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Extracurricular Activities — May 17, 2014
First, a quote: “The Church cannot indefinitely continue to believe about Jesus what he did not know to be true about himself,” J. W. Bowman, The Intention of Jesus (London: SCM, 1945), p. 108.
This is not really a historical claim but a theological one, and it reflects a common assumption: The assumption that the theological/religious validity of claims about Jesus rest upon what Jesus believed and taught about himself. In my book, Lord Jesus Christ (pp. 5-9), I’ve noted the irony of how this assumption has been shared by critics and advocates of Christian faith, and also how it has worked mischief in the historical investigation of Christian origins.
Several years ago our church started offering a leadership training course once or twice a year. The class began as a training seminary for those who had been nominated for elders or deacons...At the end of the 12-week class there is a test. The exam contains a couple longer essays, short answers, and a series of questions testing basic Bible knowledge...For fun, and for your own evaluation and learning, I thought I’d post the questions that comprised the knowledge portion of the exam.
My new life verse is Romans 1:16. I’ve had several “life verses,” which of course, means none of them actually were. My life verses have a shelf life. When I was in high school my life verse was Phil. 4:13—“I can do all things” (there was more to the verse but I didn’t care). When I got married I changed to the Song of Solomon. Made it my life book. Then we had children, and I jumped to the end of the Bible, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Not because I didn’t enjoy my kids, but I was afraid that if God gave me too much time I might mess them up.
Now, for my next phase, I’m choosing Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” This is also my prayer for you. You’re going to need extra helpings of wisdom, courage, and kindness, because of the very bad news. Are you ready? The very bad news is that many of your fellow Christians, some of whom may be your colleagues in ministry, will be ashamed of the gospel. And their waffling may make life unusually difficult for you.
Trevin: You've been preaching now for half a century, and you recognize that dealing with distractions is not a new phenomenon. You do, however, say we are living in an "Age of Distraction" and that the distractions seem to be accelerating. How do you define distraction and why should preachers be concerned?
Dr. Kalas: I see distraction as anything that draws my attention away from what is currently on my mind. We think of distraction as the opposite of attraction, which of course it is. Unfortunately, this perception has made us think that distractions are always bad, which isn't necessarily so. One of the most dramatic distractions in history happened when Saul of Tarsus was on the outskirts of Damascus and he was distracted by a light and a voice. Thank God!
Distractions are a crucial issue to the preacher because they have to do primarily with the mind...
We're tempted in ministry to take one bad situation with an older man and apply it to the whole age group. But just as we want to be known personally and not stereotyped as a young hothead, older saints want to be known indivudally and not just as the grumpy, disinterested old men who sit in the back of the church with their arms folded. If we younger ministers would only humble ourselves and seek out relationships, we can gain untold wisdom from the many older and faithful souls in our churches.
If you desire a revival of gospel-centered ministry, then you'll need to learn from and engage the the older generation. Consider these four ways to minister to older saints.
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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