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Prudence to the Simple

“to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth” (Prov. 1.4). Today we take the third step on Solomon’s staircase of wisdom. The first step was knowledge (v.2). As cake must have flour, wisdom must have “words of insight.” Knowledge is the raw material of wisdom. The second step was moral discernment (v.3). A squirrel helps himself to the bird feeder without guilt—the homeowner means nothing. But wisdom seeks the will of God in “righteousness, justice, and equity.” The third step is character. Wisdom is all about a changed life. Knowledge by itself does not make the change—it may...

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Reflections on Teaching Theology Students in the 21st Century

Every now and then, the "scandal of temporal peculiarity" bites a professor in the shins. That is, our own temporal location as human beings and its natural limitations come home to roost in the classroom, creating pedagogical challenges unique to our current situation. Let me explain what I mean as a professor of theology and Christian studies. I have often caught myself referring to an event, an ideology, or a person that I assume my students are aware of, but because of their place in history, they likely aren't. I have referred to "Billy Graham Crusades" in discussions about American evangelicalism, and...

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The Longest Journey

“To receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity” (Prov. 1:3). Think of Proverbs 1:2-7 as a stairway—from foolishness to wisdom; from thinking and acting like everybody else to thinking and acting like a Christian (Bruce Lockerbie). The first step toward wisdom is to understand “words of insight” (Prov. 1:2), to know what God approves, what God expects, what God honors and what honors Him. Wisdom is truth applied to life—so wisdom begins with truth. But wisdom is truth applied. If the first step toward wisdom is “to know wisdom and instruction” (v. 2), the second step is “to receive”...

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KNOWING WHAT TO SAY

“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight” (Prov. 1:2). During my graduate school days, I served as pastor of a church in Waco (that’s in Texas, ya’ll). One day I showed up at seminar dressed in a black suit—which struck a fellow student as just a little odd: “What’s with the black suit?” he asked, “Are ya’ goin’ to a funeral?” As a matter of fact, I was. At which my friend turned stone cold: “Boy, I’m glad it’s you and not me; I . . . I’m not sure I’d know what to say.” You have probably felt...

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The Power of Poetry: On Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129

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Casualties of Modern Education: Accidentally Shooting a Good Guy

One of my favorite economic and financial commentators is the controversial figure, Peter Schiff. While more popularly known for calling out the crash of 2008 months in advance, his book How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes is, as far as I know, the easiest and most entertaining introduction to economics that I am aware of. But something troubles me. In Schiff’s articles, videos, and podcasts, one continually hears the phrase, “worthless liberal arts degree.” The phrase is typically used in a critical or condescending tone, and it can obviously put off a number of people who believe in...

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Two Conversations, Worlds Apart

Consider the following two groups of questions that parents, guidance counselors, and other concerned adults are likely to ask of teenagers approaching college: What books are you reading/enjoying? Why? How are you pursuing truth, beauty, goodness? How do you want to be...

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“The World in a Grain of Sand”: The Importance of Poetry in Christian Education and Life

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Casualties of Modern Education: Money But No Meaning

One story that you will not find the mainstream media covering is the true story of dozens of bankers and Wall-Street executives committing suicide. Literally, jumping off of high-rise buildings to their deaths. One website recounts over 70 banker deaths from non-natural causes in 2013 alone. Another website recounts a list of over 70 banker suicides from 2015 alone. Many or most of these incidents involve people in their 30s and 40s—as well as roof-jumping. So the question is obvious: Why would those in the “prime” of their lives, who appear to be doing well, willingly end it? I certainly don’t...

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Casualties of Modern Education: Specialization Isolation

“And what is your doctorate in?” As a member (or former member) of over a dozen academic societies, I’ve been asked this question too many times to count. And while many academics find it a great opportunity for shameless self-aggrandizement, I’m usually just annoyed. Why? Because it shouldn’t matter. I’m a human being. I’m curious about everything. I can apply my mind to areas outside my “field of study” every day and learn something new—like when the faucet needs replacing, or the car doesn’t start, or the garden plants die. Whether or not my “area” is one thing or another,...

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Do Muslims and Christians believe in the same God?

Perhaps you've heard of the recent dustup over this question at Wheaton College. Theologian Peter Leithart has some deep and good reflections on the issue here. Not to spoil it, but his answer is 'no.'

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The Liberal-Arts: A Better Life AND a Better Job

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“Go to College!” and “Don’t go to College!” (An Introductory Explanation)

In countless internet outlets, whether Forbes.com or Inside Higher Ed, you just can’t swing a dead cat in the weeds without hitting some essay on the value of “liberal arts education.” On one side, arguments are given to legitimize humanities programs and the study of history and language, while on the other side, arguments are shored up to undermine the entire idea of contemporary college education itself. Students are told by famous figures wielding debonair authority, “Go to college,” and then its opposite, “don’t go to college,” or perhaps, “don’t get a job and be typical,” and then, of course,...

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Welcome and Happy New Year

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Older Posts

Prudence to the Simple

“to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth” (Prov. 1.4). Today we take the third step on Solomon’s staircase of wisdom. The first step was knowledge (v.2). As cake must have flour, wisdom must have “words of insight.” Knowledge is the raw material of wisdom. The second step was moral discernment (v.3). A squirrel helps himself to the bird feeder without guilt—the homeowner means nothing. But wisdom seeks the will of God in “righteousness, justice, and equity.” The third step is character. Wisdom is all about a changed life. Knowledge by itself does not make the change—it may...

more...

Reflections on Teaching Theology Students in the 21st Century

Every now and then, the "scandal of temporal peculiarity" bites a professor in the shins. That is, our own temporal location as human beings and its natural limitations come home to roost in the classroom, creating pedagogical challenges unique to our current situation. Let me explain what I mean as a professor of theology and Christian studies. I have often caught myself referring to an event, an ideology, or a person that I assume my students are aware of, but because of their place in history, they likely aren't. I have referred to "Billy Graham Crusades" in discussions about American evangelicalism, and...

more...

The Longest Journey

“To receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity” (Prov. 1:3). Think of Proverbs 1:2-7 as a stairway—from foolishness to wisdom; from thinking and acting like everybody else to thinking and acting like a Christian (Bruce Lockerbie). The first step toward wisdom is to understand “words of insight” (Prov. 1:2), to know what God approves, what God expects, what God honors and what honors Him. Wisdom is truth applied to life—so wisdom begins with truth. But wisdom is truth applied. If the first step toward wisdom is “to know wisdom and instruction” (v. 2), the second step is “to receive”...

more...

KNOWING WHAT TO SAY

“To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight” (Prov. 1:2). During my graduate school days, I served as pastor of a church in Waco (that’s in Texas, ya’ll). One day I showed up at seminar dressed in a black suit—which struck a fellow student as just a little odd: “What’s with the black suit?” he asked, “Are ya’ goin’ to a funeral?” As a matter of fact, I was. At which my friend turned stone cold: “Boy, I’m glad it’s you and not me; I . . . I’m not sure I’d know what to say.” You have probably felt...

more...

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