March 12, 2012
New Testament Theology Class Interview
A seminary student taking a New Testament Theology Class asked to interview me, to which I agreed. He
asked three questions to which I responded:
1. What are the biggest challenges the church is facing today? What are the theological issues that you think are at stake in meeting those challenges?
I think there are multiple challenges.
First is the outside culture becoming more hostile towards Christianity.
Second is relativism, which is strongly correlated to the first.
Third is complacency among churches and individuals within the church.
The theological issues at stake in meeting those challenges, which I will list respectively to the order of the challenges, are as follows:
First, there are plenty of verses in Scripture addressing hostility towards God’s people and suffering: John 16:33; 2 Cor. 1:3-7, 4:8-18; Philippians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:8, 3:10-12; James 1:2-4; and 1 Peter 4:12-13, 5:8-10 to mention a few.
Second, with relativism, there is the suggestion that there are no absolutes. I have written about theology related to this here: http://beacondeacon.com/discourses/relativism.htm
Third, complacency among churches and individuals is one that even I struggle with. It becomes increasingly difficult to share the Gospel. My primary way is online through my web site. The First Amendment does not apply in the public sphere as much as it did in past generations. I am not allowed to proselytize at work, though many know I am a Christian. However, perhaps lack of sharing the Gospel is a failure to obey and the theological issue is one of obedience. Also in our busy culture, of which the church is not even immune, many are simply too busy to stop and serve their neighbors. More and more, the culture lacks commitment, integrity, intentionality, and relationship. And there is the complacency of liberal churches that warm up to the political correctness and worldliness of the culture. Some cater programs to be “all about you” instead of about Jesus. And some go even further where they are churches in name only, but not true churches. Rather, they deny the divinity of Christ, the reality of hell, the presence of absolutes, etc., etc. One church even has the Koran alongside of the Bible in its pews! I cannot help but think of 2 Peter 2 and Romans 1:18-32. Yet, I am also convicted of my own complacencies and giving into my fears instead of being more daring for Christ.
2. What are the most crucial foundational truths that must be taught and believed in the church if we are going to be faithful to the Scriptures?
The Bible is God’s Word and is inerrant, complete, and divinely inspired. The Word is the authoritative truth – absolute truth. The Word interprets itself and is to be taken as written. In considering what God says in His Word: Man is utterly sinful and there is no hope for him EXCEPT for salvation by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ, not by works. There must be a belief in the Trinity (which means the divinity of Christ is a reality and the Holy Spirit is a Person - http://www.beacondeacon.com/ichthus/theology/HE.html - as opposed to the heretical teaching that He is mere energy). There must be belief that Jesus Christ is God’s one and only begotten Son, born of a virgin. There must be a belief that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and rose again and that He is the ONLY sacrifice that saves us by putting to death the power of sin in the elect and that in resurrecting, promises the glorious eternity that awaits His people, that He will judge all and those whose names are not in the Book of Life will be cast to hell. There are many other truths that I find essential (all of them!), but these are the foundational ones.
3. What do you think should be some of the main priorities that students pursue in Seminary in order to be trained to lead the church? In particular, how important do you think it is for students to be well-versed in “biblical theology” by the time they leave seminary? What do you understand “biblical theology” to include?
The prior question summarizes the foundations of what Biblical theology is. The Bible is true – all of it – and none of it is to be disregarded or discarded. It is absolutely top priority for students in seminary to be well-versed in Biblical theology. Second to that would be how to engage the culture and to be de-programmed from any of the harmful worldly teachings to which students have been exposed prior to their seminary experience (evolution, liberalism, political correctness, redefining sexuality from what it was intended to be from Creation, relativism, humanism, idolizing government to provide and function in place of the church or even God, the feminization of manhood, etc.).
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