Is this problem chemical or spiritual?

Beginning this Friday morning at 6am, we will have our first co-ed study for TheoForum guys and SheoForum ladies.  We’ll dive into a range of issues revolving around the nature of the relationship between body and soul – the chemical/biological and the spiritual.

Every other Friday morning we’ll sip coffee and study through Ed Welch’s book, Blame It on the Brain.

I cannot wait!

TheoForum final exam and new book

Well, another section of Grudem’s Systematic Theology is behind us.  A group of 10 men gathered at 6am this past Friday to split into two teams and work together on the final exam for this section of the book.  It covered issues of Atonement, Resurrection and Ascension, The Offices of Christ, and The Work of the Holy Spirit.  We had taken an early exam after the chapter on The Person of Christ.

Once again the guys did extremely well and we were all encouraged by how much the approach of reading these things together and stopping to discuss issues along the way are enabling us to retain what we’re covering.

I don’t have the exam questions with me, but they weren’t ‘gimme’s’.  Several essay questions, a few multiple choice and matching.  For the essay questions the fellas were very well prepared.  In fact, at two points I asked follow up questions to those presenting their team’s oral essay answers and in both cases the teams did an excellent job coming back with spontaneous yet nuanced responses.

Both teams nailed the bonus question which asked in what sense is the atonement objective.  How does the truth of the objectivity of the atonement impact my life personally?  And how should the objective verities of the atonement shape the way we evangelize?

It was our first tie in a long time.  Both teams scored 104 A+.  So we did what gentlemen usually do when there is not a clear winner and loser at the end of the match – called a special overtime event.  Each team sent forth 2 men to represent them in a pushup contest.  Chests much touch a 2 stack of Reason For God books which we were selling for the next study (more on that in a sec).  About 2 minutes later Nick MIssios’ team emerged the victor by 7 or 8 pushups.

Our next study, Tim Keller’s Reason For God, begins on January 23rd.  Again, if you live nearby and are interested in joining us, you’re most welcome.  Email and we’ll get some more info to you.

TheoForum tomorrow

TheoFormers will be meeting again tomorrow morning, 6am, at the Roberts’ house to continue our study through Grudem’s Systematic Theology.I know the last chapter, on Atonement, was long, but please do your best to keep up with the reading. We’ll start reading Chapter 28, on Resurrection and Ascension in the manana.

Our last meeting found the guys divided into two groups for an exam on Chapter 26, The Person of Christ. The fellas did outstanding. In fact, they both got 100’s and part of the extra points questions as well. Lest you think that the test must’ve been a gimme, here were some of the questions.

1. List some aspects of Christ’s weaknesses/limitations.

2. What are some things we learn from Christ’s wilderness temptations?

3. Which of these early church heresies denied the full humanity of Christ?
1. Open theism
2. Pelagianism
3. Docetism
4. Solipsism

4. List 3 reasons why Jesus’ full humanity was necessary.

5. Match:
1. Theos to seem, appear
2. Kyrios man
3. Dokeo Lord
4. Anthropos God

6. Reference 3 classic Deity of Christ texts (or quote).

7. The theory which asserts Jesus gave up some divine attributes while on earth is:
1. Kenosis theory
2. Hypostasis/hypostatic theory
3. Chalcedonian theology

8. From what text do proponents of the kenosis theory argue their case?

9. Match the view to its diagram on the white board: Appollinarianism, Eutychianism, Nestorianism, Chalcedonian Christology

Most of the guys in TheoForum have been committed since we first started reading through books. Since that time, we’ve read, talked, fellowshipped, stood in awe, scratched our heads and built deep friendships around great books like:

Truth and the New Kind of Christian, R. Scott Smith
Systematic Theology, Section 1, Wayne Grudem
According to Plan, Graeme Goldsworthy
Systematic Theology, Section 2, Wayne Grudem
God, Marriage and Family, Andreas Kostenberger
Systematic Theology, Section 3, Wayne Grudem
Hidden Smile of God, John Piper

And now we’re back in

Systematic Theology, Section 4, Wayne Grudem

We’ve experienced genuine biblical fellowship. Our view of God, our love for truth and passion to worship God in all of life are being expanded as we get together every other Friday early to learn and grow together in grace and knowledge.

Who knows what we’ll read next. We have about 40 pages left in this section before we study another book. I’ll probably unveil the next book just after Christmas.

TheoForum: Grudem exam tomorrow

Our TheoForum men have just re-entered Grudem’s Systematic Theology, this time in Section 4, dealing with The Person and Work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

If you are in TheoForum, make sure to finish reading Chapter 26, The Person of Christ, by this afternoon.  And take some time tonight to look over your margin notes and review salient points from the chapter.  Friday morning at 6am, we’ll break into teams and start working through our first exam from this section.

It’s not too late if you want to join us for this study, but you’ll need to get the book by this weekend and start reading quickly to catch up.

Becoming a lifetime student of theology

We never exhaust the study of God and His Word!  Here are nine suggestions from Michael Lawrence, Mark Dever’s right hand pastor and major contributing writer for 9Marks Ministries, on how to continually pursue a sharper understanding of biblical doctrine.

They were originally written as an application to “busy pastors”, but again, any student of Scripture could press these principles into service for his/her spiritual benefit.

For any local Lakeview or Pivot guys who may not be involved, I would direct your attention to #7, which describes for about 12 of my closest friends what we’ve come to call TheoForum.

We’d love to have you join us for our next study. We’re finishing up Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God and will soon be heading back to Grudem to tackle section IV of Systematic Theology.

(HT: Justin Taylor) – if you don’t see an HT at end of each post, it’s relatively safe to assume Taylor helped me find it.

TheoForum Exam Results

This morning our TheoForum class took an exam on section 3 from Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which dealt with The Doctrine of Man.  When it was all over one of the guys said that he was surprised at how ‘ready’ he was for being tested on this material.  I asked the other guys if they felt the same way, “Did you guys find that when looking at the test questions you felt encouraged that you’d retained more than you realized?”  All heads were nodding yes.  For any of you local Pivot guys who haven’t joined TheoForum there’s a good rubber-meets-the-road reason to link up with what’s happening.  We really are learning, not just reading and waking up at stupid early hours every other Friday.  So, on to the tests…

There were two teams.  A few guys were no shows.  I won’t mention their names here, now.

Team Tucker – Todd Tucker, Randy Albert, Sylvester Tumusiime, and Garrett Ryan

Team Missios – Nick Missios, Evan May, Chris Roberts, Steve Roberts (honorary student)

First, in review of chapter 21 (The Creation of Man), the teams had to work together to give descriptions for each of the four successive stages of a biblical theology of the image of God in man.  Then they had to mention and briefly describe two particular ways in which our likeness to God is expressed.  They talked about, respectively, moral judgment, authority, and creativity.

We then moved on to chapter 22 (Man as Male and Female) where the men had to list 3 categories in which the creation of man as male and female mirrors the intra-Trinitarian relationship.  There both teams shared the concepts of harmony/oneness, equality in personhood, distinction in roles and authority.  Following this, someone stepped forward from each team to briefly describe the egalitarian position.  Both men represented this view clearly and concisely.  Both team nailed the meaning of the Greek word kephale and that question closed out chapter 22.

Chapter 23 (The Essential Nature of Man) found a room full of guys flipping through their Bibles to identify whether a particular verse was most often cited by dichotomists or trichotomists.  We then asked for for a dichotomist response to the classic trichotomist prooftext 1 Thess 5:23.  Guys are encouraged on questions like this to pool knowledge and write bullet phrases to help them along as they orally respond to the essay question.  Both men handled this question well.  Next a quick True/False question about Paul’s use of the term “spirit” and then a review of Grudem’s list of ‘tendencies’ often associated with various strands of trichotomist teaching.

Hastening forward to chapter 24 (Sin), men were asked for a one sentence definition of sin.  Both were very well written.  Then with closed Bibles they had to write down two classic passages related to some aspect of the doctrine of sin.  Portions from Romans 5, 6 and Psalm 51 were cited.  Another Greek word memory question, followed by Grudem and Berkhof’s response (multiple choice) to the person fearing he/she has committed the unpardonable sin, listing the two categories of sin featured in Roman Catholic doctrine, and an oral essay response to the Christian who claims that he hasn’t sinned in a month.  That wrapped up 24.

The last chapter covered was chapter 25 (The Covenants Between God and Man).  There was a True/False question on the distinction between the Covenant of Grace and other covenants.  Then they had to identify the name of the covenant that is not between God and man but among the members of the Trinity.

Finally for extra points they could list 2 proponents and 2 opponents of complementarianism.  And lastly they could add two points for each member of their team that completed the reading assignment.

Team Tucker: 98 A

Team Missios:  104 A+

Good work fellas.

Two weeks from today we meet again to start our first biographical study.

Book unveiling…

A few TheoForum updates and then we’ll get to the big announcement:

  1. There’s no TheoForum meeting on Aug 8.  We’re postponing that meeting to Aug 15.
  2. The next week, Aug 22, will bethe Synergy Exam (small groups collaborating then individual team members giving oral responses to essay questions from the chapters).  So TheoFellows should get some study/review time in on the week of Aug 15th.
  3. August 23rd is somewhat tentative but will likely be the PreachIt session.

Alright, so to the book.  Here are the teasers from the back cover:

“He suffered imprisonment for twelve years, even when a simple promise to cease preaching would have gained him freedom..  But Bunyan’s steadfast belief that God ordered every trial would not allow him to relent, and moved him to rely even mor upon ‘Him who is invisible’.”

“Even when his own sky was filled with clouds of dread, Cowper’s poetry was a reflection of the sustaining character of God – music for the mind that led him to endure, and to worship more deeply.”

“So great was Brainerd’s desire to honor God that he joyously cried, ‘Oh for holiness!  Oh, for more of God in my soul!  Oh this pleasing pain.!  It makes my soul press after God.”  Through the loneliness of wilderness ministry and the agony of tuberculosis, he pressed on, transforming world missions forever.”

The summary statement next to those vignettes reads as follows…

“Great privilege.  Great pain.  God’s design.  This is God’s way: to take the privilege of faith and strengthen it with trials so that we worship and witness with a greater passion for God.”

Ready to read and be stirred by some of that?

The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd by John Piper.  Coming to a comfortable, coffee scented living room near you.

Strengthen your theology of suffering.  Begins September 5.

TheoForum, new book soon

Even though we just started reading the next section (three) in Grudem’s Systematic Theology, we’ll need to order our new books very soon.  This section is very short – I want to say it’s not even 100 pages.

All official TheoForum 2008 classmates have decided in advance that they will participate in every study.  But if you have ‘audited’ a particular book and are considering joining us for the next one, you’ll want to come back late next week for the unveiling of the next study title.

I’ve already given a hint that we’ll be reading biographical material on some great dead guys from church history, but I’ll leave it at that for the time being.  Soon we’ll announce it and make the book orders for everyone.

TheoForum tomorrow

6am. Roberts house.  Taking down Grudem chapter 23 (Systematic Theology).  Can’t wait.  Call office for directions if interested.

10 tips for interpreting Scripture

On Friday of last week, we began the third hike into Grudem’s magnum opus, Systematic Theology. Section three deals with the doctrine of man. I’m continually caught off guard by how Dr. Grudem can make weighty truths digestible to average-joe-thinkers like me. Don’t let the title or thickness of the book fool you. It reads very devotionally, and the style of writing is quite – again, borderline surprisingly – accessible.

Well, here we have a good friend of Sovereign Grace, a pastor, author, and scholar in his own right, Thabiti Anyabwile, relaying some of the salient points from Grudem’s chapter in a recent book edited by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson. The book is titled, Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes. (I love putting colons in my own titles too, but these guys are out of my league.) I’d recommend saving this as a favorite and turning back to it regularly to keep these important principles of biblical interpretation close on hand.