I’m grateful to God for thousands of reasons. Here are seven recent ones that relate to the ministry of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
1. I’m grateful to God that this week our school hosted the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors + Church Leaders. What a joy to serve so many people and to connect with former students. Our annual conference is a little family reunion that’s a small foretaste of when all God’s people will together worship the Lamb.
2. I’m grateful to God that Jared Compton is joining our faculty. Jared and Charisse are dear friends of my wife, Jenni, and me. Our families lived on campus at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School when Jared and I studied together, and we were in the same small group within CrossWay Community Church. What a joy it is to team up with them again!
By the way, several people have been asking why we are hiring another New Testament prof—does that mean I’m departing? No! Starting this semester, I’m sliding over from teaching primarily New Testament courses to teaching primarily systematic theology courses. (Since my college days I imagined that someday I would transition from New Testament to systematic theology, but I imagined it might happen in my fifties—not in my fortieth year!)
3. I’m grateful to God that in the first half of January he gave me the opportunity to preach and teach in Nairobi, Kenya. One of the responsibilities listed on my job description is to engage “in speaking and writing opportunities both inside and outside of Bethlehem College & Seminary, as feasible.” I am grateful for the mission our school and church share: We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.
4. I’m grateful to God for some recent resources that explain and evaluate contemporary critical theory. Critical theory is a popular way of viewing all relationships (e.g., race, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, age, weight) through the lens of power. In other words, there are two basic groups: those with more power (the oppressors) and those with less power (the oppressed). Neil Shenvi has helped me most on this issue as I serve as a Bethlehem pastor and professor. (I suggest starting with his series “Social Justice, Critical Theory, and Christianity: Are They Compatible?”)
5. I’m grateful to God for the attitude and writings of women such as Abigail Dodds (one of our current M.A. students) and Rebekah Merkle. Some complementarians are embarrassed about what the Bible says about how men and women are equally in the image of God and have different and complementary roles in the home and church. They’d rather not talk about it. They’d prefer not to emphasize or celebrate it. They hold to it reluctantly because that’s what the Bible says even though it might not make sense. They believe it, but they don’t love it. But that is not how we should think about what God has revealed! (I talk about this in my recent review of Merkle’s book Eve in Exile for 9Marks.)
6. I’m grateful to God for our school’s president, Tim Tomlinson. I am sad that he is planning to retire in summer 2021. Our chancellor, John Piper, says it well: “President Tomlinson has been of inestimable value in leading this school since its founding. We did not deserve the risks he took, or the sacrifices he made, in leaving an esteemed position in his academic field to oversee a fledgling institution with no history. His influence and achievements in bringing us to where we are have been indispensable. God was very kind to us to lead this remarkable man to establish our school in rock solid commitment to the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith. He has unashamedly waved the banner of Reformed, Complementarian, Christian Hedonism under our allegiance to the infallible Scriptures. Suffice it to say, I love him.” Amen.
7. I’m grateful to God that our school’s Presidential Succession Commission is prayerfully seeking whom to recommend to our school’s board as our next president. Please pray for the seven men the board commissioned. The group has had some productive meetings already and feels how weighty this decision is.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament
- Pray for the Jared Compton family as they prepare to transition to our church and school this summer.
- Pray that our school would faithfully and fruitfully stay on mission.
- Pray that our board will select a president who will faithfully and fruitfully lead our school.