Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary https://www.mbts.edu We are for the church. Tue, 31 Mar 2020 14:08:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Amidst COVID-19, Midwestern Seminary holds trustee meeting electronically https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/amidst-covid-19-midwestern-seminary-holds-trustee-meeting-electronically/ Mon, 30 Mar 2020 20:30:45 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30944 Unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures as trustees, President Jason Allen, and a handful of administrators met for the first time in the school’s history via conference calls and video streaming sessions to address key issues and institutional business during the school’s Spring Trustee meeting on March 30. Amidst concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, trustees […]

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Unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures as trustees, President Jason Allen, and a handful of administrators met for the first time in the school’s history via conference calls and video streaming sessions to address key issues and institutional business during the school’s Spring Trustee meeting on March 30.

Amidst concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, trustees joined an early-morning main session conference call with Allen for seminary updates. Later in the morning, committees met via video technology to conduct seminary business, and then in the mid-afternoon, the Board’s Executive Committee met to vote on and adopt the measures recommended by the committees.

The seminary’s response to the Coronavirus and budgetary issues dominated Allen’s updates, where he underscored the seminary’s solid position despite these trying times.

“Our nation is clearly entering a season of economic disruption and uncertainty,” he explained. “It is impacting not just businesses and families, but also churches, ministries, and educational institutions. By God’s kind providence, Midwestern Seminary enters this season of economic uncertainty in a strong financial position.

“In cash and unrestricted financial assets, we have in reserve nearly one year of operating expenses. We have a conservative budget model, wherein we plan to spend under our projected revenues. More broadly, we have no long-term debt, and over the past seven years, we’ve caught up on nearly all campus deferred-maintenance needs. Strategically, we’ve maintained a smaller campus footprint, thus minimizing operating overhead, and contributing to our sustainable business model.”

Allen went on to explain that while Midwestern Seminary continually emphasizes financial stewardship in all areas of operations and decision-making, now the issue is one of critical importance.

“This is a season of focused stewardship for all ministries, including Midwestern Seminary. In recent days, we revised downward our proposed 2020/21 seminary budget by $1.9 million to $26,797,000, which is still an increase over last year’s budget of $25,358,760.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and further reduce our budget as circumstances necessitate. What is more, the Cooperative Program is essential to our work and to our students. Any negative impact the Coronavirus crisis has on the Cooperative Program will have negative impacts on our ministry—and on the pastors, ministers, and missionaries we’re training.”

He added that Midwestern Seminary will continue to closely monitor the Coronavirus crisis—and the economic downturn it has spawned—noting its impact on local churches, students, and theological education, and then the school will adapt accordingly.

“Wisdom and prudence are definitely the orders of the day. Yet, we can look toward the future, even amidst gathering economic storm clouds, with hopefulness.”

In presenting the institution’s spring semester enrollment, Allen explained that both headcount and hours sold had reached record levels, saying, “This spring semester we’ve once again enjoyed a record enrollment. Our academic year is also shaping up to be our largest enrollment in history, both in terms of headcount and hours taken.

“For this academic year, we’re projecting a total enrollment of 4,200-to-4,300 students, up from 4,000 students last year. We’re thankful for God’s kind providence and that Southern Baptists continue to resonate with our vision—for the church.”

Allen concluded his comments saying, “In many ways, this academic year has already been one of unprecedented institutional achievement. We have both our highest enrollment and our strongest financial balance sheet in history. In absentia, this May we’ll graduate our largest class in history. Our seminary library is currently receiving a comprehensive renovation and other signs of institutional momentum continue unabated. Come what may economically, we’ll continue on with our resolve to serve Southern Baptist churches.”

The Business Services Committee recommended to the full board the adoption of the proposed 2020-21 budget as well as approval of the 2020-21 Schedule of Fees. Both recommendations were approved by the board.

In other business, during the plenary session the trustees re-elected and promoted faculty members and selected board officers for the upcoming year.

In recommendations coming from the Academic Committee, the trustees re-elected Robin Hadaway as professor of missions and Gary Taylor Chair of Missions and Evangelism; Tom Johnston as professor of evangelism; John Lee as associate professor of New Testament; and granted approval for Michael McMullen’s sabbatical request.

The committee also recommended the promotion of David Sundeen from assistant professor to associate professor of ministry and evangelism; Matthew Swain from assistant professor to associate professor of worship ministries, Steven Thompson from assistant professor to associate professor of pastoral ministry; and Jason G. Duesing from associate professor to professor of historical theology.

Additionally, the Board moved to reelect its current officers. As such, John Mathena, a businessman from Edmond, Okla., will serve a third term as chairman; Lee Roberson, a businessman from Hobbs, N.M., remains first vice chairman; Chad McDonald, a pastor from Lenexa, Kan., will continue as second vice chairman; and Bryan Pain, a pastor from Duncan, Okla., continues his responsibilities as secretary.

Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.

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Midwestern Seminary offers online format for summer classes; cancels public graduation ceremony https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/midwestern-seminary-offers-online-format-for-summer-classes-cancels-public-graduation-ceremony/ Thu, 26 Mar 2020 21:55:21 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30925 In moves directly related to the safety of the Midwestern Seminary community amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, President Jason Allen announced that all summer classes will be offered in a synchronous technology format and that the school’s May 1 public graduation ceremony will be cancelled. “First, and foremost, on our minds right now is the safety […]

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In moves directly related to the safety of the Midwestern Seminary community amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, President Jason Allen announced that all summer classes will be offered in a synchronous technology format and that the school’s May 1 public graduation ceremony will be cancelled.

“First, and foremost, on our minds right now is the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and their families during this most unprecedented time in our nation’s history,” Allen said. “It is with prudence that we feel the need to extend offering our courses via synchronous technology through the summer term.”

As with many institutions of higher learning, Allen explained, Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College are continuing to prepare students for ministry via livestream and other online formats. He added, “Students can still continue to access learning from our incredible faculty even in these most difficult times.

“While we’re currently not able to offer students our typical on-campus, in-class experience, I want to assure anyone desiring to pursue their theological education that Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College are both fully operational offering our full slate of summer classes.”

Looking to the future, Allen said that, prayerfully, the institution will be fully up-and-running for the fall semester.

To register for summer courses, visit mbts.edu/summer20.

In another announcement, Allen acknowledged that Midwestern Seminary’s May 1 Commencement Exercises, as a public event, will be canceled.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the cancellation of our Spring Graduation,” Allen said. “We know how hard our students have worked to accomplish their goals of earning college, graduate, and post-graduate degrees in preparation for ministry, but, again, we must yield to caution in defending against the effects of this deadly virus. This decision falls in line with our cancelling all other campus events for the semester.”

Allen noted that all degrees will be awarded in absentia, but graduates will have the option of crossing the stage to receive their diplomas in the December 2020 or May 2021 graduation services.

“We are extremely proud of what appears to be a record number of graduates at Midwestern Seminary this semester, and we want them to have the opportunity to receive their diplomas in person. So, if they desire to ‘walk’ in a future graduation ceremony, we’d love for them to join us,” Allen said.

One other cancellation of note, associated with the recent news that the SBC Annual Meeting has been canceled, is that the SBC leadership class and the Crossover evangelism class will not be offered. Students needing information or details about those course cancellations should contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@mbts.edu.

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Midwestern Seminary introduces new “This Week in Church History” podcast https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/midwestern-seminary-introduces-new-this-week-in-church-history-podcast/ Tue, 17 Mar 2020 18:20:52 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30892 Midwestern Seminary announced the addition of a new resource dedicated to serving the local church, a podcast entitled, “This Week in Church History.” The podcast will launch on March 17 with a goal of taking a historical episode and refocusing it back toward the church. The podcast, which will be hosted by Midwestern Seminary’s professors […]

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Midwestern Seminary announced the addition of a new resource dedicated to serving the local church, a podcast entitled, “This Week in Church History.” The podcast will launch on March 17 with a goal of taking a historical episode and refocusing it back toward the church.

The podcast, which will be hosted by Midwestern Seminary’s professors of church history, John Mark Yeats and Michael McMullen, takes a snapshot of a seven-day period from the last 2,000 years and discusses one or two key events in the history of the church during that window.

“We are excited to connect Christians to the deep history of the church,” Yeats said. “The story of God’s faithfulness through the church is compelling, instructive, and encouraging for believers in our day!”

The first three episodes in the weekly podcast series will be posted on March 17, with the first being an interaction between Yeats, McMullen, and Rex Butler, professor of church history and patristics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, discussing the martyrdom of the 2nd century martyr, Perpetua.

In upcoming interviews, Yeats will engage wide-ranging subjects connecting listeners to aspects of church history. “Our goal,” he said, “is to help listeners to learn about key people and movements from the last 2,000 years of church history which, in turn, will inspire believers and church leaders to remain faithful in their own ministry contexts.”

Among the podcast’s first guests will be leading historians of the church such as Thomas Kidd, on the subject, “Patrick Henry, Patriotism, and Liberty,” Greg Wills discussing, “Leadership and Preaching Prowess through the Lens of John Albert Broadus,” Michael Kruger on “Shaping the Canon of Scripture” and in a different episode, hosts Yeats and McMullen reflect on, “Piety and Reform.”

Yeats said he desires for the podcast to reach pastors, ministry leaders, and interested lay people with thought-provoking, insightful, and edifying content about a wide variety of foci within the sphere of church history.

“My hope for ‘This Week in Church History’ is to connect Christians to the deep roots of our faith,” Yeats said. “As a mission-driven people, Christians have engaged their culture uniquely at different junctures that can be instructive for us in our own contexts. Hopefully, listeners will be introduced to people and movements they may have never heard of before and be encouraged to learn more about what God was doing in that era.”

Yeats also explained that this podcast is unique in its field, saying, “By taking a specific slice of time and looking back through 2,000 years of church history, we have a unique opportunity to introduce listeners to a broader spectrum of voices from the past. Our guests, as specialists in the field, connect figures people may be familiar with to broader contexts that help situate their lives and ministries in new ways.”

In addition to his professorial roles, Yeats serves as the dean of students and student success at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College. He earned his Ph.D. in church history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and also holds degrees from Southern Seminary, Oxford University, and Criswell College.

Yeats has authored three books—Franchising McChurch: Feeding our Obsession with Easy Christianity; The Time is Come: The Rise of British Missions to the Jews, 1808-1818; and Worldviews: Think for Yourself about How We See God—and has contributed articles in multiple journals as well as the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

McMullen, who also serves as editor of the Midwestern Journal of Theology, was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Hull, Yorkshire.  He studied at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he earned Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.  McMullen has pastored churches in Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, and in Kansas City, Kan.; and he presently maintains an active supply-preaching ministry in the greater Kansas City area.  He has been a part-time lecturer at Aberdeen University and a distance tutor both in at St. John’s College and the Open Theological College, UK.

He has authored several books, including Hearts Aflame, Clouds of Heaven, The Passionate Preacher, The Prayers and Meditations of Susanna Wesley, God’s Polished Arrow, and The Unpublished Sermons of M’Cheyne). His 2004 work, The Blessing of God, was a Gold Medallion finalist in the “inspiration” category.  He is also associate editor of church history for Oxford University’s New Dictionary of National Biography.

You can listen to “This Week in Church History” on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast and more. Learn more at mbts.edu/churchhistorypodcast.

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Midwestern Campus Frequently Asked Questions https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/midwestern-campus-frequently-asked-questions/ Fri, 13 Mar 2020 21:41:43 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30883 Will classes still be held? Beginning Monday, March 16, classes and seminars for the duration of the spring semester are moving to online (Canvas) delivery. Additionally, we are expanding our student advising teams to assist with any questions, concerns, and guidance. Are upcoming events on campus still taking place? Beginning Monday, March 16, we are […]

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Will classes still be held?

Beginning Monday, March 16, classes and seminars for the duration of the spring semester are moving to online (Canvas) delivery. Additionally, we are expanding our student advising teams to assist with any questions, concerns, and guidance.

Are upcoming events on campus still taking place?

Beginning Monday, March 16, we are canceling all official campus events through the end of April. This includes but is not limited to lectures, seminars, and chapels through the end of April.

Can individuals remain on campus at this time?

Informal community interaction can continue as normal. However, we recommend gatherings of people be held outside, when possible.

Further, we are permitting students to remain in campus housing, including the dormitory. Given the nature of dormitory life, students living in the dorm may elect to go home. In the event a student elects to go home, we will credit room and board to their account at a pro-rated amount for the Fall semester. Please email housing@mbts.edu with questions and concerns.

Will the cafeteria and the Student Center be open?

The cafeteria will maintain regular meal-service. This includes warm meals, as served now, but they will be provided in to-go containers.

The common areas of the Mathena Student Center will remain open, with the exception of key carded facilities (rec and fitness facilities).

Will the library be open?

Given the difficulty with cleaning books, the library will be closed for individual access. The staff will be accessible via phone and email and will assist students in accessing resources.

Will Graduation ceremonies still take place?

Graduation will occur as scheduled unless we provide further guidance. This will be the next scheduled seminary event.

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MBTS Campus Update – Coronavirus https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/mbts-update-coronavirus/ Thu, 12 Mar 2020 23:02:19 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30878 I write to you again in context of the Coronavirus pandemic to bring words of direction and update. To call the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus highly fluid is still inadequate to accurately reflect how dramatically things are changing. By the minute, organizations and institutions are making changes in light of the following: the spread of […]

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I write to you again in context of the Coronavirus pandemic to bring words of direction and update. To call the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus highly fluid is still inadequate to accurately reflect how dramatically things are changing.

By the minute, organizations and institutions are making changes in light of the following: the spread of the Coronavirus, the directives of governmental authorities, and the best practices in both higher education and from health professionals.

As an Executive Cabinet, we continue to monitor the situation closely and seek to give leadership that is Biblically wise, pastorally sensitive, contractually and legally responsible, and sensitive to both institutional and personal needs. To that end, I am making the following announcements, which will be effective Friday, March 13:

  1. Beginning Monday, classes and seminars for the duration of the spring semester are moving to online (Canvas) delivery.
  2. Beginning Monday, we are canceling all official campus events through the end of April. This includes but is not limited to lectures, seminars, and chapels through the end of April.
  3. Informal community interaction can continue as normal. However, we recommend gatherings of people be held outside, when possible.
  4. We are permitting students to remain in campus housing, including the dormitory. Given the nature of dormitory life, students living in the dorm may elect to go home. In the event a student elects to go home, we will credit room and board to their account at a pro-rated amount for the Fall semester.
  5. The cafeteria will maintain regular meal-service. This includes warm meals, as served now, but they will be provided in to-go containers.
  6. The common areas of the Mathena Student Center will remain open, with the exception of key carded facilities (rec and fitness facilities).
  7. Graduation will occur as scheduled unless we provide further guidance. This will be the next scheduled seminary event.
  8. Given the difficulty with cleaning books, the library will be closed for individual access. The staff will be accessible via phone and email and will assist students in accessing resources.
  9. Employees will continue to report to work as normal. For additional details, be in conversation with your supervisor.
  10. We are also rapidly expanding our student advising work to minister, inform, and guide students.
  11. We are hereby canceling all non-essential institutional travel. We are actively evaluating the feasibility of travel related to degree programs and essential institution activities. For example, we are following the lead of the IMB in determining how best to handle FUSION summer deployments.
  12. We will be proactive in managing the 2019-20 budget and will seek to steward funds in light of new needs and ministry opportunities presented to us. Where questions around budget management arise, please continue to monitor expenses closely and speak with budget managers.

I’ve been reminded anew in recent days that the most powerful human emotion truly is fear. The advance of the Coronavirus, coupled with a host of economic factors, have moved many in our society into a state of panic. While we want to be appropriately responsive and pastoral, I want to assure you that institutionally we are in a strong position to respond to these challenges.

First of all, as a Christian community we continue to trust in our Sovereign God and His kind providence over all of our affairs. Second, as a Christian institution, we are committed to respond to our students and employees in pastorally sensitive ways. Therefore, as you have concerns or needs, please convey those to your professors and/or supervisors. Third, in recent years the seminary has adopted a very conservative financial model. The result is that we approach this challenge in a strong financial position.  While such crises are often a cause for financial concerns at institutions like ours, at this juncture we anticipate continuing our work as planned.

As I have stated previously, the situation has continued to evolve very rapidly. Therefore, do make sure you give careful attention to www.mbts.edu/coronavirus. We will continue to update the FAQ sheet as well. If you have questions or concerns you can email coronavirus@mbts.edu. For general questions pertaining to the twelve announcements above, please reach out to your professor, supervisor, or resident assistant as needed.

Thank you so much for all that you mean to Midwestern Seminary. As I’ve said many times, Karen and I believe Midwestern Seminary is our lives’ calling. We have planted roots to be here for decades to come. That sense of commitment we feel to Midwestern Seminary and the clarity that we have in God’s calling on our lives give us a deep, personal affection for this seminary community. If you are reading this letter, you are well within the scope of our personal care,affection, and prayers. Know that we love you in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are committed to you and the institution during this season of challenge, and we are confident in Christ and His goodness in our lives in this season ahead.

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Official statement regarding Coronavirus from President Jason K. Allen https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/official-statement-regarding-coronavirus-from-president-jason-k-allen/ Wed, 11 Mar 2020 22:00:06 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30839 I write today to bring you a brief word of update on the Coronavirus, or, COVID-19, to inform you of current institutional policies and plans, and to encourage us forward together as we continue to monitor and respond to this evolving health challenge.

First, at this point all campus activities, including seminars and classes, are planned to meet as scheduled. In that the presence and impact of COVID-19 is varying region to region, entities and institutions, Southern Baptist or otherwise, are of necessity customizing their responses. We continue to do the same and will communicate in a timely manner as circumstances change. Yet, unless you hear otherwise from Midwestern Seminary officials, you should continue to fulfill your work and student responsibilities accordingly.

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Dear Members of the Midwestern Seminary & Spurgeon College Community

I write today to bring you a brief word of update on the Coronavirus, or, COVID-19, to inform you of current institutional policies and plans, and to encourage us forward together as we continue to monitor and respond to this evolving health challenge.

First, at this point all campus activities, including seminars and classes, are planned to meet as scheduled. In that the presence and impact of COVID-19 is varying region to region, entities and institutions, Southern Baptist or otherwise, are of necessity customizing their responses. We continue to do the same and will communicate in a timely manner as circumstances change. Yet, unless you hear otherwise from Midwestern Seminary officials, you should continue to fulfill your work and student responsibilities accordingly.

Thankfully, Kansas City heretofore has experienced minimal exposure to the Coronavirus. Kansas City-area health officials have not suggested restricting public activities at this point. Other community activities are continuing as scheduled as well. However, this can, of course, change quickly.

As for us, we continue to follow counsel from the Center for Disease Control, the United States State Department, and appropriate national, regional, and local health officials. We also remain in close dialog with our Southern Baptist ministry partners. All of this helps to inform our decision making, but, again, the most important circumstances are the facts on the ground in Kansas City, and, more specifically, on campus.

In that the COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person contact, we are asking those of you in our community to practice good hygiene habits including handwashing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and covering your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Please refrain from traveling to Level 2 or Level 3 countries. As of today, those countries are China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. If you have current plans to travel to these regions, please re-work those plans. As to ministry and mission trips, including Fusion’s planned summer deployments, we continue to monitor the feasibility of these trips. We’re in dialogue with ministry partners such as the International Mission Board and will communicate accordingly if and when these trips are impacted.

If you have traveled to Kansas City from or through a Level 3 region as currently defined by the Centers for Disease Control, do NOT come to campus. Additionally, as is the current best practice, we require a quarantine for 14 days to ensure you are not currently carrying the virus. If you live or travel through one of the Level 3 countries to come to campus for an event, class, or seminar, please reach out to your professors for an accommodation plan.

In the event wisdom necessitates we alter institutional plans, we will communicate in a clear and timely matter. Ongoing updates will be posted at mbts.edu/coronavirus. Also, if you have specific concerns or questions, students can email professors while employees can reach out to their supervisors. You can also email coronavirus@mbts.edu should there be broader concerns, questions, or extenuating circumstances.

Finally, I encourage you to frame all of this with biblical wisdom. As men and women of God, we are to be wise, but not fearful; vigilant, but not unnerved. We trust in our sovereign God, his kind providence, and the power of prayer.

Moreover, this is a time for a Christian community, such as Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College, to radiate gospel hope, fervent prayer, and a confidence in our Redeemer.

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General Frequently Asked Questions https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/frequently-asked-questions/ Wed, 11 Mar 2020 15:11:54 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30866 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to monitor the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This respiratory illness initially contracted in Wuhan, China, has impacted thousands of people worldwide. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) and Spurgeon College leaders are closely monitoring the situation in order to protect the campus community. We remain committed to […]

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to monitor the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This respiratory illness initially contracted in Wuhan, China, has impacted thousands of people worldwide.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) and Spurgeon College leaders are closely monitoring the situation in order to protect the campus community. We remain committed to keeping our community informed and safe, and will continue to provide updates and resources through this site.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 situation.


What steps has MBTS and Spurgeon College taken to handle a possible case or outbreak of COVID-19 on campus?

MBTS and Spurgeon College continually reviews our action plan and updates this regularly in light of the most recent Coronavirus data and communication available from the CDC as well as the Missouri Department of Health and the Kansas City Heath Department.

If there is a case of coronavirus on campus, what steps will the university take to prevent the spread of illness?

Our current focus is on proactive monitoring and planning so that we are ready should we need to respond. We will work closely with the Kansas City Health Department and local hospitals should the need arise to ensure that we follow established best practices.

What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a new (novel) coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms and complications that the coronavirus could cause?

Current symptoms reported for patients with the coronavirus have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

How does the Coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person who are within approximately six feet of each other. The virus spreads via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and their droplets either land in the mouths or noses of nearby people or are inhaled into their lungs. It may be possible that a person can get the virus by touching a surface that has the virus on it and touching their mouth or eyes before washing their hands. For more information, see the CDC page, How it Spreads.

Has anyone at MBTS or Spurgeon College been infected?

As of today, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at MBTS or Spurgeon College.

If I have recently traveled, should I be concerned?

As always, we will monitor recommendations from the CDC relating to travel and countries of travel. As of today, the following actions hold:

 

Travel Health Notices Countries Impacted Action for students / staff traveling from countries Action for students / staff traveling to countries
Level 3 Travel Health Notice: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea Stay home for 14 days from the time you left and practice social distancing. DO NOT come to campus until the 14 days have passed. For international students planning to come to campus, please email your program director before travelling. Do not visit Level 3 areas
Level 2 Travel Health Notice Japan Watch carefully for symptoms and practice good hygiene and social distancing. Consider coordinating with school for alternate study options. Students should work with faculty to develop alternate plans. Staff should work with supervisors to create alternate plans.
Level 1 Health Notice Hong Kong Watch carefully for symptoms and practice good hygiene and social distancing Students should work with faculty to develop alternate plans. Staff should work with supervisors to create alternate plans.

As this is a dynamic situation, these recommendations may change. We will follow the guidance offered by the CDC and the regional health department. You can email your questions to coronavirus@mbts.edu as well as monitor the latest travel recommendations from the CDC at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

How can I protect myself?

The following steps should be followed on a daily basis, but especially during flu season. The same applies as it relates to COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

Additional information is available from the CDC.

What if I was in close proximity of someone who may have COVID-19?

  • Take your temperature twice a day and remain alert for fever, coughs, or difficulty breathing.
  • If you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, follow the CDC recommend course of action and contact your primary care physician via telephone before going to the hospital or doctor’s office. As always, if it is a life-threatening emergency, dial 911.

If you have a question, please email: coronavirus@mbts.edu

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MBTS and Spurgeon College students evangelize during Mardi Gras in NOLA https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/mbts-and-spurgeon-college-students-evangelize-during-mardi-gras-in-nola/ Tue, 10 Mar 2020 13:01:38 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30772 Five students from Midwestern Seminary’s main campus, and eight more of the school’s online students, descended into New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival on Feb. 20-23 with the intent of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. In all, the group handed out 4,775 gospel tracts, 1,100 follow-up wristbands, engaged in 238 gospel conversations, and saw 18 […]

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Five students from Midwestern Seminary’s main campus, and eight more of the school’s online students, descended into New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival on Feb. 20-23 with the intent of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In all, the group handed out 4,775 gospel tracts, 1,100 follow-up wristbands, engaged in 238 gospel conversations, and saw 18 festival-goers repent of their sins and believe in the saving truth of Christ’s salvation.

Since 2014, Thomas Johnston, professor of evangelism, has taken students from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College, and dropped them into the proverbial frying pan in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

He explained that students are placed into the heat of spiritual battle, proclaiming the good news of the gospel during an event known for its extant debauchery. The goal of the trip is to confront the lost—who are in the pits of sin—with the gospel message.

Preparation for such an event is key, according to Johnston, when dealing with the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual warfare which takes place upon trying to reach the lost in such a place like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Not going it alone is a primary strategy Johnston picked up from David Cobb, a local who has been sharing the gospel in New Orleans for over 35 years.

“It is important to have a wingman,” Johnston said, “so you are not doing it alone. Built into the trip is the requirement that everyone needs to have a wingman. This means you have to build a spiritual bond with somebody else. You meet with them, pray with them, pray about spiritual needs before you go down there.

“You talk about spiritual things; you talk about life, and you talk about sharing the gospel. You ask each other how life is going, how well you are loving your family, are there any spiritual needs or issues which need to be worked through? We want to be very guarded with the people going down there because the evil hits hard. The sexual promiscuity is so thick that we need to be guarded from that.”

For wingman accountability, residential students met several times for breakfast, while online students met with Johnston via video conferencing before the trip.

Two of the group’s members, who got acquainted through taking online classes at MBTS, are Eric McDonald and Josh Storey. Both are emergency room physicians with Storey hailing from Bellevue, Neb., and McDonald living in Florence, Ala. They have become so connected through their studies that they now take their family vacations together and have undergone the process preparing their families for deployment to East Africa as career missionaries with the International Mission Board. Naturally, McDonald and Storey became each other’s wingman for the New Orleans Evangelism Trip.

McDonald said the trip went really well and that “God really showed out,” working in even greater ways than they were praying for. He added that his and Storey’s relationship is quite providential, as their skillsets complement one another.

On the trip, “It seemed when I was at a loss, Josh (with the work of the Spirit) picked up right where I left off and vice-versa,” McDonald said. “It was quite fun to be a part of. I think it made both of us really excited for what God will do over the long term in Africa.

“The trip was an evangelism boot camp of sorts,” McDonald explained. “We were left with great friendships through Christ, a great deal of experience sharing the gospel through different techniques and opportunities, and a spiritual high that can only come from God.”

Once on the ground in New Orleans, the group noticed extreme resistance to the message being proclaimed. Many in the group encountered common questions about the seriousness of their sin, of being judged by believers, of God’s forgiveness, about Jesus’ love for them (or if Jesus loves/hates those who are gay), why God allows bad things to happen, and what proof there is of God’s existence.

Harper Roderick, an MBTS Accelerate student said, “Everyone is a theologian on the streets. We were on Bourbon Street every night from 6 p.m. to midnight and you are  trying to tell people about the good news of the gospel, about how they can be reconciled to God through what Jesus has done on the cross, and about the hope of the resurrection, and they wanted nothing to do with it. Instead, they come to you with a weird universalist theology and try to explain to you why you don’t know anything, and why the gospel isn’t true.”

Roderick added that the New Orleans Evangelism Trip was unlike any mission or evangelism trip he had been on before due to the extreme rejection and opposition they faced. After the first day, he admitted feeling discouraged, but he mentioned receiving encouragement from reading 1 Corinthians 1-2, where the apostle Paul detailed his own opposition with the Corinthians. The passage speaks of how the gospel is foolishness to the world, which struck Roderick as he too proclaimed the gospel to those who saw it as foolish. Finally, the encouragement of Johnston stuck out to him during the trip as well.

“It was such a cool experience,” Roderick said. “Dr. Johnston loved on us so well. He was constantly encouraging us, praying for us while some of us were getting discouraged by the environment and the sin around us. He always had a smile on his face, telling people Jesus loved them and they could be reconciled to God through Christ.

“Seeing his calmness and joy helped us to proclaim the gospel with that same joy. Being in a group of people, all of them sharing the gospel, was encouraging. It would be pretty easy to get discouraged being alone in a crowd of thousands, who want nothing to do with the gospel, but the camaraderie was a huge plus. I definitely recommend the trip to students. It is a good way to overcome some fears in evangelism because you are getting thrown out into the deep end and that is good.”

John L. Inman, III is a Ph.D. student and special contributor to the office of institutional editor at Midwestern Seminary

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Midwestern Seminary announces Center for Biblical Counseling https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/midwestern-seminary-announces-center-for-biblical-counseling/ Fri, 06 Mar 2020 20:46:24 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30760 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS): The Center for Biblical Counseling at Midwestern Seminary was announced on March 3, with the intent of offering the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and beyond, a significant resource dedicated to biblical counseling that is rooted in the Word of God and the local church. The primary focus of the […]

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS): The Center for Biblical Counseling at Midwestern Seminary was announced on March 3, with the intent of offering the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and beyond, a significant resource dedicated to biblical counseling that is rooted in the Word of God and the local church.

The primary focus of the Center, and Midwestern Seminary’s biblical counseling degree programs, is equipping students to become biblical counselors who serve within their local churches and communities with a goal of making the church the first place people go for help, rather than the last resort.

“The aim of the Center for Biblical Counseling is to provide our students with opportunities to obtain and practically employ the skills necessary for soul care within the local church,” said President Jason Allen. “One of the primary weaknesses of many counseling programs in academic institutions is having an appropriate mix of theoretical training and practical ministry application. The CBC will attempt to remediate this tension by providing biblical counseling students a venue to grow in counseling methodology while developing skills that maximize their readiness to serve local churches upon graduation.

“This worthy effort is being led by Dr. Dale Johnson, who will serve as the Center’s director, and is among the most accomplished biblical counseling scholars in the greater evangelical world today. I am confident that he will impactfully lead and mentor our students to make significant practical and scholarly contributions to the field of biblical counseling for years to come.”

Johnson, who is associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Seminary, has been at the school since 2019. He also serves as executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), a national organization that certifies biblical counselors to ensure doctrinal integrity and to promote excellence in biblical counseling. He regularly hosts the ACBC’s “Truth in Love” podcast as well.

According to Johnson, the CBC will launch in Fall 2020—offering students opportunities that heretofore have been difficult for them to obtain, including much-needed counseling observation and supervision opportunities so that they are more prepared to enter into the demands of ministry.

Johnson explained, “The CBC will provide students the opportunity, through their counseling courses, to be supervised by a faculty member as the student engages in real counseling situations. This, in turn, will assist them to better understand the ministry of counseling and, prayerfully, make them better counselors.”

Additionally, Johnson noted that the observation and supervision benefits will assist students in obtaining their 50-hour certification requirement more quickly and efficiently—strengthening students in practically applying what they’ve been learning theoretically in their coursework and equipping them to be significantly more prepared to serve in ministry upon graduation.

Johnson further explained that Midwestern Seminary is currently in the process of becoming a Certified Training Center for ACBC. This means that each student’s coursework will count toward certification, and that the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree will fulfill all the requirements for graduates to become ACBC-certified counselors.

Another major goal of the CBC is a focus on church relationships, primarily in assisting students to connect with local churches, biblical counseling centers, or wider ministry settings. Johnson said, “The Center will work diligently to facilitate relationships with local churches so students can engage in internships and counseling ministries throughout their course of study. We also desire to provide potential student placement in ministry positions upon graduation. We feel this will be a real win-win for our students and the local churches, counseling centers, or ministries.”

Other highlights of the Center’s responsibilities include hosting a lecture series on campus each year and providing students with publishing opportunities.

Johnson said the CBC will seek to host annual lectureships on topics broadly related to pastoral theology, secular views of mental health, and counseling ministry in the local church. Additionally, the Center will also attempt to leverage the academic work of master’s and doctoral students in order to contribute resources to the biblical counseling movement.

“One of our goals through the CBC is to provide a platform by which our students can have a voice in the Biblical Counseling Movement,” Johnson said. “As they produce excellent research and scholarship in their doctoral and master’s studies, we desire to get them published—offering them opportunities to make a difference in this field of study for years to come.”

Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College transitioned from an integrated counseling model to the biblical counseling model in May 2019, and now offer degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Classes are available on campus in Kansas City, Mo., or via Midwestern’s Online Studies Department.

To learn more about or become involved with the Center for Biblical Counseling or studying in one of the counseling degree programs at Midwestern Seminary or Spurgeon College, visit https://www.mbts.edu/counseling.

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FTC Workshop with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger Session 3 https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/ftc-workshop-with-dr-andreas-kostenberger-session-3/ Thu, 05 Mar 2020 15:18:22 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30747 Automated Transcript Well, let me just say a quick word about the book that is at your table and why I wrote it. And some of you may have noticed I did put the obligatory Spurgeon quote in there. And of course you have to acknowledge your intellectual debts. So I’m referring to our brother […]

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Automated Transcript

Well, let me just say a quick word about the book that is at your table and why I wrote it. And some of you may have noticed I did put the obligatory Spurgeon quote in there. And of course you have to acknowledge your intellectual debts. So I’m referring to our brother Ed in there who was the source of that quote, which I think is perfect. He says, basically if you want to know about Jesus, just read the four gospels, very simple, but yet very profound. So this is living proof that I don’t just like John’s gospel; I actually like all four gospels. I just like John’s best because it’s the last one. And it just kind of, it’s the perfect capstone, right? For what the early church called the fourfold gospel. It’s really one gospel according to the four witnesses, right? In Jewish life.

Everything had to be established by the authority of two or three witnesses. Well, here we have four gospels. Stephen, you know, wanted two extras. So I hope you enjoy that. I originally wrote it for college students because you know, when I was looking for, (my son and my daughter were in college at the time), for a good book to read on the gospels and on Jesus, I just couldn’t find one that was a little more substantive but still relatively jargon free. You know, if I’m, most books are either a little bit too academic or just too lightweight and superficial. I wanted something kind of in between, you know, that really equips people. Hopefully solidly just, you know, tracking with each of us narrators. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’ll tell you what, it was a lot of work; especially writing through Luke now as you might’ve expected.

I started with, John naturally wrote this extra John first and then backtracked and went, you know, to Matthew, Mark and Luke. So Luke was actually the last one I wrote. And so when I was somewhere stuck in the middle of, of the travel narrative, it was just more of grinding it out because Luke is a long gospel. You know, it’s the longest one and it’s great but, but at some level, you know, writers will tell you, part of it is just kind of, you know, you persevere till the end just like in the book of Revelation. So yeah, I hope you enjoy that and commend it. If, it would help a great deal if all of you, each one of you could write an Amazon review just because a lot of people believe it or not judge the quality of the book by how many Amazon reviews it has.

So if we can humor some of those people and tell them that it’s a book worth their while. Well, let me move into my third and final lecture and I’m going to try to leave plenty of time for interaction. This is a workshop. And so I want us to work with the material, hopefully model, some solid hermeneutics is a well, which as you know, I espouse the Biblical Triad, which is history, literature and theology. So I hope you see that in action that I’m trying to give attention to history. Probably my emphasis is a little bit more on literature and theology and the inner play between the two here, right? The importance of structure and understanding the book, how the theological message is conveyed in, in the, in, in, in a certain literary context. Hope you see that action. I hope, I know.

I talked to some of you preaching through John right now. I hope some that is helpful as you, as you preach and as you teach and even just as students of God’s word, you know, John is neglected. Often I find people, you know, look at Paul, they look at the other gospels and yet here you have the one who was closest to Jesus during his earthly ministry who had just incredibly penetrating insights about who Jesus was and is. And so I’m basically just here as someone who loves John’s gospel and wants to commend it to maybe those who might never have had the opportunity or a occasion to, to study it in depth. So that said, let’s turn to the, the final sign in the festival cycle. The healing of the man born blind, one of my favorites. It’s, (apart from being, you know, historically true and theologically intriguing and very significant),

It is also a masterpiece of storytelling. It’s just so well told. I just Marvel at that. And so we’ve seen that in chapter six there was that watershed moment of many of Jesus’s disciples basically leaving, no longer following him. And then in chapter seven you see Jesus briefly at home with his brothers, an intriguing scene. It’s reminiscent of the way Jesus interacted with his mother at the Cana wedding at the beginning of chapter two. It’s quite clear that Jesus’ brothers don’t, at least not yet believe in him. They urge him, you know, to make a name for himself in Jerusalem and the, we’re not gonna take the time to, to study that in depth. But like his mother, Jesus’ brothers misjudged the timing of when Jesus was going to reveal himself and also his motives. You know, he’s not about making a name for himself.

So when you look at the midway point of the book of signs right there, juncture, right? 12 chapters, end of chapter six, beginning of chapter seven the picture’s actually quite bleak. And I know that I, in some of publications, I refer to the failure or at least apparent failure of Jesus’ mission. And I’ve gotten a little bit of gentle pushback from people who’ve said, what are you saying Jesus was a failure? Well, no, but in human terms, if you judge, you know, resonance by people’s response at this point, you have to admit Jesus doesn’t have a lot to show for his efforts, right? Other than the 12 who are the, the sole bright spot here many of his disciples leave him, even his own family. And so I think John intentionally, right? It’s not a coincidence that those two narratives are juxtaposed, is showing that that unbelief persists in Jesus’ own family. Even among most of his closest followers with the disciples, with the 12 being the only exception. And even there, one of them is a traitor.

Important ministry lesson here I think, ought to give us pause. You know, any of us who think that failure is necessarily an indication that we’re doing something wrong or conversely that success necessarily means we’re doing something right. I mean, maybe so, but maybe not because Jesus did everything right. He backed up his messianic claims with a series of startling signs and yet he was met with massive unbelief. So I think some on the mission field will tell us similar stories that sometimes the field is hard and the harvest is relatively meager and yet faithful witness is born. So there’s different ways we might gauge success in the kingdom. So the festival cycle that began with the healing of the lame man and the feeding of the 5,000, as we’ve seen, chapters five and six continues and concludes with four chapters, seven through ten that find Jesus at two additional feasts; it’s the festival cycle, right Tabernacles in seven and eight.

And then the feast of dedication, though Hanukkah is mentioned at the end of chapter 10. And these four chapters, cohere rather tightly at the very end, I’m going to have a, just trying to be practical here, a suggested preaching outline of the festival cycle. So, so you know stay with me here. Chapter seven and eight are in some manuscripts separated by the so-called pericope of the adulterous woman. As you know, those scholars are virtually united, and I hope you all agree, in their belief that the story was added later and was not originally written by John. And in my notes here, which I’m hoping like last year’s, if you missed last year, you can go to the Midwestern journal where it was published in the spring 2019 issue. We’re opening to do the same thing this year where we have kind of a written out manuscript of, of all three lectures combined into one article.

So in, in my notes, they already a fairly substantive footnote justifying text critically why, uh I think it’s John 7:53 to 8:11. The pericope of the adulterous woman is not original, can’t give an extended rationale here. But if you exclude that, then chapter seven and eight cohere very nicely and show jointly how Jesus initially delayed going to the festival. But then later on went, he appeared in public both at the midway point. And so that’s how you have the division 7:13 to 36. And then also on the final day of the feast, 7:37 to 39 and then seamlessly Jesus engages in a second teaching cycle, which culminates his affirmation that he preexisted Abraham remarkable, “before Abraham was, I am,” that’s kind of the climax of chapter seven and eight. And then, just getting a brief survey,

Uh there’s hardly a transition in 9:1 it just says as he passed by Jesus encounters a man who had been born blind. And then incidentally, there’s again virtually no transition in chapter 10. So I think the chapter division here at our English Bibles is partially misleading because it suggests that this is now a kind of a brand new story, which it isn’t really chapter 10 seamlessly follows, literally seamlessly follows on, on chapter nine. And of course since Tabernacles, right, in chapter seven and eight is celebrated as I mentioned early in September or October and then dedication is in December, chapter seven through 10 are in a fairly compact timeframe. So the plot is thickening and the narrative gaps get smaller and smaller. John includes more and more material as we get closer to Jesus’ final week.

So the setting then chapter seven, the first 13 verses. And this would be a good case study of how John portrays Jesus as fulfilling the essence of those different festivals. The feast of Tabernacles, uh it’s also called the feast of booths celebrated God’s provision for the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. You had water pouring and torch lighting rituals that are commemorated water coming out of the rock, God guiding his people by a pillar of fire at night during the Exodus. But for Jesus, the festival is anything but an occasion for Jewish national pride or even for just reliving the past. Rather, he announces that he embodies the very essence of what the Jewish people celebrate. He’s not backward looking, he’s forward looking. He’s one with the God who led Israel at the Exodus and he will lead his people in a new Exodus, through his death on the cross.

And so he takes the last feast of Tabernacles, through his earthly ministry, as an occasion to reveal just that. And that is what John is trying to convey here. True, it’s not theology 101 but certainly is a great lesson in advanced biblical theology. Now, halfway through the feast, verse 14, so you set the stage and then he makes a, an appearance he’s delaying, right, his, his travel to Jerusalem, but he does make his initial public appearance at the midway point of the feast. Again, he weaves into his narrative, (John does) a reference to a previous event, which is the healing of the lame man beginning of the festival cycle. When he says “I did one work,” Jesus said, verse 21, “and you all Marvel at it,” (I think he’s referring to the, the healing of the lame man.)

“Moses gave you circumcision and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision so that the law of Moses may not be broken. Are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?” Of course, you recognize the classic from the lesser to the greater argument here, which Jesus uses skillfully against the Jewish leaders who had an excessive concern for the law of Moses without recognizing its actual purpose because God’s purpose for the Sabbath command was hardly to keep a long time invalid from being healed. Jesus gives the example of circumcision, which was performed on the eighth day after a child was born. Leviticus 12:3. If that day fell on a Sabbath, right? Something had to give, because those two commands collided. Should you honor the Sabbath and refrain from work the way the Jews defined it?

Or should you go ahead and circumcision the infant boy anyway? Well, interestingly, and that’s what Jesus is getting at here, Jewish first century practices, we can see from the Mishnah as well, held that circumcision was to go ahead, even if the eighth day happened to fall on the Sabbath. So even the Jewish rabbis in Jesus’ day believed that the need to abate a circumcision command overrode the command to observe the Sabbath rest. Interesting, right? And so in this way, and that’s how Jesus argues that precedent had been set, the Sabbath commandment was not absolute, but it could be set aside in exceptional cases such as circumcision. And based on this precedent, Jesus argues very skillfully against his Jewish opponents, that if it was appropriate to circumcise a small part of a person’s body, why would it be illegitimate to heal a whole person? Lesser to the greater argument.

You just Marvel among other things, how Jesus was able to be- basically to beat, the, the, the rabbis and scribes at their own game, right? It was even his, his, his exegetical skills and his a logical reasoning skills were so far superior to theirs. And he’s just lowering himself here to kind of engage them on this level of mere human reasoning. He didn’t have to do that. It’s very gracious that he did. And so his point is, so why were they so rigid, uh not to allow for an exception in the present case, which was obviously a benefit to a person and didn’t truly violate the spirit of a Sabbath command? It’s very hard to argue with this kind of reasoning apart from the fact that it shows a lot of compassion and grace, which obviously the authorities lacked in this case. Just incredible fireworks display of, of Jesus’ ability to reason from scripture with people who were supposed to be the experts in that area.

Okay, and then John uses various voices in the crowd, at the feast, as representative of various Jewish messianic expectations in the days of Jesus. That’s what that section of of John seven is all about. And you, so you see you know, I have a whole kind of bullet pointed list in the Jesus of the gospels at this point. Some are saying when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from. So-Called, you know, hidden Messiah chapter seven, verse 27. And of course they use it as an argument against Jesus because they knew where he was from. So he’s saying he can’t be the Messiah because when the Messiah comes, nobody will know where he’s coming from. But then other people are saying, well when the Christ comes, will he do more signs than Jesus has done? Of course, that echo is again, right?

The whole idea of signs and, and there’s this implicit acknowledgement that Jesus sure did a lot of signs, you know, it was that, was that still not enough? Is the messiah going to do even more. So John obviously uses that with some fine irony. Others are saying, well, we thought, I thought Jesus was from Galilee, but doesn’t scripture say that the Messiah is going to be born in Bethlehem? Again, John shows that that’s a ironic because those people were just speaking out of ignorance here. In fact, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and so forth. So notice that those expectations were not only, you know, varied in some cases they were mutually contradictory. And again, John shows just with irony that people were just confused about who the Messiah was going to be. So no wonder, right, they had difficulty with the messiah Jesus turned out to be.

Of course, the lesson here is that, you know, when we come to Jesus, we ought to accept him the way he is rather than trying to you know squeeze him into our expectations. So we’ve seen Jesus spoke up at the midway point and then the second occasion, verse 37, John speaks on the final day, the great day of the feast, so-called because Tabernacles festivities lasted for a whole week and the eighth day, ended with, with just a whole firework of activities. And so it’s fitting that Jesus, you know, makes one more final public declaration on that on that great final day. And he uses Isaiah’s language here. Isaiah was of a huge influence for John’s theology. And of course, Jesus is you know, teaching as well. Jesus says, if anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink, and then he adds whoever believes in me as the scripture says, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.

And then John adds, that this was a reference to the Spirit that would soon be given most likely you know, we don’t have the quotes as the scriptures says, but we can’t really find it in the new Testament, that exact phrase. So most scholars take it as a, as a reference to kind of a composite references in Ezekiel. And so the other prophets. And so the interesting thing here is there’s some debate in the commentary literature. Does it refer to Jesus himself? Does it refer to believers in Jesus? You know, after the spirit is given? I think probably the latter is more likely. So Jesus is here saying that anyone who believes in him, they will themselves become a life-giving source source of the life-giving message about the Messiah and then seamlessly transitioning to the so-called paternity controversy. And in chapter eight, verse 12 and in essence, the debate revolves around the Jewish claim of descent from Abraham.

Jesus acknowledges that true the, you know, Pharisees and the authorities, they are ethnically descendants of Abraham, but he argues that spiritually speaking, they’re actually the children of the devil. I mean, you can see how that probably went over like a lead balloon there. Now we know from the other gospels that, generally the Jewish people did not view themselves as sinners. You know, sometimes it’s in quotation marks, they look at other people as, as sinners, but not themselves because they try to observe the law of Moses. But here again, Jesus has this very intricate line of reasoning. He says, well, since the Jewish authorities, opposed him, who was the God sent Messiah that revealed that truly the spirit in which they operated and that, that guided them, that motivated them in their desire to kill Jesus was actually the spirit of Satan,

Because, as we see in Genesis three, Satan was a murderer from the beginning, in verse 44. I mean, this is explosive stuff here. You can see that the gloves are now definitely off. So one of the highlights of that, you know, remember I talked about escalating animosity and controversy, I mean, it doesn’t get more escalated than that. They call the Jewish authorities you know children of the devil. And I think John wants to tell us too, that there’s really no middle ground, either you’re a child of God or you’re a child of the devil. Many are not gonna be that receptive to that approach, I would think, or, or others in the culture. But I think John is being very logical and theological and radical about that. And so he has this set of polarities, right? Either from above, or you’re from below. You either love or you hate.

You’re either in the light or in the darkness you see that also then in the, especially in first John. You either follow Jesus or you’re a child of Satan. Sometimes people don’t understand it. They talk about John being actually antisemitic, which is really ludicrous. You know, he was Jewish. Jesus was Jewish. You know, I think they don’t understand, this is not a matter of ethnic Jewishness. It’s a matter of those specific Jewish authorities that ended up having Jesus crucified being not made truly motivated by love of God despite what they, what they claimed. Anyway. So then moving on to chapter nine and the healing of the man born blind. Briefly, there’s this beautiful symmetry in John’s gospel. It begins with a prologue, ends with an epilogue. In between you have a story of Jesus in those two equal halves that are often called, you know, the book of signs and the book of glory or, or the book of exaltation chapters, you know, one to 12 and then 13 through 20.

And then within that first half, the book of signs you have as we’ve seen the Cana cycle, chapters two to four, and then the festival cycles in chapters five through 10. I talked a little bit with the president earlier. He said, well, what about chapter 11 and 12? Well, you have to wait until next time. in any case, in each cycle, again, beautiful symmetry. Jesus performs three signs, right? Three in the Cana cycle, beginning, middle and end; three in the festival cycle, beginning, middle and end. And so in this case, now we have the, the final of those three signs in the festival cycle. And if you’re keeping track, if you’re keeping count, this would now be the sixth sign. So only the, the raising of Lazarus would be left, which is obviously very, very special. there’s some more symmetry at work here.

It’s just incredible how carefully crafted the Johanan narrative really is because as I mentioned earlier, you have those representative figures of faith or unbelief in, in the Cana cycle it’s Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman; chapters three and four. And here in the festival cycle you have the lay man in chapter five and the man born blind in chapter nine as examples of unbelief, faith, unbelief and faith; representative characters. I admit that in the case of three and four, those are juxtaposed in back-to-back chapters. In this case, you know, they’re framing the festival cycle. Okay so John used a little bit of variety there, but I think it’s still the same symmetry and the same idea. Also now turning more to the comparison between five and nine which I alluded to in chapel already, both healings, right? The layman and now the man born blind take place on a Sabbath.

Very interesting. Both are signs so you have some similarities, but you also have some contrast. So even more striking. We’ve seen in the first the chapel message that the layman is anything but you know, certainly not grateful for being healed. Rather he reports seasons not once, but twice to the authorities. And you know, blames him for, you know, breaking the Sabbath. And then Jesus warns him rather sternly not to sin anymore lest something worse happens to him. And so if that becomes some sort of foil, right? A literary foil the lame man in chapter five for the, the healing of the man born blind in, in chapter nine because the two characters couldn’t be more different. Here, chapter nine, Jesus makes immediately clear that neither the man nor his parents sinned,

Rather, blindness was sovereignly ordained by God so that God’s glory might be revealed in Jesus. Also the responses of the two man couldn’t be more different rather than incriminate Jesus with the authorities as the layman had done, the blind man who’s of course no longer blind now strenuously defends Jesus against the authorities accusation’s. It’s actually very ironic, he turns out to be much a better theologian than the Pharisees and the scribes in the narrative. And there’s even some similarity with the Samaritan woman who starts out by calling him a prophet at first and then progresses to a deeper understanding of who Jesus truly is. He also first calls Jesus a prophet. Later he calls himself a disciple of Jesus. And of course the Pharisees are very you know, derogatory and even abusive and say, Hey, we’re disciples of Moses. You know, we don’t even know where Jesus came from.

He’s probably a sinner. Well, he must be a sinner or he wouldn’t have told you to break the Sabbath and so forth. And so finally, he actually worships Jesus; incredible as the climax of that narrative, which is the only instance of worship directed towards Jesus before, of course, Thomas’ declaration of Jesus: “My Lord and my God” after the resurrection in 20, 28. Again, the Samaritan woman is a partial parallel in that Jesus talks to her about worshiping spirit and truth, you know, but we don’t actually see her falling down on her knees and worshiping Jesus like the man born blind does here. Again, you have representative characters. Both are healed by Jesus but still, you know, you have to trust Jesus to reap the full benefits of a particular sign. And so the question then that Jesus is asking his readers, and I think is asking us today as well, is how will you and I respond to what Jesus has done for us?

Will, we responded in faith like the man born blind or the Samaritan woman in the previous cycle or will we prove resistant to Jesus like the lay man or in a previous cycle, Nicodemus, will we believe and or will we remain in our sin. That’s the all important question. All readers of John’s gospel do well to ponder and there and only there I agree with Rudolf Bultmann who called the gospel of John a gospel of decision. I think he’s exactly right. John calls us to make a decision either for or against Jesus. Okay. So finally then chapter 10, the good shepherd discourse, which follows almost seamlessly on, on the healing. In this case, what’s the common ground is that Jesus presents himself as the good shepherd who really cares for God’s people as opposed to the, the Jewish leaders who are irresponsible and, you know, being motivated really by, by self-interest.

And again, just look at church leaders today and just look at their tweets and look at their social media posts and try to discern if they’re motivated by self-interest or for love and care for others. And again, I’m not, I mean, I’m applying that same standard to myself. Don’t go and look at my tweets right after this. No, you should be able to. So again, I think it’s it’s maybe a a convicting thing to think about, but I think that is really what Jesus says is the difference. And so he used the good shepherd drawing on Ezekiel 34 here. The whole chapter is devoted to a stern denunciation of Israel’s shepherds in Ezekiel’s day. And so Jesus is basically drawing on that passage. I wrote a whole seminar paper in my seminary days. It was later published in the Bulletin of Biblical Research on John 10, John 10:16 especially, there will be one sheep and one shepherd directly taken from Ezekiel.

All right, so with this, we’ve come to the end of our study of the festival cycle. Again, just like in our study of the Cana cycle, we found the, the fourth evangelist to be a very careful and skillful writer who executes his game plan to perfection. His purpose in his gospel, and he shows a lot of forethought, is to set forth Jesus as the Messiah and son of God. And toward that, that end, he’s carefully selected a series of stark, startling striking messianic signs as we’ve seen structured Jesus’ ministry in this early ministry cycle the Cana cycling and the later one, the festival cycle with many kind of recurring motifs as we’ve seen, but with escalating controversy. So the plot gradually thickens as we move closer to the passion narrative. And at the heart of it all, as John makes clear, especially through the inclusion in John five and 10 is Jesus claimed to be God.

I think that’s John’s great merit that he sharpens our focus very strongly on that all important claim. Now by being highly selective and by focusing his whole gospel on that central question of who Jesus is, John calls, as I’ve mentioned, each of us to a decision: is Jesus God in the flesh as his followers came to believe or is he a deceiver, blasphemer and imposter as the Jewish leaders believed. What John would have us do, is follow in the footsteps and in the trajectory of the Samaritan woman and the man born blind who encountered Jesus and were profoundly impacted by him. And so I stand before you here as someone who’s been profoundly impacted by Jesus in a life changing encounter. And I know many of you had that same conversion experience. Both the Samaritan woman and the man born blind made that journey from recognizing Jesus initially as a prophet to becoming his disciple, evangelist and worshipper. And this is also the journey on which you and I should embark. So thank you very much for joining me on this journey, which continues and may God, bless you as you serve him and join him on his mission.

[Inaudible]

Thank you, and I think now we have exactly 16 minutes for Q and A, maybe a little bit more if Jared is allowing us to. All right, so any questions on, yes-

[Audience Question].

Yes, and so I think this is an instance of the mission motif. The question was in, in the good shepherd discourse, he talks about there’s going to be other sheep as well. So I think that refers to Gentiles who would also later join. This is one of several references. Another one is at the end of chapter 11 where Caiaphas says that Jesus came not only to the Jewish people but also the scattered children, you know in addition to that. So I, I talk about that in, in a book called salvation to the ends of the earth, which is a book on, you know, biblical theology of mission. And so it’s really interesting the question there would be ‘Did Jesus come primarily to the Jewish people or to the Gentiles also?’ And I think most scholars believe that it’s actually, he came primarily to the Jewish people.

You think of Matthew 10 where he says, don’t go right to anyone except to the lost, you know, the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And it was only then, I think after Jesus’ death and crucifixion as the Jewish Messiah that then he commissioned his new Messianic community to embark on the Gentile mission. So that’s acts two following first Acts one eight right? You’ll be my witnesses when the Holy spirit has come upon you. You know, both Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, so, so you’ve definitely hit on something very important there. I love the mission theme in John. It’s often overlooked.

Thank you. Thank you. Can everyone hear me? You mentioned how the blind man and the Samaritan initially saw Jesus as a, as a prophet. So in witnessing to Muslims, do you think they are one step further than the secular world?

What is that last thing? So I heard that they both acknowledged Jesus as a prophet initially. Yeah, initially.

And then, then they became his disciples. And then even further. So in witnessing to Muslim people, would you say like they are one step further because they see him as a prophet, then the secular world because they see him as basically just a historical man. What are your thoughts on that?

Right. Well, I think in a Johanine narratival perspective, what you see there is there’s actually some progression in their growing in their understanding of who Jesus truly is. In other words, they have to start somewhere, right? And so you see that they gradually progress. And especially when you compare that progression with, you know, the comparative character like Nicodemus in chapter three, there’s the opposite. You know, he’s just completely dumbfounded and there’s no progression there. And the same with the lame man. I mean, he’s just statically intransigent. And so I think that contrast brings out the progression even more. And so I think the paradigm would be you kind of start with people where they’re at in their understanding and then gradually educate them, you know, and bring them closer and closer to kind of a fuller understanding who Jesus truly is.

So having spent such an immense amount of time studying John academically- is there some sort of shift in your mind or your approach when you begin to approach it from a devotional standpoint? Instead of seeking to primarily understand it, you’re trying to grow closer devotionally to God?

Mhmm, great question. Well first thing I would say is I don’t really distinguish between the two. But I think there’s a sense which my heart increasingly is to communicate what I’ve learned, you know, in really 35 years of, of, you know, close study of, of John’s gospel to others. Maybe just share my love for John’s Gospel and for Jesus in particular. Especially because being a parent, being a father, you know, passing it on to the next generation to my children. That’s seriously been, you know, a big motivating factor. And I think especially as they were in high school and then started going to college, I developed a more keen interest and involvement in apologetics. So for instance on Sunday I’m leaving, I’m going to a student retreat in Colorado Springs. I’ll be speaking most of next week to maybe 250 students from K U and Kansas state.

And some of the other, the other universities about Jesus and life in the spirit, they want me, wanted me to fuse the gospels and a little bit of Paul at the end- Romans chapter eight. Again, just as an outflow of- that, I feel like as scholars, you know, we do need to have a heart for discipleship and even a heart for the lost. One thing that I found really, really sad and tragic and convicting when I did some work on the book trying to make it accessible is that I gradually came to realize that scholars have actually, if anything, separated people from Jesus in the gospels, you know, and the critical scholarship has actually become a massive obstacle. And so what I found myself doing in many ways, it’s just almost like undoing some of the damage that’s been done by a lot of scholars, hopefully not me, you know, but, but even so, I mean, clearly there’s a sense in which you write a commentary, it’s a little bit more for an advanced audience, you know, either other scholars or maybe pastors. And so I think certainly I’ve progressed a little bit at this stage of my life in more, you know, Charles Smith would tell you there’s certain stages. So I’m probably more in the legacy leaving stage right now. I’m thinking that would be a legacy to just kind of pass on what I’ve learned to my children, to the next generation. You know about Jesus in John’s gospel.

You are pointing out the juxtaposition of Nicodemus and the woman at the, well, the man, the lame man and the man born blind that follows the same pattern of like Rahab and Achan- is he, you, do you, do you think he’s doing that on purpose and that he, he’s doing that to let us know he knows he’s writing scripture or I mean do you think he’s do that on purpose? Mirroring, mirroring Rahab and Achan as examples of Israelites and non Israelites

So are you saying that you see a similar pattern in the old Testament? (Speaker 5) Yeah, with Rahab being a non Israelite who shouldn’t have got it, and Achan being an Israelite who should’ve got it, and it’s reversed. (Speaker 1) Yeah. Well I think in, in John’s case, this is not so much a matter of, you know, salvation history and Jew/Gentile or you know, ethnic, because sure you might see that in the case of Nicodemus and the Samaritan, but that’s one among, maybe at least half a dozen contrasts between the two, you know and you don’t necessarily see that in the case of the lame man and the man born blind. So I think in John’s case, it’s more universal contrast between belief and unbelief. And you know, some people have called John either the gospel of belief or the gospel or you know, universal gospel. And I think that’s, that’s epitomized of course by John three 16. Right. “Whoever believes.” So in that sense, I think John is even transcending any Jew/Gentile distinctions. He’s just not that interested in that. He’s just interested in eternal realities, eternal life, you know, or lack there of. You know belief or unbelief.

So, you mentioned that a lot of, there’s a lot of skepticism in kind of mainstream scholarship towards the historicity of John’s gospel. So what are some reasons why we can trust the historicity of John’s gospel? And also what are some resources that we can read to learn more about that?

Okay. So what are some reasons that we should trust the gospels?

Specifically John’s gospel.

Okay. Yes. So Craig Blomberg has written a book called the historical reliability in John’s gospel, which I wrote an endorsement for. So I like it. And so that would be a good place because he looked specifically at some of the passages that some of our critical scholars would, you know, allege there’s some, you know, historical, you know, lack of accuracy and so forth. And actually the opposite is really the case. There’s some references that, that actually are unique to John. For instance, he is the only one who mentions the feast of dedication, for example, or he alone mentions Annas, you know, the father-in-law of Caiaphas and so forth. So there’s, there’s actually an article by Martin Hengel, mentioned him earlier, in German that talks about John as a reliable historical source. And coming from him, I mean, that’s, that’s very significant. So that would be, that would be one resource.

And certainly all my writings. I mean there’s, there’s times when I touched directly you know, on, on questions of historicity- remind you that the Peter Williams was here last year for Sizemore and he obviously he wrote that Crossway book called can we trust the gospels? And so it’s actually a very high end volume. So I don’t know if my, you know, say your regular college student might be able to fully grasp everything, but, but he talks about different geographical and, and other, you know, topographical ways in which the gospels show that they, they really knew their stuff, you know, and so I think it’s gone some way to push back against critics like Bart Ehrman. And of course you could also listen to the debate between Pete Williams and Bart Ehrman I guess last summer as well. So there’d be a few resources there. Yes writings of Don Carson who was here as well. That’d be somebody else.

So you said in the Cana cycle that there are three signs, so the one at the wine and in the temple, and then the last one at Cana, but, Then at the end of chapter four, John explicitly says like, this is the second sign. And I know he qualifies it. He says that when he had come from Judea to Galilee. So I was just wondering how you reconcile John, like that verse with your view that there’s three and not- You’re smarter than me, so I’m going to probably believe you way more [Inaudible], but I just kind of want to see what-

That’s a fair question, then probably you’re a representative character here. There’s probably what a lot of people were wondering about. So thanks for asking that question. Give me a chance to respond. I think yes, my answer would be that there’s a couple of intervening references to signs in Jerusalem in John 2:23 and 3:2. Okay. So John tells his readers that those two framing signs in Cana were not the only signs Jesus did. And so my point is that temple cleansing was just one of those Jerusalem signs. Okay. And the reference there, I mean, you answered your own question there. Yeah. I think in 4:54 it’s qualified by saying it’s a second sign he did in Cana, you know, basically queuing in his readers that this is now the inclusio yo, you know, going back to chapter two, verse one through 11, now again, critical scholars, you know, they have then you know, argued that John was following a so called sign source as what Boltman said and, and any, yeah.

And, and I think to me that is one of the reasons why people haven’t even looked for any intervening signs between, right, beginning and end of like two and four. So, and that’s why they missed the temple cleansing because they took it literally at face value and said, not just the second sign in Cana, but just a second sign in the gospel period. And so I’m just saying, well, look at 2:23 and 3:2 and you’ll see that John wants his readers to know that Jesus performed other signs as well. Again, you know, not everybody will agree with that, but it’s that coupled with the walking on the water kind of falling short when you look at some of the other signs has convinced me- maybe one more thing there. I think people starting out with the equation, it’s sign equals miracle.

And so obviously the temple cleansing is not a miracle in the narrow synoptic sense, right? Like the feeding of the 5,000 or the turning water into wine. So I think that’s another reason why they missed it. But I did an extensive study of the word sémeion in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the old Testament. So if you do that, you see that the word sémeion is used for two kinds of signs, the signs at the Exodus, you know, Moses and Pharaoh and those are typically called signs and wonders. So that’s the miraculous side of it. But then there’s also the prophetic signs and prophets like Isaiah who would walk around you know basically stripped down to his undergarments just to show the bankruptcy of, of Israel, you know, prior to the exile. And it would prophesy God’s judgment in the imminent future. And so I think the cleansing of the temple is that prophetic type of sign, which is an action that is conveying God’s judgment prophetically on Israel, you know, for, in this case, the corruption of temple worship. So Isaiah 20 verse three would be one place where you can see the use of sémeion in that second prophetic sense, in addition to the first sense. So I think what people have done is they have absolutized one kind of sign when the old Testament, which was John’s primary theological source actually is two different kinds of signs. Yes.

Thank you for offering this. And for the book, can we go back to John seven? Do you think that the spirit permanently indwelt old Testament believers? And how would you- you know, what is Jesus promising in John seven?

Thank you. That’s a really good question. And I, the short answer is no. I think that’s just the new Testament like post Acts 2 phenomenon. My good friend Greg Alison at Southern and I have written a book on the Holy spirit that’s coming out June 1st. It’s the first volume in a new series, 15 volumes in total, edited by David Dockery, Nathan Finn and Chris Morgan published by BNH academic. And so it’s on 15 major doctrines of the faith. And you typically have a biblical scholar survey the biblical material and then you have a systematic theologian you know, just take it from there. And so, yeah, it was my privilege to treat both Old and New Testament for that. And I think clearly what you see there is that the, the regenerating indwelling work of Holy spirit you know, is, is a new Testament phenomenon. And the old Testament typically you would have the spirit rest on leaders, you know, for their tenure.

That’s why David could say, don’t take your Holy spirit away from me. But you know, so the important relevance for gospel studies is that, so what we’re saying is that the 12 did not have the regenerating indwelling Holy spirit in them, right, during Jesus’ earthly ministry. And I think sometimes people would invoke things like, well, look at Peter, you know, he denied Jesus and so it’s okay if I deny him. I said, not necessarily because he didn’t have indwelling Holy spirit. If you’re a believer, you do. So the analogy breaks down at that point. Those of, you know, the disciples, as characters in the gospels, they were still pre-Acts two while we are, you know, post Acts two. Which makes the gospels more difficult to interpret than, say Paul’s letters- hermeneutically have to be a little more sophisticated.

So my question was referring to actually back in John five when Jesus referred to himself as the son of God- when the Jews were wanting to persecute him, not only cause the signs he was doing, but because he called him cause he called God his father. And then also the contr- or the contrast in chapter eight, the Pharisees make a reference to God being their father. And I wanted to see what you thought on that. Cause Jesus does say that no, your father is a devil, but they claimed they claimed at least a part of that. So I wanted see what you thought about that.

Yeah. So there is an important motif like talking about biblical theology, right? In terms of this child of God motif. And you see it in the prologue, right? Right. At the heart of it, you know, anyone who believes in Jesus can become a child of God. And then I think probably the main other place is, as you mentioned, both John five and then again John eight. And so if you want to connect the dots there, yeah, it’s very much about, of course, Jesus being the you know, the monogenes, you know, the one and only, you know, son of God and in a unique way. And it’s only used in the prologue twice in 1:14 and 18. And then in John three, twice in John 3:16, right? And again, John 3:18. So monogenes would be a unique, you know characteristic of Jesus and then derivatively right-

believers in Jesus also can become children of God, which means unless you believe in Jesus, you are not really a child of God, you know, in a true spiritual sense. And so that’s why Jesus makes some of those striking statements like in the good shepherd which in chapter 10. He says, you don’t believe because you’re not one of my sheep in this case, you know which to the Pharisees are saying what? The guy’s mad, he’s crazy. How can he say to, of course, we’re children of God, right? And so John again helps us to think spiritually. You know, and others like Paul in Romans nine would have readily agreed, you know, everybody who is ethically a Jew is truly a believer in the Messiah, is, you know, spiritually, saved. So I hope this at least roughly what you’re getting at there. Yeah. Yes.

How do you deal with preaching through John, the end of John seven, beginning of John eight with the adulterous woman? How would you, how do you deal with preaching through that in a corporate setting? In a church?

Just ignore it. No, I was kidding. Because obviously most people have something in their Bibles there even though, you know, it’s mostly in footnotes with some square brackets and already some sort of a notation. Most ancient manuscripts don’t have it. So, so that can help you, you know. But I, I’ve seen different approaches to that. One of the more effective ones I’ve seen is where people basically just take that as an opportunity to educate people on you know, what scripture is on the Canon on inspiration, on you know, a little bit of textual criticism maybe without calling it that, you know, kind of thing. So, so I think it, it becomes a good opportunity. Sometimes I’ve seen people do it in just five or 10 minutes. Other times I’ve seen them just spend a whole message on that.

And it becomes almost like a little bit of an introduction to, you know, the nature of scripture and some of the issues related to, you know, translations, transmission, biblical authority. You know, so we take that as an opportunity. And also, you know, I think there may be pushback against people like Bart Ehrman who basically makes it look like all of scripture is that way. Scripture is hopelessly corrupt then. You know what I’m saying? Actually, no, he’s, he’s basically lying to you and he knows better than that because this is one of only two places- as he knows. The other being, the long ending of Mark where you do have a significant textual critical issue. And we’re pretty much, I mean, the vast majority of scholars are agreed anyway, that those are just later additions.

 

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FTC Workshop with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger Session 2 https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/ftc-workshop-with-dr-andreas-kostenberger-session-2/ Thu, 05 Mar 2020 15:17:06 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30744 The post FTC Workshop with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger Session 2 appeared first on Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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FTC Workshop with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger Session 1 https://www.mbts.edu/2020/03/ftc-workshop-with-dr-andreas-kostenberger-session-1/ Wed, 04 Mar 2020 18:42:23 +0000 https://www.mbts.edu/?p=30735 The post FTC Workshop with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger Session 1 appeared first on Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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