Covenant The magazine of Covenant Theological Seminary
FROM THE PRESIDENT
WINTER 2007 A beautiful inheritance
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’” (Isaiah 40:1–5 esv). The prophet Isaiah spoke these words to faithless people buffeted by trials and tribulations as a result of their sinful ways. Following pronouncements of God’s judgment on such faithlessness, Isaiah then begins to proclaim God’s promise of mercy and restoration for those who turn back to Him. God offers His people forgiveness and hints at a coming Person in whom the glory of the Lord will be revealed. The rest of Scripture attests to God’s gracious fulfillment of His promise in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, in whom and through whom He has provided His people—us!—with the comfort and forgiveness we so desperately need. As sons and daughters of God in Christ, we who once walked in darkness are given the great privilege of reflecting to those who are spiritually blind a small measure of that immeasurable glory that we perceive by grace. Though it is the Spirit of God alone who opens eyes and softens hearts, we know from Scripture and our own experience that He often makes use of frail, broken vessels like us to convey the wondrous workings of His grace and to give glimpses of His glory to those who have never seen it. As several of the articles in this issue of Covenant show, His glory is seen through Christ in us in many different ways. It is seen when we comfort and counsel hurting people during difficult or dangerous times in their lives. It is seen when we take action to assist or defend those whom society has oppressed, marginalized, or simply ignored. And most especially, His glory is seen when we selflessly and sacrificially give of ourselves and our resources for the sake of others. As we enter another Christmas season, let us consider again the miraculous gift we have been given in Jesus Christ. And let us also consider the glory of God that is revealed through us as we live and move and have our being in the One who alone can bring joy and peace to a world often devoid of either and who alone offers hope and comfort to people whose hearts ache for both. May others learn to say with us, as the apostle Paul said centuries after Isaiah, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15 esv). His love and mercy be with you always.
United for Life
Being in union with Christ changes hearts and transforms lives.
COVENANT | Winter 2007
Those who struggle to have hope in the midst of trials may identify with Asaph, the author of Psalm 73. His words encourage the faint in heart.
Catapult for Truth
God uses the faithfulness of one donor family to bless the Seminary, advance His Kingdom work, and refine the hearts of two of His children.
A snapshot of life at Covenant Seminary during the beautiful Fall and Winter months.
Although many messages in the world promise us great things, lasting peace comes from finding contentment in God’s good gifts.
Into the Bible
Covenant Seminary’s W. Harold Mare Institute for Biblical and Archaeological Studies helps bring the biblical world to life.
faculty news & professors’
Seminary news & Events
lifetime of Ministry Courses
Bryan Chapell, President
B AC K
Vol. 22, No. 4
F o r d e L t i n ife U Being in union with Christ changes hearts and transforms lives.
s Christians, we yearn to live holy lives that are pleasing to our Maker, but all too often we are deeply aware of our failures to live as God or we desire. Consistent biblical teaching on holiness and even the godly examples of others that are intended to encourage us can instead function as mirrors of condemnation. They reflect ever more vividly our bondage to sin, reminding us that our religious performance yet falls
short of the maturity for which we long. As a result, godly instruction can sometimes lead to despair. How do we encourage striving after godliness without depriving ourselves of the holy joy for which our hearts long? The apostle Paul provides some answers in the book of Galatians, where he confronts religious extremists who claimed that what we do in and to our fleshâ€”that is, our level of holy performance and sacrificeâ€”is the basis of our standing before God. Paul reminds us here in forceful but loving terms of the Gospel we originally embraced with joy. He argues passionately that, while our God does require righteous conduct, He alone provides our standing with Him through what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.
As Paul says in Galatians 2:19–20, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” With these words, Paul graphically reminds us that we are united to Christ based on His work rather than ours. But what does union with Christ really mean, and how does it enable holy living?
with others based on relative levels of apparent goodness count for nothing in terms of gaining us standing with God. Paul presses this point with the Galatians because some of them were saying that greater adherence to the law ensured their relationship with God (Gal. 3:26–28). Paul wants them (and us) to know that trying to establish one’s spiritual identity by righteous conduct or religious performance is futile because we do not, and God does not, much value the actions of dead people. Whatever are our human accomplishments, they cannot be held up before God or against others when our righteousness depends entirely on Christ. Spiritual pride must die when we are united to Christ in His death.
United to Christ’s Death
Using himself as an example for all believers, Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). His meaning flows from the earlier statement, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God” (v. 19). Paul refers to all of the standards for moral righteousness that God gave in the Old Testament as “the law.” Though the requirements of the law were good, no one could fulfill them perfectly. As a result, says Paul, we cannot make our way to a holy God through human performance. The law is a dead end in terms of uniting us to God. And thus Paul died to the law; he lost all hope that it could provide spiritual life for him. It did, however, point him to the need for another means of life—and that means, says Paul, is faith in Jesus Christ. As he later says more explicitly, the law was given by Moses “to lead us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24). In other words, we were always intended to understand that we are made right with God by faith in what Christ has done rather than in what we do.
The Death of Despair
Spiritual despair also dies when we recognize that God is not holding against us all our failures to measure up. Because the legal performance standard is dead, then all measuring of my worth by it also dies. My guilt no longer condemns me (Rom. 8:1). All of the accusations of my heart, all the judgments of others, all the failures to be what I desire and God requires, all the sin of habit and pattern—while they are real—are dead in terms of their ability to form or foil my relationship with my Lord (Col. 2:13–14). I can look at incidents in my life that bring me shame without despair, knowing that God does not and will not use them to determine my value.
United to Christ’s Life
If the spiritual identity that we have based upon our achievement is dead, then who are we? This is an especially important question in an age when people often identify themselves by what they do, achieve, or earn. Paul answers by proposing an amazing substitution. Again, using himself as an example to represent all believers, he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The “me” established by my religious performance has no life. Still, I move and walk and talk. How does this occur?
The Death of Self
To modern Christians, these are familiar truths, but Paul uses them in ways that may yet seem novel to drive us to a deeper level of understanding regarding the basis of our status with God. For if the law is dead to me (unable to establish any relationship with God), then anything that my performance of the law would establish is also dead. The implications are astounding and not a little alarming. If all of my doing and being count for nothing, then I am as good as dead. And that’s just the point! The apostle says that we should perceive ourselves as “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Being united with Christ in His crucifixion means that we are with Him on the cross. He took our identity—including all our sin—in Himself on the cross. Thus, I, too, hang with Him there. Looking through His eyes, I see the soldiers gather beneath me to gamble for my clothes; I see my nakedness exposed; I hear the travelers on the road mock my name and my mother weep for me; I see my disciples flee, hear the lasts gasps of agony from my lips, see my blood pool on the ground. The life that ebbs away is mine. As horrible as is the image of our own crucifixion, we must recognize that it is the necessary antidote both to spiritual pride and spiritual despair.
Life in Christ
These words of the apostle are of much greater and far deeper import than a sweet endearment akin to “I have Jesus deep in my heart.” Nor is Paul simply saying that Jesus is the energizing force of our lives. Rather, the life of Christ exists where my identity established by my efforts has been extinguished. Thus, Paul declares that we have being—status, stature, and standing before God—on the basis of Christ’s life alone. His life is in me and substitutes for my life on an ongoing, daily basis, and so I gain the benefits of His being, His reputation, His standing with God, and the credit of His righteousness. I do not (and should not) claim to be God, but He grants me the privilege of His Son’s status by virtue of my union with Christ. This new status and identity permit me once again to look through the eyes of Jesus at the events of Scripture. As Jesus
The Death of Pride
Spiritual pride dies when we realize that all our comparisons COVENANT | Winter 2007
preaches on a mountain side to others of the righteousness of God and His Kingdom, the wisdom of this Sermon on the Mount is mine. Another time, a man approaches Christ with torment of spirit and body. Jesus commands a legion of devils to come out of him, but the victory is mine. In a wilderness, Satan approaches and tempts God’s Son with allurements that would satiate pleasure, power, and pride. Jesus resists him with the Word of God, and the righteousness of that resistance is mine. How can this be, since I certainly am not personally responsible for any of these activities, nor am I deserving of any of the credit? His righteousness is mine because Christ’s life is in me. He supplies my identity because God has made Him my life (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21). Holy in Christ
Without our earning it, God declares us holy (sanctified) by virtue of our union with Christ (Rom. 12:1). Though our lives are far from perfect, God has taken away the pollution of our sin and replaced it with the righteousness of Christ. This does not mean that I never do any more wrong or that God will not discipline me for sin. It means that God treats me with the love and status with which He relates to His own Son. I have this position and status not because I have kept God’s standards but because He who lives in me has kept them—and He allows me to share His identity. The nature and benefits of sharing Christ’s identity could be seen in the modern-day comparison of gas stations that allow us to use a credit card to pay at the pump. I appreciate these pumps not only because I don’t have to hike into the station to pay, but also because I don’t have to go at all. If my son needs the car, I can give him my credit card to use in the pump. At his current economy he usually doesn’t have the means to get what he needs, so he uses the card with my name on it. With my permission and according to my desire, he assumes my identity. Though he cannot fulfill the conditions required for payment, my son has all of my credit available to him. Though he could not provide it himself, my son acts with my identity and, thus, has all the credit that I have earned. Because we have the identity of the Son, we have the favor of the Father.
Strengthened by Grace
Our heavenly Father’s love should create a proper regard for self, despite shame for our wrongdoing, that curbs self-destructive attitudes and actions. Seeing the reality of Christ in us grants us the ability to claim the hope and help that God offers to each treasured child. Some Christians, however, fear that teaching about the security of our union with Christ will cause people to be less concerned about the wrong in their lives, reasoning that confidence in our relationship with God apart from our actions will encourage people to do as they wish. It is true that those who have no real love for the Savior can seek to take advantage of the grace that they presume exists for them. However, those
who are truly in union with Christ increasingly have the desires of the Author of that union because His heart beats within them. When we lose sight of our privileged position of being in union with Christ, we lose our ability to resist sin. Without confidence in our relationship with Christ, we become like children who are afraid to walk across a rope suspension bridge despite the fact that the anchors and ropes that hold the bridge are perfectly secure. Christians who are not confident of their security in Christ crawl forward in their pursuit of holiness, helpless to stand against the winds of difficulty and temptation rather than confidently venturing forth to serve the Lord on the strength of the union He has granted them with Himself. How, then, do I make progress in godliness as I live out what God intends for me with my new identity?
Empowered by Faith
The plain answer is that we access the power of our union with Christ by faith. Paul says that the life that he now lives (through Christ in him), he lives “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). This is a marvelous statement of how Christ’s past sacrifice was first applied to us by faith when we became Christians. But there is also another present reality in which this union by faith operates. Paul does not perceive the atoning work of Jesus as exhausting its benefits at the point when we were justified. The resultant union we have with Christ by faith also enables us to continue to live as God desires now. Faith in our unchanging status and in our changed ability is the powerful resource for spiritual transformation made available to us by our union with Christ. By virtue of our union with Christ, our sinful identity is dead, and His righteous identity is ours. With our status as God’s beloved we enter the Christian life, but Christ’s identity remains ours through our continuing union with Him. By faith, the resources of this union become the means by which we live the life that our God and our regenerated hearts desire. Weakness, wrongdoing, and failings still cling to us, yes. But they do not establish who we are. We are the beloved of God. Though sin still exists in our lives, we have the status of God’s own Son—the One who gave His life for us and to us. And because of the Father’s love for that Child who now indwells us, we have the ability to change and to progress in our Christian walk. Thus, as we seek to live holy lives, we can rest in the assurance of what the Bible so eloquently reminds us: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). Dr. Bryan Chapell This article is excerpted and adapted from chapter two of Dr. Chapell’s book Holiness By Grace. Dr. Chapell has served as president of Covenant Seminary since 1994. He began teaching at Covenant Seminary in 1984 after 10 years in pastoral ministry. Dr. Chapell teaches the introductory homiletics courses and several practicums, giving every MDiv student the opportunity to study under him. His book Christ-Centered Preaching has established him as one of the nation’s most recognized teachers of homiletics.
Medicine A psalm of Asaph. for Madness Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
or many generations, all of my family members in England have been Christians. Through hard work and business integrity they have enjoyed material prosperity and good relationships, and we always interpreted it as God’s blessing. Little difficulty seemed to come my way until some years ago when a time of severe trouble and testing began. I wish it could be said of me by family and friends, “That was Richard’s finest hour!” but I fear the judgment may be closer to “That was his weakest and most foolish hour.” Many difficult and dark things happened: My sister died in childbirth; my father-inlaw died suddenly of heart disease; my wife was diagnosed with cancer; and my brother-in-law took his own life on the anniversary of my sister’s death. In addition we had someone living with us who had suffered ritual satanic abuse; there were difficulties in the leadership of our church and in relationships at work; and there were major life decisions to be made. I was run down, burned out, and exhausted, but life had to go on. Where was God? Why did He not seem to help much but instead just piled on the pressure? It was Augustine who said that the Psalms are medicine for madness (The Confessions of St. Augustine). I hear the Psalms as divine psychoanalysis. I imagine Asaph lying on his couch in his therapeutic hour every day, pouring out his heart before God. (Some say that if you have Freudian therapy, you begin to think and act like Freud; Jungian analysis makes you think like Jung. If true, Asaph was being changed to think and feel like his therapist—God.) Look at verses 21–22 of Psalm 73: When my heart was grieved and my spirit was embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. It was certainly not Asaph’s finest hour—or mine! I look back at my difficulties and echo his words. As we consider the heart of the psalmist, we see some of the fundamental forces of human nature exposed; we see the psychological structure of fallen human beings laid bare. The “heart” in Hebrew is the center of one’s being—which encompasses one’s intellect, feelings, and personality. Conflict and crisis expose us as we try to hide behind the front that we put on to impress the world each day.
COVENANT | Winter 2007
When we see someone struggling, we often say, “I’d love to know what he or she is really thinking; I’d love to get inside his or her mind.” This psalm enables us to do that with Asaph. Into the Psalmist’s Heart
Asaph starts with the basic assumption of Jewish life: Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart (v. 1). The emphasis on “surely” communicates a doubt, a question, a sneaking suspicion beginning to take dangerous shape in his mind: “Maybe God is not as good as I thought. Perhaps—God forbid that I should think it—God Himself has betrayed me.” Asaph experiences a conflict between a treasured and trusted conviction and the reality of the world around him. This leads him into a state of crisis. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold (v. 2). It was almost a disaster. I wonder if he has the image of walking on a narrow, precarious mountain path and coming close to falling into a ravine. Whatever happened almost caused him to lose his trust and belief in God. What was the conflict? It was this: “Unbelievers seem to be doing better in life than me. I always believed that God blessed and prospered believers, but I see all these unbelievers doing much better.” There were seeds of doubt and discontent stirring in Asaph’s soul which inevitably led to coveting. In verse 3, the psalmist describes his struggle: For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (He means arrogant/foolish/wicked in the sense of “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God’ ” [Ps. 14:1; 53:1].) He coveted what these godless people had. Jealousy powerfully focuses but horribly distorts one’s thinking. The psalmist describes things in all-or-nothing terms. In verses 4 and 5 he says, They have no struggles [the Hebrew can also be understood as “struggles at their death”]; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Asaph is saying that those who have no interest in God seem to die quick and easy deaths without long and painful illnesses, or they are fit and healthy, free from all the usual problems of life. The grass is always greener on the other side.
11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have Psalm 73 knowledge?” A psalm of Asaph 12 This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; Then, in verses 6–11, he seems to come to his senses a little. He knows there are two sides to this. He is able to see the pride of those who disregard God. These people may be loaded with wealth and success, but they lack integrity and are prone to violence and all the external manifestations of hard hearts. They are evil and arrogant. Asaph says to himself, “I want what they have, but deep down I know there are problems. Their lives are not as good as they appear.” Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth (v. 9). Let’s break down what this means. Consider the Humanist Manifesto II (published in a 1973 issue of The Humanist magazine): “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural…no deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” Basically those who declared this are saying, “We can build our own tower to heaven. Science will save us.” (Their tongues take possession of the earth.) If it’s not humanism and faith in science saving us, then it’s the other popular alternative of New Age mysticism and Eastern philosophy, which—in its most refined form—says, “This world is already heaven if you could only see it!” People who operate this way believe we are already God and that our problems arise because we cannot perceive our innate perfection and unity with all things. (Their mouths lay claim to heaven.) Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance (v. 10). People love the idea of godless salvation. They would much rather hear this seemingly optimistic message about the nature of reality than news of sin and judgment. Drink up waters in abundance could mean “drink their fill of sorrow” from these false views of reality. And often such worldviews work—or seem to. Here Asaph loses perspective on reality again and returns to coveting what others have, seeing only the good things on the other side of the fence (v. 12). Asaph’s bitterness and cynicism overflow. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure, in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning (vv. 13–14). Modern expressions of this idea are: “What a waste of time to believe. I have spent all these years restraining my passions for nothing. Doing so only seems to bring more trouble and suffering. It seems like God is out to get me! Surely they should suffer, not me. This is not fair. Where is the justice in this? God, are you going to do anything about this?” In the next verse, it’s as if Asaph clasps his hand over his mouth and thinks, “Stop! What am I saying? I’m going too far.” Notice how until now the focus has been on Asaph himself and what he is or is not getting out of his faith. At this point perspective seems to return, and he reins himself in from his wild gallop of negativity, self-pity, and cynicism. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children (v. 15).
1 S urely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children.
2 B ut as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
3 F or I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
4 T hey have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
5 T hey are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
6 T herefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
20 As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
7 F rom their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 T hey scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 T heir mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Asaph recognizes his responsibility to others and then expresses his confusion. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me (v. 16). Till… (v. 17). This is the turning point of the psalm, the fulcrum on which everything hinges. Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Conflict, crisis, and confusion take Asaph to communion with God. What happened? A verse? A voice? A vision? A glimpse of the holiness and greatness of God? Sanctuary speaks of the presence of God, the place where the book of the law was kept. The sanctuary today is the place where the people of God meet to worship and to hear God’s Word, to share struggles, help each other understand things that perplex and confuse, and challenge each other to faith and trust in the dark moments of life. It is among the people of God that God dwells, not in a tabernacle, temple, or church building but in a living house—a community of believers. Then I understood their final destiny (v. 17b). By the end of the psalm we find that in the sanctuary Asaph comes to understand
dence. Commentator Derek Kidner summarizes the themes well: “We are grasped, guided and glorified.” Grasped (v. 23). We are held by God’s right hand and in His presence forever. Here is the wonder of God’s love and grace even when we question and doubt Him. He kept me from further folly. It’s as if God says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and the schemer Jacob; of doubters Asaph and Richard, Debbie and Phil, Joanna and John….” Guided (v. 24). We can have confidence that God is shaping our lives toward His purposes. We can trust His sovereignty even in the very hard and painful things. Glorified (v. 24). Our light and momentary troubles, says Paul, are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Cor. 4:17). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). One day the sanctifying work of the Spirit will be complete. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We groan, and we wait eagerly and patiently for that day (Rom. 8:19–27). In verses 25 and 26 Asaph states the ultimate reality: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Compared with his love for God, all other loves—even legitimate ones—fade into insignificance. Asaph’s focus is on God. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (v. 26). Not even death will separate us from Him or His love. Even in times of illness and struggle I know that He is renewing my heart. Paul writes of us outwardly fading away but inwardly being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38–39). In this new confidence the psalmist renews his commitment to the Lord. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge (v. 28a). In a troubled and broken world, Asaph puts his faith in Yahweh, his savior and protector. He also makes a new commitment to speak out now to influence present and future generations for good. I will tell of all your deeds (v.28b). In verse 15 he imagined expressing his doubt and cynicism about God but thankfully realized how damaging that would be. Here he makes a new commitment to affect the next generation by telling of the goodness of God. As you consider Asaph’s words, I hope that in times of difficulty you will speak not with corrosive cynicism and doubt but instead with renewed confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God.
“...I am always with you.” three things. First, he discovers the final destiny of unbelievers. Their future will unmake or undo everything they have ever lived for (vv. 18–20). Second, he sees his self-centeredness and stupidity (vv. 21–22). And third, he recognizes God’s purposes for him (vv. 23–24). Notice that communion with God leads to Asaph’s amazingly honest and heartfelt confession. When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you (vv. 21–22). It certainly was not his finest hour. In my case, a time of painful self-reflection and repentance arose when I saw that my perception of reality was twisted. And now, having confessed and known grace and forgiveness, Asaph is able to accept correction. He increasingly sees things from God’s perspective. He is able to dismiss the alluring alternative of giving up all he believes and lives for to pursue prosperity. Surely [note the word again] you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies (vv. 18–20). Now look at verse 23: Yet I am always with you... Asaph says this to God. He realizes that, thankfully, we cannot get away from God. He wrestles us to the ground and then lifts us up again. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory (vv. 23b– 24). After the correction comes this great statement of confiCOVENANT | Winter 2007
Dr. Richard Winter Professor Winter heads Covenant Seminary’s counseling program. He is a qualified clinical physician with a specialty in psychiatry who served as senior resident in psychiatry at Bristol General Hospital in England. As a church elder, he has served in a variety of ministry and leadership roles in the church. Dr. Winter not only teaches counseling, but also models the knowledge, respect, and compassion of a Christian counselor. He is the author of numerous books, including The Roots of Sorrow: Reflections on Depression and Hope.
Catap ult f or Truth God uses the faithfulness of one donor family to bless the Seminary, advance His Kingdom work, and refine the hearts of two of His children.
hristmas—a time for giving. As a child, I always looked We knew that whatever financial support we gave to forward to Christmas as a time for getting. Didn’t you? Covenant Seminary would be used to promote the teaching of Didn’t we all anxiously wait to see what was under the truth of God’s Word to thirsty students—tomorrow’s pasthe tree on Christmas morning or what Grandma and Grandpa tors, counselors, and leaders. God’s true Word would then be would bring us in the afternoon? Often it is not until we are preached and taught to congregations across the nation and even around the world. And because of that teaching, God’s older that we fully understand Christmas as a time for giving, not just getting. saving grace could be understood by thousands and perhaps milIt wasn’t until we were in our late thirties that my wife, Joan, lions of people. and I were called by the Lord to name Jesus as our savior and Joan and I gratefully receive a wonderful blessing every to know Him as our only Sunday morning as we hear hope. It was at that time profound messages from God’s that we changed churches Word preached by pastors who and began to hear God’s have been trained at Covenant Word preached as truth. As Seminary—and we want othwe drank in the Gospel, we ers to have this same gift. developed an understandWhen I was about 10 years ing about what giving is old, I remember receiving a all about. God’s gift of His gift at Christmas of a small only Son, Jesus Christ, was castle set with model soldiers the ultimate gift—the most and various ancient army paraphernalia. One of the powerful and precious gift we would ever receive. It is items in the set was a cataA young Jack Hughes (right) and brother the gift of eternal life. pult. Centuries ago soldiers Richard enjoy a snowy day at their St. Louis, Missouri, home (photo circa 1945). As our love for Jesus would load catapults with huge boulders. Then, with a simple tug Christ matured and deepened, we became increasingly thankof the trigger rope, the catapult—aimed ful for the gift of hearing the true at the enemy—flung the boulder a treWord preached from the pulpit. About that time we became mendous distance. The impact was astonishing! In the same way acquainted with Covenant Seminary through the Francis A. I think of the far-reaching, powerful effect a gift to Covenant Schaeffer Institute, and soon a new passion sprang into our lives. Seminary can have today. It ensures that pastors who are wellWe developed a heart for the work that God was doing through trained and firmly grounded in Scripture will preach throughout the Seminary. the world and testify to the tremendous, powerful effect of God’s As time went on we became more familiar with the quality true Word. A gift to Covenant Seminary is multiplied exponenand character of the professors at Covenant Seminary. We tially as God spreads the truth of His Gospel. At this Christmas season, I’m reminded of how giving to began to see the power of Scripture when it is preached as the truth of God. And we saw the rich and spiritually nourishothers, and in this case giving to Covenant Seminary, comes ing contact between the professors and the students. We began back full circle and becomes a glorious blessing to all who hear His Word preached as truth from the pulpit. And that is a to see not only the need to uplift the Seminary in prayer and to encourage its professors, but we also recognized the needs of beautiful gift. the Seminary in a physical sense—the need for additional classJACK HUGHES Jack Hughes, a retired advertising executive, recently started Jack Hughes & Associates, a rooms, a library, student housing, and many other facilities to marketing consulting firm. He and his wife, Joan, live in St. Louis, Missouri, near their three accommodate a fast-growing student enrollment. children’s families and eight grandchildren. The family has been blessed in many ways by the ministries of Covenant Seminary since their introduction to it through the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute in the mid-1980s.
A Lifelong Journey of
of its shutdown sent David looking elsewhere. That same year, Dr. Young invited Dr. Robert Rayburn, then newly appointed president of Covenant Theological Seminary, to speak to the students interested in ministry. “My Irish friends”—namely, Thomas Waldecker (BDiv/MDiv ’57/’72)—“said that I ought to go to Covenant Seminary,” David recalls, “so I applied.” Because no response came, he enrolled at another institution. Then, during his second week of school, he received a call from Covenant Seminary registrar Rudy Schmidt. “Rudy said, ‘Our apologies to you. Concordia Seminary received your application and only just now forwarded it to us,’ ” David explains. “I told him that I had already begun seminary and had recently had back surgery and it would be difficult to make such a quick move. But Rudy insisted: ‘We want you to come.’ ” David’s friends and several fellow countrymen insisted upon his transfer and even helped him pack and shuttled him to the train station. Within days David was greeted by Tom Waldecker, also a transfer student from Northwestern, and taken to the old log cabin on the Covenant Seminary campus—his new home. While in seminary, David served in positions of leadership, including as dorm father for the Covenant College students (during the time when the college and seminary still shared a campus). Some students, such as Rolland Peterson and Dave Peterson (BDiv ’65), became lifelong friends of David’s. But David also led as a servant. “I was responsible for the buildings back then—for overseeing the janitorial work,” he remembers. “Rudy would come and say, ‘David, we need another classroom.
n 1953, a young David Alexander (BDiv/MDiv ’59/’72) left the rolling hills of Ballymoney, Country Antrim, Northern Ireland, to attend college in the United States. In those days, Ireland was still in relative disarray as the 1950s marked a decade of mass emigration. During the ocean voyage, David suffered so severely from seasickness that when he finally appeared in the dining hall of the ship, the steward asked in surprise, “Where did you come from?” On the journey, David’s reading consisted of railroad timetables and schedules. From boat to taxi to train to car, David finally arrived at Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota, where temperatures were well below zero. Aspirations of studying theology in college had driven David far from home, but it was a journey with the Lord Jesus as captain and a destination of a lifetime of Gospel ministry. “I was planning on going back home after college,” David says, explaining that family needs were one factor in that decision. But another desire remained. “From the age of 12, I felt a growing call to the ministry. I just didn’t know how it was ever going to happen,” David admits, describing the various barriers that stood between him and seminary—barriers that God removed in ways quite different from anything David imagined. Following a brief return to Ireland and a subsequent back injury at his stateside job, it became clear to David that God had shut the doors on his plans to return home and opened the doors to ministry. He began applying to seminaries immediately. At that time, Northwestern College had a seminary where G. Douglas Young, a well-respected Bible scholar, was president. But news
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friend and mentor Dr. Thomas G. Cross. He used to say to me, I’ve got to have one.’ But there weren’t any more rooms. So ‘Train your men, David. Train your men.’ ” That is exactly what I went to the building where they stored the lawn mowers, cleared it out, and put desks in it.” Rudy Schmidt and others David sought to do in each of his pastoral positions. His patcalled that makeshift classroom “Alexander Hall.” David was tern was to teach the Scriptures, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Book of Church Order, and doctrine, and—above the first to propose that the Seminary acquire the old farmhouse from St. John’s Hospital, located right down the road. The all—to model Christ to every elder serving alongside him, not just newly ordained ones. The practice served his ministry and house was moved to the Seminary campus in 1961 and currently remains in use as the Administration building. In 1959, David those churches extensively. The call for leadership training within the Church is a comgraduated and became the first Covenant Seminary student to complete all of his studies at the institution. mon cry in today’s organized church culture, where pastors are He married his wife, Elaine, in 1960 and immediately often seen as business leaders instead of shepherds of a spiritual accepted a call to Crestwood flock. For many young pastors, Presbyterian Church—an old, the idea of leadership developestablished Bible Presbyterian ment seems like a daunting task Church, according to David—in riddled with questions: What Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. does it look like? What if I’ve “The first Sunday there we were never done it before? Where only 14 people in the pews—7 do I begin? David’s life seems on one side and 7 on the other,” to answer these questions well: Take the grace of God that you David recalls. But God, through the oversight and leadership of have received and commit to the young pastor, transformed showing and teaching it to others. that church. Eventually the Though David’s ministry pews filled, and more than 200 has been blessed, he has faced children attended summer Bible difficulties and trials—including David and Elaine Alexander have faithfully served the Lord for school during the last year the a particularly difficult season more than four decades. Alexanders were there. In of ministry that ended his time time, the long, cold winters of with one church. He won’t go Alberta—with wind chills as low as 95 degrees below zero— into the details out of respect and concern for those involved, wore on the Alexanders, and David announced his resignation but David speaks openly about the impact of the experience. “I was angry. Of course I was,” he shares. “It affected the church. and his desire to search for a warmer location. He could hardly imagine the extreme change the Lord It affected my wife, who broke down and cried when I told her.” had in mind! One week after he resigned from the church in He pauses a moment and his shoulders relax. “But I thank the Edmonton, Second Street Presbyterian Church in Albemarle, Lord every day for it,” he adds, recalling Joseph’s attitude toward North Carolina, invited David to preach. “I arrived on Friday his brothers when they sold him into slavery: “As for you, night and preached that Sunday. The church wasn’t air conyou meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” ditioned, and all I had to wear were heavy Canadian clothes. (Gen. 50:20 esv). It had rained and was so hot and humid that when I finished Despite these hurts and difficulties, David never gave any preaching, water was running out of my shoes, and the steam real thought to leaving the ministry. “From my earliest days, I rising off the streets poured in windows and filled the sanctuary.” knew I was for the ministry,” David says thoughtfully as a smile The heat didn’t keep the Alexanders from embarking on a long tugs at the corners of his mouth. He is the very image of perseason of Gospel ministry in Albemarle, where they stayed for severance, of continuing on wherever the journey leads, and 27 years in all—interrupted by an 8-year call to Mount Calvary of never losing hope that Christ can bring joy out of even the Presbyterian Church in Roebuck, South Carolina—a length of hardest times. He is the image of one who leads by example and time seemingly incomprehensible to young pastors in a day is a testimony to the Lord’s work in one man. He is the image when pastoral turnover is more often counted in months of a life of grace and a lifetime of leadership, an image much rather than years. needed in today’s troubled times. Reflecting on his 47 years of pastoral service, David remarks, Joel Hathaway Joel Hathaway (MDiv ’04), director of alumni and church relations, serves to encourage “I really had very little difficulty in the ministry. Really. I would and sustain pastors and ministry leaders in their first five years of ministry and beyond. say that one of the strong points of my ministry came from my Graduates of the Seminary are invited to contact Joel for matters of prayer by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating the Season I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. - Genesis 17:7
And in him you become a dwelli too are being built together to ng in which Go d lives by his Spi -Ephesians 2:22 rit. COVENANT | Fall 2007
f the world. o t h ig l e h t . You are not be hidden n a c l il h a n A city o atthew 5:14 -M
May the God of hope fil l so that by the power of you with all joy and peace in believing, the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13
Limits & Possibilities Finding contentment in God’s good gifts
onsider the following statements: “Be all you can be.” “I can do anything in the privacy of my own home.” “When I grow up, I can be anybody and do anything.” “More is more.”
What do these statement have in common? Among other things, they all say something about limits and possibilities. In fact, they all downplay limits and emphasize possibilities. Moreover, the possibilities lean toward moral imperatives. How do I know if I’m being all I can be? Are there no legal consequences if I do certain things in the privacy of my own home? What influence do my family background, general intelligence, internal motivation, and cultural context have on my vocational choices? If more is more, what happens if I don’t have more? Is something wrong with me? What is the “more” I’m to acquire anyway? The notion of living life to its fullest with a minimum of boundaries is firmly entrenched in the American worldview. Take a quick inventory of Web site and magazine ads, television commercials, and roadside billboards. No matter what the subject, the pitch goes something like this: “You, the consumer, lack something. More of our product or service will help you.” It seems harmless. After all, exchanging goods and services makes the world go round. But wait. Look closer. The product or service may indeed help me, but if I don’t buy it, how diminished is my work, my family, or my life? For example, if “Life Takes Visa” (as the ad campaign states), and I have a Visa, I apparently can sail to any port, fly off any cliff, and stay at any resort. Plus, when I’m doing all these wonderful things, I look much fitter than I really am! But what if I’m over my credit limit? What if there are other bills to pay? Is there no adventure in my life? Does my life have no meaning? Or worse, have I not really had a life at all? In His wisdom, God made humans in His image and gave them glorious capabilities; and, in His kindness, God made humans with significant constraints. Consider this: The degree
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to which we measure our worth and happiness by how often and how much we minimize our limits and expand our possibilities is in direct proportion to how human (or non-human!) we act. For example, if we work too much, we get tired and need rest. If we rest too much, we get lethargic and need exercise. When the creational work/rest tapestry is frayed, a prayerful, conversational inventory is required. We should ask questions such as: Why do I work so much? What is the relationship between fulfilling my legitimate responsibilities and feeding my
Jesus found contentment in doing perfectly the perfect will of the Father through the power of the Spirit. over-functioning sense of indispensability? When was the last time I took a break from hurriedness, competitiveness, technology, or worry? Whom have I encouraged lately? For what and for whom am I praying? Who are my people? Who am I with? Who is with me? Who is my neighbor? Whose neighbor am I? These questions may not come naturally to us, but again, God is wise and kind to supply us with fellow Christians with whom we might discover some light on our path. He has given us access to Himself through His Word and prayer. He has clothed us with the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we rest and find our identity and on whom we focus our gaze. He has given us the Holy Spirit to encourage, fortify, and send us into God’s world. What a God we have! He is our source, supplier, and strength. He has made us rhythmic beings designed for harmony with Him, one another, and creation. Sadly, our fallenness has corrupted this masterful blueprint. Mercifully, God is in the process of restoring this cosmic accord through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
I marvel at Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11b–13, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In this the apostle gives his readers a large clue about the limits/possibilities tension. He says that it is the strengthening presence of Jesus that marks the difference in our response to the troubles and joys of life rather than life’s goods, circumstances, achievements, or disappointments. Jesus embodies and enables appropriate responses to the Father’s loving, redemptive plan. To turn the earlier slogan on its head, “Life takes Jesus!” I have found that there is more joy over a thing acquired and used to serve others than when the acquired thing is used to serve me only. Regrettably, I too often forget this biblical axiom and choose to believe that my things provide satisfaction as an end rather than as a means to serve. I know a certain “thing” won’t bring me contentment, but I still trust it as if it knows me, cares about me, and loves me. How foolish I am to exchange the love of Christ for a speechless idol! Oh God, help me to remember that contentment with Your provision produces zeal for Your purposes. If we define ourselves primarily by our limitations, we may appear to be humble, but we may really be masking cynicism. Conversely, if we define ourselves primarily by our potential, we may appear optimistic, but we may really be masking perfectionism. Perhaps cynics and perfectionists have more in common than it first appears. After all, they both value ideals above all else. They part company, though, in their responses to the reality of limits and possibilities in a fallen world. The cynic knows better than to work toward achieving the ideals and makes fun
of anyone who does. He “sees through” the people and the situation by demonstrating his dismissive, “above-it-all” approach to life. The perfectionist can’t bear the thought of giving up on ideals and chastises those who do. She works and works as if sheer willpower can overcome finite energy and options. Let us be grateful that Jesus Christ is neither a cynic nor a perfectionist. Jesus is the One who was limitless yet gave up glory for flesh. He is the One who knew no sin yet became sin for His people (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the One who, when tempted, cast aside the personal opportunity for sustenance and idolatrous power and rested instead in the Father’s pronounced acceptance and love as His Son (Matt. 4:1–11). Jesus found contentment in doing perfectly the perfect will of the Father through the power of the Spirit. He is the True Israelite; the Second Adam; the Righteous Branch; the Lamb of God; the Ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. Let us consider our Lord as we reflect on our own limits and possibilities. Let us look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith. Let us give Him praise because we were made to be exactly who He intended us to be and are becoming exactly who He desires and is shaping us to be—limitations and potential included—to His glory and in service to others. To explore these ideas further, I recommend the excellent treatments found in the following books: Seeing Through Cynicism by Dick Keyes, Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter, and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
Dr. Donald Guthrie
l Dr. Guthrie is associate professor and associate dean of educationa ministries and senior director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute. During his tenure at Covenant Seminary, he has developed programs served in field education, Christian education, and youth ministry and for as director of the Doctor of Ministry program and vice president of academics. He is the author of a number of articles in the field educational ministry and is in demand as a consultant.
ary’s Covenant Semin s bring itute help archaeology inst d to life. the biblical worl
rold Mare : The late Dr. W. Ha clockwise from top rk at Abila. wo n tio ava exc t the was passionate abou e church at tin an s decorated a Byz Mosaics such as thi es at Abila rch chu e tin an Byz five the Abila site. One of
ou’d never know from looking at it, but the small brick building just west of Edwards Hall on the Covenant Seminary campus is actually the repository of some unique and fascinating resources. Tucked inside this nondescript bungalow is an amazing collection of books, artifacts, and unusual ancient objects that help bring the world and cultures of Bible times vividly to life. This is the W. Harold Mare Institute for Biblical and Archaeological Studies, named for a founding trustee and longtime professor at the Seminary who was also a seasoned archaeologist. For pastors in training—and anyone else who wants to understand the original context of the biblical writings better—the Mare Institute provides an enlightening glimpse into how the people of Bible times lived, worked, worshiped, and thought.
A Doorway Into Bible Times
Stepping inside the door of the building is like walking into a time machine. Entering the central, glass-enclosed display area, visitors suddenly find themselves thrust many hundreds, even thousands, of years into the past. One is surrounded by artifacts from the ancient world—beautifully crafted glassware, pottery, hanging lamps, pieces of jewelry, and more—that transport the viewer back to the earliest years of the Christian Church, and even far beyond. The lower level of the building houses a lab and storage area where thousands more items are kept for study or are
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waiting to be cataloged. Here one finds broken pieces of stone pillars, original and reconstructed burial urns and storage jars, a collection of coins from the time of Christ, and many other intriguing objects. Rows of metal cabinets contain thousands of sherds (fragments of pottery vessels) from many different periods of archaeological history as well as pieces of mosaic tile that once formed the decoration of an ancient Byzantine church, fragments of animal bones, and even—staring blankly from the corner of a shelf—a few human skulls whose long-dead voices still echo to us across the intervening centuries.
Most of these artifacts are the result of more than 25 years of archaeological excavations at Abila, a city of the ancient Decapolis, a 10-city region mentioned in the Gospels and mostly situated in what today is northern Jordan. The excavations at Abila were originally led by the late Dr. W. Harold Mare, who first surveyed the area in 1980 and whose research teams (including many Covenant Seminary students) have uncovered a site that is rich in archaeological material important for understanding not only the world of the Old and New Testaments, but also the development of early Christianity. Occupied continuously by humans from approximately 3000 BC (well before the time of Abraham) up through the Byzantine and Islamic ages (approximately AD 1500), the Abila site has yielded some remarkable discoveries—perhaps the most significant of which are five Byzantine-period Christian church buildings, or basilicas, dating from the fifth through the early eighth centuries. The Mare Institute also houses many items from excavations at the ancient city of Dothan, located in the hills of Samaria in northern Israel and mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Dr. Mare assisted with work on the Dothan site before moving on to head the Abila excavations. As an experienced pastor and professor of New Testament, as well as an archaeologist, Dr. Mare’s passion for integrating a knowledge of ancient cultures with a careful study of the Bible led him to spearhead the development of the institute that now bears his name. Dr. Mare passed away in 2004 while doing what he loved best—working on a dig at Abila—but his legacy lives on through the Mare Institute and through the many students and colleagues whose lives and ministries have been enriched by his work. Today, the excavations at Abila and the work of the Institute are overseen by Dr. David Chapman, assistant professor of New Testament and biblical archaeology at the Seminary, who also serves as curator of the Institute. Though the Abila excavation has long been associated with Covenant Seminary, the Abila Archaeological Project is actually a separate nonprofit entity governed by its own board and responsible for its own funding. Yet the Mare Institute has served as the natural repository of all the Abila field records and many of its artifacts. Also the Institute continues to serve the Abila project by acting as the administrative hub for this important excavation. The presence of this archaeological institute on campus makes Covenant Seminary quite unique among seminaries in North America. “We are one of only a few seminaries worldwide to have such an institution associated with it,” Dr. Chapman notes. “The Institute was really a great gift to the Seminary from Dr. Mare and those who gave generously to help start it.” Such a resource, Chapman believes, gives students at Covenant Seminary unprecedented opportunities to supplement their ministry preparation with archaeology-related courses and
Visitors to the lower level of the Mare Institute at Covenant Seminary can see a variety of ancient artifacts including many piec es of pottery.
activities that will greatly enhance their understanding of the Bible and thus their ability to communicate and apply its message clearly. Dr. Chapman, a noted New Testament scholar and archaeologist whose dissertation work focused on crucifixion and its perception in the ancient world, is always eager to show visitors around the Institute and to share his obvious enthusiasm for the subject of biblical archaeology. “We’re always trying to make students more aware of the Institute as a resource for their studies and future ministries,” Chapman says. “When people think of biblical archaeology at all, it is usually in terms of how it can help to confirm the historicity of events and people in the Bible, and that is an important aspect of what biblical archaeologists do. But equally important—and maybe more so—is using archaeology to learn about how people in the ancient world lived and thought so we can grasp more fully those passages in the Bible that only make sense if we understand the cultural background in which they were first written. Just as the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute on the Covenant Seminary campus teaches students how to meet our own culture where it is and engage it fruitfully with the Gospel, the Mare Institute shows them how engaging with and understanding cultures of the past can further increase their understanding of the Bible and thus magnify their effectiveness in communicating the Gospel today. It’s a big challenge but an exciting one.” Bringing the Past to Life
Perhaps the most important way in which the Mare Institute helps to enhance students’ understanding of the Bible is through offering them opportunities for direct participation in archaeological excavations. Dig teams led by Dr. Chapman and comprising experienced Bible scholars, archaeologists, and interested lay persons from across the country and around the world visit Abila regularly, usually every two years or so, and students are invited to participate. (Details are listed on
the Web site for the Abila Archaeological Project at www.abila.org.) Chapman notes that the Abila digs are unusual in that students receive training in archaeological methods and field techniques and actually take part in the real work of excavation—combing the site for artifacts, cleaning and cataloging discovered items, and helping reconstruct ancient objects or buildings—and Dr. Chapman (second from left) and Jordanian can earn academic credit for it in the process. workers in the field stand atop Rom an-era The work is hard, hot, and dirty, but it can be pavement during the 2004 Abila exca vation. quite exciting when a major artifact or building is discovered. An added bonus is the opportunity to meet and interact with the people of modern Jordan, many of whom still live in ways that clearly reflect Uncover More About their ancient heritage. the Mare Institute Over the years, teams at Abila have uncovered a huge number of artifacts, mostly, as is the case with any archaeological •T ake a tour. Hours vary each semester, so it’s best to call site, a variety of pottery and other everyday items. But Abila has 314.434.4044, ask for the Mare Institute, and schedule an appointment. Dr. Chapman or a student assistant will be happy to show also revealed some fine examples of statuary, an advanced aqueyou around. duct system, beautiful mosaics, and the five Byzantine-period church buildings noted earlier. One of these is a sixth-century • Attend an archaeology Ministry Lunch or special lecture. These provide great opportunities each semester to meet experts basilica that is one of the finest of its kind ever discovered. in the field and learn more about the fascinating work of biblical archaeology.
Ancient Insight for the Modern World
One simple but dramatic illustration of how the Mare Institute helps preachers and teachers of the Bible apply to today’s world the knowledge gained through a study of the past is found in the clay lamps typical of those used by people in ancient times. “Most of these lamps are actually quite small and can fit easily into the palm of your hand,” says Chapman, holding one of the lamps. “Dr. Mare was fond of pointing out the limited light these lamps produce. You can see that the glow of the lamp would not carry very far in front of you. On a dark night, you probably couldn’t have seen more than a few steps ahead.” This gives a powerful new meaning to such Bible verses as Psalm 119:105 which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Knowing what kind of lamps the original readers of that verse used and what kind of light those lamps produced helps us understand that living by the Word of God really is a walk of faith. The Bible does lead us and guide our way, but it doesn’t necessarily give each of us a full picture of what our individual paths will look like. We have to take each step as it comes, trusting in God to show us the way. Thus, armed with a solid knowledge of the Bible and theology, tempered with the additional insights gained through contact with the ancient contexts of the Scriptures, pastors and ministry leaders trained at Covenant Seminary are better equipped to reach out with the Gospel to people of the present and the future by way of the past.
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• Take an archaeology-related elective class. At least one option is available every academic year. Some examples include “The World of the New Testament,” “Life in Bible Times,” and seminars on “Cities of the New Testament World.” Check with the Registrar’s office for details. • Explore the Mare Institute library. Though not available for check out, these books and other materials can be used by appointment for research purposes. • Participate in the Archaeology Club. The student group meets regularly to discuss and plan archeology-related events and sponsors a lending library of DVDs on archaeological topics. • Join in the excavations at Abila. Find out how you can be part of the dig planned for summer 2008 by calling the Mare Institute or visiting www.abila.org. • Check out a DVD on an archaeological topic. The Archaeology Club sponsors the lending library at the Institute. right: The W. Harold Mare Institute for Biblical and Archaeological Studies at Covenant Seminary
Rick Matt Rick Matt (MATS ’05) serves as associate director of public relations for Covenant Seminary, where he writes and edits a variety of print and electronic materials to support the Seminary’s mission of training pastors and ministry leaders for Christ’s Church.
“…We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Psalm 78:4
e typically think of missions in terms of geography, but a seminary is a mission that spans generations. Through Covenant Theological Seminary, you minister to your children by helping train future pastors to proclaim the inerrancy of God’s Word, the beauty of His sovereign grace, and the joy of bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Today, we have an increasing army of students requiring training for the intellectual and spiritual challenges they will face as church leaders. In fact, the fall 2007 class represents the largest class of incoming students— and the largest number of incoming MDiv students—in the history of Covenant Seminary. Please consider prayerfully what God can do through your partnership
with Covenant Theological Seminary to train the next generation of pastors and ministry leaders. With an annual operating budget of $9 million and a 20% increase in full-time MDiv students over the last four years, we need your help. Over the next year, we will work to grow the campaign to meet the budgetary needs of our increased student population. Please pray with us for our partners in the Gospel to be able to fulfill their commitments to the campaign and for the Lord to strengthen and even multiply our impact for the Church and His glory. For more information on how to support the campaign as well as to see the progress of construction on our new building, visit www.covenant seminary.edu and click on the By His Grace, For His Glory icon.
Every Gift Matters Whether you are interested in supporting the By His Grace, For His Glory capital campaign or other important initiatives that are part of Covenant Seminary’s annual $9 million operating budget—such as annual student scholarships, the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, the Center for Ministry Leadership, or one of the many outreach ministries of Covenant Seminary— we are happy to serve you.
~ F or additional information concerning the capital campaign, contact Dave Wicker at dave.wicker@ covenantseminary.edu or James McCormick at james.mccormick@ covenantseminary.edu. ~ F or annual fund or student scholarship giving (including direct or securities-based giving options), contact John English (john.english@ covenantseminary.edu) or John Ranheim (john.ranheim@covenant seminary.edu). ~ For planned or estate giving considerations, including your desire to support annual fund endowment matching objectives, or if you desire to name Covenant Seminary as a part of your will, contact Stacey Fitzgerald at stacey.fitzgerald@covenant seminary.edu.
Digital rendering of the north face of Founders Hall, the new academic building
ALUMNI news Ryan Baker (MDiv ’06) was ordained on June 10 at Grace Christian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. Rev. Chuck Garriott (MDiv ’79) preached. Ryan and his wife, Emily, and their three children—Grayson (age 7), Coleman (age 5), and Meredith (age 10)—live in Fort Collins, where Ryan is the RUF campus minister at Colorado State University. Bill Evans (MDiv ’02), wife Dana, and their children, Madison (age 14), Slaton (age 13), and Lily (age 8), are nearing the end of their fourth year in Nairn, Scotland, where they serve as missionaries. Bill is the solo pastor of the The Free Church in Nairn. The Evanses plan to return to the US in the summer of 2008 for furlough. George Faithful (MDiv ’06) received a Graduate Diversity Fellowship to pursue a PhD in historical theology at Saint Louis University. His tentative research topic is “Theology in Translation: The Americanization of German Hymnody.” Chris Fisher (MDiv ’06) recently became executive director of City School in Austin, Texas. City School provides excellent and accessible Christian education in urban Austin and is affiliated with Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Chris and wife Jennifer have five children: Annie (age 10), Abby (age 9), Sarah Grace (age 7), Ben (age 5), and Andrew (age 3). Andrew Flatgard (MDiv, MAC ’04) married Shelley Ross on April 21, 2007. Shelley has worked with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) for the last five years. Rev. Jeremy Jones (MDiv ’96) was one of the officiants. Groomsmen included Rev. Brent Harriman (MDiv ’02), Rev. Pat Hickman (MDiv ’05), Rev. Ross Dixon (MDiv ’03), Peter Maynor (MAC ’02), and Jeremy Huggins (MDiv ’02). The Flatgards live in Memphis, Tennessee, where Andrew is the RUF campus minister at the University of Memphis and oversees the new RUF work at Rhodes College. Mark Gaking (MDiv ’00) recently joined Wycliffe Bible Translators as the director of church relations strategies. Once Mark and wife Julie complete their initial partnership development, they will transition to Orlando, Florida, to serve at Wycliffe’s headquarters. Julie will serve Wycliffe in the areas of hospitality and prayer. The Gakings have three children: Morgan, Susanna, and Peter.
COVENANT | Fall 2007
Andy Lee (ThM ’97) received the distinguished George B. Morgan ’20 Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for his work with the MIT Educational Council in Hawaii. Andy received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1980. He was the organizing pastor of and continues to serve at The City Church of Honolulu. He and his wife, Alli, and their six children have lived in Honolulu since 1997. George Robertson (MDiv ’91, ThM ’97) successfully defended his PhD dissertation, titled “Sacramental Solemnity: Gilbert Tennent, the Covenant, and the Lord’s Supper,” on May 7, at Westminster Theological Seminary. His PhD is in historical and theological studies. George is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, where he lives with wife Jackie and children Taylor (age 12), Anna (age 9), Abbey (age 9), and Caroline (age 4). After seven years as a church planter in LaPorte, Indiana, David Rogers (MDiv ’99) transitioned to Cape Coral, Florida, where he now serves as the associate pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church, alongside Dr. Oliver Claassen (ThM ’80). David and Kelly have five children: Tianna (age 13), Haley (age 11), Celine (age 8), Josiah (age 8), and Lilianna (age 2). On June 10, Pete Scribner (MDiv ’06) was ordained to Christian ministry and installed as the assistant pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Flint, Michigan. Covenant Seminary professor Dr. Jay Sklar preached, and Doug Graham (MDiv ’94) affirmed the vows of ordination. Pete and wife Erin have been married for 12 years and have two children, Jack (age 7) and Caroline (age 3). Andrea Taylor (MATS ’05) was recently accepted into the School of Law at Southern Illinois University where she will focus on public interest law. Andrea desires to continue the work she has done for the past six years, advocating and seeking justice for survivors of domestic violence. After two years as at Northpointe Presbyterian Church in Meridian, Mississippi, Allen Vargo (MDiv ’00) accepted a call to Crossgate Church (PCA) in Seneca, South Carolina, to serve as the assistant pastor to youth and families. Allen was installed on May 20. Dr. Jimmy Agan (MDiv ’95), Dr. Render Caines Sr. (DMin ’87), Rev. Stephen Speaks (MDiv ’98), Dr. Bob Wilson (father of Allen’s wife, Lynette), and Rev. Tom Cheely (Allen’s uncle) all participat-
ed in the service. Lynette plans to teach in the fall. Allen and Lynette have one daughter, Grace Ann (age 6). Dan (MDiv ’84) and Becky Young celebrate the marriage of son Ben on June 22. Dan coofficiated at the service. The Youngs live in El Paso, Texas, and serve with MTW’s Border Evangelism and Mercy Ministries (BEAMM). Dan and Becky have three other children: Will (age 19), Rachel (age 17), and Lisa (age 15). Among other things, Becky teaches at Covenant Christian Academy while Dan teaches at San Pablo Seminary in Mérida, Mexico. BIRTHS Joel (MDiv ’99) and Cyndi Keen welcomed Benjamin Seth into their family on January 30, 2007. Sisters Emma and Abby (ages 6 and 4) are thrilled with their baby brother. Joel serves on the pastoral staff of Stephen Ministries in St. Louis, Missouri, where he helps congregations equip laypeople to care for hurting people. Cyndi is a part-time social services worker and a full-time mom. Walt (MDiv ’05) and Holly Nilsson welcomed second child Adam Kristofer on October 6, 2006. Adam weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20 inches long. He joined sister Julia Pearl (now 2). Walt continues to serve as associate pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in California, Maryland.
We Want To Hear From You! Alumni, we consider you family, and we’d like to keep in touch! Please let us know where in the world God has called you, and fill us in on what you’re doing there. Update us about your family as well . Send e-mails to email@example.com and written correspondence to Alumni News Attn: Joel Hathaway 12330 Conway Road St. Louis, MO 63141 If you don’t currently receive e-Connec t, our monthly electronic newsletter, but would like to, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty news New Faculty Members Covenant Seminary gladly welcomes Dr. Clarence “Jimmy” Agan, associate professor of New Testament, and Dr. W. Brian Aucker,
Dr. Auck er
assistant professor of Old Testament. To read about these professors, visit our Web site at www.covenantseminary.edu/attending/faculty.asp.
Dr. Phil Douglass, associate professor of practical theology, has a new book out. Your Church Has Personality (P&R Publishing) will be in print and available March 1, 2008. Dr. J. Nelson Jennings, associate professor of world mission, was elected as the new editor of the prestigious journal Missiology. After being housed at Asbury Seminary for the past 18 years, the operations of this journal will now come to Covenant Seminary under Dr. Jennings’ leadership, effective January 1, 2008. Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of systematic theology, had a new book released in
September by P&R Publishing. His book Election and Free Will is the first in the Explorations in Biblical Theology series, which he is editing. Also, Faith Comes by Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism, a book Dr. Peterson is coediting for InterVarsity Press, is scheduled for release in January or February 2008. Please pray for librarian Jim Pakala as he travels to the ATLA board meeting mid-January, the MOBIUS Council meeting in early February, and the annual meeting of the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains (which he chairs) in mid-February.
PROFESSORs’ SPEAKING SCHEDULES Hans Bayer
Philip D. Douglass
Professor of New Testament
Associate Professor of Practical Theology
FEB. 15–16, 2008 Rochester, MN.
L’Abri Fellowship Conference. Leading plenary session and workshop. TOPIC: The canon of the New Testament.
Bryan Chapell President; Professor of Practical Theology NOV. 10–11 Heritage Presbytery
and Faith Presbyterian Church; Wilmington, DE. Speaking. Nov. 16 Covenant College;
Lookout Mountain, GA. Speaking in chapel. Nov. 17 First Presbyterian Church;
Macon, GA. Preaching at morning worship service and areawide PCA evening service. dec. 2 Faith Presbyterian Church;
Tacoma, WA. Preaching. dec. 16 Independent Presbyterian
Church; Memphis, TN. Preaching. feb. 3, 2008 Clemson Presbyterian
Chruch; Clemson, SC. Preaching. feb. 14–18, 2008 Londrina, Brazil.
Pastors’ conference. Preaching and teaching.
nov. 6, dec. 4 2007; jan. 8, feb. 5, 2008 Chairing the Mission to
North America Committee of the Missouri Presbytery. jan. 13, 2008 Redeeming Grace
Presbyterian Church; Owensville, MO. Particularization service. jan. 15, 2008 Presenting the
Mission to North America Committee report at the Missouri Presbytery meeting.
feb. 1–2, 2008 Dayton, OH.
Ohio Valley Presbytery men’s retreat. Speaking.
Donald Guthrie Associate Professor of Educational Ministries; Associate Dean of Educational Ministries; senior director, Francis A. Schaeffer Institute
Robert A. Peterson
Associate Professor of World Mission
Professor of Systematic Theology
nov. 16–18 Atlanta, GA. PCA
Global Missions Conference.
David C. Jones Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics dec. 6–10 Baltic States Theological
Seminary; Riga, Latvia. TOPIC: Christology. jan. 14–18, 2008 San Pablo
Seminary Mérida; Mérida, Mexico. TOPIC: Christian ethics.
Sean Michael Lucas Assistant Professor of Church History; Vice President for Academics Nov. 14–16 San Diego, CA.
Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting. TOPIC: “Divine Light, Holy Heat: Jonathan Edwards, the Ministry of the Word and Religious Affections.”
NOV. 15–17 Orlando, FL. Ivy Jungle
College Ministry Conference. jan. 17–19, 2008 Tallahassee, FL.
Ransom Fellowship board meeting.
Presbyterian Church; Albany, GA. Preaching.
J. Nelson Jennings
jan. 22, 2008 Atlanta, GA.
Annual gathering of the leaders of the PCA’s Committees and Agencies. Representing General Assembly’s Mission to North America Committee.
Jan. 13, 2008 Northgate
nov. 14–16 Town and Country
Resort & Convention Center; San Diego, CA. Annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting. Reading a paper on the warning passages in Hebrews.
Jay Sklar Associate Professor of Old Testament; Director, ThM Program Nov. 6,20; Dec. 4 Covenant
Theological Seminary; St. Louis, MO. Men’s Leadership Breakfast. Teaching. TOPIC: 1 John.
Richard Winter Professor of Practical Theology jan. 2–12, 2008 Kapenguria,
Kenya; teaching at a Bible college with alumnus David Kendagor (MAC ’04). Nairobi, Kenya; visiting AIDS and trauma counseling ministry (Dr. Gladys Mwiti, Oasis Africa).
Jan. 11–12, 2008 Central Georgia
Presbytery. Seminar and preaching.
news & events
Alumni Office Plans Pastoral Mentorship Program and Seeks Participants
Mediterranean Study Tour July 22–August 4, 2008
In a recent informal survey of men who have had successful ministries (that is, they’ve weathered seasons of conflict and confusion and are still proclaiming the Gospel faithfully), nearly every man indicated that he could not have done it without the support, encouragement, and friendship of another pastor—a mentor. Yet, even knowing that, we see class after class of graduating pastors enter ministry alone—such as those who take jobs as solo pastors and move away from friends and family. Covenant Theological Seminary’s Alumni Office is looking to begin the MENTOR (Ministry Enrichment Through Ongoing Relationships) program. The intent is to pair pastors who have eight or more years’ experience in the ministry with graduates who are in their first five years of ministry. This volunteer program will draw on the experience, wisdom, and guidance of older pastors and offer it to younger ministers of God’s Word. The hope is to develop deep and abiding relationships that will foster a lifetime of fruitful ministry. If you are willing to participate in this program as a mentor or as a new pastor, e-mail Joel Hathaway at email@example.com. He would be glad to discuss details with you.
Next summer, join a group of Covenant Seminary representatives on a European trip to explore richly historic and biblically significant cities. We will board a ship and visit nine ports in the countries of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Croatia. During the excursion, Covenant Seminary’s president, Dr. Bryan Chapell, will teach from God’s Word, and we will stand in awe of the Lord’s work throughout history as we sail majestic seas and tour ancient sites.
To find out about Seminary happenings and events, visit our Web site at www.covenantseminary.edu.
New Park and Expanded Playground
One of the community-enhancing initiatives of the Seminary’s By His Grace, For His Glory capital campaign was a completely redesigned and upgraded playground for our on-campus families. The project began this summer when space was created for a community park and more than four times the amount of playground equipment was installed. Features of the fenced park include two play areas with age-appropriate playground equipment for kids under and over 5 years old (including multiple swings, four slides, climbing equipment, and poles) and a pedaling path for children with tyke bikes. The park incorporated the existing picnic area and pavilion and has benches scattered around the perimeter. COVENANT | Winter 2007
Submissions Wanted for Alumni Devotional Project
Covenant Seminary is working to compile a devotional book that is biblical, reformed, culturally relevant, applicable, understandable, and accessible to the whole family. With that in mind, the alumni office seeks devotional submissions (400–650 words) written on passages of Scripture that have impacted the lives or ministries of alumni and have driven home the realization of God’s grace and love for us in Christ Jesus. The Alumni Portal and future editions of eConnect will spotlight the devotionals. The hope is that 365 of these will be bound together and published. For writing guidelines or more information, visit www.covenant seminary.edu. Send questions to Director of Alumni Relations Joel Hathaway at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Seminary at 1.800.264.8064.
At Home With the Lord Ruth Philips Ellingsworth, wife of the late Richard “Dick” H. Ellingsworth, a longtime board member of Covenant Seminary, was called home to glory on September 2, 2007. She was 90 years old. Although the Ellingsworths loved their church and ordered their lives around its welfare, their commitment to the Gospel extended far beyond this sphere. Dick passed away in 1994. Dick and Ruth have left behind a legacy of faith that has extended through several generations. Son Richard P. Ellingsworth is a current member of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees. Covenant Theological Seminary is grateful for the decades of support, service, and dedication of the Ellingsworth family.
Lifetime of Ministry Courses Now Free for Alumni
Executive Editor David Wicker
Covenant Seminary regularly offers a variety of convenient weekend and week-long ministry enrichment courses in its Lifetime of Ministry (LOM) program. You may take any Lifetime of Ministry course for a minimal fee of $25 per credit hour. These classes are now free to Covenant Seminary alumni. Check out the LOM course offerings for the current academic year, and take advantage of these unique opportunities for practical learning
and spiritual growth. The 24-hour classes are held on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekday classes are held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please visit our Web site for more information. Register online at www.covenantseminary.edu/ news/default.asp, or call 1.800.264.8064 or 314.434.4044.
African-American Church History
Discovering the Personality of a Church
Instructor: Carl Ellis Jr., visiting instructor in apologetics
Epistemology and the Reformed Faith Jan. 4–5
Instructor: Steven Nichols, visiting instructor in contemporary culture
Instructors: Dr. David Calhoun, professor of church history, and Carlton Caldwell, visiting instructor in practical theology
Politics of Ministry Practice Feb. 1–2
Pastoral Theology Seminar Jan. 7–11
Instructor: Dr. Harry L. Reeder III, visiting instructor in practical theology; senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, AL)
Gospel-Centered Marriage Jan. 11–12
Instructors: Dr. Bryan Chapell, president and professor of practical theology, and Mrs. Kathy Chapell
Instructor: Dr. Bob Burns, associate professor of educational ministries
Youth Ministry Across Culture Feb. 1–2
Instructor: Danny Kwon, visiting instructor in educational ministry
Bioethics Seminar Feb. 8–9
Instructor: Cindy Province, visiting instructor in systematic theology
Disciplines of Grace
Instructor: Rev. Scotty Smith, adjunct professor of practical theology; founding pastor of Christ Community Church (Franklin, TN)
Instructor: Mimi L. Larson, visiting instructor in educational ministry
Theology Lectures Feb. 15 Instructor: Dr. Sean Lucas,
associate professor of church history and vice president for academics Guest speaker: Dr. Richard Lints, professor of theology and apologetics at GordonConwell Theological Seminary
Instructor: Dr. Phil Douglass, associate professor of practical theology
Latin America Feb. 22–23
Instructor: William C. Yarbrough, visiting instructor in world mission
Preaching the Johannine Gospel Feb. 22–23
Instructor: Stephen Um, visiting instructor in practical theology
Music and Theology Feb. 29–Mar 1
Instructor: Denis Haack, visiting instructor in contemporary culture
History of Hymnody Mar. 7–8
Instructor: Kevin Twit, visiting instructor in educational ministry
Crossing Ethnic and National Boundaries
Managing Editor Stacey Fitzgerald Editor Jackie Fogas Assistant Copy Editors Rick Matt Nicolle Olivastro Photographers and Image Contributors Lisa Hessel David Chapman Jack Hughes Bryan Chapell Kelly Park Joel Hathaway Design and Production 501creative, inc. Circulation Nicolle Olivastro Editorial Contributors Bryan Chapell Stacey Fitzgerald Donald Guthrie Joel Hathaway
Jack Hughes Rick Matt Richard Winter
Covenant Theological Seminary 12330 Conway Road St. Louis, Missouri 63141 Tel: 314.434.4044 Fax: 314.434.4819 E-mail: email@example.com Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®, ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (esv) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Volume 22, Number 4. ©2007
Instructor: Dr. Nelson Jennings, associate professor of world mission
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, the Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America.
The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to train servants of the triune God to walk with God, to interpret and communicate God’s Word, and to lead God’s people.
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Concern for Holiness A matter of the heart
Logan and Natalie Almy have been married for two years. After seminary, Logan desires to pastor in the local church context while Natalie furthers her training in physician’s assistant school.
hough the siren songs of contemporary culture can all too easily tempt even the strongest of Christians to an unhealthy and unbiblical materialism, there remains in many believers a real passion for holiness. Such a passion begins with Scripture and with the movement of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart. It is sincerely evident in the lives of those who possess it—like Logan Almy (MDiv ’08). “Although I became a Christian at the age of eight, I really began reading the Bible when I was in college,” Logan says. “One of the themes I noticed was holiness and a concern to be holy. Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan theologian, said, ‘I want to be as holy as is possible for a justified sinner to be.’ ” Love for God’s Word grew in Logan, and his passion for holiness became something rooted in his heart rather than centered on his behavior. “The more I read of Scripture, the more my concern with holiness took on a different flavor,” Logan explains. “It became more associated with my heart, even though my behavior is involved. Previously, I may not have allowed myself to drink a type of beverage because I thought it was somehow not acceptable to God. Now, no matter what I drink, I am grateful for it and give God the glory—even if it’s a glass of orange juice.” Not surprisingly, the passion and excitement that Logan feels for Christian truths are often misunderstood by less demonstrative believers. In fact, Logan has sometimes found himself accused of emotionalism or immaturity as a result of his enthusiasm.
“Occasionally I encounter what seems to be a disdain for passion about the truth,” Logan confesses. “I sometimes feel that Reformed theology has become, for lack of a better word, ‘trendy.’ ” For example, some use Abraham Kuyper’s thoughts about sphere sovereignty, common grace, and the cultural mandate over and against the pietistic pursuit of personal purity and holiness and the five classical solas: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), and soli deo gloria (Glory to God alone). “Before seminary, I thought passion for the truth is what it meant to be Reformed—like, George Whitefield, a highly impassioned and ‘fiery’ Calvinist,” Logan explains. “At the time, I didn’t know much about sacramental theology, robust Covenant Theology, or worldview. I thought to be Reformed was primarily to love the Scriptures, to believe Jesus, and to pursue holiness.” Beginning with the Word of God, this growing passion continues to drive Logan and others like him back to the Scriptures—with excitement and fervor. “What did John Calvin have?” Logan asks rhetorically. “The Bible. What did Martin Luther have? His Bible. What did John Knox have? A Bible and a passion for the truth. When I read about these men, that is what makes my heart say ‘giddyup’—the Bible, the exposition of the Bible in such a way as lifts up Christ and lifts up the cross and lets the glory of God shine through. That excites me.” And this excitement is evident in the life of Logan and others like him who are captivated by the eternal truths of Scripture. If you listen carefully, you can hear their voices proclaiming these truths, rising above the din of the siren songs of culture, breaking through the false assumptions of emotionalism and spiritualism and penetrating deep into the ears of those whom the Spirit of God has touched, transforming hearts with such incomprehensible yet simple words: “Christ died for my sins according to the Scriptures.”
Joel Hathaway Joel Hathaway (MDiv ’04), director of alumni and church relations, serves to encourage and sustain pastors and ministry leaders in their first five years of ministry and beyond. Graduates of the Seminary are invited to contact Joel for matters of prayer by e-mail at joel.hathaway@covenant seminary.edu.
Published on Dec 1, 2007
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to glorify...