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Jared Compton of Detroit Seminary on Women Having it All

My friend Jared Compton, finishing a PhD on Hebrews under D. A. Carson at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, just published a thoughtful and constructive blog on Theologically Driven, the excellent faculty blog of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

Jared wrote about biblical womanhood, riffing off the recent Atlantic essay by Anne-Marie Slaughter that explored why modern women still, after so many years of seeming advance, have so much trouble “having it all.”  Here’s a snatch:

[U]se Slaughter’s piece to remind and encourage the women in your life with young children that their present calling requires just as much intellectual energy, ambition, creativity and sheer effort as do the more high-profile jobs Slaughter describes. The goals of motherhood are just as noble, just as important, just as demanding as any of these more glamorous careers. Mothers are tasked to shape and nurture creatures made in God’s image to fulfill God’s purposes in the world. Those of us with young children know well that motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak-willed; it’s not simply for those who couldn’t make it into law school or who don’t have an M.B.A. It may take nerves of steel to negotiate a multi-million dollar contract, but at least these sorts of deals don’t normally occur in the dead of night or involve anyone vomiting. Motherhood is a calling for the best and brightest. It’s not simply something a woman does because she failed to dream big enough.

Read the whole thing.

Keep an eye out for Jared–I remember taking “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” a legendary TEDS doctoral seminar taught by Carson, with Jared.  He consistently sparked the most discussion and drew the most praise from Carson, who does not exactly throw praise around.  God willing, he should author some serious scholarship that will bless God’s church (and if you play basketball with him, he’s got that gritty Detroit style going on).

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God Is Not a Genie in a Bottle

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Eric Bargerhuff, author of The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood (Bethany House).  The interview was published in Christianity Today.  Eric is a keen thinker (and a fellow PhD graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School).  He’s written a helpful, readable book that I commend to you.

Here’s a swath of the CT interview:

You critique prayers that uncritically expect God to grant us, well, anything. Like John 14:13: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

God is not a genie in a bottle. Yes, he has a good, pleasing, and perfect will. But this doesn’t mean we should pray for whatever we want. We are sinful people and don’t even know what’s best for us, as the Book of Romans says. Sometimes we pray with wrong motives. Praying random prayers that are self-centered is not God-honoring. We should seek his will when we pray.

What would you say to athletes who latch onto Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all this through him who gives me strength”)?

In that passage, Paul is teaching on contentment and arguing that no matter what our situation is, we should learn to be content. The ability to be content, whatever the situation, is contingent on what Jesus gives us. This verse doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus will give the player victory, but rather that he can be content either way because of God’s strength in him. It’s not about God giving you the strength to dunk the basketball as much as it is him working in you to be content no matter what happens in the game.

Read the whole interview.


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Things You Should Read: The New Themelios Journal

Just saw that the new Themelios is out.  You will want to give this one some time.  Oodles of good pieces and reviews geared at thinking Christians of all types.

The new issue includes a nice piece from D. A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on the imperative behind missions.  Here’s a snatch:

But the best warrant for Christian mission is Jesus himself. He claims all authority is his, but he speaks not as a cosmic bully but as the crucified Lord. He insists that men and women have rebelled against his heavenly Father, but he joins himself to the human rebels so as to identify with them. He declares they deserve punishment, then bears the punishment himself. He claims to be the Judge they will meet on the last day, and meanwhile entreats them to turn to him, to trust him, and live. If one is going to follow a leader, what better leader than the one who demonstrates his love for his followers by dying on a cross to win them to himself? What political leader does that? What religious leader does that? Only God does that!

And then, in a small piece of mimicry, his followers are challenged to take up their cross and follow him. If one of the results is a worldwide missionary movement, I for one will pray for it to thrive.

There are many reviews to read.  In Historical Theology/Church History, Tony Chute of California Baptist University assesses a new book on evangelicalism, while Nathan Finn of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary analyzes a new monograph on John Stott.

I chipped in on a book penned by Carl Trueman.  Here’s a teaser:

It is fallacies Trueman is after in the fourth chapter, “A Fistful of Fallacies,” and it is fallacies he finds. Denouncing reification (pp. 142-46), oversimplification (pp. 146-52), post hoc propter hoc (pp. 152-56), and several other missteps common in the guild, Trueman again suggests by dint of material that the historian’s task is a careful one. He also briefly weighs in on “providentialism,” or an overly confident reading of the hand of God in discrete historical events. Of course, providence is for Trueman “a sound theological doctrine” (in another realm the Westminster divines breathe a sigh of relief), but to his mind, the universality of providence means that it is “of no great use in particular explanations” (p. 167). There is a whole school of evangelical historiography that will read the rather short section on providence with some discomfort; I wondered as I read what Trueman would think of the way George Marsden closes his larger work on Jonathan Edwards by ascribing his greater significance to the greatness of God.

Read the whole issue.


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The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

The Jonathan Edwards Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is hosting a colloquium on post-Edwards theology in two days, on Friday, January 6, 2011 on the campus of TEDS.  The JEC at TEDS is a young center but is off to a fast start, having already hosted scholars Mark Noll and Richard Mueller.  Thabiti Anyabwile comes to speak in just under a month.

Any folks in the Chicago area or beyond can come to this free colloquium on Friday afternoon (starting at 3pm CST).  It’s a small but high-powered affair as you can see from the information below.  Anri Morimoto from Tokyo, Oliver Crisp, Ken Minkema, and David Kling will all be there, making it an impressive lineup.  Wheaton/Marquette/Loyola doctoral students in history and theology might really enjoy this, and it’s a great opportunity not only to hear some stimulating material but to meet some leading lights in the Edwardsean world.

Here’s the official word from the Center:

“The New England theology remains the most significant and enduring Christian theological school of thought to have originated in the United States. Yet today little is known about it beyond the circle of those with a professional interest in the scholarship associated with this movement. Even in this select group, one seldom finds anything like a complete understanding of the different phases of its life or the works of its main proponents. There has been scholarly work on the movement post mortem, but for much of the twentieth century that interest amounted to little more than a trickle of scholarly articles and several (important) monographs. It is only in the last quarter century that significant scholarly interest in these theologians has been rekindled. A clutch of important studies, and a collection of some of the most important writings from the movement have seen the light of day in this period, signalling a renewal of serious intellectual interest in the theologians of this movement.”

These words are taken from the introduction of a forthcoming book edited by Oliver D. Crisp and Douglas A. Sweeney, After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). This volume offers a reassessment of the New England Theology in light of the work of Jonathan Edwards. In this volume scholars whose work has made important theological and philosophical contributions to our understanding of the thought and work of Edwards are brought together with scholars of New England theology and early American history to produce a cross-disciplinary symposium dealing with the ways in which New England Theology flourished, how themes in Edwards’ thought were taken up and changed by representatives of the school, and how it has had a lasting influence on the shape of American Christianity.

Based on this new book, the Jonathan Edwards Center at TEDS is presenting a panel discussion on “After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology.” This JEC event will be part of the New Directions in Edwards Studies series.

Here’s who will be at the colloquium:

1. Moderator: Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

2. Introductions: Oliver D. Crisp, Fuller Theological Seminary

3. “Jonathan Edwards and His Educational Legacy” by Kenneth P. Minkema, Yale University

4. “Edwards in the Second Great Awakening: The New Divinity Contributions of Edward Dorr Griffin and Asahel Nettleton” by David W. Kling, University of Miami

5. “An Edwardsean Lost and Found: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in Asia” by Anri Morimoto, International Christian University (Tokyo)

6. Initial response: Ava Chamberlain, Wright State University

7. Discussion with the audience

This event will be taking place on the campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on Friday, Jan 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm (Hinkson Hall).

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TEDS PhD Graduation 2011: Why The Labor & Pain of Seminary Is Abundantly Worth It

Casey Lewis of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas just wrote a nice post reflecting on his MDiv experience (HT: TGC).  It’s worth checking out.  Here’s a snippet from his comments on plugging in at church:

Don’t coast through your seminary career thinking you will minister when you take on your first church. Find a church now, plug in, spend as much time with the leadership there as you can, and minister to as many people as you can, even if it is not from the pulpit. In addition, you should give the church you attend during seminary the same opportunity to examine your calling to the ministry as you did your home church.

Read the whole thing.  Well done, Casey.

This reminded me of a series of posts I did some years back entitled “Seasons of a Seminarian,” parts 1-3.  I wrote them in 2007 just before graduating from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with my MDiv (the image is of SBTS in winter) in order to try to show fellow seminarians and would-be seminarians just how meaningful my time at SBTS was.  My opinion of that degree has not changed in the least.

Seasons of a Seminarian: Beginning
Seasons of a Seminarian: Middle
Seasons of a Seminarian: End

Here’s how I began the series:

Every Christian seminary is different, and SBTS is no exception to this rule. Our seminary has its own quirks, its own flavor, its own strengths, its own weaknesses. And yet we can also guess that the experience of a Southern student has much in common with that of a Trinity student, a Southwestern student, a Westminster student. Whether in Illinois, Texas, Philadelphia or Louisville, every seminarian goes through certain seasons, certain periods defined by common trials and joys. It is the purpose of this series to briefly reflect on the various seasons of a seminarian through my own three and a half years at SBTS. I hope that my recollections interspersed with more general commentary on seminary life will prompt recollection about your own seminary experience. In covering this subject, then, we remember and celebrate the experiences of that uniquely blessed and taxed creature: the Christian seminarian.


Now I’m at a different threshold: graduating from another seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, with a doctorate in Theological Studies and a concentration in Historical Theology.  Surveying the last eight years of my life, it was abundantly worth it to move to Louisville and do an MDiv and then move to TEDS and do a PhD.

I blogged on this a little while back after SWBTS President Paige Patterson said that in-person ministry training was best (using Navy SEALS as a helpful example), and also at The Gospel Coalition’s national conference following a panel on this topic with Mohler, Carson, Driscoll, and others.  I got a bit of pushback on that post, but I haven’t moved an inch from my conviction that Patterson is quite right.  It’s hard to move to another place; it can require dexterity to find a job to support your family; juggling classes, church, and work is never dull; there will be times when you wonder whether it would have been way smarter to do online classes and save your family the hassle (and your body the sleep).

But there is no substitute for an in-person MDiv, especially when you couple it with service to a Christ-exalting local church.  It’s hard, it’s challenging, and it is not necessarily “at your own pace,” but it is wonderfully enriching, stretching, and eye-opening.  Provided students make contact with their professors, and provided students plug into their local churches, the residential MDiv is far superior to watching videos in your home and posting comments in discussion forums.

Many of us are grateful that online training makes it possible for people who simply can’t move to still earn a meaningful education.  But that gratefulness, at least on my part, does not at all mitigate the fact that attending classes with peers, learning from real-life instructors, and generally experiencing the benefits of the campus community offers the student an incredible opportunity to learn in an immersive way.

This is true of my PhD as well as my MDiv.  Lord willing, I will graduate tomorrow from TEDS.  I am very glad that I actually went to TEDS, got to know a whole new group of peers, knew my professors, played basketball on Friday mornings, and generally experienced life in Chicagoland.  What a formative time it was, and how grateful I am for an excellent degree under the supervision of Douglas Sweeney and committee members John Woodbridge, George Marsden, and Richard Averbeck.

This is not to say that my time at TEDS was not without challenge.  It was.  But it was a blessed season, a gift of a very kind God, one that I would encourage fellow future ministry workers to enter as soon, and as fully, as they possibly can.


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Good News: Vanhoozer Returns to TEDS

Many have now seen the announcement about systematic theologian Kevin J. Vanhoozer returning to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School as research professor of systematic theology.  He has served as Blanchard Professor of Theology at Wheaton Graduate School from 2009-11.  Prior to that, Vanhoozer taught at TEDS from 1998-2009.

Here is the announcement from TEDS:

At the divinity school faculty meeting on Wednesday, November 9, Dr. Tite Tiénou, dean of TEDS, and Dr. John S. Feinberg, chair of the biblical and systematic theology department, announced the return of Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer. He will assume the position he filled before his three-year departure from TEDS—that of research professor of systematic theology.

Dr. Craig Williford, president of Trinity International University, said that he is “delighted that Dr. Kevin and Sylvie Vanhoozer are rejoining our Trinity learning community. Dr. Vanhoozer’s significant contribution to God’s redemptive global work as one of the world’s leading theologians expands the influence of Trinity for the sake of the gospel.”

Read the whole announcement here.

While in residence at TEDS as a doctoral student, I had Dr. Vanhoozer in class and worked on several projects with him through the Henry Center, including the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology.  As one can imagine from his list of publications, Dr. Vanhoozer drew a certain amount of awe among TEDS students, including his 17 (!) doctoral students.  His positions were sometimes challenging, regularly creative, and always stimulating.  In my interaction with Dr. Vanhoozer, I observed a refreshing level of humility and kindness.  He had all his prolegomena students to his house, played the piano for us (as we ate Sylvie’s marvelous quiche), and was quite possibly the most eloquent lecturer I have ever heard in my life.

I believe that this is good news for Trinity, and I hope that this reassumption of Vanhoozer’s former post will continue to bolster the international reputation of the school as the leading pan-evangelical seminary in the world.

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The Henry Center Presents Bruce McCormack on Election

This week and next, the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is featuring Bruce McCormack of Princeton Theological Seminary for the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology.  The series title is “The God Who Graciously Elects,” and you can watch the live-stream of the final four lectures by clicking here.

This is a high-level academic lecture series aimed at scholars and other interested parties.  The language will be technical and the conversation theological and philosophical.  Though all won’t agree with everything McCormack posits, many will find fodder for thought in these lectures.  Personally, I am thankful for the investment the Henry Center has made in sponsoring elite theological conversation.  We need more, not less, of these kind of lectureships in evangelical circles today.

A word on Kenneth Kantzer, by the way.  Kantzer graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a PhD in Philosophy of Religion in 1950.  He was an intensely intelligent man but labored for most of his life to establish TEDS as a divinity school, recruiting faculty members like David Wells, Harold O. J. Brown, John Woodbridge, and D. A. Carson.  Now virtually forgotten, Kantzer wrote very little but made a mark on Protestant higher education through TEDS.  It is appropriate that the Henry Center honor him with its capstone lectureship.

Here’s a talk on evangelicalism (go to Carl Henry, and click “Know Your Roots” part two) that Kantzer gave some years back.  Those who wish to read a bit more about him can check out Doing Theology in Today’s World, edited by Woodbridge and Thomas Edward McComiskey.

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Mark Noll on His Time at TEDS

From a recent piece in the Christian Century (HT: Nathan Finn):

As an undergraduate at Wheaton College I learned from several professors how natural it could be to link serious intellectual pursuits with simple Christian faithfulness. At Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the early 1970s I learned still more. Several faculty, led by David Wells, portrayed the faith as a thing of intellectual power and moral beauty stretching back over the centuries and—despite many blotches, missteps and disasters—deserving full commitment of heart, soul, mind and spirit. Then at Vanderbilt University I found out how much I could learn about things that meant most to me from professors and fellow students whose commitments diverged in small and sometimes major ways from my own.

On teaching at Trinity College:

When I returned to teach at Trinity College, a sister institution to Trinity Seminary, I enjoyed a year of weekly coffee sessions with David Wells and George Marsden, the latter visiting from his regular post at Calvin College. These casual meetings gave me much more than most postdocs harvest from a year of uninterrupted study. It was a direct experience of the same mixture of intellect and godliness that historical study was providing through other means—though both David and George seemed to have a better sense of humor than most of the great Christian figures of the past.

The whole essay is well worth reading, even if many won’t agree with portions of it.  Young wannabe historians like myself have benefited hugely from Christian forebears like Noll, George Marsden, and John Woodbridge.

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Global Christianity and Cultural Engagement

It’s exciting to announce that the Henry Center is partnering with the Lausanne movement, begun three decades ago by Billy Graham and John Stott, to publicize both the cause and the 2010 conference.

In conjunction with Lausanne 2010, the Center will host a conversation on conversation on global Christianity and cultural engagement on March 17, 2010 at 9am at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in ATO Chapel.  This exciting conversation will feature such leading evangelical thinkers as Tite Tienou of TEDS, Doug Birdsall (Executive Chairman of Lausanne), Andy Crouch of Christianity Today, Bethany Hoang of International Justice Mission, and Peter Cha of TEDS.  Skye Jethani of Leadership Journal will moderate the discussion.

Trinity is one of a select group of locations for Lausanne gatherings, including New York City, Boston, and Pasadena.

Visit http://www.lausanne.org/global-conversation/chicagotrinity-gathering.html for more information.  The event will likely be live-streamed and recorded for later posting on this website.  If you’re in the area, consider yourself invited to the discussion; if you’re out of town, the live-stream may be of interest.

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New Essay by William Lane Craig: Arguments for God

The Henry Center sponsors a really cool and helpful program called the Christ on Campus Initiative, which produces articles and essays.  The series is designed to provide college students and thinking Christians with apologetic resources necessary to meet the intellectual challenges of the day.  The editorial team for the series is chaired by D. A. Carson of TEDS.

The latest essay is by William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, and is entitled “Five Reasons for God”.  Building off of the five commonly known arguments for the existence of God, Craig engages the New Atheists, showing how they attempted to handle these ideas and how, ultimately, their responses fail.  Whether or not one’s apologetic method includes the five proofs, this essay will make for highly stimulating reading.

Here’s Craig’s conclusion (read the whole thing):

We’ve examined five traditional arguments for the existence of God in light of modern philosophy, science, and mathematics:

1. the cosmological argument from contingency

2. the kalam cosmological argument based on the beginning of the universe

3. the moral argument based upon objective moral values and duties

4. the teleological argument from fine-tuning

5. the ontological argument from the possibility of God’s existence to his actuality

These are, I believe, good arguments for God’s existence. That is to say, they are logically valid; their premises are true; and their premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their negations. Therefore, insofar as we are rational people, we should embrace their conclusions.

The Henry Center is glad to make “Five Arguments for God” available for free to all.

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