Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Finished "Preaching To A Shifting Culture

Earlier this month I read the last two chapters of "Preaching To A Shifting Culture: 12 Perspectives On Communicating That Connects" edited by Scott M. Gibson.

In "Evangelical Preaching In A Global Context" by Timothy C. Tennent, Tennent points out that today only 10% of Protestant Christians live in the Western world. 67% live in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For the first time Christianity is flourishing mainly where western culture and ethnicity are not predominant. This situation brings to the Universal Church the challenge of bringing the universal Christian message into many different local contexts. As these non-western regions are becoming preservers of orthodoxy within their many cultures, we cannot view these regions only as the "mission field." They must be viewed as equal partners with the western Church. The Church will be strengthened as non-western views and practices are utilized to shore up the weakness of the western Church. Particularly, the West needs to break its bad habit of engaging in purely theological debate without taking into account the missional context of the Church. Tennent quotes a theologian on African theology: "African theology does all the things which theology in general does, but in African theology all these other functions are embraced in a missionary or communicative function. It is not primarily an inter-ecclesiastical exercise, but a discipline driven evangelization."

The final chapter, "Biblical Preaching in an Anti-Authority Age", editor Gibson encourages pastors not to abandon the practice of grounding their messages in the authority of scripture, as the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, is self-authenticating. To preach to a culture adrift, Gibson states four things preachers must do:
1. Reclaim an unmitigated adherence to the authority of the Bible.
2. Cultivate theological discernment.
3. Understand the culture.
4. Reclaim a Biblical base for the theology of preaching.

Now that I have finished this book, which is now falling apart, I will again continue reading Wesley's work on Original Sin and Baukham's book on the Gospels as eyewitness testimony.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two More Chapters read In "Preaching To A Shifting Culture"

I have read two more chapters in "Preaching To A Shifting Culture: 12 Perspectives On Communicating That Connects", edited by Scott Gibson. (For a link to purchase this book online, see earlier entries on this blog.)

The author of "The Psychology of Preaching", Rodney L. Cooper, does not seem to be a devoted fan of psychology, yet he believes that pastors completely ignore it at their, and their congregations peril. Like it or not, our society has become a therapeutic society, a society that increasingly looks to insights and experts from secular psychology to sort out all its personal issues and anxieties. This being the fact, Cooper states that ministers must educate their congregations as to the proper place of physchology in one's life. Failure to do so could cause confusion as individuals try to sort out the contradictions they encounter in the endless therapeutic voices they hear that claim to have all the answers. Failure to do so could lead to church members concluding that the sermon is nothing more than one of those competing voices with no more value than the rest. A failure in this area would lead to allowing the harmful effects of secular psychological counseling to cause untold damage to the Church as a whole. Cooper reminds his readers that the goal is not merely to encourage mental health but to glorify God in educating the Church on what Biblical mental health looks like.

Cooper quotes an article "The Blessings of Mental Anguish" by C. Stephan Evans in which Evans lists eight key thoughts on mental health that will guide the preacher in his use of psychology:
1. A well adjusted person may merely be a well adjusted sinner. Better to be a neurotic saint than a well adjusted sinner far from God.
2. Healthy mindedness may be a hindrance that keeps one from thinking they need God.
3. Mental illness can be a blessing if it causes one to realize ones need for God and to consider their eternal destiny.
4. Thus, in a choice between spiritual renewal and psychological recovery, the Christian must put first priority upon the spiritual dimensions of their beings.
5. Mental illness/psychological issues may drive a believer into a deeper commitment to Christ, becoming a blessing rather than a curse.
6. Tension, conflict and anxiety, even to the point of psychological angst, may be crosses we have to bear as we engage in service for God.
7. No healing of any sort is complete unless God is given the glory as the responsible agent.
8. Health of mind or body is of supreme value in the service of Christ.

Cooper lists five reasons why a pastor's use of psychology can be effective:
1. The preacher addresses all kinds of people grappling with psychological issues they would never seek counseling for.
2. A direct approach by the preacher on an issue may be the catalyst to make someone acknowledge and deal decisively with their problems.
3.The preacher can apply God's Word to particular issues and can emphasize the hope the Word contains in dealing with psychological issues. Hope is a necessary ingredient in therapeutic change.
4. A preacher can be a preventive agent, one who equips those under his care to deal with and head off maladaptive behavior.
5. The preacher can accomplish four needed functions. One, healing (helping people to a new deminsion of spiritual wholeness, not just a return to the staus quo). Two, sustaining (helping people endure current hardship and suffering). Third, guidance (helping those make choices or to live according to Biblical counsel). Four, reconciliation (helping people become restored to God and others in addition to dealing with past regrets, current worries, or anxiety about the future.)

One last point from Cooper: "The preacher must also have a realistic view as to what psychological issues can reasonably and effectively be addressed from the pulpit. This view depends on the preacher's philosophy of counseling."

Chapter Ten, "The Postmodern Mind and Preaching" by Jeffery D. Arthurs, points out that the changes among the mindsets of baby boomers and generation X is not anything drastically new. In fact, the spiritual outlook of many today resemble the outlook of many in Paul's day. Man's spiritual needs have not changed, nor has the Word's power to convict declined. Demographic studies of generation X reveals those as not reborn hippie flower children. While they may seek to be good Americans, they are still sinners primarily concerned with making money. In a word of encouragement to preachers, Arthurs states that Biblical Anthropology is often more important than being up to date about philosophical trends; knowledge of one's flock is often the most important factor in determining what must be preached.

This being said, Arthurs does believe that it is important for pastors to be knowledgeable concerning trends. Pastors need to be aware of certain postmodern outlooks that frame the minds of even committed Church members:
1. Truth is believed to be the result of individual perspective. This creates an ethical relativism in the common culture.
2. A sense of right and wrong is a tool to make us safe, happy and well adjusted. "How shall we preach an authoritative word to this culture?" Arthurs asks.
3. In the classical sense, rhetoric denoted the art of persuasion. To the postmodern mind, rhetoric denotes manipulation. Preaching is seen in this light today; and attempt to bend the hearer to the preacher's will.

Arthurs is in agreement with those who believe that to disclose ones limited perspectives and admit that one person does not have all the answers goes a long way to regain personal credibility and a fair hearing for one's message. Often a series, rather than one sermon, is the way to communicate Biblical truth. Arthur's points out that church members with a traditional mindset do not always mind repetition. Not only that, but as the preacher seeks to instruct those ignorant of God, those who are already disciples have their beliefs reinforced by its continual retelling. Transparency among preachers also lends credibility to the message in the postmodern mind. "Preachers should consider using self-disclosure in their sermons not only because audiences value it but also because the form helps communicate the theology of incarnation. Truth should not merely be abstract and propositional. It should be personal and operative...Personal communication adapts to the postmodern mind by framing authority in the context of humility, emphasizing experience and fostering dialogue." Arthur's also believes that the same participatory mindset must be a part of worship. Testimony is given a new importance in this regard. If Arthur's is right, this would contradict modern day traditionalists who believe testimony to be too prominent in Church worship today.

There are only two short chapters left in "Preaching To A Shifting Culture." After I have finished it, I will go back to my reading of Wesley on Original Sin.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reading More In "Preaching To A Shifting Culture"

I have read two more chapters in "Preaching To A Shifting Culture: 12 Perspectives On Communicating That Connects" , edited by Scott M. Gibson. (For a link to purchase this book, please see earlier articles.) In "Who's Listening Out There?" by David Hansen, Hansen outlines his concerns about reducing the Biblical content of our sermons. According to Hansen, the decisions a preacher makes about the life and values of his congregation affects the whole of his sermons and ultimately, the preacher's own theology. If a preacher decides that his congregation cannot handle sermons with a healthy amount of Biblical content, he will edit out the content and in the process come to believe that not only do they not need the content, but that the preacher himself does not need to concern himself with it either. As the preacher switches his focus away from Biblical content to the various concerns of his congregation, preachers become pluralists, trying to reach people with a myriad of messages. If we assert that our preaching must reflect the culture, should our preaching have reflected the culture from years past. Hansen points out that much preaching in the past was to affirm a culture that contained many inequities, such as racism. Should the preachers then ignored the issue so that the prevailing culture not doubt itself. Anyway, that is just what happened in the past and in the process the Church lost its prophetic voice. The other article, "Preaching To The Whole Church" by Alice P. Matthews, is a history of the decline of male participation within the Church. As male attendance has declined, the Church's theology and hymns became feminized. Matthews calls upon the Church to rectify then situation by three approaches: one, to return ritual to mark the seasons in mens' lives, two, to call men to a life of struggle and warfare, and three, seek to teach a brotherly love that appeals to men and causes them to lay down their lives for others.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Papius on the Eyewitnesses

I have finished chapter two of Baukham's "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony." The chapter was entitled "Papias on the Eyewitnesses." Papius was a collector of accounts of Christ's ministry. There is some dispute when he lived, but Baukham makes a convincing case for Papius being a third generation Christian, two generations behind Christ's original Apostles. Most of what Papius wrote has been lost to us; what we do know is contained in Eusebius's "Ecclesiastical History."

A quote from Papius, in Eusebius, leads us into the chapter's subject matter: "For I did not think that information from books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice." Those who apply Form-Criticism to the Bible interpret this passage to mean that Papius preferred oral tradition arising from the memory of a community instead of what was written in the Gospels when it came to researching Christ's ministry. Baukham disagrees. He maintains that Papius was stating his preference for eye witness testimony of those who either actually witnessed Christ's works and teachings, or those who learned directly from those eye witnesses.

Baukham cites a work that distinguishes between oral tradition and oral history. Oral tradition, Baukham states, is a body of recollected material arising from collective or community memory. It does not involve the transmission of information from individual to individual. The material is developed over several generations. Some scholars, such as James Dunn hold that this view best explains the development of the New Testament. Oral History, on the other hand, is the gathering of information from participants, eyewitnesses, or from those who were given the information from these eyewitnesses. That is what Baukham says is what Papius preferred. In his case, Papius preferred the accounts of two teachers who were original disciples of Jesus: Ariston and John the Elder. These two teachers taught others, who then transmitted what these original disciples witnessed to others. By transmitting the teaching of these two to Papius, Papius was given a direct link to the ministry of Jesus. Papius preferred what he learned in this way to any of the various written sources that existed and were utilized in writing the Gospels. Luke mentions these materials in Luke 1:2 . Unlike Dunn, Baukham believes that Papius and the writers of three of the Gospels were contemporaries, and that the Gospel writers, especially Luke, utilized the same methods to ascertain the true history of Christ's ministry: relying either on eyewitnesses or from those who were taught by eyewitnesses, such as the Apostles.

Half Way Through "Preaching To A Shifting Culture."

Recently I read chapters five and six of Preaching To A Shifting Culture" edited by Scott Gibson. Six chapters down, six to go.

Chapter Five was written by the late Keith Willhite. Its title is "Connecting With Your Congregation." Following Haddon Robinson's piece "The Importance of Expository Preaching", it takes many expository preachers to task for preaching sermons that are merely lectures that don't connect with the people in the pew. Willhite applies communication theory to sermon making to produce sermons that engage those in attendance. Much of the various theories he discusses are in his footnotes and I will not go into the various methodologies he deals with. One specific I will allude to is that he suggests argumentation as a model to frame the sermon; he suggests the preacher anticipate the objections some may have to the message and the questions by those who either misunderstand what the message is or those who have questions of application . Willhite maintains that is the preachers job to show his hearers the relevance of a particular biblical passage to today's world and the individual lives of those who hear. Do Willhite's views contradict those who consider the Bible a world in of itself and who believe it is the preachers task to assist his hearers enter into the thinking of this Biblical world?

Chapter Six, "The Shape of the Sermon" by Donald R. Sunukjian, is most helpful in the task of sermon making. Sunukjian suggests we start with three basic questions when preparing a sermon:
1. What is the Biblical flow of thought in a particular passage?
2. Can the message of the sermon be summed up in a single sentence?
3. In a particular passage, what are the relevant points of contact with contemporary audiences?

From these three questions, the preacher must then decide two things:
1. Within the structure of the sermon, where will the single sentence go?
2. Within the structure of the sermon, where will the contemporary relevance be placed?

The answers to the above two questions will determine the kind of sermon that will be preached, according to Sunukjian. To place them in different areas within the sermon on the same passage will aid in producing several different types of sermons on the same biblical material.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Starting "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses"

Richard Bauckham's "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony" is the next focus in my New Testament studies. Monday evening I read the introductory chapter. In it, Bauckam makes the case that the search for the historical Jesus is misguided. What is meant by the search for the "historical Jesus" is that attempt to discover who Jesus was in the context of an everyday Jewish setting, what he was really like, as opposed to only what we read about in the Gospels. Those who engaged in this quest have been suspicious that what we read about Jesus in the Gospels is not completely truthful, so we must look to evidence outside the Gospels, or reconstruct them to gain a more accurate picture of who Jesus really was and the message he proclaimed. It is true that Jesus did live in a first century Jewish setting and to understand this culture will give us a much clearer picture of Jesus. Yet as Bauckham points out, even those engaged in searching for the historical Jesus who have a high opinion of the veracity of Scriptures, are just substituting their own picture of who Jesus is that rivals the portrait the Church and the world has had available to them for 2000 years. The author recommends the work of a German (?) theologian by the name of Bysok who challenges the practice of studying Scriptures from the vantage point of form-criticism. Form-criticism is a valid vehicle for studying oral traditions, such as folklore. To apply it to the study of the formation of the New Testament presupposes that the content of the Gospel was passed down the generations orally, changing in the process as the years go by and as different agendas require different messages. Yet the historical evidence indicates that the time elapsed between Jesus' earthly ministry and the writing of the different books of the New Testament was comparatively short, within the lifetimes of those who actually knew Jesus and ministered with him. This is not the book I had planned to begin my own New Testament studies with, but the book has generated so much comment, I thought I ought to stay current with the dialogue. I expect it to be a slow, but informative read.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Most Important Book

Off and on, over the past few months, I have read "The Way to Pentecost" by Samuel Chadwick. It is one of the most important books on sanctification ever written. Writen in the 1930's, it contains a straight forward account from Scriptures on what sanctification, or being filled with the Spirit, means, how to acheive and maintian it, and the absolute necessity for it to have a successful Christian life. There is no confusing doctinal language used here. The style is plain and easy to understand. While being Wesleyan in theology, it stays away from traditional 19th century Wesleyan jargon. I will comment on it extensively on my other blog . On the subject of being filled with the Spirit, this book is of secondary importance only to Wesley's "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection."

I've Finished "Dethroning Jesus"

The title does not lie; I did finish Bock and Wallace's book last night. The last three chapters covered issues of social justice, did Paul change the original Christian message, and was Jesus' tomb recently discovered. All three issues are linked by a view that Jesus was not divine but merely a human prophet pointing the right way. Proponents of the first two views maintain that Jesus never focused on himself but his message, whether the message was a call for doing justice and overthrowing unjust power structures or reforming 1st Century Judaism. Jesus claiming to be the Son of God was invented by the Church after rival views of Christ were silenced, according to those who hold these views; Jesus never linked Himself with the message by claiming to be divine, the Son of God. One view claims that Paul changed Jesus' original message of Jewish reformation along the lines of Old Testament prophets to the orthodox Christianity of today that includes the acceptance of the Gentiles. There were also claims to be dealt with that James, the brother of Jesus, took over the leadership of the entire Christian movement, but his leadership was supplanted. The book contains a very good scriptural analysis of the different emphasis in the thought the various Apostles while revealing their unity concerning core doctrine. Later I will take notes on what I have read. I will now work on finishing the book on Preaching and Wesley on Original Sin.

To order "Dethroning Jesus: Exposing The Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ", go to this link.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What I did in West Virginia

I made some progress in reading "Dethroning Jesus" and "Preaching to a Shifting Culture." In chapter two of "Dethroning Jesus", the newly released "Gospel of Judas" is examined. This production dates from the second or third century, not from the time of the Biblical Cannon. Whoever the author was, his goal was to exalt Judas over and above the rest of the twelve disciples. Judas was represented as having more spiritual insight than the rest of them and as handing Jesus over ON JESUS' ORDERS! Jesus tells Judas that the body He inhabits is not his, but someone else's. That someone else, not Jesus, suffered and died on the Cross. Creation is depicted as an act not of God, but of a lesser being. Chapter three deals with the "Gospel of Thomas." Unlike the "Gospel of Judas", this artifact has no narrative structure; it is a collection of sayings. In it, there are no miracles, prophecy is devalued, no coming Kingdom is announced, no one dies for sins. Instead, salvation, according to the author, consists of unlocking the meaning of the statements made, in other words, special knowledge brings salvation to the few. I am half-way through this book.

I am not yet half-way through "Preaching to a Shifting Culture." Chapter three is "The Necessity of Preaching Christ in a World Hostile to Him" by Bryan Chapell. The basic idea in this chapter is that all sermons must be linked to the atonement of Christ. To me, this conflicts with Vic Gordon's assertion in chapter two that the main theme of the preaching of both Jesus and the Apostles is the Kingdom of God. This theme, according to Gordon, illuminates the message of the Old Testament. Chapter four, "The Relevance of Expository Preaching" by Haddon W. Robinson, was a very illuminating read. He took specific passages from the New Testament and demonstrated how we arrive at a meaning unintended by the writer when we fail to interpret the passage from within the text.

I have not returned to reading Wesley on sin.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Down To Business

This week I began my pastoral studies in earnest. I read the introduction and first chapter of Darrell L. Bock's and Daniel B. Wallace's "Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture's Quest To Unseat The Biblical Christ." I had originally wanted to start with something else, but this book is current and causing some stir among some Christian blogsites. I wanted to see what the controversy is about. Anyway, the bibliography is a good guide to current research concerning the topics covered by the book.

The introduction contrasts two distinctive views of Jesus and His Word: the Orthodox Christian view and a departure from orthodoxy that the author's label "Jesusanity." "Jesusanity" arose from various sources including the use of modern historical methods of studying scripture, a new way of viewing history, the division between the Jesus of the scriptures and the historical Jesus, modern archeology, the interaction between the proponents of Jesusanity and the media and a reaction to what Bock and Wallace call a "brittle fundamentalism."

The first of six claims underpinning Jesusanity examined by Bock and Wallace concern the work of New Testament scholar Bart Erlman, author of "Misquoting Jesus." Erlman states that it is impossible to know the original meaning of the New Testament writers because the originals cannot be recovered, scribes before Constantine's era made too many mistakes and later scribes altered the manuscripts to change their meaning to fit their notion of orthodoxy. The problems in recovering the original message of Jesus are so insurmountable, according to Erlman, that he has lost his faith in orthodox Christianity. Bock and Wallace criticize Erlman for creating the impression that the recovery of the original gospel message is impossible. They accuse him of making insinuations concerning the accuracy of the gospels we do have rather than making concrete claims. The authors challenge his assertions that we do not possess enough early manuscripts, that there are so many copying errors and insertions of personal opinion that they radically change the meaning of many of the books of the Bible. I will not give a detailed review since this post is not for that purpose, but just a record of my reading.

I read the first two chapters of "Preaching to a Shifting Culture: 12 Perspectives on Communicating That Connects" edited by Scott M Gibson. The first chapter, by Gibson, focused on the need for pastors to preach the Old Testament and examined why this portion of scripture is neglected. Some of the issues dealt with are whether or not the Old Testament is valid and relevant in light of Jesus' mission and the New Testament, whether the Old Testament is more than a source for illustrating the New. The author even states that to call the Old Testament "the Old Testament" is counterproductive. Gibson prefers to refer to it as "the Hebrew Scriptures." Gibson also advocates utilizing the "Speech Act" theory in preaching. The second chapter deals with what the writer, Vic Gordon, believes is the main message of the New Testament, the Kingdom of God. This has been my view as a preacher and I tried to emphasize it to my parishioners. According to Gordon, it is the consensus of the Christian academic community that the main trust of the New Testament message is the Kingdom of God: not only is it the focus of the New Testament, it is the key to unlocking the Old Testament as well. Gordon recommends the reading of George Eldon Ladd on the subject. Reading this article has convinced me to read the Ladd books I already own sooner rather than later.

I also finished the second part of Part II of Wesley's "Doctrine of Original Sin." My purpose in reading this now is to ascertain rather what I was taught concerning Wesley's views were correct. Particularly, did Wesley believe that when Adam fell, we still retain some of the image of God so that we could respond to God's grace and be saved. Or did he side with the Calvinists who maintain that at the Fall, man lost the entire image of God in which he was originally made? I have yet discovered any definitive answers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I have finished listening to and taking notes on the podcasts for pastors available on Ric Warren's website. I took as detailed notes as I think anyone could, but they really are not as helpful without listening to the individual podcasts before one reads the notes. Now that I have that and a few other minor note taking exercises done, I can truly get to some academic pastoral study. I will start with Darrell Bock's latest book (The title escapes me at the moment), a second reading of Walter Kaiser's preaching on the Old Testament (again, I am having trouble with book titles today)and a book on preaching to the postmodern culture (title?).

I have finished one third of Part II of Wesley's "Doctrine of Original Sin." I plan to devote more time to this endeavor.

Remember, this blog's purpose is not excite any one's interest. It is simply to be an online record of what I am doing to study to make me a better pastor, preacher and theologian. But I do welcome any comments you may make.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Doctrine of Original Sin" by Wesley, Part II

I have not been keeping up with my studies as of late. However, today I picked up my reading of Wesley again. The section I am in, the scriptural support for the doctrine of original sin, is very slow going. Wesley is responding to one John Taylor, who seemed to believe that through education and culture, man had reached the same status as Adam had before the Fall. Taylor asserted that man's punishment for sin was physical death only. Wesley not only refutes this, but also the notion that we are also punished for Adam's transgression. Once I finish with this section, I will post articles on my other blog. This entry must be short as I am on a computer at the public library and my time is almost up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rick Warren's Podcasts

I have been listening to and taking notes on Rick Warren's podcasts for pastors. I took notes on four of them this month, eight as a whole, seven pages of notes. I hope to make my notes available to those who want them. I plan to download about eight more podcasts and take notes on them soon. While I am not a fan of mega-Churches, I have found the advice given on these podcasts invaluable. Some of the topics have dealt with how a Church can remain innovative, how to best use special days, how Churches can minister to communities that experience tragedies. Much advice is given on how the pastor can remain productive without burning out. Included among these topics are how to retain joy in ministry, how to remain mentally fresh, how to balance a busy schedule so the pastor determines the agenda rather than the pastor being overwhelmed by events. Throughout, Warren and others give valuable insights on leadership.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"Doctrine of Original Sin" by Wesley, Part I

I have recently finished Part I of John Wesley's "Doctrine of Original Sin", his longest theological work. He was responding to the writings of one John Taylor who contended that man has reached a point of enlightenment so as to be able to cast off the assertion that the species is marred by sin. From what I can gather from Wesley's work, Taylor believed that man was in the 18th Century to be in the same state as Adam before the Fall. Wesley begins with a history of man derived from Scriptural and secular history. The evidence, according to Wesley, is that man has not undergone any significant reformation in his nature. From the period of the Judges in Israel to the time of the Apostles, Israel and the Gentile world has always rebelled against the laws of God. The ancient pagan world, so celebrated in Wesley's time by Enlightenment thinkers, had a shameful, violent past, especially in regards to the treatment of the most vulnerable, the young and old. Wesley then analyzes the behavior of man in the eighteenth century by describing the practices of the non-Christian world. It is not a pretty picture regarding the religious practices nor the behavior toward the vulnerable. Then he continuously narrows his focus as he examines the Christian world. First, he condemns the spirituality of both the Catholic and Protestant countries. Then he focuses on England and its many sins. He refers to the lack of true religion in all sects, in the ministry and the laity. He talks of the injustice and the dishonesty that prevails not only in government, but in the business world. As long as the world is continuously at war, then sin reigns supreme, Wesley contends. Then he narrows the focus to the family and its practices, and then to the individual reader. This arguement runs nearly fifty pages, yet it is not a boring read. The next seventy pages offers a scriptural support to the evidence he has marshaled in Part One.

Why am I reading this now?. I have wanted to start my Wesleyan (not the Wesleyan denomination) studies elsewhere. However, as I read the blogs of certain Wesleyan scholars and their explanations of Wesley's view of sin, I come to a troubling contrast. I was taught in my seminary that while Wesley viewed man as losing the image of God in the Fall, man did not totally lose that image as Calvin contended, or else, how could man respond to God's grace in salvation? The scholars I have been reading on the blogosphere claim that Wesley shared Calvin's view and that perhaps after all Wesleyan theology should be considered an adjunct of Calvinism. I naturally lean toward Wesley's view as I learned it in seminary. Not because Wesley taught it (supposedly), or because my professor told us it was Wesley's real view. One of the root meanings of the word "sin" is "twisted"; the image of God is still in man, but has been twisted. That is what I learned from the pulpit. (My pastor at the time is well versed in Hebrew and Greek.) Yet I need to clear up this point before I go further in my studies of Wesley. While I hope to learn once and for all what Wesley taught on the subject, I'll also determine for myself what scripture says.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why This Blog?

I'm glad you have found this blog. I have not been a pastor for over a year, but I have been preaching and teaching on a regular basis not only at the church I am currently attending, but also with a prison ministry. While I have prepared my sermons and teachings, I have neglected my studies in Old and New Testament issues, theology (Wesleyan and otherwise), preaching, Church History, etc. This blog will serve as a record to anyone curious as to what I am doing to make myself into a worker approved by God. It is my hope that this blog's existence will serve as a catalyst to continue my studies. Also, it should serve as a useful reference for myself when seeking to use what I have learned . Please feel free to comment on what you find on this sight. Any helpful suggestions for further study in any subject will be appreciated.