Archive | Theology/Bible

How To Discipline a Pastor

In 1 Timothy 5:19-21, the apostle Paul explains how to deal with a pastor who is sinning.1 Some readers understand Paul to be setting a higher standard for pastors than for other members of the congregation. I think this is a mistaken reading of Paul’s words, for Paul wishes for everyone to be treated equally and without “partiality” (v. 21). Paul writes:

19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Paul’s process for dealing with elders accused of a sin lines up with what Jesus says must be done for any brother that is accused of a sin. In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus says that if a church member sins against you, you should go to them in private. If they don’t repent, then you take along two or three witnesses to establish the charges made against the sinning brother. If they establish the charges and he still refuses to turn from his sin, then they are supposed to put the matter before the church. If he refuses after it is brought to the church, then he is excommunicated. Continue Reading →

David French lecture on Intersectionality

Yesterday, David French lectured on intersectionality on the campus of Boyce College and Southern Seminary. It was a pleasure to have David on campus, and his lectures were really stimulating. The first lecture is already posted on SBTS’s YouTube channel (see above). I expect the other two lectures to be posted very soon.

David explains that the basic foundation of intersectionality is the commonsense observation that people have traits that can make them members of more than one marginalized or oppressed class of people. He argues that this particular observation about the complex way that people experience discrimination or oppression is fundamentally true.

David also argues that if that was all there was to intersectionality, there wouldn’t be much of a controversy about it. Intersectionality as a description of human experience is not controversial, but intersectionality as a prescription for social action is. And it is the latter that he takes aim at in all three presentations.

If you’re interested in learning more about intersectionality, the best short introduction to the subject that I have read is Joe Carter’s article “What Christians Should Know about Intersectionality.” Elizabeth Corey’s introduction is longer than Carter’s, but it is no less helpful and worth the time to read: “First Church of Intersectionality.”

I have commented on intersectionality over the years on my blog, but my basic objections to it are in a little post titled “Two ways in which intersectionality is at odds with the gospel.” Andrew Sullivan offers a powerful critique of intersectionality from a secular perspective in “Is Intersectionality a Religion.”

If you want to take a deep-dive into some actual intersectional theory, I recommend Kimberlé Crenshaw’s seminal essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989, no. 1 (1989): 139-67. For a popular introduction to Crenshaw’s theory, see her recent TED Talk, “The urgency of intersectionality.” Patricia Collins and Sirma Bilge have a book-length introduction to intersectionality in a work titled Intersectionality, Key Concepts (Malden, MA: Polity, 2016).

Why you should consider using LOGOS in your Bible Study – Part 2

Over the years, Bible Software has become an integral part of my research, sermon preparation, and classroom instruction. As I explained yesterday, I have used many products over the years, but over the last year and a half LOGOS has begun to assume a central place.

The first thing you need to know about LOGOS is that it is first and foremost a digital library. It is a program designed to give you access to books—and lots of them. The size of your library depends upon what base package you buy. The higher the base package, the more books you get. As I noted yesterday, I have used LOGOS for about 13 years, and right now I have an upper level base package (Diamond). In addition, I have purchased some books that aren’t included in my base package, which expands the library even more. Recently, for example, I have been writing a commentary on 1 Corinthians. So I have purchased commentaries on 1 Corinthians not included in my package, and I will probably end up purchasing more.

The resources that I have at my fingertips in LOGOS 8’s Diamond package are immense. The commentaries on the Bible include the NAC series, NIGTC, ICC, Black’s, Pillar, and a host of others. There are countless English translations available, including all of the major ones that ordinary readers would wish to have access to. For me, the most valuable books are the original language texts—in particular the Greek and Hebrew Bibles. As usual, these are morphologically and lexically tagged so that you can use them with the lexicon of your choice. I use BDAG and LSJ for the New Testament and HALOT and BDB for the Old. In addition to that, there are a number of very good Greek grammars available, including A. T. Robertson’s classic work and Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament.

The resources available on LOGOS 8 far surpasses those that were available in software I have used in the past (like Gramcord and BibleWorks). In fact, there is no comparison on that front. Nothing replaces a good bricks and mortar library in terms of biblical and theological research. But the only software that even competes in the area of biblical studies is LOGOS.

I cannot overstate the value of being able to access these materials at any place and at any time. Over the last several years, my work has come to include a great deal of travel. Being able to have a significant portion of my library with me wherever I go is huge. And at this point, I haven’t even said one word about the features in LOGOS, only the library. But that aspect alone makes LOGOS an indispensable tool for me.

The user interface in LOGOS has improved dramatically over the years, but I think that LOGOS 8 may be the best yet. It does feel more intuitive and up to date than previous versions. As I mentioned yesterday, the software runs more swiftly than previous versions, with searches being about ten times as fast as they were in LOGOS 7.

In part one yesterday, I wrote that I have been looking for a replacement for the now defunct BibleWorks program that I had been using. One of the things that is really important to me is recreating the workspace that I had in BibleWorks. The LOGOS “Layouts” have infinite flexibility and can be customized and saved. The folks at LOGOS have already created a “BibleWorks” layout for folks like me who are transitioning from BibleWorks. So you don’t even have to set it up for yourself. Below is a screenshot of mine:

BibleWorks users will notice that the logic of the three-pane interface looks very much like BibleWorks, with search pane on the left, original text in the middle, and analysis on the right. This information is the bread and butter of exegesis, and LOGOS 8 puts the information at your fingertips faster than it ever has in the past.

The above layout is what I might use when trying to mimic the workflow of BibleWorks, but LOGOS 8 allows me to go way beyond that. What LOGOS 8 does that BibleWorks does not do is that it also gives me immediate access to a vast array of resources. And for me, that means that access to commentaries is paramount. So in addition to the BibleWorks layout, I have also created separate layouts for individual books of the Bible that I am studying. Those layouts have all the relevant commentaries that I use for a given biblical book in addition to some of the analytical information in the above layout. To give you an idea what this looks like, I will show below what my layout for 1 Corinthians looks like:

In this layout, I have Richard Hays’ commentary open on the left, the NA28 open on the top right, and BDAG open on the bottom right. Each of the panes has other resources open, and all I have to do is click the tabs to access them. Notice that when I am reading commentaries, I always keep the Greek text and lexical analysis within my line of sight. This saves so much time—to have this all on one screen rather than have to switch back and forth among hard copies of several different books.

If I were to expand on all the feature included in LOGOS, it would push this review far past any reasonable length. There is a sophisticated note-taking system within LOGOS that many users value very highly (I haven’t used it yet). There is also a graphical interface called “Canvas” that allows users to make their own analysis of biblical texts. I mention them here not because I’ve used them but simply because many users love them (see here for example).

One feature that I really enjoy and that I have used in my classes is the Psalms explorer. This tool allows users to analyze the Psalter by genre, book, authorship, musical style, structure, and tags. It is difficult to show how this works, but here is a screenshot:

Notice that the left pane has hyperlinked information about genre, authorship, etc. You can see, for example, exactly how many lament Psalms there are under the genre section. You can then click on the lament Psalms and all of them will appear in the graphical interface to the right. Once you start clicking around in here, you will be amazed by how much information is packed in. That is why I use this when introducing the Psalms to my students. It really helps them to see the big picture within the Psalter. Again, this is just one helpful feature among countless others that I cannot fit into this review.

I love LOGOS 8 and am currently using it all the time in my studies. For me, it has become a regular part of research, sermon preparation, and even classroom instruction. The packages range in price from $294.99 to $10,799.99. That is a wide range, but the cost to you is going to depend on how much you can afford and how big you want your library to be. Most people are not going to pony-up more than ten grand on a computer program. But many will find it reasonable to look into some of the lesser expensive packages that are nevertheless packed with many useful resources. You can compare packages here and price them here.

The good news is that LOGOS is offering a launch discount on Logos 8–10% for first-time base package purchasers or 25% for upgraders. This deal only lasts until February 7, so if you’re going to order you’ll want to do so before then.

LOGOS 8 has become an invaluable resource for me. I am certain that it will prove to be valuable for many who read this review. Therefore, I give this software my highest recommendation.

Why you should consider using LOGOS in your Bible Study – Part 1

There are some professors of Bible who have an allergy to Bible software. I am not one of them. But those who do object do so mainly because they fear their students may use such a resource as a crutch and as a result may never really learn how to read the Bible in the original languages. Their concern is that students may rely on the software’s instant parsing and glosses so much that they never actually learn how the language works. While I agree that this is a legitimate concern, I do not agree that eschewing Bible software altogether is the answer.

Students of Hebrew and Greek do in fact need to learn the elements of the languages and how to read the scripture without having to rely on software. Having said that, once the baseline skills have been mastered, software can be used with great profit for exegesis and research. That has certainly been my experience over the years, both as a student and as a professor and pastor. I have been using Bible software to aid in research and sermon preparation since the late nineties, and I have never looked back.

Early on, my program of choice was the now-defunct GRAMCORD. GRAMCORD was lean and mean, focusing on Bible Study in the original languages and little else. I have always worked on a PC platform, and back then GRAMCORD was the closest thing to Accordance that was available for those of us not working an Apple platform. In the early 2000’s, I made the switch to BibleWorks, which had much better user interface and which also focused narrowly on original language study without too many bells and whistles beyond that. But as of last summer, BibleWorks has become defunct too. Ever since then, I have been on the lookout for something to replace it.

The truth is that I have been a Logos owner for about 13 years, but I have only been a bona fide Logos user for about six years. The main reason for that is primarily technical. I have been using PC’s that have been issued by my employers over all these years. For whatever reason, I never could get LOGOS to run well on those computers. The program was slow to load and slow to use. And I don’t have time for slow. For that reason, I steered clear of the program. Even though I had LOGOS loaded onto my machine, I rarely used it. It just took too much of my PC’s resources to be practical.

But all of that changed about six years ago when I bought my first iPad. I began to use LOGOS’s mobile app on my iPad, and it was a game-changer. I was able to access any book in my LOGOS library without all the sluggishness that had bedeviled my use of the program on my PC’s. It was at that point that I actually began using the program. But still, I was only using LOGOS on my iPad and very rarely accessing it from my main workstation, which was where I carried out the majority of my research and sermon prep.

But then all of that changed about a year and a half ago when I got a new PC from work. Currently, I am using a Dell machine with a speedy processor and (more importantly) eight gigs of RAM. The bottom line is that, for the last year and a half, I have had a work station that runs LOGOS like greased lightning. On top of that, the new LOGOS 8 is about ten times as fast at LOGOS 7 when it comes to searches. As a result, LOGOS has become an integral part of my research, sermon prep, and classroom instruction. It has become such a fixture in my work that it is hard to imagine how I would be able to do what I do without it.

Last year, LOGOS rolled out a new version of its software—LOGOS 8. LOGOS 8 is by far the best iteration of this tremendous tool. It is for that reason that I want not only to commend the use of Bible software but also to recommend LOGOS in particular. In my post tomorrow, I will give you my review of LOGOS 8 and explain why it is such an integral part of my daily study of scripture.

NOTE: LOGOS is offering a launch discount on Logos 8–10% for first-time base package purchasers or 25% for upgraders. This deal only lasts until February 7, so if you’re going to order you’ll want to do so before then.

How can the fallen mind accept Exodus 4:22?

My daily Bible reading had me in Exodus 4-7 today where God is calling a reluctant Moses to go back to Egypt to lead the children of Israel out of slavery. This particular command from God to Moses jumped off the page at me:

Exodus 4:22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘”

I have read this verse countless times over the years. What struck me today is how utterly and totally foreign a text like this sounds to fallen ears. After all, this is God pronouncing a judgment on Pharaoh, on his house, and on his dynasty—one that would take the life of Pharaoh’s own child. What kind of God does this? Continue Reading →

A Plan to Read through the Bible in 2019

In years past, my customary mode for reading through the Bible every year involved starting in Genesis and reading right through to Revelation. I estimated that about four chapters per day would get me through in under a year’s time. The method worked reasonably well, but it wasn’t without its problems. Sometimes I would miss a day (or days) and get behind, and I had no way to keep up with my progress. I needed a schedule so that I could keep myself accountable for finishing in a year.

In 2009, therefore, I did something I had never done before. I followed a Bible reading plan. I adopted Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings. It provided the schedule that I needed. It also outlined daily readings from different sections of the Bible. On any given day, I would be reading something from an Old Testament narrative, something from the prophets, and something from the New Testament. Although this plan provided the accountability that I needed, I found it difficult to be reading from three to four different biblical books every day. I know that not everyone is like me, but that approach lacked the focus that my brain requires. I missed reading the Bible in its canonical arrangement and focusing on one book at a time. I wished for a schedule that would go from Genesis to Revelation in canonical order. Continue Reading →

Sex and the false gods of the marketplace

Peter Jensen has a wonderful review of Glynn Harrison’s new book A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing (Intervarsity, 2017). I haven’t read the book yet, but I want to point out two paragraphs from the review that are important. Jensen writes:

We frequently hear from Christians who sigh about our apparent obsession with sex and advise us simply to get on preaching the gospel. This superficially attractive advice is, in fact, untenable. The world we live in is sex-saturated. We can hardly avoid addressing the subject if we wish to apply the gospel, challenge people to live in a godly way, and protect the faithful. At a deeper level, when we consult the Scriptures themselves, we see that the whole business of sexual relations is very much connected to our humanness. At any period of human history, it would be right to give attention to this subject if we wish to understand who we are and how we are to please the Lord. Since there is a close biblical connection between the abuse of sexuality and idolatry, if we wish to analyse the false religions of humanity, we will need to talk about sex. Continue Reading →

Faithful biblical typology or unbiblical Marian devotion?

Earlier this week, Joe Carter tweeted his skepticism about a popular image depicting Eve and Mary (see above). That one tweet led to spirited debate on social media about the proper meaning and interpretation of this picture. One side argues that the image depicts an unbiblical form of Marian devotion. The other side argues that the image represents a biblical view of Mary’s place in the gospel story—one that is completely friendly to the Protestant tradition of scriptural interpretation. Continue Reading →

ETS Debate about the Continuation of Charismatic Gifts

Last week at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, there was a session about the continuation/cessation of charismatic gifts. This was a really stimulating discussion which I wrote about here. Unfortunately, the audio is not free, but you can purchase and download audio at the links below.

Thank you, Patrick Schreiner, for putting together a great session. Well done! Continue Reading →

Some reflections on the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society

I attended the 70th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in Denver, Colorado last week. For those of you who don’t know, ETS is a society of theologians and biblical scholars who are dedicated to biblical inerrancy and a belief in the Trinity. At the annual meeting, members come together to present academic papers, meet with publishers, and catch up with old friends. What follows are some reflections about this year’s meeting. Continue Reading →

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