Archives For seminary

You will want to read the update by Dr. Mark McGinniss regarding the strategic changes to the Journal of Theology & Ministry that is published by Baptist Bible Seminary. Click here for the story.

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The annual Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics is upon us again this year. The topic will be Dispensationalism and the Glory of God. The Council begins Wednesday, Sept. 13 and runs through Thursday, Sept. 14. This is the tenth year for the event. Please click here for more information.

The semi-annual Minister’s Enrichment Day is two weeks from today (April 5). This is a day of learning and fellowship that Baptist Bible Seminary of Clarks Summit, PA develops on behalf of pastors, youth pastors, missionaries, and other ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This year’s purpose of ME Day is to explore and discuss controversial issues within society. In other words, how can we faithfully exegete our culture and communicate biblical truth without violating the Bible?

The two keynote speakers are: Dr. Ken Davis, Director of Project Jerusalem and Dr. Mike Stallard, Seminary Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology. Dr. Davis is a missionary kid from Guyana, brings over 35 years of church-planting experience, and has served in numerous multi-cultural environs. Dr. Stallard is the founder and director of Mission Scranton, an urban outreach to the city of Scranton, and founding pastor at New Life Baptist Church. He brings a balance of theological expertise and real-world experience in multi-ethnic settings.

The Featured Sessions are:

The Need, the Biblical Imperative and the Pitfalls of Cultural Exegesis by Dr. Davis

Recognizing the Theological Difficulties Involved in Exegeting Culture for Ministry by Dr. Stallard

You can read more about Minister’s Enrichment Day at BBS here; including a schedule for the day and a list of the workshops. I will be offering a workshop titled, “The Confessions of a Church Planter.” I will highlight the opportunity that God gave me to be a part of a team church-plant in the Springfield, MO area for 14 years. The workshop will focus on 3 crucial aspects of healthy church planting, such as: the involvement with the community, the importance of outreach, and the interpretation & exposition of God’s Word.

ME Day

The newest NT PhDs…

May 5, 2012

At our annual commencement this morning we had 5 PhD grads in NT.


Left to right, beginning on my left:

Geof Kirkland, “The Use of Jeremiah 50–51 in Revelation 17:1–19:3”

Roger DePriest, “An Examination of Literary Chiasms in the Fourth Gospel in the Light of the Discourse Function of Verbal Aspect”

Neal Cushman, “A Critique of Rikk E. Watts’ Isaianic New Exodus in the Markan Prologue”

Wayne Slusser, “A Discourse Analysis of the Passion Predictions in the Gospel of Mark”

And on the far right, Dr. Bill Arp, my NT colleague

MIA: Rob Green whose schedule made it necessary to graduate in absentia. “Understanding ΕΙΜΙ Periphrastics in the Greek of the New Testament.”

Yes, we had a very busy winter/spring with 5 oral defenses between January and the first week of April.

Tim Raymond has just completed a 4 part series on the Credo blog. His series title is a good description: How to Keep the Seminary Christian. Here you can find part one,

part two,

part three,

and part four.

His intro to part 1:

For decades, seminary education has endured the slings and arrows of bad jokes, unkind mockery, and downright slander. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard a disillusioned preacher intentionally misspeak, recalling his years in “cemetery, I mean seminary,” I might be able to buy something edible. It would be easy for the average Christian to think wrongly, like Nathaniel did with Nazareth, that nothing good can come out of seminary.

Recently, however, the critiques of seminary have taken on a different form. If you’ve been following the blog chatter, you know that it’s become popular almost to assume that seminary is this dangerous place where young people are continually going shipwreck in the faith.

Now having spent a number of years in seminary myself, I have a few different reactions to all of this. First, I’m somewhat baffled. Baffled because I think we need to ask the obvious question, “What has so gone wrong that the process whereby we train future pastors, church planters, missionaries, and theologians has degenerated into a crisis of faith?” …

My second response has been one of relief – profound, grateful, relief. Relief, because my years in seminary were a far cry from a crisis of faith. Instead they were four years of concentrated biblical, spiritual, intellectual, and leadership maturation…

And by the conclusion of my seminary experience, there was nothing I wanted to do more than serve Christ by pastoring His church.

Now as a result of these recent blog articles, I’ve done a good bit of reflecting on why my educational experience was so different from what so many others are apparently suffering through in seminary. In my next few posts, I’ll consider some of the factors that I believe resulted in my seminary feeding my soul as opposed to killing my faith.

I commend Tim’s thoughtful articles to anyone concerned about ministry and preparing the next generation of pastors.

Why seminary?

December 13, 2011

Just read a good post by Mark Snoeberger on why seminary training is so important for ministry preparation.

Seminary: Learning to Fly in “Alternate Law”

Interesting post on Larry Hurtado’s blog today. It addresses primarily the question of the skills that should be expected of a PhD grad in NT, but it has relevance even for MDiv work. Here’s the heart of his comments:

It is indispensable to be able to read Koine Greek well. That means a good knowledge of grammar, a decent working vocabulary, and as much experience reading different texts as one can develop. Also Hebrew. Latin is highly desirable too, but not as essential for biblical studies.

The computer products on the market today are wonderful, but there is perhaps a growing danger of students relying on them and not learning the languages. With some products, you can simply boot up and it will do everything: parse words, translate, etc. But the PhD student shouldn’t use these as substitutes for developing the language abilities.

Likewise, every PhD student should be able to consult and engage relevant scholarly publications in English, German and French (which are the main languages of NT scholarship).

I also insist that every PhD student should be familiar with the Nestle-Aland Greek NT, including its apparatus, and show awareness of any significant textual variants in passages studied. [Emphasis added.]

Read the rest of it here.

The discussion is focused on PhD grads, but I think that several of these ought to be expected of MDiv grads before they either begin doctoral study or begin ministry. In that category I’d list the ability to read Koine Greek and also to be capable of working with Hebrew. Most importantly, I echo his sentiments regarding the dangers of “the computer products on the market today” as well as the “danger of students relying on them and not learning the languages.” It’s an unpopular view, I suspect, but I think such tools ought to be banned from first year language study. (They are in my classes.) Their use should be taught in second year, preferably in a course on exegetical method. It would be foolish (IMHO!) to attempt serious exegesis without using such tools, but a student will never use them well unless they know well the language in question first. We have some superb tools available (Accordance being, perhaps, the best, with BibleWorks close behind [though with an interface only a geek could love!], and even Logos can do some helpful language things), but assuming that someone can produce valid language conclusions without knowing the language is like expecting someone to write a thesis or dissertation on the language of Beowulf who must rely on an English translation.*

HT, Carl Conrad on b-greek

[*Yes, I know, Beowulf was written in English—Old English—which can’t be read without studying Old English.** Yes, a student could write a report about Beowulf without Old English, but that isn’t the analogy that I used.]

**HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,
oð þæt him æghwylc ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan; þæt wæs god cyning!
Ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned
geong in geardum, þone God sende
folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat,
þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
lange hwile; him þæs Liffrea,
wuldres Wealdend woroldare forgeaf,
Beowulf wæs breme — blæd wide sprang—
Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.
Swa sceal geong guma gode gewyrcean,
fromum feohgiftumon fæder bearme, …

(Beowulf, ll. 1–21; text from Fordham Univ. site)

Here’s an insightful note from Andy Naselli. It’s excerpted from the Acknowledgements of his second PhD diss which he just defended today. The “he” is in reference to D. A. Carson, Andy’s Doktorvater.

He routinely assured me that a PhD program that doesn’t make you sweat and feel like a twit at times isn’t worth the expense. By this measure I got far more than I paid for.

You can read more of Andy’s thoughts on his 2d PhD on his blog.

One of my OT colleagues, Mark McGinniss, just posted a helpful parable that relates to learning the biblical languages. Thanks Mark. And it’s just as true of Greek as Hebrew.

Here’s a helpful (though brief) discussion of options for those considering doctoral study. It was written some time ago by D. A. Carson and covers DMin, DMiss, EdD, and PhD options (those being the 4 doctorates that TEDS offers, but he evaluates study overseas also).

Why you learn Greek

May 3, 2009

Why do you have to learn Greek in seminary? Lots of reasons, but here’s a good illustration. I have my first year class of 26 students particularly in mind here. (They just took their final exams on Thurs. and are awaiting the verdict!) This is what you can do now with the Greek you’ve learned. You might not have everything figured out yet, but this is well within your grasp.

This morning I began a new series in the adult Bible class at my church. After spending the last two years in the Gospel of Mark, I’m now embarking on Hebrews. The past month was a survey of Exodus and Leviticus in preparation for Hebrews, but this morning we plunged into the first paragraph of “the anonymous homily.”

If you were reading that paragraph (1:1–4) in almost any English translation, you would probably conclude that there were four or five main statements—which homiletically you might want to convert into as many sermon points. For example, here’s ESV (you know, the one that is advertised as being “essentially literal”? 🙂 But many translations do something similar):

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

But if you look at your Greek text you’d discover that the sentence is structured quite differently. There are really only two main statements—one of them is technically a relative clause, but since that is the one the writer develops, it’s fair to say two (also note the punctuation preceding it). In the text following I’ve bolded the two subject/verb pairs and used a strike-out for all the participles and two finite forms in subordinate clauses (not because they are to be deleted! but to show you which are primary and which are secondary statements).

Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις 2 ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι᾿ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας· 3 ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, 4 τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενόμενος τῶν ἀγγέλων ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ᾿ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα.

1. God has spoken.

2. He [Jesus] sat down.

Not only that, but there is no “but” connecting v. 2 to v. 1 as the ESV reads (and NIV, NRSV). By now you’re perhaps in the habit of seeing a “but” in your English Bible and assuming that it’s either ἀλλα or δε, but here you’d be wrong. Why did three major translations add a “but”? Because when you shorten long Greek sentences for English readers (and vv. 1–4 is one long sentence in Greek!), you then have to create connections. Given the transformations of the clauses into sentences and participles into finite verbs in many translations, you have to express the implied contrast somehow. Thus the “but.” In Greek the contrast is implied by the sequence of participle and finite forms. There’s no explicit ἀλλα or δε because it’s not proper to connect a finite and non-finite form with a coordinating conjunction.

If you’ve understood what I’ve just summarized, and you committed to preaching sermons that reflect the structure and meaning of the text, then your sermon on Heb 1:1–4 will have two points rather than four or five.

Pastor/Scholar update

April 30, 2009

I just finished listening to two powerful lectures. You *need* to hear them, esp. Carson if you are teaching or hope to teach. Piper: The Pastor as Scholar; Carson: The Scholar as Pastor. (I mentioned these a few days ago with some related links.)

If you got nothing else from these two presentations, marvel at the diversity of personality, ability, and ministries that God uses. You don’t have to be clones of either of these men, but you can learn much from both of them.

Video links given, but there is an audio link if you need to stick with mp3 audio only for bandwidth purposes.



Highly recommended. I haven’t had time to listen to the 3d Q&A session yet.

Tim Raymond pointed me to this blog post with a quote from Wesley after reading my note yesterday about using Greek in the pulpit:

Greek and Hebrew

“Do I understand Greek and Hebrew? Otherwise, how can I undertake, as every Minister does, not only to explain books which are written therein but to defend them against all opponents? Am I not at the mercy of everyone who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original? For which way can I confute his pretense? Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all? Can I read into English one of David’s Psalms, or even the first chapter of Genesis? Do I understand the language of the New Testament? Am I a critical master of it? Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke? If not, how many years did I spend at school? How many at the University? And what was I doing all those years? Ought not shame to cover my face?”

John Wesley, “An Address to the Clergy,” in Works X:491.
Posted by Ray Ortlund at Thursday, March 05, 2009

HT: Ray Ortland

Below is a link to the complete text of A. T. Robertson’s inaugural lecture at Southern Baptist Seminary in 1890. It is titled “Preaching and Scholarship.” I’ve hunted for this for some time and finally obtained a photocopy of the original publication. I’ve scanned the text and corrected it manually to create a pdf file of the full text. (Thanks to my wife for helping with some of the tedious work in this regard!)


The heart and mind of a young scholar is very evident here showing the promise of his mature career which still lay ahead when this was written. It is still a superb statement of the importance of education and scholarship, particularly a seminary education, as the best preparation for ministry. Those of you who are students (especially if near the end of a semester you are wondering why you are in seminary!) would do well to read this carefully and thoughtfully.


Here are some thoughtful words of wisdom about a question I get asked several times each year (usually from seminary students wondering why they ought to stay in seminary!).

You want people to listen to you? One of the best things that you can do is to finish school. You see, nearly everybody has an opinion about nearly everything. Most expressions of opinion are ill-informed, and quite often they turn out to be nothing more than emotional burps. So people filter out most of the noise or static and focus on the opinions that are likely to mean something. One of the filters is education: a poorly educated person is more likely to have poorly formed opinions, while a better educated person is likely to have more coherent ones.

While you are in college you are still learning how to think. In fact, you are still learning what to think about. Ceteris paribus, a collegian can expect to have people listen to him in dorm-room conversations, and occasionally in classroom exchanges, but not usually much beyond that.

What’s the minimal educational requirement to command a hearing in the real world of Christian leadership? Broadly speaking, most Christian leaders have to earn a Master of Divinity degree before many people are interested in what they have to say. The reason is simple: in order to express opinions about Christianity, you ought to have a mastery of the Christian faith. That mastery is rarely gained at the baccalaureate level, or even at the level of the M.A. To get the necessary command of languages, exegesis, and theology, you need the tools that come with the M.Div. or its equivalent. Frankly, the more education you get, the more that people are likely to listen to you.

As a sub-topic under education, let me add this: no one will listen to you if you can’t write good English. I’m thinking of one younger leader right now who actually has some decent ideas. When he writes them down, however, his remarks are riddled with misspellings and fractured syntax. Very often he substitutes homonyms for the terms he really wants, and the results can be extraordinarily droll. Unfortunately, even his better ideas are easily dismissed by literate people.

If you want to be heard, get a real education. The more you get, the better the hearing you’ll likely gain.

This comes from Kevin Bauder’s Nick of Time weekly newsletter (which I still think ought to be a blog, Kevin! 🙂 ). You can find the rest of his discussion regarding the voice of younger men in ministry as well as his previous essay on the same subject in the “Nick Archive” at Central Baptist Seminary.

(And if you didn’t read Kevin’s marvelous 7-part allegory [or parable—whatever it ought to be called!], Captain’s Log, earlier this year, you really must. It’s not only creative but instructive. You can find it in the archives linked above; the 7 parts run from mid-August through September 2008.)