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Ministries come. Ministries go. For the last twenty-six years, my wife and I have been teaching with Gordon-Conwell Theologi­cal Seminary (GCTS). Occasionally, I pause and wonder: How exactly did A. J. Gordon and Russell Conwell pull this off? How did they each establish a ministry that not only lasted throughout their lifetimes, but went beyond and today continues to thrive to­gether? Did they ever imagine that, some­time long after their deaths, people they never met would fuse their two ministries into a powerful institution that would propel their vision for training pastors on into a second century? Read more
The Book of Genesis opens with the words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (my trans.). Since God is eternal, what “beginning” can the text be discussing? Certainly not God’s. God is always existing, which is a concept absolutely inconceivable to us finite creatures who know only beginnings and endings, breakings down and startings up, all of which are limited by time. Obviously, then, the “beginning” Genesis describes is ours—the book commences with the creation of our world. Its opening tells us nothing about pre-creation other than to affirm the fact that God was already there. If it did tell us more, it would have begun in an entirely different way, say, “Long ago, before anything was created, the Great Triune God forever lived in perfect love, peace, and unity in an eternal day without morning or evening, constantly communicating that perfect love among the persons of the Godhead. Verily, this is what the Trinity was like before there was creation and incarnation . . .” and then a lot of details. Read more
Eighteen hundred years ago, a cell group of Christians was arrested during the per­secution of a.d. 202–203 that accompanied a brief stopover at Rome of the pugnacious Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus. At Antioch on January 1, 202, Severus had declared his son Bassianus (nicknamed “Caracalla,” or “greatcoat” for the military outfit he habitually wore) joint counsel with him and returned to Rome, only to set out for a trip to Africa in 203–04. Read more
In the introduction to their important new book, Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home, the editors, CBE founder Catherine Clark Kroeger, Nancy Nason-Clark, and Barbara Fisher-Townsend, underscore the tensions raised when abuse is uncovered in Christian quarters: Read more
During daily devotions, even the most harried or casual reader arriving at the second and third epistles of John (2 John and 3 John) is struck by the similarities of structure and style. In 1912, Canon A. E. Brooke, in his International Critical Commentary volume, showed us exactly what we are noticing by listing all the parallel Greek phrases in these letters, demonstrating “the following phrases show the close similarity of their general structure.” For him, since “it is hardly necessary to discuss the question of their common authorship, . . . the Second and Third Epistles of S. John naturally form a pair.” What is true of one is true of the other.  Read more
The recent premiere of news writer Emilio Herasme’s documentary La 40: Peor que el Infierno celebrates the memory of the Dominican Republic’s national heroes: Minerva, Patria, and María Teresa Mirabal. These three sisters stood up against the brutality of the dictator Rafael Trujillo at the cost of condemning themselves to execution at the hands of his death squad. Read more
Among the most beautiful passages in the Bible are those precious glimpses of life before the fall, when God plants a garden in the eastern land called “Eden,” graces it with flowering fruit-bearing trees, and waters it all with a river that flows out of Eden and winds through lands of gold, onyx, and pearls (Gen. 2:8–14).1 Into this natural paradise, placed as the central jewel in a setting of green and gold and black and white, God settles the first humans, entrusting them with its care (Gen. 1:26; 2:15, 22), blessing them (Gen. 1:28), and delighting both in their company and in strolling through the exquisite, pristine orchards in the airy (ruah) part of the day (Gen. 3:8). This last phrase is often translated “the cool” of the day, and I assume it means dusk, when our first parents’ daily work was done and their heavenly Parent visited them and enjoyed their reports of what they had done. Some of us might think of our own families, as we look forward to arriving home and catching up in the evening with our children. This primal image is a beautiful one to savor, the last pure moment, as it is, before the night of misery falls and humanity suffers through the consequences of the curse, longing down the ages for what was lost, as millennia pile upon millennia. For now, just as the Lord God, we sometimes arrive at home to our children and find instead not sweet communion, but the need to mete out punishment. Read more
Family is very precious to me. Those of you who have read our book Joy through the Night will know that my family was profoundly affected by the death of my sister in a drowning accident at a public pool on a playground field trip. Two years later, my father was critically injured in a work accident. Self-employed, he was plunged into financial difficulties. This was in the 1950s, when fewer cultural nets were in place in the United States to catch such victims of catastrophe. Through this all, my parents tried valiantly to hold our dwindling family together. Read more
I came upon the delightful account of the Wise Women of Waban as I was researching my chapter on “Equality and Native Americans in North America” in the recent book I had the delight to edit with our CBE president, Dr. Mimi Haddad, and my wife, the Rev. Dr. Aída Besançon Spencer, Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Serving Together in the Church. Read more
One of the earliest hymns we have in our treasury of praise, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” celebrates the moment when “the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, / First revealed His sacred face.”1 Read more

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