In Case You Missed It

Recently at the Logos Bible Software Blog, Jake Mailhot shared a post about Abraham Kuyper’s Theology of everday life which featured three books by members of Southeastern’s faculty.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of Abraham Kuyper, you might recognize his most famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

 

For Kuyper, this deep awareness of God’s sovereignty had vast implications for daily life. Throughout his writings, he wrestled with how to reconcile the sovereign presence of God in this beautifully created world while witnessing the fallenness and brokenness of the present. The modern church still struggles to navigate this tension between the spiritual life and the secular world. That’s why, despite being a century old, Kuyper’s theology of everyday life is still relevant today.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Ivan Mesa asked a few pastors and scholars to recommend a book that belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Pastors traffic daily in books. Of course, we preach the Book, and so we’re endlessly looking for books that’ll encourage and equip us in ministry. Our limited time and a never-ending stream of books (Ecc. 12:12) means we need discerning guides who’ll point us in the right direction.

 

I asked a few pastors and scholars what one book other than the Bible they would commend to every pastor or Christian writer. So whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing an article, or just seeking to build a dependable library, below are 10 books that’ll serve you—and those to whom you minister.

 

At The Center for Baptist Renewal, Matthew Emerson shared three theological reasons to look for patterns in Scripture. Dr. Emerson writes:

My doctoral supervisor, David Hogg, was once asked in my Theological Method Ph.D. seminar what his method is. I still love his response: “I look for patterns and weird stuff.” That is, his approach to reading Scripture consists largely of paying attention to what is repeated and what stands out as extraordinary, either in terms of actual events or their description or both. This interpretive method produces readings that sometimes (many times) vexes those who hold to the historical-critical method and its evangelical cousins.

 

What, then, are the theological rationales that give an interpreter the hermeneutical warrant to link certain biblical texts together in a typological chain? To put a finer historical point on it, why does Irenaeus, in his On the Apostolic Preaching, feel justified in linking the Virgin Birth to the untilled ground out of which Adam is made, or Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib to the Church’s birth out of Christ’s pierced side? I want to suggest that there are least three theological reasons that readers feel justified in these types of patterned readings.

 

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen posted an article about helping women engage culture in everyday life.

Some Christian women struggle to see how tense cultural issues matter to their everyday lives. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid these cultural debates. For example, the young mom may not care about LGBTQ issues—until she takes her children to the playground, finds herself in conversation with a parent of her child’s playmate and discovers the parent is in a homosexual marriage. Suddenly, the issue is relevant at the playground. Or, a teacher may not think that immigration reform is relevant to her—until she has an immigrant student suffering from anxiety because he fears that his parents might be deported. At that moment, cultural issues are no longer just “issues” but tangible faces, real people.

 

Yet, when attempting to engage these issues and the people most directly influenced by them, some women feel inadequate or intimidated. They struggle to have confidence to understand and interact with culturally tense issues from a theological conviction.There can be several reasons for this lack of confidence. Some women haven’t received higher education. Others know little about particular issues. Sometimes, moms of young children are so consumed with diapers, meal times and t-ball games that they have little room for organized study and discussion. Yet, women bring a unique voice to cultural issues that our churches and society need. But, they must first be discipled to do so.

 

A few years ago, I recognized my own need to have “iron-sharpening” relationships with other women to help me better engage difficult cultural issues. I decided to meet regularly with a few ladies from various backgrounds and in vastly different career fields. Every single one of these women brings a unique perspective, a thoughtful question and insightful encouragement to our time together.

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to start a formal program to have these relationships for yourself. Though programs have their helpful place in teaching and edifying the church, there are four simple ways to disciple women to be theologically informed about culturally relevant issues in everyday life—whether they’re single, married, career-driven, stay-at-home moms, academically inclined or academically intimidated.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Thom Rainer’s blog discussing three actions churches can take in times of crisis. Jonathan writes:

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for the communications teams at Cracker Barrel and United Airlines. In case you’ve missed it, Cracker Barrel faced a deluge of complaints following the firing of a server named Nanette Reid. Her husband posted about it on the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page, and Internet pranksters created the #BradsWife movement.

 

Then a video surfaced this week of a passenger on a United Airlines flight being physically “re-accommodated.” Mainstream news and social media sites have been filled with stories and hot takes on everything from the passenger’s past (in which many stories had incorrect information) to the standard airline practice of overbooking.

 

Both companies are still fighting these crises, and from many (or most?) perspectives, they are losing the battle when it comes to public opinion. These companies will likely recover over time. They will likely hire PR firms to win back customers and improve their public reputation. It’s what big companies do.

 

But what if this had been your church? What if your church was faced with a scandal or legal issue that called for crisis communications? Are you prepared? Some are, but many churches are not. And their responses to crises often fall into three categories.

Exploring Hope: Is There A Christian View of Work and Vocation?

How should Christians view work and vocation? Occasionally it feels like work is just work and nothing about the daily grind has to do with the teachings of the Bible or who we are called to be. Many would admit that, of course, as Christians, they are called to work hard, and to work with honesty and integrity. But other than that, many see work as just a secular fact of life which we must accept. Others feel that work is worse than just neutral, but instead, is a result of the fall. However, Scripture seems to paint a different picture about our daily labor, which informs our vocations by placing them in a gospel-centered, biblical perspective. Check out the video below as Dr. Benjamin Quinn and Dr. Keith Whitfield discuss the biblical idea of vocation.

Student-hood as Neighbor-Love (Part 2)

By: Dr. Benjamin Quinn

If Jesus’ words are true (and I believe they are!) that the most important thing about living in God’s world is to love God and love others, how does this apply to Student-hood—that time in life spent in the physical (or virtual) classroom amidst peers and professors?

This is the second post in a series which reflects portions of a “1st day of class” talk I give each semester on “Student-hood as Neighbor-love.”  In Part 1, I discussed the relationship between students and their peers.

The Relationship between Students and Professors 

What does neighbor-love look like for the relationship between professor and student?  We will consider this in light of classroom etiquette, respect and expectations.

Classroom etiquette sets the tone for neighbor love towards one’s professor.  By etiquette, I’m especially referring to attendance, participation and good listening.  In part one, we considered the importance of professors creating an open, participatory environment where listening and learning flows both from teacher to student and from student to teacher.  But, now it is important to underscore that the professor is the classroom leader.  While we may hope for conversational classroom style, ultimately students should defer to the professor’s preferred style of teaching and classroom management.

For students, then, neighbor-love requires no less than showing up for class, thoughtful participation when appropriate and active listening; for “a wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance” (Prov. 1:5).

Respect and expectations are also irreducible parts of neighbor-love towards professors.  Respect is straightforward and almost goes without saying.  Then again, respect may be where students struggle the most.

Student emails, for example, frustrate professors more than anything I know of.  It is not the amount of emails, necessarily (though we mustn’t underestimate this!), but the common lack of respect communicated in emails.

Honestly, I do not believe most students intend to be disrespectful.  Instead, students fail to recognize the distinctions in modes of communication.  In other words, emails are not text messages.

Almost weekly, I hear another story of a colleague or fellow professor at another school who received a “text email.”  Here are a few examples:

what time is class

 

u in office? need to talk bout my grades

 

what’s room #?

These are real examples of emails.  No greeting, incomplete sentences, text spelling instead of proper spelling, no salutation; this is the “text email” that plagues professors.

Much could be said here, but I want to offer a word of exhortation for students to respect themselves enough to craft an email that they can be proud of.  It need not be an essay (please, not an essay!), but it should be professional, thoughtful, and respectful.

I give this stump speech at the beginning of each semester and insist to my students; “I’m not saying this because these emails offend me.  Instead, I say it because you will come to me in a year or two and ask for a character reference for your next scholarship or job.  I want to recommend you, but if you send emails that look like text messages, I can’t help you.”

Finally, neighbor-love toward professors carries reasonable expectations.  Professors are human.  We are not perfect.  We misspell words in the syllabus, we forget the details of certain assignments, we struggle to remember everyone’s name, and sometimes—even often times—we do not know the answer to something.

This last point is particularly important.  Despite the fact that accreditors refer to professors as “subject-matter experts,” we’re not.  Education teaches nothing if not how much one does not know.  I’ve often thought the greatest fear of a professor is the possibility that someone might expose how much he/she does not know.

I recall a professor in graduate school who seemed to know everything about theology.  He wasn’t arrogant or trying to give the impression that he knew it all, but to me his wisdom and acumen was endless.  Until one day, about two-thirds of the way through the term, he answered, “I don’t know” to a question.  I was stunned!

He simply said, “I don’t know” and moved on.  He didn’t fumble for a response or make up something.  He just didn’t know, and he was ok with it.  Eventually, so was I.  And, it was good for me to recognize that he didn’t know it all, and I am most grateful that he was humble enough to illustrate that for us.

Professors should cultivate this humble discipline of answering “I don’t know” when necessary.  And, students also must carry the reasonable expectation that professors do not have all the answers.  They know a lot, to be sure, but not everything—especially outside of their field.  Perhaps we can all grow more comfortable with, “I don’t know” now and then.

Dr. Benjamin Quinn is Assistant Professor of Theology and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness for the College at Southeastern.