Credo’s Cache

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. Living for the New Heaven and New EarthBy Jeffrey Jue- Jue says: “When evangelical Christians think about the arrival of the new heaven and new earth, many immediately turn to decoding Bible passages addressing the end times. Prophecies from Daniel, Revelation, and other books of the Bible are examined and obvious questions follow: ‘What do these prophecies mean? When are these prophecies fulfilled? Could they be happening now?’”

2. The Christian and Common GraceBy Melissa - Melissa notes: “Temporal sufferings, like temporal blessings, are an opportunity to bring glory to God. If we who have Christ as our model don’t believe that, a lost and dying world never will.”

3. Put Laziness to RestBy Paul Maxwell - Maxwell says: “With space and time with God, receive the wisdom God has given us to make our work and our rest meaningful. Under the tyranny of today, laziness is simply the most meaningful reality we can conceive. Under the loving hand of God’s Sabbath rest, though, the unrelenting tyrant of laziness loses its power — day by day, Sabbath by Sabbath, inch by inch. Then, life and work will be filled with more meaning, relief, and fruitfulness.”

4. How to Multiply Disciples Like JesusBy Chelsea Vaughn – Vaughn says: “If you have a family, ask your disciple to help you cook dinner for your family. If you are a businessman, ask your disciple to help you prepare for a meeting. If you’re a student, ask your disciple to help you study for your next exam. The opportunities for mission, instruction, and purpose are endless when we’re doing life on life discipleship.”  

5. Does the Gospel Threaten?By Mark Jones - Jones says: “Does a Christian have any reason to be afraid of God? Does the gospel make any threats to God’s people or does the gospel simply promise and comfort? There is no doubt that the gospel promises and comforts. That is not in dispute. What is less clear is whether the same gospel message also threatens God’s people in any way.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.

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Young, Reading, & Reformed (Fred G. Zaspel)

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Fred Zaspel | One Comment
Young, Reading, & Reformed  (Fred G. Zaspel)

Pardon me for a moment if I seem boastful, but I am proud of the ladies in our church who have launched a wonderful new initiative to reach the church’s children for Christ.

I have long appreciated the potential of good Christian reading – there are few other means of discipleship, when carefully focused, that are so effective. What the church offers is a message – that’s it. Just a message. A message from God about Christ that is powerful in proclamation and in reading. And our church elders wanted to promote solid, gospel-informed reading to capture the minds and hearts of our children and youth. We explained our thoughts to a few of the ladies of our church, and they took the idea and ran with it. I could not have hoped for a better result.

The “Young, Reading, and Reformed” ministry – cleverly named by the ladies who organized this effort for us, lovers of sovereign grace all – cleared our church library shelves of all but the best, making room for new YRR section, and the church gave generously to spend (initially $3,000) to stock the shelves with new materials for the children and youth.

Focused

What’s important here is that we determined not to accept any books in this program except what was really good. No fluff. Children’s books, yes, but only those whose authors know how to emphasize what is central and what is important. Thankfully, there is a growing supply of solid children’s literature becoming available today, and only the best of books (and some videos also), hand-picked and approved, count for credit in this program.

Our stated goal

“To disciple the children and youth of the church via the reading of quality Christian literature.” The books range in age-orientation from preschool through teens, and they include Christian biography, Bible story, doctrinal studies, family devotionals, the Bible itself (of course!), and the whole range that constitutes good Christian reading.

Of course built into the program are appropriate recognitions at certain levels, and our YRR team keeps the pastors apprised weekly of the children’s progress so we can lend private – and occasionally public – encouragement also.

Introducing the YRR Program

Here’s the summary the YRR team used to introduce all this to the congregation:

Young, Reading and Reformed Book Club

Goal:  To disciple the children and youth of the church via the reading of quality Christian literature

Ages:  Preschool through High school

Reading Material:  Church library materials including books, audio books, DVD’s, and select online sermons (See link on church website.)

Club Guidelines:

  • Choose a book or CD/DVD from the club section of the church library.
  • Take a bookmark from the bulletin board and fill it out.
  • Keep track of every 5 minutes you read/watch/listen.
  • When you’re finished the book, return it to the “Return Book Basket” in the library. Keep your bookmark IN the book!

Club Rewards:

  • For every 15 minutes you read, you earn one point.
  •   At the end of each quarter (12 weeks), stars will be placed on your library card on the bulletin board.

Gold star = 60 points or more

Silver star = 30-59 points

Blue star =  1 – 29 points

  •  Everyone who earns a gold star in quarter will receive a small reward for their extra hard work.
  • At the end of the year, anyone earning 240 points or more will receive a book and a gift card.  Other participants will be recognized as well.
  • Club bonus points (5) can be earned for writing a recommendation for a book you’ve read and posting it on the bulletin board.  Write a few sentences on the provided form to inspire other kids to read the book!  If you use a recommendation and read the book, you will also receive 5 bonus points.

Checkout Procedures:  See the guidelines in the library.

Why this is important

Understand, our church is not big on activity for activity’s sake. We are by no means an overly-“programmed” church, and we don’t want to be. What thrills us about this ministry is that it is so thoroughly content-oriented in a decidedly gospel centered, robustly biblical way, aiming intentionally at leading our children, in God’s grace, to become disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the parents in our church had these same goals already in place, and they have worked toward it on their own. This effort is designed to help further that process, and we are excited to see it in place and working. The minds and hearts of our children are being influenced by the gospel daily – what else could we want?

In all honesty, our church is full of willing and gifted workers. We mention it often in praise to the Lord that the lavishness of his provision to our church body is evident in so many ways – the many talented volunteer musicians, our many children’s workers and teachers including the amazing VBS crew (dozens of them each year) that works so well each year, our (I don’t mind saying it) superior youth staff, our deacons who work like few I’ve seen, the many service ministries, and so on. We are blessed. This YRR team is the latest of God’s gifts to our richly-blessed assembly. We are thrilled with the quality of work they have done, we are thrilled with the eager family involvement that we have seen already in this program, and we are thrilled with the prospect of reaching our children for Christ through this wonderful ministry. May God have it so!

Fred Zaspel (Ph.D., Free University of Amsterdam) is pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA, and is the executive editor of Books At a Glance. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary  and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel.

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How did we get the Old Testament? (Paul D. Wegner)

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Magazine-By the Book | No Comments
How did we get the Old Testament?  (Paul D. Wegner)

In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “By the Book: How well do you know the Bible?”, Paul Wegner’s article answers a complex question many Christians have wondered about: “How did we get the Old Testament?” Paul D. Wegner (Ph.D., Kings College, University of London) is Professor of Old Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Baker Academic, 2004); A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism: It’s History, Methods, and Results (IVP, 2006); and Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching: A Guide for Students and Pastors (Kregel Academic, 2009).

Here is the start of Wegner’s article:

Around the third millennium B.C., people began to write historical records in Hieroglyphic (Egypt) and Sumerian (Mesopotamia) of such things as land deeds, lists of sacrifices to the gods, conquests of empires, etc. Sometime later the Israelites preserved the writings of their prophets whose messages they believed came directly from God. These latter works were considered authoritative and served as the standard by which faith and practice were regulated and the history of the nation retained.

Old Testament Scripture is almost silent regarding how or when the books were assembled and the process or stages of its growth. However, it is almost certain that the earliest of biblical materials were transmitted orally. Moses commanded the people of Israel to teach God’s laws and statutes to their sons and grandsons (Deut. 4:9). How long these traditions were transmitted orally is not known, but at some point they were committed to writing to better ensure their accuracy.

HOW DID THE OLD TESTAMENT COME INTO BEING?

Several biblical books suggest that early on some biblical books or parts of books were treated with great reverence and were thought to be authoritative (Exod. 17:14-16; 24:3-4, 7).  The stone tablets upon which God inscribed the Ten Commandments were stored in the Ark of the Covenant (Exod. 25:16, 21; Deut. 10:2-5; 1 Kgs 8:9; Heb. 9:4), a sacred place. The Law of Moses was taught to the priests and commanded to be publically read aloud every seven years so that the Israelites would not forget God’s laws (Deut. 31:9-11); nothing was to be added to or subtracted from its words (Deut. 4:2; 12:32).

We know that biblical authors make reference to earlier biblical writings (2 Kgs 14:6; 2 Chron. 25:4; 35:12; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 8:1, 3, 5, 8; etc.) and the prophets often rebuked Israel for not obeying the words of their predecessors (2 Chron. 24:19; 36:15-16; Ezra 9:11; Neh. 9:26, 30; Jer. 7:25-26; etc.). Written forms of prophetic oracles (2 Chron. 21:12; Isa. 30:8; Jer. 25:13; 29:1; etc.) are mentioned, as well as histories recorded by prophets (1 Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; etc.). But the first reference to a collection of biblical books (i.e., scrolls, bassepārîm) is in Daniel 9:2, which states: “in the first year of his reign [Darius], I, Daniel understood from the scrolls, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” Thus by Daniel’s time the book of Jeremiah was part of a larger collection of books/scrolls that he considered authoritative.

Following the destruction of the temple there was a renewed emphasis on the collection and study of Scripture. It is difficult to know exactly when the Old Testament canon (i.e., list of books in the Old Testament) was closed, but the evidence suggests that it was completed before about 200 B.C. The Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, written about middle second century B.C., mentions a Greek translation of “the Law itself, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books” (NRSV). The implication is that there exists a collection of books that was then translated into Greek.

The concept of a canon containing authoritative information comes directly from Scripture itself (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Jer. 26:2; 2 Pet. 3:15-16; Rev. 22:6-8, 18-19). There were three specific occasions in Israel’s history when certain writings were recognized as having divine authority. The first was when Moses descended from Mt. Sinai with the book of the covenant and read it to the Israelites, who responded, “We will do everything that the LORD has said” (Exod. 24.7). The second was when King Josiah read the book of the covenant found in the temple by Hilkiah (622 B.C.; 2 Kgs 23:3; cf. 2 Chron. 34:32). The people accepted the words of the covenant and were willing to put themselves under its authority. The last occasion was when Ezra read the law to the Babylonian exiles who had returned to Israel. The people wept as they listened and renewed their obedience to the law, implying that they believed the words to be authoritative (Neh. 8:9). …

Read the rest of this article today!


View the magazine as a PDF (Click Here)

Credo Feb 2015 Cover-01How well do you know your Bible? Now that is a scary question, even if you have been a Christian for a long time. Between church events, little league games, and a full-time job, finding time to read and study Scripture is a herculean task. To make matters worse, when you finally do escape to read the Bible you struggle to understand what it means. At times you can relate with the Ethiopian eunuch who said to Philip when asked if he understood what he was reading, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

In this issue of Credo Magazine we are here to help! If you feel tired and frustrated, this issue will give you that shot of adrenaline you need to keep going. And if you feel like you just don’t have the tools in your belt to interpret the Bible properly, then you are in good hands. Consider this an exercise in going to the hardware store to find those tools you need to comprehend the Bible. Obviously this issue of the magazine won’t give you all the tools you need, but we hope to get you started, even provide you with the motivation you need to study the Bible on your own. Sure, it’s hard work. But hard work pays off. And maybe one day you will be able to say, “Hey, I do know the Bible, and I think I can help someone else understand it too.”

Contributors include: Robert Plummer, Ardel Caneday, Michael Kruger, Deven K. MacDonald, Paul D. Wegner, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, Kevin DeYoung, Douglas Moo, and Thomas Schreiner.

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How Do You “Read So Much”? – Part 3 (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Timothy Raymond | 5 Comments
How Do You “Read So Much”? – Part 3 (Timothy Raymond)

I hate writing a series entitled “How Do You ‘Read So Much’?”, since I really don’t think I read all that much.  I’m quick to recognize myself as a person of average intelligence with probably a slightly below average reading speed who needs around eight hours of sleep a night.  Yet based on several conversations, I gather that I do read noticeably more than many pastors.  So in an effort to help you, my brother-pastors, here are my final three recommendations for reading more and better in pastoral ministry. (For the rest of this series, see part 1 and part 2.)

Don’t Bother With Most of the Latest Best-Sellers

I might get some flak for this, but I’m of the persuasion that we should give books a bit of time for a “survival of the fittest” sort of process to take place.  Many of the books which are hot today won’t be remembered in a decade, whereas people will likely be reading John Calvin until Jesus comes again.  Consequently, the vast majority of the books I read are at least a few years old and often a decade old (or a century old).  Occasionally I’ll read something newer if it’s particularly unique or relevant or has something directly to do with my ministry.  But it’s a general truism in God’s created universe that it takes a while for the cream to rise to the top.

ReadingRead Big Academic Books One Bit at a Time

I’m a firm believer that pastors need to be reading solid academic tomes such as James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, John Frame’s A Theology of Lordship, or Piper and Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  The challenge for pastors, though, is finding time to read such large books in their entirety.  My approach is to chip away at them a couple pages at a time.  I’ll pick a selected “big book” and then set a goal of reading two or three pages of said book at a time.  I’ll even put this as an item on my daily to-do list (e.g., “Read 2 pages of God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment”).  Last year I read an entire systematic theology this way, and this year I’m hacking through a technical introduction to the Old Testament.  I’m hoping to one day make it through Bavinck’s Dogmatics with this approach (anybody want to join me?).  As you might expect, this makes for very slow, almost painful plodding.  But with time and discipline you’ll finish these big books in a year or two, and be very glad you did.

Discuss Your Reading With Others

This is not just the perfunctory admonition to beware of being a bookworm and actually talk to people.  Discussing your reading with others has manifold benefits.  It will help you better remember what you read; it will spur healthy conversation and debate; it will fuel your desire to read more; it will encourage others to read and will (hopefully) supply them with good recommendations; it will help you tie your reading to real-life concerns you may not have anticipated; and, if you’re reading good Christian books, it will be a means of grace both for you and the person with whom you are discussing.  For me, unless I know for certain that the person is not a reader, I’ll often ask a friend or church member in casual conversation, “What have you been reading lately?”  And as a pastor, questions like this can help cultivate a culture of reading in your congregation and stimulate godly conversation.

Pastors need to read like humans need to eat.  And what I hope I’ve illustrated through this miniseries is that, even if you are a busy husband-father-pastor, reading several excellent quality books this year is within your grasp.  But only if you really want to do so.

And therein lies the great problem.  If you’re not convinced that reading is absolutely essential to healthy pastoral ministry, you won’t fight to make times for it.  You might get around to occasionally reading the latest spy novel, a collection of hunting stories, or that political book your father-in-law gave you last Christmas.  But you’ll never make time to read what you need to read.  In all actuality, you’ll probably just fill your spare time with watching football and surfing the web.  In a decade or two, you’ll find yourself in the intellectual nursing home preaching dull, shallow sermons.  And your congregation will be the worse for it.

So I’m asking you, brother-pastors, do you believe that reading is a basic survival skill for pastoral ministry?  Is reading quality Christian literature infinitely more valuable than endless hours of empty, mindless television?  If so, will you make the little commitments now so that you can read more and better in pastoral ministry?

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

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Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Sunday's Sermon | One Comment
Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Three of Credo Magazine’s main contributors include Thomas Schreiner, Fred Zaspel, and Matthew Barrett. Each of them are professors, but they are also pastors. So each Monday morning we will be highlighting their “Sunday’s Sermon” on the blog to provide you with encouragement throughout the week and an opportunity to study God’s Word.
 

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Credo’s Cache

Posted by on Mar 20, 2015 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. Man Does Not Live by Man Skills AloneBy Paul Tripp- Tripp says: “The quest for true manhood ultimately drives us to the cross of Jesus Christ. We run to Jesus not just as the ultimate example of what a man looks like, but more importantly as our Savior.”

2. Rejoice in the Midst of Suffering?By Jason Helopoulos - Helopoulos notes: “Suffer well, dear Christian. Endure the suffering that comes your way, but do more than even that–rejoice in the midst of it. The world may not understand, but you do. This suffering can be endured with rejoicing because it is of benefit to you, to others, and gives glory to God. Let us weep and mourn–but always with rejoicing.”

3. Your Joy Rests on Jesus’s RighteousnessBy David Mathis – Mathis says: “What if you really believed that God is 100% for you? That he not only accepts you, but accepts you fully, because of the perfect person and work of his Son? That your best successes can’t earn you any more access, and your worst failures can’t take any of it away? If you did — really did — it might change everything for the pursuit of joy in your life.”

4. Many Racisms, One SolutionBy Bart Barber – Barber says: “Southern Baptists are engaged at present in a coordinated effort to pray for spiritual renewal and spiritual awakening. If we will open our hearts to the brotherhood of all men, if we will build family ties across racial boundaries, and if we will silence the sinister voice of racism by confronting it with the truth, we may find in that private act of repentance the answer to our public prayers.” 

5. Why God Doesn’t Remove Our Sinful Cravings ImmediatelyBy J.D. Greear - Greear says: “So when you are tempted to despair because you continue to struggle, remember what God is doing through your circumstances. Look to Christ, whose resurrection guarantees victory. Look to Christ, who fought for you when you were his enemy. Look to Christ, the only Savior who can give you the strength to stand, and who will pick you up every time you fall. Look to Christ, and fight.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.

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A Psalm (Ben Askins)

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Atonement, Poetry | 3 Comments
A Psalm (Ben Askins)

This psalm was written during a time of reflection on nearly 15 years of service as an EMT and combat medic.

I am covered in blood.

It is mine
And my neighbor’s
And my enemy’s.

I have been so near to death
That I can’t relate to the living.
I have held so many hands
Until they could hold mine no longer.

I have walked to the veil of death
So many times
Where so many
Faces dissolve
Into just so many
Memories.

I have carried so many
To the grave.

Who will hold my hand?
Who will walk with me?
Who will carry me?

I endure,
But I am not strong.
I’ve simply never known anything else.
If I could quit
If I knew how to die
I would have long ago.

But I can’t.

So I walk alone
Covered in blood
And even my shadow would leave me
If it could.

And I can’t go on.

Who will carry me?
Who will walk with me?
Who will hold my hand?

The hands of the Lord have scars on them.

If they did not
Then I could not
Believe in him.

But because his body is covered in scars
I can believe in nothing else.

It is difficult to believe that God created a world
Where so many suffer so much.

But it is unbelievable that He created a world
Where no one suffers more than He suffers.

And I believe the unbelievable.

So I am covered in His blood
And I no longer walk alone.

For greater love has no one than this
That one lays down his life for his friends.
I am the friend of God.

And He will carry me.
He will walk with me.
He will hold my hand.

Until death is put to death
And life is brought to life
Forever.

Ben Askins is a U.S. Army Medical NCO and he has an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife have four children.

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Remembering Theologian Robert Saucy

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in Announcement | One Comment
Remembering Theologian Robert Saucy

Longtime and influential theologian Robert Saucy died last week. Here is the press release from Biola University/Talbot Seminary:

The Biola University community is grieving the passing of Robert L. Saucy, a respected theologian and author who impacted thousands of students during a 54-year teaching career at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. The beloved 84-year-old distinguished professor of systematic theology died on March 12 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident.

The university’s longest-serving current professor, Saucy was widely known for his contributions as a theologian, particularly in the areas of eschatology and ecclesiology. He was a past president of the Evangelical Theology Society and was one of three scholars who worked on both the original 1971 translation of the New American Standard Bible and its 1995 update. As one of the few Biola faculty members to hold the title of distinguished professor, he held a highly selective rank granted only in exceptional circumstances to nationally recognized scholars.

“For his many accomplishments, Dr. Saucy was first and foremost a man who loved Jesus Christ and nourished himself with God’s Word — such that Scripture flowed freely and reverently from his lips,” said Biola President Barry H. Corey. “We grieve that we have lost this humble and wise man of faith, but rejoice in the knowledge that he is now with the Savior he loved, served and proclaimed throughout his life.”

Saucy was born and raised in Salem, Ore., and gave his life to Christ at a young age. After serving on active duty in the military from 1948 to 1949, he earned an undergraduate degree in history from Westmont College and two graduate degrees — a Th.M. and Th.D. — from Dallas Theological Seminary.

4627997028_c987bfd2fbHe joined the faculty of Talbot School of Theology in 1961 — a time when the school had less than 50 students — and remained a faithful fixture as the school grew dramatically in size and diversity over the years. During more than five decades as a professor, he equipped thousands of students to understand, teach and apply the Word of God.

He also authored numerous influential books, including The Church in God’s Program, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, Men and Women in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective and Scripture: Its Authority, Power and Relevance. His most recent, Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation, explored the Bible’s teaching on how to grow spiritually and experience more of God’s abundant life, as he explained in a 2013 interview with Talbot’s Good Book Blog.

“There is no one who had more influence in shaping Talbot than Dr. Robert Saucy,” said Clinton E. Arnold, dean and professor of New Testament at Talbot. “The impact that he had did not come from position or power, but from his godly character and gracious manner. All of us at Talbot had the deepest and most profound respect for Dr. Saucy because we knew that he was a fount of wisdom formed by many years of meditating and reflecting on God’s Word.”

Colleagues remembered Saucy as a man of sharp intellect and steady integrity.

“Bob was one of the most sincere, transparent and consistent Christians I have ever met,” said professor Alan Gomes, who had an office next to Saucy’s for more than 27 years. “I saw him in every situation conceivable over those 27 years and he was as steady, stable and kind an individual as you could ever imagine. … More than anything else, Bob Saucy was a man of the Word. He knew the Word like few ever do, loved the Word, and lived the Word. I have never seen anyone so perfectly integrate the heart and the head as Bob.”

Scott Rae recalled being interviewed by the distinguished theologian for a potential teaching position back when Rae was still a young rookie.

“During the interview, he wanted to ask a few more questions of me on a particular point, and he said, ‘I’d like to pursue this further, I want to learn something!’ I was stunned that such a distinguished professor actually thought he could learn something from me!” said Rae, now a professor of Christian ethics and dean of Talbot’s faculty. “I will always remember his gentle spirit, incredibly sharp mind, and humble desire to let others have the credit.”

Michael J. Wilkins, distinguished professor of New Testament language and literature, said his own thinking, spiritual development and personal growth as a professor had been influenced more by Saucy than any other person.

“Bob Saucy was the heart and soul of Talbot for over 54 years,” said Wilkins, who came to Talbot as a student in 1974 and as a professor in 1983. “In my opinion no one person has influenced students and alumni more than Bob. And no one has had more direct influence on the theological integrity and growth in theological clarity than Bob.”

The Biola community is in prayer for the Saucy family, including his wife, Nancy, son Mark (also a longtime professor of theology at Talbot) and daughter Brenda, as well as his many friends and colleagues. Details of a memorial service will be shared in the coming days.

A collection of Saucy’s lectures can be found at open.biola.edu.

Here is a lecture Saucy gave called “The Suffering Christian.”

 

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No Shamrocks. No Pot of Gold. Michael A.G. Haykin Introduces the Real St. Patrick

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Magazine-By the Book, Michael Haykin | No Comments
No Shamrocks. No Pot of Gold.  Michael A.G. Haykin Introduces the Real St. Patrick

The names of few, if any, “saints” are as widely recognized as the name of Saint Patrick. Yet, while many know of the legendary propagator of Celtic Christianity, few know the facts surrounding Patrick or the legacy he left behind. In Patrick of Ireland: His Life and Impact (Christian Focus, 2014), Michael A. G. Haykin has cut through much of the mist surrounding the great missionary of the early church. Haykin, who serves as Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, provides an account of the life, theology, and legacy of Patrick that is both responsible in its use of sources and readable for all who may find themselves interested.

Haykin begins in chapter 1 by placing Patrick within his historical context, providing readers with an overview of his life and ministry. Born in the late fourth century A.D., likely south of Hadrian’s Wall on the western coast of Britain, Patrick experienced early life as a member of upper class Romano-British society. Taken from his life of luxury at the age of sixteen, Irish raiders sold Patrick into slavery in the country he would come to identify with so closely. It was while he was an Irish slave that Patrick would say, “the Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God.” After six years of captivity, Patrick experienced a dream that revealed he would soon return to his home of Britain. The dream’s prediction was realized as Patrick traveled 200 miles to the coast and gained safe passage on a ship traveling to Britain. After returning home, Patrick experienced another vision. This time, the highborn Brit was to return to the land of his captivity, not as a slave, but as a missionary. After gaining the necessary training for the ministry to which he had been called, Patrick set sail upon the Irish Sea, this time as Patrick, Bishop of Ireland.

Chapter 2 establishes the foundation of Patrick’s theology as explicitly trinitarian. Haykin notes that Patrick offers merely one citation other than the Latin Bible in his combined writings, leading one scholar to label him “a man unius libri”—“a man of one book.” With such limited use of sources, what Patrick does cite reveals what is clearly of importance to the missionary bishop. Near the beginning of the Confessions, Patrick includes a creedal statement focused on God’s triune being. Haykin concludes, “the reason for Patrick’s inclusion of the creed is not because his orthodoxy has been questioned . . . Rather, it has to do with Patrick’s desire to praise his Triune Lord” (46). Haykin examines Patrick’s creedal statement, highlighting its specifically trinitarian wording in light of fourth century attacks on Orthodoxy from Arius and others. For Patrick, the Trinity was to be both confessed and adored. Furthermore, he knew the gospel he took to Ireland to be trinitarian in every respect.

Shifting from Patrick’s theology to his missionary labors in chapter 3, Haykin begins by pointing to Patrick’s legacy. As the modern missionary movement began to gain traction in the eighteenth century, men such as William Carey looked to Patrick as an example of one who possessed a praiseworthy missionary spirit. According to his own testimony, Patrick saw thousands converted, including family members of Irish kings. Commenting on his fruitfulness, Haykin states, “his missionary labours firmly planted the Christian faith in Irish soil, and left a deep imprint on the Celtic church that would grow up from this soil” (61). His efforts involved confronting Celtic paganism and local practices that he found antithetical to the gospel. Also, the traveling bishop ordained other gospel ministers in order to extend his missionary reach. While Patrick’s labors are applauded in retrospect, he faced a great deal of opposition from both pagans in Ireland and other Christians within the church. Yet, Patrick would not be stopped. Haykin comments on several of Patrick’s motivations, but none proved as powerful as Patrick’s own conversion, which “gave him a deep sense of gratitude to God, and out of thanks to God he felt bound to go back to Ireland and preach the good news of saving grace in Christ” (74). Like Paul in Acts 20:22, Patrick felt himself “bound by the Spirit” to preach the gospel to the Irish (76).

517x-bixlcL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Chapter 4 moves from Patrick’s missionary enterprise to his personal piety, which centered on the Scriptures. From Patrick’s writings, one discerns a man who is intimately familiar with the Bible. “We cannot be sure of any other books that Patrick had read,” Haykin emphasizes, “But one thing we do know, Patrick knew his Bible” (79). For the missionary, the Scriptures were unequivocally the very words of God. The word did not stand alone as central to Patrick’s piety. Haykin notes the Holy Spirit also played a central role in Patrick’s understanding and practice of prayer, mission work, and leadership as bishop. He explains, “The Holy Spirit, then, plays an absolutely vital role in enabling Patrick to stay faithful to the call of missions. The Spirit enables him to persevere in prayer, to remain faithful despite his feelings of utter inadequacy, and to stay in Ireland no matter what cost” (91).

Haykin concludes in chapter 5 with a brief reflection on the life and ministry of Patrick as an evangelical. In this positive, but sober assessment, Haykin recognizes evangelicals will not find themselves in wholesale agreement with the great missionary, but may still learn much from this giant of the faith.

Haykin’s work is short (coming in under 100 pages), but has the potential to make a major impact on the way evangelicals think about Patrick of Ireland. For many, Patrick is associated with little more than four-leaf clovers and leprechauns. The vision of Patrick Haykin presents, however, is that of a missionary saint, an ancient exemplar of piety and zeal. In and of itself, this successful recasting of Patrick makes Haykin’s work a worthy read. Yet there are a few strengths and weaknesses worthy of mention.

A major strength of Patrick of Ireland is its accessibility. Haykin provides contextual background of Patrick’s world, as well as breakout boxes that inform the reader of related information. For example, in a discussion on Patrick’s trinitarianism, the reader will find a breakout box filled with relevant information on the teaching of Arius. One needs no prior knowledge of the period to benefit from Haykin’s work. Haykin also uses the breakout boxes to treat interesting tidbits associated with Patrick. A few pages later, Haykin includes an insert on the famous Breastplate of Patrick and how it shows the effect of Patrick’s trinitarian piety within the Irish church.

The level of scholarship undergirding Haykin’s work is yet another strength. While the book aims for the popular-level reader, Haykin interacts with leading scholars in the field. The result is a book that can be read by anyone, with footnotes and references that could prove helpful to a doctoral student. At times, however, this can prove a weakness. Haykin’s familiarity with the historiography surrounding Patrick makes its way into the narrative at points, providing most readers with more historiographical discussion than desired.

Other than reforming common misconceptions surrounding Patrick, perhaps Haykin’s most helpful contribution is his discussion of Patrick’s ministerial practice and personal piety. Two examples will suffice. First, in regard to Patrick’s ministry, Haykin points out that Patrick took the time to pursue ministerial preparation and theological training between receiving his call and traveling to Ireland. Patrick sensed his specific calling was not in and of itself sufficient; he would need to learn to handle God’s Word accurately and effectively if his mission work was to prosper.

Second, in reference to Patrick’s receiving direct instruction through the Holy Spirit via dreams, Haykin highlights Patrick’s cautious appropriation. He states, “All of Patrick’s dreams relate to either issues of personal guidance, such as his call to mission in Ireland, or personal encouragement; none of them are employed to determine or set forth doctrine” (87). In this respect, Patrick sets himself apart from other medieval Christians who allowed dreams and visions to supplant God’s Word and proves instructive for evangelicals discerning the work of the Spirit today.

In Patrick of Ireland, Haykin has written an engaging and accessible work that recovers the missionary saint who bravely took the gospel to the land of his former captivity. Read this book and you will not find a shamrock or a pot of gold, but a forgiven Brit who effectively became Irish that he might follow the Lord’s command to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Dustin Bruce, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

View other book reviews and articles in the new issue of Credo Magazine!

View the magazine as a PDF (Click Here)

Credo Feb 2015 Cover-01How well do you know your Bible? Now that is a scary question, even if you have been a Christian for a long time. Between church events, little league games, and a full-time job, finding time to read and study Scripture is a herculean task. To make matters worse, when you finally do escape to read the Bible you struggle to understand what it means. At times you can relate with the Ethiopian eunuch who said to Philip when asked if he understood what he was reading, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

In this issue of Credo Magazine we are here to help! If you feel tired and frustrated, this issue will give you that shot of adrenaline you need to keep going. And if you feel like you just don’t have the tools in your belt to interpret the Bible properly, then you are in good hands. Consider this an exercise in going to the hardware store to find those tools you need to comprehend the Bible. Obviously this issue of the magazine won’t give you all the tools you need, but we hope to get you started, even provide you with the motivation you need to study the Bible on your own. Sure, it’s hard work. But hard work pays off. And maybe one day you will be able to say, “Hey, I do know the Bible, and I think I can help someone else understand it too.”

Contributors include: Robert Plummer, Ardel Caneday, Michael Kruger, Deven K. MacDonald, Paul D. Wegner, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, Kevin DeYoung, Douglas Moo, and Thomas Schreiner.

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How Do You “Read So Much”? – Part 2 (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Timothy Raymond | One Comment
How Do You “Read So Much”? – Part 2 (Timothy Raymond)

It’s sad, but many pastors hardly read at all.  In the long-term, this spells disaster for a local church and for a pastor’s own soul.  In this, part two of a three part miniseries, I give you, my brother-pastors, three additional recommendations for reading more and better in pastoral ministry.  (For part one of this series, go here.)

Schedule Time Specifically to Read

With so many other things vying for your attention, you’ve got to fight to make time for those things which are truly important.  If reading is in that category (and I believe it is), I’d encourage you to look at your schedule and set apart select hours specifically for reading.  For me, that’s first thing in the morning, so three or four times a week I’ll read for the first hour of the workday.  If an hour at a time is too much, maybe start with 15 or 20-minute blocks.  Find what works best for you with your unique schedule, personality, and situation in life.  But like other essential habits (e.g., prayer, meals with family, personal evangelism, etc.), if you don’t schedule time specifically to read, you’ll likely never get around to doing much of it.

Quit Lame Books Early

This point should be pretty obvious, but some of us think that once we’ve begun a book (especially if we’ve highlighted in it!), we must, by all means necessary, finish it to the very end.  I use to behave this way, but have come to see that as foolish and immature.  It was actually an expression of pride in my life, wanting to be able to boast about all the books I’d finished.  We only have so many hours in our lifetimes and they need to be used wisely.  So if you’re 50 or 75 pages into a book, haven’t gotten anything out of it yet, and not optimistic about its improvement, quit it and go read something better.  Admittedly, this takes a bit of discernment to do, because sometimes books begin poorly but finish well.  But oftentimes lame books are lame throughout and leave us feeling hoodwinked at the end.

Learn to Read Different Books in Different Contexts

This point is similar to my suggestion number 3 from last time, but what I’m getting at here is to come to understand when and where you can read certain types of books and then read accordingly.  For example, I love reading technical biblical scholarship, but I simply do not have the brainpower to do so at 10:00 PM after a long day of work.  So instead I’ll read a stimulating biography, or even some worthwhile fiction.  Likewise, reading John Owen is tough while sitting in the dentist’s office, so instead I might read a book on preaching or local church ministry.  The point is, experiment enough to learn when you can read what, and then go and do accordingly.  For if you don’t do this, you’ll likely just end up watching TV at the end of the day.

Lord willing, next time I’ll conclude this miniseries by giving you my final three suggestions for increasing the quality and quantity of your reading.

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

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