never heard before. And that idea absolutely revolutionizes the way they think about themselves or others — or even God himself. Watching someone “get it” for the first time is exhilarating. Seeing the fruit in their lives is deeply rewarding. However, it’s also pretty rare. In most cases, it’s not some brilliant insight that people need; it’s the practice of actually applying the fundamentals they already know…how do we go from head knowledge to heart application?

Andreas Köstenberger recently posted an article looking at the following two questions: “What is life’s purpose?” and “Why are we here?”

What’s the bestselling book of all time? You guessed it: it’s the Bible. But what about the second-bestselling book of all time? Many of you have heard the answer: Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. The book’s popularity attests to the fact that we all have a deep longing to discover the purpose for which we exist. What is life’s purpose? Why are we here?

Chuck Lawless posted this article at Thom Rainer’s blog giving eight unexpected blessings of Christianity. In it Dr. Lawless writes:

My seventh-grade classmate who shared the story of Christ with me was a matter-of-fact kind of guy. Here’s generally the way he told me the gospel: “You’re going to hell, and you need to get saved.”… To be honest, my primary motivation for following Christ as a 13-year old was to escape the hell I’d heard so much about from my friend…What I didn’t know then was that the rest of my life would be about God’s forgiving me each day, each hour, each moment. His forgiving love really is sweet.

 

Book Notice: “A Theology of Matthew” by Charles L. Quarles

Quarles_Matt picSoutheastern’s own Chuck Quarles, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, has recently published yet another fine work in New Testament studies. Already the author of several books including The Cradle, The Cross, & The Crown and The Sermon on the Mount, Quarles recently published A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed as Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator (P&R, 2013).

Quarles wrote the book in order to combat what he calls “the doctrinal anemia of the contemporary church.” “Doctrinal anemia,” Quarles writes, “involves ignorance of fundamental truths of the Christian faith that are essential to the salvation of individuals or necessary for the spiritual health of God’s people” (p. 1). He communicates to the reader the results of a survey he has administered regularly to college freshmen. The test does not measure their convictions, but only what they know or understand about the key doctrines of Christianity. Quarles’s findings are not heart warming: 78% think all people are basically good; 65% cannot identify the definition of new birth from a multiple-choice question; 54% think that faith in Jesus is unnecessary for salvation. The anemia continues on down the theological line (pp. 1–2).

Rather than allowing himself to descend into a state of weltscherz, Quarles aims to write biblical theology for the church. A Theology of Matthew is the first fruit of his desire to rectify things, and he launches the project by teaching us what Matthew thought of Jesus. “Rediscovery of biblical theology best begins with a rediscovery of who Jesus is and why he came. The Gospel of Matthew is an excellent place to rediscover the biblical view of Jesus” (p. 2).

Quarles does not simply describe Matthew’s Gospel or his theology. Quarles teaches readers how to study the Gospel. In part 1, he provides the foundations for this study by describing the key historical details of the Gospel––who, what, when, where, how, and why (ch. 1). He then explains the mutually interpreting ways we ought to read the Gospel (ch. 2). For instance, we do well to read the Gospel vertically and horizontally, and especially in the light of the Old Testament, which Matthew deeply relied upon.

In Parts 2–5, Quarles explores the theological themes that emerge from Matthew’s presentation of Jesus. Matthew presents Jesus as the New Moses (part 2), New David (part 3), New Abraham (part 4), and New Creator (part 5). Quarles expertly shows how these identities of Jesus––truly one, divine identity––tie together with his roles: our Savior (part 2), our King (part 3), our Founder (part 4), and our God (part 5). The back cover nicely summarizes Quarles’s approach: “Who is Jesus? Why should we worship him? This book answers these questions by surveying Matthew’s primary theological themes and how they interconnect with the rest of the Bible. Quarles focuses on Matthew’s portrait of Jesus as the Savior of sinners, the King of God’s people, the founder of a new Israel, and the incarnation of the Creator.”

Quarles has produced a coherent, clear, and moving exposition of the theology of Matthew. He has done this so that we might sit in awe of the treasures of Jesus. Yet, this is not all. “As amazing as it is to see Matthew’s awe-inspiring treasures on display, Matthew intends far more than this. . . . Matthew intends to share his treasure, not merely to show it. He longs for his treasure to become ours” (p. 193). Quarles shares this desire of Matthew, and he has expertly passed on Matthew’s theology to us so that we might truly know and worship Jesus.

Quarles also represents the commitment of SEBTS and its biblical studies faculty to serving the church through scholarship. Recent publications include but certainly are not limited to: Quarles, Andreas Köstenberger, and Scott Kellum, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Broadman & Holman, 2009), and The Lion and The Lamb (B&H, 2012); Tracy McKenzie, Idolatry in the Pentateuch (Wipf & Stock, 2010); Ben Merkle edits the very helpful 40 Questions series (Kregel); Maurice Robinson, Analytical Lexicon of New Testament Greek: Revised and Updated. Co-edited with Mark House (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012); Mark Rooker, The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (B&H, 2010); Heath Thomas, Poetry & Theology in Lamentations: The Aesthetics of an Open Text (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012); and numerous journal articles by these and others.

For those who seek to follow God’s call and keep the commands of Jesus Christ in the Great Commission, consider these SEBTS programs taught by Chuck Quarles and our other excellent biblical studies faculty.

The Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with a minor in Biblical Studies introduces undergraduate students to the knowledge and skills central to the work of pastors, particularly in the area of Old and New Testament competency. The Master or Arts (Biblical Languages) prepares students to serve as translators and as field supervisors for Bible translation teams. The Master of Arts (Old Testament) provides serious students with an opportunity for advanced study beyond the Master of Divinity or baccalaureate degrees.

The M.Div. with Pastoral Ministry prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with and is grounded in study of the Old and New Testament. The M.Div. with Christian Ministry offers the same strong core education while giving one freedom to pursue elective courses in the area of OT, NT, Hebrew and Greek. The M.Div. with Advanced Biblical Studies offers the greatest opportunity for focus in the biblical languages, preparing one for a pastoral or teaching ministry. The Th.M. in Biblical Studies equips post-M.Div. students who want to enhance their theological training, either for preparation for doctoral study or as an advanced degree for service in the church. Students can take the thesis or non-thesis tracks under the supervision of a professor in the area of Old Testament. Finally, the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies prepares students to teach the Bible and biblical languages to college or seminary students, and to write about the interpretation and theology of the OT and NT.

Click the links to find out more and apply.

 

 

Briefly Noted: On the Benefits of Dissertation Defenses (Especially Ones that Involve Paige Patterson, Stanley Hauerwas, Andreas Köstenberger, and David Nelson)

Fetching topic, no? In an article entitled, “The Dissertation Defense: We’re Doing Something Right,” Leonard Cassuto, English professor at Fordham University, describes and defends the benefits of dissertation defenses.[1] His defense of the defense comes in the wake of a recent American trend toward doing away with the defense as a required portion of earning the Ph.D. In fact, Cassuto himself never defended his own dissertation. Rather, his two faculty readers signed a form approving it and he walked the bound manuscript to the registrar and submitted it. “That was that,” he writes.

Against this trend, Cassuto argues that American universities should retain (or in some cases, reinstitute) the dissertation defense as an integral part of doctoral programs. Building upon a 19th-century European tradition which emphasized face-to-face “disputation,” American universities traditionally have required dissertation defenses in order to test the candidates’ abilities and encourage them to make further progress. Cassuto writes, “the plan is not to roast candidates on a spit; they are instead gently warned, encouraged to elaborate on what they know.”

Detractors of the dissertation defense often argue that it is a tired old ritual that is continued merely for the sake of tradition. Cassuto counters, however, that the defense is quite practical. He offers three reasons. First, the committee gets the opportunity to reflect on the student’s work and offer insight on what might come next–publication, further research, etc. Second, defenses offer the soon-to-be doctor a formal welcome to the community of scholars. Third, the faculty gets the chance to tell the student thank you for the opportunity to share in the student’s learning. This last reason is overlooked, but one, Cassuto argues, that should be well remembered.

For what it’s worth, I’ll put my chips in with Cassuto. The dissertation defense is well-worth the three hours’ spent. I’ll never forget my own defense. At the end of my three years’ study in the Ph.D. program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, having written a dissertation entitled, “Wittgenstein’s Impact on Anglo-American Theology: Representative Models of Response to Wittgenstein’s Later Writings,” I now found myself in a room with three professors who set forth to determine the validity of my argument.

There I sat, at the head of the table in a conference room in the Jacumin-Simpson building, with the sweated anxiety of an Amish kid at a tattoo parlor. Even though my dissertation was sternly structured, detailedly documented, and fanatically footnoted, I was still nervous. There’s nothing like a live disputation, especially if your dissertation committee consists of Paige Patterson, Andreas Köstenberger, and David Nelson. Stanley Hauerwas was my external reader; he was unable to come to the defense but did send a four page, single spaced assessment, which had been placed neatly at his vacant chair.

In my mind, I had played and replayed worst case scenarios, in which my examiners said things like, “Mr. Ashford, after having read your dissertation, I conclude that you have an intellect rivaled only by garden tools,” or “Mr. Ashford, your ignorance is encyclopedic,” or “Mr. Ashford, you dissertation induces in me a catatonic sense of utter tedium. Every time I turned a page, I wondered if your train of thought had a caboose.” In fact, I wanted to open the dissertation defense by saying something like, “Good afternoon gentlemen. I’ve set aside this special time to humiliate myself in public, and I’m honored that you would attend and participate.”

But I digress. In fact, here is what happened: Dr. Köstenberger opened by asking me quite a few questions concerning the implications of Wittgenstein’s philosophy for hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. His questions were helpful because he interrogated me as one who had not only mastered the field of hermeneutics, but also had read the dissertation very carefully. Next, Dr. Nelson asked me questions which arose at the intersection of Wittgenstein and theological method. He pushed me on some of the connections I had made between Wittgenstein and the six major case studies (Lindbeck, Frei, Hauerwas, Kerr, Tracy, and Geisler). Then Dr. Patterson pushed me to evaluate Wittgenstein’s philosophical method, his view of the mind/body problem, and his epistemology. Finally, Dr. Patterson read Dr. Hauerwas’ evaluation, including the questions he would have asked me if he had been there.

In the end, I came away challenged and encouraged. My thesis had been evaluated by several seasoned scholars who helped me to recognize some of the weaker links of my argument, while at the same time pointing out the its strengths and encouraging me to push forward in my field of study. They encouraged me to publish on the topic, and suggested several publishers and venues. They formally welcomed me into the “guild,” the community of scholars who will research, write, and teach theology.

This sort of interaction is invaluable, in my opinion, not only at the PhD level, but also at the bachelor’s and master’s level. This is the reason The College at Southeastern requires our baccalaureate students to take four seminars in the History of Ideas. In these seminars, our 18- and 19-year olds are forced to read books by many of the towering thinkers of time past (e.g Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Kant, Marx), to write critical theses about those thinkers’ work, and then to defend their theses orally in a seminar with 14 other students and a professor. When it’s done well, these seminars are invaluable for the students’ education. Likewise, this is the reason why we offer master’s level elective seminars in the same format.

Cassuto is right. Something is lost when a community refrains from taking part in constructive communal disputations. Such disputations offer a valuable venue for constructive dialogue and debate, socialization, evaluation, and hopefully encouragement of the student.

 



[1] Leonard Cassuto, “The Dissertation Defense: We’re Doing Something Right” The Chronicle of Higher Education (Nov. 2, 2012: A47).