Two Grids in Church Ministry

Ed Stetzer has a good post up on Christianity today in relation to the two ways pastors and or church planters need to look at church ministry in general (theologically and missiologically).  It’s really good!

These two grids to look at church ministry are theological and missiological grids. The tendency, as is always the case, is to drift to either extreme to the detriment of the other end. There are some who are only concerned about theology, without ever considering how to relate to their community. Others are obsessed with being relevant and will cast aside biblical convictions if they clash with cultural values. I don’t think either of these are healthy ways to lead churches. A balance is needed. Church leaders must think both theologically and missiologically.

In an age of pragmatics – this is a breath of fresh air!  Theology is important, and so is seeing all from a missiological perspective – its another reason I think missiology degrees can be good for pastors, even the PhD in Intercultural Studies.  🙂    These two things are just SO foundational to church life in general.  Why?  Because many churches are theologically anemic and too many think “relevance” has to do with being hip and cool and where “peace, love, harmony” rule.  Its a big misunderstanding for so many.

Well, give it a read and keep it in mind!  Blessings,

Ephesians and the Drama of God

The other day I learned of Stephen E. Fowl’s recent contribution to the New Testament Library Commentary set, Ephesians: A Commentary.  I tweeted about it and asked if any one knew much about it since it was so new and I hadn’t seen any reviews.  Chris Tilling said to be sure to get it as Stephen is the real deal.   A little while later that day, a friend blessed me with a copy (Thank You!) and I can already tell it is going to be good and one you are going want to get your hands on!!   Dr. Fowl is a leading scholar on the theological interpretation of Scripture and he incorporates that into this work on Ephesians!  Michael J. Gorman calls it a “truly theological commentary.”

Well, for me at least, how do I know it is going to be good?  🙂  Feast upon this short snippet summarizing Ephesians chapter 1:

Following the opening greeting, Paul offers a blessing to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” On the one hand, this directs praise to God and invites the Ephesians to likewise praise God. Moreover, this blessing also allows Paul to narrate God’s drama of salvation, a drama that was initiated before the foundation of the world and that reaches its climax as everything is brought to its proper end in Christ. This drama is cosmic in its scope and consequences.  In addition, God has graciously incorporated the Ephesians into this drama.  Indeed, the presence of the Spirit in the Ephesians’ midst confirms their incorporation into God’s drama of salvation (1:3–14).

This leads Paul to offer a prayer on the Ephesians’ behalf. The hope of this prayer is that the Ephesians will come to understand the significance of God’s drama of salvation and Christ’s particular place in this drama (1:15–23).

I love it!  Paul is narrating the great drama of God’s redeeming work in Christ to redeem all creation and especially to include us in that process!  A story that reaches back to the very beginnings of time and space!  A story that each one of us, who is “in Christ,” has a part in (he later talks about how Eph 2 tells more of our incorporation in to the great drama of God in Christ!)  A story that each one of us lives out in the different contexts of our own lives and situations and circumstances!

Yeah, this is gonna be a good one!  🙂


My early Christmas surprise… USPS Edition

I was completely blown away when I went to get the mail today….

whoa, the box was torn….

But the books are fine and dandy!!  🙂

Well, this was a pleasant surprise!  I had asked for the set for Christmas but had figure it just wasn’t going to work out – well, I guess we just became Barthians!  lol!  Plenty of Barth quotes to come, though probably not too many (not over the top).

a new book

Some of you are going to think I’ve either gone off the deep end or will frustrated trying to figure me out, as in, why would a supposed arminian read a book on The Theology of B.B. Warfield?  Yup, I got a copy – I saw it and thought about how he has influenced many aspects of American Evangelical Christianity irrespective of denominational background and decided to give it a try – should be interesting to say the least!

Here is a description:

The first comprehensive, systematic treatment of B. B. Warfield’s theology. This single volume gives scholars, pastors, and students a concise account of Warfield’s position on all theological topics.

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851–1921) was undoubtedly one of the greatest Reformed theologians in the history of America. As professor of didactic and polemic theology at Princeton University, he wrote extensively in defense of fundamental Christian doctrines. While his writing touched on the full spectrum of theological topics, it was spread over hundreds of periodicals, books, and pamphlets, and a significant portion has never been published in an accessible form. Warfield stands as a dominant figure on the theological landscape, but few have a comprehensive grasp of his theology, largely because of the difficulty of tracing his ideas through numerous sources.

Fred G. Zaspel has spent many years studying Warfield’s published and unpublished writing, and presents here a concise and coherent systematic theology per B. B. Warfield. For the first time ever, readers can, in one volume, access the content of this great theologian’s academic, sermonic, and devotional works. Scholars, pastors, and students will profit from the unique combination of comprehensive detail and devotional warmth in this systematic theology.

Like I said, should be interesting reading for sure.  Here is a link to the contents and chp 1 and endorsements, etc.  It’s a nice looking book too, hardback and nice readable layout.

AGTS announces new Ph.D. program in Bible and Theology?

This just out on the AGTS website (listed Sept 30th):


AGTS is proud to announce a new Ph.D. in Bible and Theology (Ph.D./BT) to begin in summer 2011.

The Ph.D./BT will equip and empower Pentecostal scholars to lead the global church through creative teaching, writing and other missional endeavors. This highly selective program will challenge participants to integrate the highest levels of intellectual achievement with biblically focused, contextual praxis. Concentrations include

  • Biblical Theology
  • Old Testament Studies
  • New Testament Studies
  • Systematic Theology
  • Historical Theology
  • Global Pentecostal Theology

Key program developer Dr. Charlie Self said, “Our Ph.D. faculty and students are irrevocably committed to the authority and inspiration of the Bible, the centrality of the local church as God’s primary agency for mission and a Spirit-empowered life marked by supernatural expectations and experiences.”

“This Ph.D. will propel many into academic leadership in organizations around the world,” said President Byron D. Klaus, “qualifying women and men to lead institutions that empower effective ministry.”

The newly approved Ph.D. is the fourth doctoral degree offered by AGTS. The Doctor of Ministry was inaugurated in 1997, the Doctor of Missiology in 2007 and the Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies (Ph.D./ICS) in 2009. The Ph.D./ICS and the Ph.D./BT at AGTS are the first independently offered Ph.D.s by an Assemblies of God educational institution in the world.

For more information about the Ph.D./BT, contact Dr. Charlie Self at 1-800-467-AGTS or send an email to

AGTS is accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission and by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.


Interesting, very very interesting, and the way it is worded seems pretty appealing as I like the potential combo of a PhD in BT!  That’s just who I am – and that’s not to say it can’t be done elsewhere – but so far it looks promising.

On God and Haiti

Lots of folks have given thoughts about the tragedy that befell Haiti this last week.  Notably, the 7.0 earthquake that, for all intents purposes, all but completely destroyed Haiti.  Some have also used this tragedy to launch into a discussion on the person of Job in the Bible and issues of suffering.  It has also launched conversations on the question of evil and the nature or a loving God (how could a supposedly loving God allow such a tragedy?), etc.

I am not sure I am ready to call the tragedy that befell Haiti “evil” necessarily.  Personally, whereas I tend to see things like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, mud slides, volcanic eruptions, and so on, as natural disasters, I see things like mass murders, acts terrorism (be it terrorist bombings or gun shootings in schools or malls, etc), drunk drivers crashing and killing people, theft, deception, and the like, asevil.”  Maybe this is drawing too fine a line but it’s how I tend to see it.

Nor am I ready to attribute the natural act of tectonic plate shifts, to an act of God.   The same goes for others natural disasters (what secularist US insurance companies interestingly still call “an act of God”).  I guess that is the Arminian in me coming out.  This is not to say God cannot or does not utilize natural disasters to bring judgement on cities or nations.  To say that, would be to ignore the Bible, more specifically Exodus and Joel to name a couple.   If anything, the earthquake wasn’t a surprise to God, but did he cause it?  That’s too difficult to answer so I don’t know if we should “go there.”

The Bible says in Romans 8:

     The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by it’s own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…. (Rom 8:19-22).

So, we know that due to the problem of sin, not just Adam and Eve were affected, so was the whole of creation and especially the earth.  Our sin subjected it to frustration and decay.  Is it fair to say the earth is in a process of decay and destruction through the problem of natural forces such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, etc?   One thing is for sure, according to the Apostle Paul, creation longs to be free just as bad as we do.

I am not a deist, but I do tend to think things were set in motion on the earth and all that was thrown out of whack when the fall occured.   But I am not yet fully convinced that God is the author of every hurricane, every earthquake, every rain storm, every tectonic plate shift.  Is he the author of some of them.  Maybe, I wouldn’t know.  These things are part of the natural processes that go on in the world, and unfortunately, we get caught up in them. It’s simply a reality of a fallen world.   And in the midst of this fallen world, God is with us through the presence of his people and through the presence of his Holy Spirit.   I am not sure I like this paragraph, it makes it sound too much like I am saying, “Oh well, these things happen, too bad, it’s just how life is.”

Does God hate Haiti?  No, God does not hate Haiti or Haitians.  God is not mad at Haiti.  Sometimes tectonic plates….. shift.  Depending on how big the shift is, tragedy occurs. When tragedy occurs, God comes to people’s aid through his provision of help. What about those who die? I don’t know how to answer that but to say God will be with us in and through the grief, providing comfort though others and through his Spirit.

I appreciate a comment by my blogging buddy Sam who said

As with all natural evil, the reality of Christianity is not found in reflecting upon why God allowed it to happen, but rather becoming a reflection of God by asking, “What are we going to do about it?”

So, what are we/you going to do about it?

T. F. Torrance on John 1:14

From his Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (IVP, 2008), 61:

(ii) The meaning of ‘flesh’

“The Word was made flesh’ – but what is meant by flesh? John means that the Word fully participates in human nature and existence, for he became man in becoming flesh, true man and real man.  He was so truly man in the midst of mankind that it was not easy to recognize him as other than man or to distinguish him from other men.  He came to his own and his own received him not.  He became a particular man, Jesus, who stands among other men unsurpassed but unrecognized.  That is the way he became flesh, by becoming one particular man.  And yet this is the creator of all mankind, now himself become a man.

He has a lot more to say about John 1:14, and it is heavy! You might want to get the book!  😉

D.A. Carson on doing Doctoral study

Here is a somewhat dated article by Don Carson on deciding what doctoral work to pursue that I came across on Rod Decker’s blog.   He covers all the doctoral programs offered at TEDS but that can apply to any other situation.   He could have explained the DMin program a bit better but here is a quote that impacted me:

The most strenuous degree program is the Doctor of Philosophy (or Doctor of Theology, in some institutions).  I am deeply convinced we need more people with Ph.D.’s training for our pulpits.  I’ve sometimes urged students to go to Cambridge University in England for a Ph.D in New Testament because I know Cambridge has several churches with first-class expositors-great models for students who become infected with a vision.

This type of training ( the Ph.D.) exposes you to literature and forces you to think your way through it.  A work may attempt theological synthesis and evaluation or be a detailed work on a very narrow text.  Ideally, it will train you to think. And God knows we need people who think in pastoral ministry – though many of these graduates become teachers.

I have felt this way too – that more churches need pastors with PhD’s and not folks who just get their “significant ministry experience” in and then head off to a seminary or college/univeristy somewhere to teach.   Perhaps they can teach on the side or teach right there in their own congregations!  Wouldn’t that be something?   But then again in the current “me” generation that might be too much, you know, having to deal with all the “sheeple” on a daily and weekly basis instead of hiding out in a library somehwere with our noses in a book!  I know God calls many to be professors and to worship God through their research and writing and teaching, but where are the many PhD’s God has called to lead congregations? (especially in the fellowship I am apart of)

edit: see Doug’s post about someone who thinks Bible College is unscriptural

HT: Rod Decker

se here too for more thoughts on pastors and doctoral work.  e

New Book: Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God

Nick and others have been blogging on Michael E. Wittmer’s latest book Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.  Zondervan 2008.   Nick’s reviews and others of this book are at the Koinonia blog.   Well, They were good reviews and all but since I hadn’t read him before I wanted to read his book on Heaven.  Based on the descriptors, NT Wright may not be the first to remind us all we’re not going to heaven, etc.  Though he may be the most vocal or the one everyone will remember saying such. 

heavenSo, I wrote Andrew Rogers and asked if I could read and review Wittmer’s book Heaven is place on Earth: Why everything you do matters to God.  Zondervan, 2004.   So I got it today and plan to give it a read and get back to you all. 

From the website:

Drawing heavily on the story of Scripture without minimizing the tension between this world and the world to come, this book persuasively explains how our next life actually supplies deep significance for the life we enjoy now encouraging us to celebrate creation, hone our humanity, and extend the grace of redemption to every corner of our existence.

I don’t want to go to heaven.  Not that I’m lobbying for the other place . . . —Michael Wittmer
This planet is more than just a stopover on your way to heaven.  It is your final destination. God wants you to enjoy your earthly existence, and to think otherwise is to miss the life he intends for you.
Exploring the book of Genesis, Heaven Is a Place on Earth gently but firmly strips away common misconceptions of Christianity and broadens your worldview to reveal the tremendous dignity and value of everyday life.  Taking you from creation, to the fall, to redemption, and to glimpses from the book of Revelation, Michael Wittmer opens your eyes to a faith that encompasses all of life—baseball games, stock reports, church activities, prayer, work, hobbies . . . everything that lies within the sphere of human activity.  To be fully Christian is to be fully human, says Wittmer, alive and responsive to the kingdom of God in all that you are and all that you do.
Discover the freedom and impact God created you for.  It starts with a truly Christian worldview.  And its fruit is the undiluted gospel, powerful not only to save souls, but to restore them to a life that is truly worth living.
Includes discussion/reflection questions after each chapter.

Should be an interesting read!  I look forward to it! 

Movie Review: The Great Debaters

I know this came out in 2007 – I just got to see it last night. This is a very good movie, yet a hard one to watch. It is an important movie from a historical perspective since it takes place in the 1930’s South (Texas). It was a time when they lynched blacks for no reason (never a good reason).

Perhaps you are white (I am, and a Yankee, I grew up mostly ignorant in WA state), and have trouble understanding why these kinds of things happened (and still happen) but they do and we need to face it. It was hard to watch the faulty arguments of the white guys from OK City University debating the Wiley College students say things like – “Yes, whites are racist, so it won’t be possible for blacks to get a good education in a State University” (all white at that time). Today, as then, when will it change? A lot has changed. Do we still have a long a way to go?

Even in the church there is still segregation with white churches, black churches, etc (I suppose there is nothing wrong with these – but is that the ideal? I think the ideal is seen in the Revelation, esp chs 4-5). Much reconciliation has taken place but I think some of it had been superficial. There are quite a few multi-cultural churches around, even multicultural staffs. We still have yet to get to the place where the barriers are few if any to integrated churches. Some denominational movements have a long way to go in diversifying their own executive leaderships. I am not arguing for racial quotas necessarily, I am just saying some groups need to openly and purposefully, move toward diversity in the leadership of their church groups. As I understand it, the Methodists are way a head of most groups in this issue – some may not agree, but at this point, I think they mandate diversity in their national leadership.

When will others follow?

See also,