Chafer Bible Conference 2019

I had the privilege last week to be invited by Dr. Robbie Dean to be a keynote speaker at the Chafer Bible Conference 2019 in Houston, Texas. The folks were very gracious, hospitable, and most important, eager to engage and follow God’s word.

Below are the session titles and links to the videos for each session.

Session #1: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of the Biblical Narrative

Session #2: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Genesis

Session #3: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Jonah

Session #4: Singing His Songs: The Artistry of Biblical Poetry

Session #5: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Psalms

Session #6: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Song of Songs


Review of Ruth Tucker’s, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse

Review of Ruth A. Tucker, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse (Zondervan, 2016) 206 pages.

Ruth Tucker of Jerusalem to Irian Jaya fame, has penned a personal, heart-wrenching account of years of domestic violence at the hands of her “charming, articulate, and intelligent” husband and once beloved pastor. Her ex-spouse (who is never named in the book) inflicted untold physical and emotional horror on her and their son for years. Sadly, Tucker’s experience is not unique in the church. Women and their children like her and her son (Carlton) should not have to suffer in silence and alone. The church needs to read this book to be motivated to come along side others like Tucker.

What Tucker suffered at the hands of her husband was terrible and inexcusable. Her ex’s use of the Bible to cower Tucker into submission was not only violence inflicted on his wife, Ruth, but also abuse of the worst kind on the biblical text itself. And this is where Tucker does not differentiate between what the Bible actually teaches and what her husband inflicted on her based on his warped hermeneutic. For Tucker they are one in the same. Since her husband demanded total and unquestioned submission and would physically and/or emotionally make her tow that line, any male who supports and practices loving biblical submission (i.e. complementarianism) in marriage is like her husband.

While there is certainly a danger that the doctrine of biblical submission in marriage has (and will be) used as a vicious club (23), Tucker misses the point that God never intended this doctrine to be wielded in such fashion. Sadly, she also confuses the perpetrator with the teaching when she writes, “Yet the doctrine of male headship demands that an independent single woman turn into another woman—a woman under subjection” (53). Tucker’s horrendous experience was at the hands of her ex who had violated the biblical text long before he had abused her.

The Future of Seminary Education

For those interested in how seminary education should be delivered need to read Paul R. House’s, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case Study of Costly Discipleship and Life Together (Crossway, 2015).

House uses Bonhoeffer’s seminary model as a way to evaluate the current shift of seminary education away from resident programs to online. While House recognizes the need and value of online seminary education in a few incidents, these are only for emergencies where a potential student is unable to attend a residential program.

House argues that the delivery system of seminary education should be driven by theology and not cash flow that some have suggested online programs promise. He writes, “Thus I believe that a biblical theology of pastoral formation makes face-to-face community-based seminary education a priority, not a preference. (I also believe that the same is true for a Christian liberal arts university, but that is a subject for another time.) Online education for degree credit (at per-credit fees) may be reserved for true emergency cases, but not be accepted as normative or used regularly for pastoral formation” (15).

Most seminary professors would applaud House’s call. However, it is not the professor who needs to be convinced but the potential student. One of my seminary students, who left today for his paid internship, stopped by yesterday and rehearsed all that he learned and experienced by being in a residential program. He recognized that while he could have taken his degree online, he realizes that his educational experience would not have been as full or as rewarding if he simply did his courses online. While this student had a family and steady job, he was unique in that he had the finances and medical occupation that was transferable to almost any geographical area. Many students do not have these same blessings. Contrary to House, online seminary education is a strong, viable (and biblical) alternative for many students. However, seminary faculty, administration and potential students need to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each delivery system.

While not everyone will agree with his premise or conclusions, House raises thought provoking questions that seminaries need to wrestle with as we train others for ministry in the local church.

Chapter in new book announced

I have a chapter in a new book forthcoming from Weaver Publishing this October.  The title of my chapter is “Redeeming Chronic Pain: When Surgery Doesn’t Work” in When Suffering Is Redemptive: Stories of How Anguish and Pain Accomplish God’s Mission. I share my journey with God through Trigeminal Neuralgia. Dr. Larry Waters from DTS is the editor and a contributor as well. Joni Eareckson Tada has written the forward.  See the rest of the chapter titles and book blurb here.  Here is a working cover of the book.                book cover

The Church’s Response to Same Sex Marraige

Came across this article that echo’s what I have been saying about the church’s response to same sex marriages for awhile. Canadian Cary Nieuwhof’s five points are spot on. In his blog post he cautiously offers advice to his American counterparts on how the church should respond to same sex marriage, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. (Same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for 10 years). See his blog post here: “His Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.”

His second point, “It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values,” is especially poignant for Christians to consider. I have been saying the same thing since the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney in 1997. Then I said it was unrealistic to expect “Mickey” to hold Christian values and practices since “he” was not a believer.

I wonder if “we” are upset over the loss of being the nation’s “conscience.” No longer are Christians able to insist that people act sort of “Christian” under the force of law. Now it seems that people will only have an opportunity to act Christian if they are truly saved. I get the sense from reading the NT that the early believers had to live and speak from a truly minority position as well. They did it with love, not comprising the truth and within that position the church flourished. Maybe modern Christians need to take a page from their “playbook.”