Albert Mohler and Southern Seminary: A Word of Thanksgiving

I know Thanksgiving is a month away, but I cannot help but give thanks today for the impact Southern Seminary and Albert Mohler have had on me. This week marks President Mohler’s twentieth anniversary at Southern Seminary, and the folks there have put together an excellent twenty-five minute video chronicling the journey of this great school.

I cannot begin to express how much Southern Seminary and its president, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, have had on me. For the last nine years, Southern has invested pearls of wisdom and truckloads of biblical gold into my heart and life. So great is Southern’s impact on me, there’s not a day that goes by which I do not think of Southern, its faculty, my peers, and the truths I learned there.  Continue reading

An Appreciation for the Erudition and Evangelism of Stephen Wellum

Today, the CredoMag blog posted a link to the faculty address given by my friend and mentor, scholastic supervisor and former Sunday School teacher, Stephen Wellum.  The faculty address concerns the biblical-theological implications of Christ’s priesthood and New Covenant mediation on the extent of the atonement and Baptist ecclesiology.  This is an extrapolation of his larger biblical-theological work with Peter Gentry, Kingdom Through Covenantthat Justin Taylor linked to yesterday: Covenants in Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Let me encourage you to check out his lecture and to read the appreciation that Matt Barrett and I wrote up for one of many gifted professors at Southern Seminary.

You can read the whole thing here.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

An Explanation and Evaluation of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Last year, our Systematic Theology Colloquium at SBTS discussed the growing movement among evangelical scholars called Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS).  Since our class was comprised of students committed to the full inerrancy of Scripture, it was skeptical because of  the movement’s uncertain Scriptural foundation. You can see my evaluation here.

This summer in a far more comprehensive fashion, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT) published a series of articles explaining and evaluating TIS.  Online you can find Steve Wellum’s introductory editorial where he raises a number of questions that must be answered concerning TIS.  In his introduction he describes TIS “as a broad and diverse movement comprised of biblical scholars and theologians who are mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and evangelicals and who are attempting to recover the authority of the Bible and to return it to the church. Obviously this raises the question as to what TIS is recovering the Bible from and the answer to this question helps describe why it has arisen.”

He notes that “a majority of those in the TIS movement arise out of non-evangelical circles since, like Karl Barth before them (who is often viewed as the “founder” of the movement), they are attempting to recover the Bible’s voice by rejecting the liberalism they were taught and raised in.”  With such ambiguity on the Bible, it raises questions (for me at least) as to how long this movement can last without an agreement on Scripture, or how long “evangelical” pastor-scholars, who affirm inerrancy, can remain in their circles.

As this movement is having increasing impact in scholarship (which always trickles down to the church) and is attracting many evangelicals (e.g. Kevin Vanhoozer, Daniel Treier, Jonathan Pennington), its develop should be watched and analyzed.

If you are interested in tracking down the journal, here is what you will find.

Editorial: Stephen J. Wellum, “Reflecting upon the ‘Theological Interpretation of Scripture‘”

Daniel J. Treier and Uche Anizor, “Theological Interpretation of Scripture and Evangelical Systematic Theology: Iron Sharpening Iron?”

Stephen Dempster, “‘A Light in a Dark Place’: A Tale of Two Kings and Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament”

Gregg R. Allison, “Theological Interpretation of Scripture: An Introduction and Preliminary Evaluation”

Keith Goad, “Gregory as a Model of Theological Interpretation”

Robert L. Plummer, “Righteousness and Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation of Authorial Intent and Biblical Typology”

James M. Hamilton Jr., “John Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch: A Review Essay”

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

An Audio-Visual Primer on the New Perspective on Paul

What is the New Perspective on Paul?

Over the last few months, this subject along with the biblical doctrine of justification has caught a lot of media attention.  From the release of John Piper’s book on the subject confronting N.T. Wright (2007), to Wright’s response (2009), to the series of panels and discussions found here at SBTS (2009), there is much that has been said. 

In case you haven’t had the chance to keep up with the discussion–one that is important and having an impact in the church already (think: Rob Bell and Brian McLaren)– here is your chance.   Here is a run-down of four online resources that can help fill in the gaps and get a handle on the New Perspective, which really isn’t new at all (read Galatians).

(1) Last Spring, Dean of Boyce College, Denny Burk led a panel discussion on the subject of N.T. Wright’s new book, Assessing the Piper-Wright Debate on JustificationBurk was joined by SBTS professors Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, and Brian Vickers.

(2) As a follow up, on September 8, 2009, Albert Mohler led a panel discussion with SBTS Professors Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, Denny Burk, Brian Vickers and N.T. Wright and the Doctrine of Justification. VideoAudio.

(3) Just before the panel on-campus, Albert Mohler, on his radio program, interviewed John Piper and Ligon Duncan to converse about justification by faith and the New Perpective on Paul.  The Challenge Of The New Perspective To Biblical Justification (August 27, 2009).

(4) Today, Tom Schreiner lectured on this subject as well.  Here are his 4 majors points:

  1. Proponents of the New Perspective are too optimistic in their re-constructions of Second Temple Judaism.  
  2. The New Perspective misreads the works of the laws, even if they contribute some helpful nuances in understanding the Judaism into which Christ and Christianity was born.
  3. The New Perspective wrongly argues that Paul was only called, not converted.  In truth, Paul saw a radical distinction between his life before and after his Damascus Road encounter with the risen Christ (cf. Acts 9, 22, 26).
  4. The New Perspective misunderstands justification as being only covenantal faithfulness.  The righteousness of God fulfills the covenant through judgment and salvation, but justification is not co-extensive with covenant faithfulness.

(The audio is not up yet (9/16/2009), but will be soon.  Check SBTS Resources).

In sum, the New Perspective on Paul is a major issue in New Testament studies, systematic theology, and in the church at large today.  Through the popular works of N.T. Wright it is becoming more mainstream as it appeals to growing anti-Western notions in society and as it diminishes the God’s justice meted out on those whose sin offends his holiness.  That is news that every sinner wants to hear, its just not the biblical gospel (cf. Rom. 1:1-7).  In the end, it redefines and distorts grace.

The New Perspective, as a theological subject, is one that faithful teachers of God’s word should become conversant with, in order to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. 

Suggested Bibliography (in chronological order):

Thomas Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law (1993)

D.A. Carson, P.T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid (eds.), Justification and Variegated Nominism: Volume I: Complexities of 2nd Temple Judaism. (2001)

D.A. Carson, P.T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid (eds.), Justification and Variegated Nominism: Volume II: Paradoxes in Paul. (2004)

Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The ‘Lutheran’ Paul and His Critics (2004)

Brian Vickers, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation (2006)

John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright. (2007)

N.T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (2009)

By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, dss

Top Ten Books of 2009 (D.V.) :: A Call for Prayer

Lord willing (Deo volente), the next year or two will have a host of books that will benefit and uplift Christ’s church.  Many of these books are from SBTS professors, others from some of the choicest biblical theologians today.  Below is a list of ten books that, Lord willing, will be appearing soon:

1. The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas Kostenberger.

2. Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.

3. The Center of Biblical Theology by Jim Hamilton

4. History of Southern Seminary by Southern Professor Greg Wills.

5. Doctrine of the Church book in the Crossway series by Gregg Allison.

6. Doctrine of Christ book in the Crossway series by Stephen Wellum.

7. Commentary on 2 Corinthians in the Pillar series by Mark Seifrid.

8. Hebrews commentary in the Pillar series by P.T. O’Brien

9. Colossians commentary in the BECNT series by G.K. Beale

10. Commentary on Galatians by Tom Schreiner.

As we look forward to these resources, may we be faithful to pray for the men who writes these labor-intensive tomes.  Studying under, working with, learning from, and worshiping alongside the professors at Southern, I have grown in my thankfulness for their ministries and more aware of the need to pray for them.  (See Pray for a Professor).  They sacrifice much and labor strenuously to provide us with such excellent scholarship. 

May we thank the Lord for the gifts he gives to his church in these men (cf. Eph. 4:11ff; Gal. 6:6:6ff), and let us pray for them.  May the Lord support his servants of the Word and give them wisdom, biblical clarity, and Christ-honoring fidelity as they write the books we will read.  May Christ receive all the glory as these books edify the church.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

Willy Wonka or the Word of God?

What is the difference between Willy Wonka and the Word of God?  Not much, says Jonathan Akin, if all the Scriptures do is expound moral platitudes and present examples of bravery, kindness, and obedience.  Lamenting the way that too many Christians moralize the message of the Bible, Pastor Akin asserts that Jesus Christ is the point of every passage and that every week the gospel should be preached from every corner of the Scriptures.  He writes:

If we view the Gospel as a hoop and believe the Bible is mostly about giving us tips for living life, then our teaching will rarely rise above the level of having the Oompa Loompas come in for special music on a Sunday morning. But if we believe the story of Jesus of Nazareth living the life we could never live, drowning under God’s wrath in our place and being vindicated as the firstfruits of a new creation on the third day is the essence of the Christian life — both how you enter and how you then live — then our preaching and teaching will have transforming power. For then it will be about knocking down the idols in the lives of our hearers, both believers and unbelievers, and conforming them to the image of our King.

Good word! May we labor to read, teach, pray, and preach Christ from the whole counsel of Scripture. You can read the whole article here.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss