Attn: Seminarians

If you are in seminary, or live near a theological library, I want to point you to a chapter in a book that is must-reading for ministers (I use that term carefully and rarely). It is a chapter called "The Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology," in a book called Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium edited by Kent E. Brower and Mark W. Elliot. It is 40 pages of goodness. Eschatology begins in the first verse of the Bible. Beale is currently working on a New Testament theology which will have "new creation" as its center that should be coming out in the next couple of years. If the 40 page essay is too much, there is an abridged version called "The New Testament and New Creation" in Scott Hafemann's Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect, 159-172. So hit the copy machine and be enriched.

Seminary Reading

This week starts, Lord-willing, my final year at Southern Seminary. Our time here has been invaluable. I have loved the vast majority of my classes. I have been formed and re-formed by the Scriptures. I realize that a seminary education is merely meant to be a foundation upon which to build for the rest of one's ministry. I fear though, that many students do not sufficiently value life-long learning. Having said that, I am a little disappointed in what we have not been required to read. Granted I still have a year left, but as of yet none of my classes have required any of the following 'classics': Justin Martyr's Apology or Dialogue with Trypho, Athanasius' On the Incarnation, Irenaeus' On the Apostolic Preaching, Augustine's Confessions or City of God or On Christian Teaching, Thomas A' Kempis' The Imitation of Christ, Luther's Bondage of the Will, Calvin's Institutes, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Packer's Knowing God, or anything by John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, very little of Aquinas & Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, Boyce, Owen, Lewis, Stott, or Lloyd-Jones. In my humble opinion, there are a few contemporary books that could be replaced by the older stuff (Lewis would probably agree). I don't intend this post to be a knock on the school, but an exhortation to future preachers to join me in adding these classics to your reading list if you graduate without having read them. We will have no shortage of good stuff to read throughout the rest of our lives.

I have been amazed this week at the amount of time grown men, preparing for the ministry, spend on Facebook during class lecture. I guess they get so self-consumed that they forget that there are people sitting behind them who can see their computer screens. I wonder what Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck, and Van Til would say to their 'students' if they knew how much time they were spending on such waste in their classrooms? I have a feeling Luther would cuss. Anyway.

Biblical Theology Rap

Yesterday, on the final day of my "Messiah in the OT" class with Dr. Jim Hamilton, he busted out a 7 minute rap summarizing the whole semester. It really is quite good:

God promised a seed, who would crush the serpent’s head
Adam and Eve hoped in what God said
This can be seen from the naming of the wife
Whereas death was promised, the promised seed means life

What Eve said when Cain and Seth were born
Shows she thought that the seed had been born
The line is traced to Noah, through ten generations
And at his birth his dad thinks its time for vacations

For the land had been cursed because of Adam’s sin
The toil was painful since the loss of Eden
But at the birth of Noah, Lamech hopes for relief
Return to Eden would mean the end of grief

After the flood another genealogy
Takes us down to Abram on the family tree
In the blessing of Abram, God did promise
That by this man’s seed he would overcome the curse

So kings will come from Abram, and his seed take the land
The ruler’s staff will never leave Judah’s hand
At the Exodus from Egypt the nation is God’s son
We see a tension ‘tween the many and the one

On the way to the land, Balaam tried to curse
But all he did was bless, verse after verse
Out of Jacob he beheld, but as from a far
Seen but not now, the rising star

A scepter too, like the one that won’t leave Judah
The skull crushing seed of the woman, Yeshua
And then Moses promised, a prophet like himself
Who would match the pattern seen in Moses himself

Rejected by the people, afflicted and opposed
Feeds the hungry with the manna, heaven knows
That the one like Moses leads a new Exodus
From our sins, he will deliver us

Jesus said, “These testify of me”
You search the law, in it you should see
That though Moses left Egypt in haste and stealth
The reproach of Christ was better than its wealth

As the years go on, the people need a king
Who will keep the law and God’s praises sing
David was raised up by the Lord
And to him God did give his word

That his seed would sit forever on the throne
All the ends of the earth he would own
Serpents head crushed, enemies defeated
God’s son on the throne in Zion will be seated

Seed of the woman, seed of Abraham
Seed of Judah, possessor of the land
Crusher of the serpent, savior of the sheep
If you are his enemy you will weep

But David was a sinner, and so were his sons
So the nation’s sad story to exile runs
But on the way the prophets, called for repentance
Pointing to a day, when there would be a difference

For a shoot would arise from the stock of Jesse’s roots
To reign in righteousness and bear good fruits
Justice and peace in the power of the Spirit
And the lamb will lie down with the wolf and not fear it

In this new Eden the child will play
By the serpent’s hole and the lion eat hay
When the new David reigns in the restored land
God will pour out the Spirit on woman and man

And with his people make a new covenant
And they will understand what is meant
With the law on their hearts and their sins forgiven
Never again into exile driven

Much in the Book says the King will conquer
But the strain is also strong that says he will suffer
On behalf of his people, their sins he will bear
Like a lamb to the slaughter while the nations stare

As the one who stands next to the Lord,
The Shepherd, is struck by the wakened sword
And all the sheep flee, scattered on the hills,
While the nations rage, and the cup of wrath spills

Fulfilling all the types and prophecies
The King becomes the curse and dies on the tree
All this was hidden, as in a mystery,
Which God made known to Apostles, you see?

I could go on and on, so much I haven’t mentioned
Melchizedek hasn’t gotten any attention
Nor has his status as both king and priest
Which Jesus took up, never to cease

Interceding for his people as their covenant Lord
On the throne of David to fulfill the word
As the seed of the woman and of his father David
When God makes a promise you know he will keep it

So if you want to know what Jesus said
On the road to Emmaus from the law and prophets
Beginning from Moses, in all that was written
Opening their minds, explaining what was hidden

Look to the writings of the New Testament
Where the men taught by Jesus tell us what he meant
They show us how to read the OT
And Jesus sent the Spirit to help you and me

So spread the good news that the battle is won
The curse is reversed, the new age begun
We long for the day when he returns
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come, Lord, come.”

(If you haven't seen Boyce's Dr. Orrick and his philosophy rap, peep it.)

Adorare Mente Volume 1

A couple of months ago, I posted about a new theological journal coming out by SBTS students called Adorare Mente. Volume 1 is here. Download the whole journal here or download each essay:

Hyun-Gwang Kim, Imitating Christ: An Exegetical Study of Philippians 2:5-11

John Meade, The Meaning of Circumcision in Israel: A Proposal for a Transfer of Rite from Egypt to Israel

Blake White, Christ as the Last Adam

Trevin Wax, The Centrality of Christology in the Marburg Colloquy

Nathanael Copeland, Pastoral Presuppositionalism: Lessons from the Life and Work of Francis Schaeffer

9 Marks Weekender

Last weekend, thanks in large part to my lovely wife, I was able to attend a 9 Marks Weekender at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in Washington D.C. It was phenomenal. I was challenged, informed, convicted, and encouraged. Pastors and aspiring pastors, make every effort to do a weekender. Here is a sample itinerary. Seminary is great, but can only do so much. There is much I could write about the weekend, but I think I will limit the post to what struck me most about my time at CHBC. The elders (lay and staff) were godly, informed, humble, and committed. They serve as men under the authority of Christ who will one day give an account for their flock. In many ways they are driven by Hebrews 13.17a: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account." This verse came alive in a new way for me this weekend. It has serious implications for the way we "do church." My love for the church was kindled like never before and my trust in the faithfulness of God to his church was strengthened.

Hamilton Joining SBTS

A while back, Graeme Goldsworthy gave some lectures on the importance of biblical theology. His second lecture addressed the need for seminaries and bible colleges to require courses on biblical theology. It seems that Southern is heeding Dr. Goldsworthy's call. Dr. James Hamilton has joined the faculty of Southern Seminary as associate professor of biblical theology and will begin teaching in the fall. He received a Masters of Theology from DTS and his PhD here at SBTS under Dr. Schreiner. He also has coordination, having played baseball at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Hamilton is scheduled to teach Hermeneutics (TR 11:30-12:45) and Studies in the OT: Messiah in the OT (TR 8:30-9:45). Sign up!
Here is the story, Dr. Hamilton's blog, and his first book.

A Good Word to Seminarians

[The context of this paragraph is discussing the importance of one's devotional life, loving Christ with heart and mind, specifically while in seminary]

"There is always more to do. Quality education exposes you to the vistas, the distance between you and the horizons of knowledge out there. Indeed, as you study more, the horizon will seem farther away! You arrive at seminary secretly thinking there cannot be all that much to Bible study. After all, it is only one book. But the farther you progress, the more you discover the vast fields of learning that open up before the diligent student of Scripture and of cognate disciplines. Part of the purpose of your education is to achieve precisely this--to make you realize a little of what is out there. But these extensive vistas must never be permitted to sidetrack you from what is most important. Precisely because you can never exhaust all there is to know about the Bible and theology, you may just as well get your priorities right and self counscously slow the pace down a little."

--Letters Along the Way, 170.

Adorare Mente

There is a new student journal coming out by some guys at Southern called Adorare Mente. The editorial board includes Matt Crawford, Owen Strachan, Oren Martin, Will Kynes, Greg Van Court, and Adam Winters. All the article will be available from the website. Here is the blurb from the website:

The purpose of Adorare Mente is summed up in the title – “To worship with the mind.” Contrary to the opinion and practice of some, rigorous academic study is not at odds with intense personal piety. In fact, learning to think well is a necessary component of Christian discipleship. Worship is at its peak when mind and heart flow together. Since the purpose of ministerial training is to educate the mind while warming the heart, this journal is designed to encourage students to use all of their mind, to be intellectually ambitious, but not for their own glory. Students should harness and direct those powers for the good of the kingdom. In the past this union of heart and mind was well represented in such pastor-theologians as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, and in the present-day, examples are found in John Piper and Mark Dever, among others. It is hoped that this journal is but a small step towards recovering the model of the pastor-theologian on a much wider scale today.

Already but Not Yet

Tom Schreiner's forthcoming New Testament Theology has a strong "already/not yet" emphasis. This is entirely appropriate since the whole New Testament hinges on an already/not yet structure. The idea is that the Hebrew mind saw history in terms of two ages: the present age, and the age to come. They lived during the present age, and looked forward to the age to come, which would be ushered in by the Messiah, the Davidic King. In this new age, Israel's Messiah would rule the land and destroy all of Israel's enemies. What they did not expect was a suffering Messiah, and they did not expect two comings. We, the church, now live between the two comings, or during the overlap of the ages (Here are some helpful charts). The Messiah has come already, but he is not yet visibly ruling the new earth. The new creation has begun in Christ's resurrection, but the new creation has not been consummated. God has fulfilled his promises already in the first coming of Jesus Christ, but their full and final realization await his second coming.

This outlook is very important for understanding the New Testament. A couple of lectures ago, Dr. Schreiner, in his New Testament Theology class, took some time to show how very practical it is as well. He noted that everyone longs for a perfect world, but nothing satisfies in this life. We all long for the new earth. He made 6 points of application:

1. Politically - Many falsely desire heaven on earth (cf. Marxism) but it will never happen this side of the second coming. Promising or hoping for a new earth here and now is an over-realized eschatology.
2. Marriage - People falsely expect to find the perfect relationship in this world. When it doesn't occur, they quickly divorce to go and find "the one." This is over-realized eschatology. Yes, our marriages should be compelling (the already), but they will always be imperfect (not yet).
3. Church - Often, people hop around churches because "I don't like their preaching," or "Their music is much better over here." There are no perfect churches in this age. No church will meet all of your needs. Find a church committed to the Word and commit to a flawed body of people, just as Christ has.
4. Perfectionism - Saving faith always goes public in a transformed life, but everything we do is tainted by sin. We will not attain moral perfection. To believe so will lead to despair or arrogance. We are justified, yet sinners and sanctification is a life-long process. We have not yet arrived, but we press on.
5. Children - In this age, our children are fallible, so we shouldn't be perfectionistic in our expectations of them. Many who have left the faith were brought up in an overly strict family that lacked grace. Discipline must take place, but it must be rooted in love.
6. Prosperity Gospel - In this present evil age, we are promised affliction, not riches (not yet), but we do have joy in the Holy Spirit (already).

This last point reminds me of an excellent article by Richard Gaffin called "The Usefulness of the Cross," showing the inevitability of suffering in the life of the church during the overlap of the ages. Here is an excerpt:

"But now, with this clear, with this absolutely crucial eschatological reservation made, we must go on to appreciate that as long as believers are in the mortal body, that is, for the period between the resurrection and return of Christ, with Paul it is difficult to overemphasize the intimate correlation of life and death in the experience of the believer, the interpenetration of suffering and glory, weakness and power. For this period, for as long as we are in the mortal flesh and the sentence of death is written into our existence, resurrection-eschatology is eschatology of the cross, and the theology of the cross is the key signature of all theology that would be truly “practical” theology."
I would just add a note on vocation. We all long for the "perfect" job, but in this age we will not find complete satisfaction in our work. For Adam it was "thorns and thistles" and for us it is any number of things. Still, we work hard as unto the Lord. God has called us to our jobs.
We must learn to be content in this age, but not too content, with lives characterized by faith, love, and hope until Christ comes and ushers in the new earth where he will reign with his saints. Until then we do all things, even eating and drinking, to the glory of God.