The Purpose of Christian Biography

April 24, 2008

“The great ends of Christian biography are instruction and example. By faithfully describing the lives of men eminent for godliness, we not only embalm their memory, but furnish ourselves with fresh materials and motives for a holy life. It is abundantly more impressive to view the religion of Jesus as operating in a living character than to contemplate it abstractedly. For this reason we may suppose the Lord the Spirit has condescended to exhibit, first and principally, the life of Christ; and, after his, that of many of his eminent followers. And for this reason he by his holy influences still furnishes the church with now and then a singular example of godliness, which it is our duty to notice and record. There can be no reasonable doubt that the life of Mr. Pearce ought to be considered as one of these examples. May that same Divine Spirit who had manifestly so great a hand in forming his character teach us to derive from it both instruction and edification.”

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) from Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Pearce, M.A. (Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, III, 444)

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PhD Update

April 18, 2008

Well… you’re all looking at an official PhD researcher at Leiden University! The faculty at Leiden presented their case to the admissions board and here I am now! Officially accepted! So, most likely you’ll be hearing more on this blog about John Gill, the Trinity, and the Enlightenment! Keep praying for me!


The Rebirth of the Pastor-Theologian

April 15, 2008

In ages past, the pastor of a congregation could be seen to be the most educated and knowledge person in a community. People would come to him for advice on a number of issues from basic questions of the faith, child rearing, business issues and other things. The pastor was not just someone who met felt needs but was someone who communicated the awesome truth of the Word of God. While he did not have all the answers, he was knowledgable in the Word and in the systematic understanding of that Word. In my particular context I think of Particular Baptist pastor-theologians like Andrew Fuller, John Gill, Abraham Booth, Hercules Collins, William Kiffin, Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, and C. H. Spurgeon.

Then something terrible happened. People decided it was not the role of the pastor any longer to be the pastor-theologian. On doors it read “Office” instead of “Study.” Pastors became execustives and long range visionaries. They became warm fuzzy people whose goal it was to meet the felt needs of people. You would find them reading People magazine to be “in touch” with culture more than they would be reading Augustine to get in touch with theology. What happened?

David Wells of course documents much of the fall of the pastor-theologian in his incredible book, No Place for Truth. In this, and the three follow-ups to that book, Wells historically traced the fall of the pastor-theologian and the Evangelical church at large and offered up helpful ways to bring back a Word centered and Trinitarian ministry.

While we have a long way to go, I am encouraged at seeing something of the rebirth of the pastor-theologian. Seminaries are recognizing that what is needed is not CEO’s or counselors (although aspects of those models are helpful to the pastor) but instead a Word saturated preacher of the Word of God who will shephered and guide his people into knowledge of Christ. Books are being written to encourage a Word centered ministry. Conferences like Together for the Gospel and Shepherds Conference and the Desiring God conference are all being focused on training up a new generation of pastor-theologians. What then is a pastor-theologian? In my mind, this is someone who:

1. Has a deep and profound personal life with God (i.e. through personal study and prayer)

2. Studies the Word intently and seeks to apply it in such a way to his hearers that it transforms.

3. They be students of all areas of knowledge as all truth is God’s truth. They are not simply students of the Word but students of history, music, art, science, sociology, etc.

4. They are compassionate people who are lover’s of men’s souls, both saved and unsaved.

5. Seek to transform the culture they live in through living a transformed life and seeking to transform the lives of those around them.

6. They are normal parts of society. They are not cloistered away from the world but seek to be familiar with politics and other such areas. They have a committed view of the Christian’s role in society.

7. They strive to pursue holiness and serve as a model for others.

8. They mentor the future generation of church leaders. They are not glory hogs but seek to defer to the gifts of others and train up men and women to be leaders in the church. They work to put themselves out of a job.

These are just some of my thoughts on what it takes to be a biblical pastor-theologian. We are living in an age of refocus of priorities. We are seeing men everywhere take seriously their callnig to be a minister of the Gospel and seek to better themselves so they can better those in their charge. They are not some marketer or church growth guru, but they have a commitment to the Word of God and teaching it and preaching it boldly and with great conviction to their people. That is a pastor-theologian. Praise God for their rebirth and pray for the continued growth of men around the world striving to be a godly pastor-theologian.


Which Baptist History Text?

April 15, 2008

Which Baptist History text would you use to teach your people or your students the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers? When my former boss Michael Haykin was picking his text to use for his Baptist History class at SBTS this semester we had a brief discussion about what was the best Baptist History textbook. Is McBeth too long? Is Torbet too short? Is Oliver too specific?

What are your thoughts? This obviously presumes you would have your students reading primary source material, but what would you have them read when it comes to secondary material? What do you feel is the best Baptist History textbook?


Personal Up-date

April 8, 2008

Greetings all!

Plans are well under way for the wedding on July 26, 2008. Dresses and tuxes and everything are ordered, the piper is in place, and the music is being picked. We’re doing well and really looking forward to that day! That is part of the reason I have been neglecting my blog of late!

Please keep that in prayer. Also please pray about Leiden University for me. I had been initially accepted by the faculty but now the admissions department is denying me because they say my master’s work and my undergrad work is not acceptable because they were not accredited. Please pray hard about this! The dean of faculty is personally trying to convince the admissions department to accept me despite this issue.

Please also continue to pray for wisdom when it comes to potential ministry positions.  Many tough decisions to make in the near future and Tracy and I would covet your prayers of discernment and wisdom!

I hope to start posting again soon as soon as I get the next issue of Eusebeia edited for Michael!


Liam Goligher Lectures Available Online

April 8, 2008

The Liam Goligher Lectures are available online now from the annual Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies conferece held in Cambridge, ON on Saturday.

The Emergent Church: Reinventing Liberalism

Preaching the Cross Today

See blog reviews by Michael Haykin and Kirk Wellum.