Friday, July 27, 2012

Around the Horn

First, here’s some comments from Jonathan Dodson on evangelism. There are some good thoughts worth serious consideration here. The manner and context of our communication matters just as much as the content of it (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2:7-12). I fear we are too often prone to one or the other. We need both.

Second, Joe Carter has a piece here on Batman and Jesus. This is strange to me, to be honest. I don’t get the fascination with this kind of analysis. It almost reads like a parody to me, as in demonstrating absurdity by being absurd. The gospel doesn’t need this, even if it could tolerate it (which I don’t think it can). It should strike us as odd that a large number of people keep going to secular culture to find Jesus themes and redemption themes, as if God has not given us what is necessary to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and everything necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It is obvious that a lot of time and thought went into this, but for what purpose? Is the Bible not enough for us? Does the salvation of souls and the work of the gospel depend on analyzing Batman?

Third, my friend Mark as an article here on a book I haven’t yet read, though Mark inspire me to read it. Mark says, “many seminary-trained pastors train in bubbles with Belmont values on marriage, industry, honesty, and religiosity for ministerial careers in bubbles with Fishtown values on the same topics. And they sometimes fail in Fishtown and have no idea why.” This resonates with me. I strongly believe in seminary education, to the point that I would discourage anyone from pursuing vocational ministry without at least an Master of Divinity degree. (Go ahead and complain about it in the comments). I agree that when God calls a man to preach, he calls him to prepare. Yes, I know people have been “successful” without it, but having been on both sides of the equation (ministry before seminary and ministry after seminary), I am fully persuaded that the latter is far better than the former, and by “far,” I mean immeasurable. However, I also believe that there needs to be room in seminary education for experience and exposure to something other than Belmont. Classroom learning, though indispensable for actual ministry, will never fully prepare one for actual ministry.

Last, and speaking of Fishtown and Belmont, here’s a good and challenging piece on location and ministry. It has the potential to laden it’s readers with guilt, and that’s not necessarily bad. As I have been known to say, some of you should feel guilty for the way you are living your life. But’s a good checkpoint as well. I got this link from my friend Mike who doesn’t just talk about this and link to it. He lives it. There is a strong move towards planting churches in urban, blighted, dying, diverse, and under-resourced areas by people who are not “drive-ins.” They live, shop, hangout, and minister to people there. It’s a good thing. Read this and find yourself in the list.


Anonymous said...

I can't help saying in the world did the thousands and thousand of preachers of the past and even today in mission fields that have won millions of souls get along without a degree? If it is necessary to have a degree to get people saved, there are a lot of people going to hell and don't know it. Sorry to tell you this, but except for Paul, I haven't seen many people in the Bible that have degrees, especially those who were with Jesus. Get real...being filled with the Holy Spirit is much more important then all the degrees in the world. A man can know the Bible backward and forward and not have the ability to win people. It is interesting that many people who have "advanced" degrees have bit into the Calvinism business which in its self is a soul winning killer. I have observed that PHD often means "plenty high and dry". Some way, the verses that say "go out into the highway and hedges and compel them to come in" is overlooked. I know plenty of men who have advanced degrees but it hasn't gone to their head and they are great preachers and soul winners.

Larry said...

Thanks for commenting. A few things in response:

1. To compare Paul/apostles to today is illegitimate since the educational system today is far different. To have the opportunity to get a good education and turn it down is unwise at best. It shows a lack of wisdom to refuse the opportunity to sharpen your mind and tools for the work ahead. A lot more work is accomplished more efficiently by sharp tools than by dull ones.

2. I never said one had to have a degree to get people saved. In fact, we can't get people saved, with or without a degree. Jesus did that. He uses us to proclaim the message so that they might believe.

3. There are a lot of people going to hell and don't know it, and that has nothing to do with the education of the one proclaiming the message.

4. Pastoral ministry is a lot more than getting people saved. That's one of the great travesties of some modern ministers. They don't take discipleship seriously. That's why there are churches with 1000 members that average 200 on Sunday morning.

5. Setting up a contrast between the Holy Spirit and degrees is a false dichotomy. The Holy Spirit calls us to know the Word and preach it, and that requires education from somewhere. Formal education is generally the best place to get it.

6. The charge that Calvinism is a soul-winning killer is a lie based on an ignorance of the Bible, Calvinism, history, and the present. I wish people would quit saying that. What kills soul-winning is disobedience.

The point is that God calls pastors to prepare for the ministry, and seminary is the best way to do that. Yes, a man can do it without it, but he is causing many problems and difficulties for himself that makes his life harder, not easier. And chances are he won't do it.