Recent articles showing the need for exegetical logic

I wanted to call attention to two recent articles that in different ways highlight one of this generation’s fundamental obstacles to ministry and mission. The first, “Let’s revive the lost art of Christian polemics” by Conrad Mbewe, says the church today is harmed by uncorrected error. He writes: We should respond to (theological error) by deliberately engaging in Christian polemics. What does the word “polemics” mean? Polemics means a strong verbal or written rebuttal of someone else’s belief. It is an argument that disputes another person’s opinion and shows that it is not true. Using the example of Christ, Mbewe argues for the recovery of Christian polemics that identify wrong teaching and correct it with strong language, logic, reasoning, and the clear statement of right teaching. The second, “The Art of Imperious Ignorance” by Michael J. Ovey in the recent Themelios, responds to the recent phenomena of dismissing passages of Scripture as “unclear”: Naturally (dismissing a passage as ‘unclear’) plays well with a

postmodern mood that tends to value scepticism, but more than that it can offer the attraction of not needing to have a reason for my position. At its worst, I can declare something unclear and then pursue my own line without needing to provide reasons for it—after all the issue is unclear. Declaring something unclear can maximise my freedom of action because it tends to remove an issue from the field of common debate. In its way, it is strongly individualist. More than that, some of the claims about unclarity or ignorance leave unspecified what counts as being clear enough for actions to proceed or decisions to be made. It is sometimes quite revealing to ask ‘how clear do things need to be?’ or ‘What would make things clearer for you?’ But without knowing what counts as ‘clear enough’ or what considerations would clarify, the task of discussing something with someone claiming ignorance or lack of clarity…

Applying the authority of God in exegetical ministry and theological training

Ministry begins with God himself, and the absolute authority belonging to him as creator of all things. Believing the Bible is the inerrant and authoritative word of this God, we must approach the Bible with the goal not of using it for our work, but submitting to it as God’s word. How can we practically submit to God’s word in various ministry contexts? And how can we train leaders for a ministry that is obedient to the authority of God? Imagine the various theological disciplines in a pyramid: Disciplinary Order The starting point is biblical exegesis, the task of carefully reading and discovering the intended meaning of biblical texts in their original language and contexts. Then we move to biblical theology, wherein we put together the results of our exegesis to understand the theological message of a given section of Scripture, or how a given theme is developed throughout Scripture. Then, and only then, we can develop a systematic theology,

based on our exegesis and biblical theology, that synthesizes logically the teaching of the entire Bible. Finally, we can apply our systematic theology, biblical theology, and exegesis by building a philosophy and practice of specific ministries, such as preaching or counseling. And by following all of these steps the result is a church life and mission that are thoroughly biblical, faithful, and operating in submission to God through his Word. To look at it from the other direction, we might ask - “why is expository preaching so important to the ministry of a church?” (level 5). The answer to that is found in our biblical philosophy of preaching (level 4), which is simply systematic theology (e.g. doctrines of Scripture, of man, of salvation) together with biblical imperatives about preaching (level 3), which is based on a biblical theology and story of a God who communicates and reveals himself through proclamation (level 2), which is based on the exegesis of individual…

What kind of leader do urban churches in the 10-40 Window need?

As we train pastors, we need to know what we're trying to do before we can do it very well. A couple weeks ago I shared some thoughts on the ideal church in our urban 10-40 Window context. The logical next question is "what kind of leader is needed for this kind of church?" Or, "what is an ideal pastor?" A Christian: An ideal pastor is first of all a Christian; he has himself believed and been transformed by the power of the gospel, and is continuing to grow in his Christian maturity and ongoing repentance. He displays the fruit of the spirit. He is a man of prayer. He is not a recent convert; he is among the most spiritually mature men of the congregation. He is passionate to know God and make him known. Committed to the Local Church: An ideal pastor loves the local church, serves the local church, and embraces the biblical priority of the local church in God’s mission.

He does not view ministry in the church as in any way inferior to other ministries one might do but is instead eager to invest his life as an under-shepherd of God’s people. Exemplary Character: An ideal pastor is holy and above reproach - he has a reputation that is a credit to the church, there is no valid accusation of wrongdoing that can be made against him. He is upright - he keeps his word; he can be counted on to make wise, fair, righteous judgments for the church. He is sober-minded and not arrogant - level-headed, restrained in his conduct, able to think clearly; humble, listens to others, accepts criticism and counsel, and is considerate. He is disciplined, self-controlled, and not a drunkard - keeping his physical desires in check by consistent self-restraint; does not engage in any activity to excess and is disciplined in his pursuit of spiritual things. He is not violent, but gentle…

Believing the gospel, obeying the Savior, discipling the world, for the glory of God.

What are the goals of a church (any church)? What’s the ministry of that church seeking to accomplish in the lives of people? Here’s my answer: believing the gospel, obeying the Savior, discipling the world, for the glory of God You can get here pretty easily from the Great Commission (Mat 28:18-20): “Disciples… baptizing” → requires believing the gospel. “Obey all I commanded” → obeying the Savior. “Make disciples of all nations… teaching” → discipling the world Baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” → in other words, ministry is in and through and for the glory of the triune God. Looking at the big picture of Scripture, Jesus doesn’t highlight these goals in an isolated way, but as a summary of what all Scripture calls God’s people to. So how does this look in a church? Believing the gospel Without Christ, all people, as sinners, are in the desperate

situation of facing God’s just wrath (Rom 5:12; 3:23). But the amazing truth of the gospel is that God has sent his Son Jesus to deliver sinners. Only Jesus can rescue us, and he does it by taking God’s wrath on himself, dying in our place, and rising from the dead. The sins that should have condemned us, God laid on Jesus. So, the amazing exchange: Jesus endured what we deserved so that we might enjoy what he deserved: eternal life. We access this life by believing the gospel, which involves understanding these truths, turning away from sin, and trusting in Jesus as the one way of salvation (John 6:47, Luke 8:12, 2 Cor 5:21). Guiding people to belief in the gospel is the goal of all a church is and does. A church calls non‐Christians to believe and be saved. But a church must also emphasize believing the gospel to Christians. Why? Because even after saving us, the gospel is…