The Magazine of Covenant Theological Seminary
COVENANT Vol. 20, No. 1
ENDS OF THE EARTH
The LORD Is Against Me!
The Churchâ€™s Ministry to the Mentally Handicapped
Profile of a South Atlanta Pastor and Congregation
Apologetics and Failure
Volume 20, No. 1 Spring 2005
From the President
2 When my children were young, one of their favorite cartoons was Lambert, the Sheepish Lion, the unlikely story of a lion raised with lambs. As a lion among the lambs, Lambert cannot figure
A Journey to the Ends of the Earth, and to the Heart of the Son DR. BRYAN CHAPELL
out what he is supposed to be, and as a result he cannot figure out what he is supposed to do. Should he eat grass with fangs? Should he play sheep tag with claws? His difficulty is most exemplified in the fact that he cannot find his voice.
6 The LORD Is Against Me!
It is only when the lives of his loved ones (the lambs) are at stake that Lambert’s real nature surfaces. He fights off would-be wolf attackers and, as a symbolic expression of his newfound identity, he finally is able to roar like a lion. In Matthew 28:16-20, the familiar “Great Commission” passage, Jesus addresses a similar identity problem that His disciples are experiencing. Just a few days before this conversation between Jesus and the disciples, the disciples were in sheepish hiding. Now they find themselves on a mountaintop with the risen Lord. Against all odds and opposition these sheepish followers must secure the Lord’s flock to the farthermost
DR. JAY SKLAR
16 And Yet There Is Room The Church’s Ministry to the Mentally Handicapped AN INTERVIEW WITH NEIL BENNETT (D.MIN.’04)
reaches of the earth. The disciples must go from sheepish hiding to being the voice for the Lion of Judah. If you have ever felt sheepish about spreading the Gospel – if you have ever wondered just what it means to have a role in securing God’s flock – it is important that you start by first understanding who you are in Christ. As Dr. Jay Sklar teaches in this issue of Covenant magazine, we are those who are loved in Christ. We are recipients of the Lord’s steadfast love. As Dr. Neil Bennett reminds us, our Lord is not enamored with skill or beauty, but rather chooses the weak ones – like us – to show His love to others.
20 Covenant Family Dale Weldon Pastors Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Ga. – COVENANT TO THE WORLD –
And as Mark Ryan shares, in God’s upside-down Kingdom we can actually learn from our failures because we – and God’s purposes – are secure in Christ! Most simply said, we are best off approaching anyone with the Good News of the Gospel when we realize that the Gospel is for us today as much as it is for those with whom we share our faith. It is a privilege for me to be able to lead Covenant Theological Seminary in training God’s servants to share that Good News. And it is a privilege to partner with people like you who, because of who you are in Christ, are able to join other sheepish people in a lion-like role. May the roar that reverberates from our lives and the life of Covenant
24 Apologetics and Failure PART I
The Difference Between Perceived and Actual Failure – FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER INSTITUTE – MARK P. RYAN
Seminary come from hearts grounded in and compelled by the love of God in Christ. A note about the cover art: The art used on the cover of this issue of Covenant magazine was created by Debbie Bauer, member of Grace and Peace Fellowship in St. Louis, Mo.
Mexican Church leaders at Covenant Seminary
Sunday school in Merida
Covenant Seminary students dining with their Mexican hosts
The Merida, Yucatan Connection
This past January Nelson Jennings, Associate Professor of World Mission, traveled with Covenant Seminary students to the Yucatan Peninsula to teach a course on world religions in partnership with Merida International Seminary. The week following their return, five Mexican Presbyterian leaders from this same region came to Covenant Seminary to take a one-week course on the book of Isaiah taught by Adjunct Professor Dr. Ray Ortlund. Please pray for wisdom as to how this budding relationship between Covenant Seminary and the church in the Yucatan might develop as a constructive and mutually beneficial partnership.
Dr. Nelson Jennings and translator in Merida
DR. BRYAN CHAPELL President, Covenant Theological Seminary
ENDS OF THE EARTH and to the Heart of the Son
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
A Journey to the Ends of the Earth, and to the Heart of the Son
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. – JOHN 3:5-15
ow would you go about hiding
Hiding a battleship in plain sight on the open sea is a
a twenty-thousand ton battleship
neat trick, but when Jesus says that His Spirit and Kingdom
on the open sea? The first really
are equally hidden from natural sight we are more than
successful attempt to camouflage
intrigued; we are concerned. Yet, in John 3 Jesus tells
a ship in the twentieth century
Nicodemus that no one can see the Kingdom of God unless
came about through a method
he is born again of the Spirit. Then Jesus says that the Spirit is like the wind, blowing where it pleases so that you cannot
that was exactly the opposite
tell where it comes from or where it is going.
of what one would imagine.
We are concerned when we read these words because
Those were the days before radar technology and it seemed that the easiest way to make a ship disappear into its
we want loved ones and lost ones to see the Kingdom of
surroundings would be to paint it the color of the sea or sky.
God. At the same time our Lord is saying that people cannot
But at that point in history, military strategists simply could
control the Spirit, we know that without the Spirit no one
not find paint that was good enough to hide a ship on the
can see Him. It does not seem right to tell a person that he
open sea. So in 1917, an artist named Norman Wilkinson
or she must be born again and then to take the mechanism
invented what was then known as “dazzle” camouflage.
for spiritual birth right out of his hands. Isn’t this like telling Barry Bonds to hit a home run and take his bat away, or
Wilkinson convinced the English military to paint ships in outlandish colors and cubist designs that were so
urging James Galway to play the Pachelbel Canon without
unexpected for the eye, so out of place on the sea, that the
his flute? Nicodemus asks the right question in response.
eye simply did not know how to register what it was seeing.
He says, “How can this be?” The answer lies in understanding that everyone who is
A person either overlooked the ship entirely – or, in seeing the ship, was so disoriented that he could not tell from
born again must experience a journey of the soul. We cannot
where it was coming or to where it was going.
make people see the Kingdom of God, but we can guide
Training Servants of the Triune God
them to where they can see, should the Spirit open their
can find heaven is the one who has been there, and Jesus is
eyes. That is my task and yours if you are a follower of Jesus.
the One sent from heaven. By this statement Jesus attests
What does that journey look like? It is, in essence, a journey
to His own status as Messiah. But Jesus is also declaring the
to the ends of the earth and to the heart of the Son.
limitation for anyone who wants to experience the Kingdom of God apart from Him.
The Journey to the Ends of the Earth
At some level Nicodemus already knows this limitation.
What does the journey to the ends of the earth involve?
After all, Nicodemus comes at night to find out why, as
Jesus has already given strong indications of what this
a Jewish leader, he cannot understand this itinerant rabbi’s
journey is like when He tells Nicodemus that in order to
actions and teachings. In so coming Nicodemus automati-
see the Kingdom of God a person must be born again –
cally acknowledges that he does not know all that he wants
from above. The journey to the Kingdom of God involves
to understand. His privileged place in the world has not
the realization that nothing on earth (including our greatest
led him to all that he wants. Jesus only
achievements) will bring us the spiritual
confronts Nicodemus with the limitations
blessings of heaven. A person must come
the Jewish leader’s actions already
to the end of what the earth offers or
confirm but that his heart has not
what they can gain by worldly achieve-
ment in order to see the Kingdom.
Do you know people like this?
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You are
People whose pursuits are themselves
a leader of Israel and you do not know
the confession that they have not found
these things?” The words are meant to remind Nicodemus, and all of us, of the spiritual limitation of all that is of this earth, no matter the level of its status. Nicodemus was at the top of his career. He had risen to the peak of the religious establishment, he sat on the ruling body of the nation of Israel, and he was at the top of the intellectual ladder. Jesus’ little statement takes in all that Nicodemus is and at the same moment indicates this is not enough. Jesus clearly understood the place
something that satisfies their souls and,
A person must come to the end of what the earth offers or what they can gain by worldly achievement in order to see the Kingdom.
yet, they have not yet confessed this limitation to their own hearts? In our relationships with people engaged in such pursuits, our place is to say, “Here is where you are. You have pursued success and fulfillment, but you are still looking for something that satisfies your longings. You are trying to find the things of heaven through the means of the earth, but you can’t get there from here.” To see Jesus, people must first come
from which Nicodemus was coming.
to see the ends of the earth – their own
And we also must understand the place in life from which
limitations and the limitations of the idols they worship in
those around us come if we seek to care for them. By assess-
order to gain some kind of satisfaction. C.S. Lewis once
ing the status and pursuits of others, we are able not only to
noted in a sermon, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling
know them, but also to serve as a guide in a spiritual journey.
about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is
We help them on that journey when we accurately point to
offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making
their place in life and say, “You are here.” But of coarse that
mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant
is not the end of the journey.
by the offer of a holiday at the sea.” 1 You Can’t Get There From Here
But Jesus also teaches in this exchange with Nicodemus
Why doesn’t Nicodemus’ earthly place in life provide the
that not only is Nicodemus limited, but Nicodemus cannot
spiritual path to heavenly things that he wants? Because
have what he wants without having Jesus Himself. Jesus says
very simply “you can’t get there from here.” Essentially Jesus tells Nicodemus that the only one who
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 2.
In a recent interview, novelist Anne Lamott talked
that it is the Son of Man who has experienced heaven and
about her journey to the end of this earth. She said:
one cannot experience heaven without experiencing Him.
...I never felt like I had much choice with Jesus; He was
What the Journey Looks Like for One Man
relentless. I didn’t experience Him so much as the hound of
We meet Nicodemus for the first time in John 3 as a cautious
heaven, as the old description has it, as the alley cat of heaven,
inquirer, but the Gospels are not done with him. The next
who seemed to believe that if it just keeps showing up, mewling
time that we see him, he is an almost-courageous defender
outside your door, you’d eventually open up and give him a
(Jn. 7:50). Fellow Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the law
bowl of milk. ...I resisted as long as I could, like Sam-I-Am in
and Nicodemus meekly suggests, “Shouldn’t we have some
Green Eggs and Ham. I would not, could not in a boat! I could
proof before we try him?” Finally, we see Nicodemus as a
not, would not with a goat! I do not want to follow Jesus, I just
humbled servant of Christ as “the leader of Israel” accompa-
want expensive cheeses. Or something. Anyway, He wore me
nies Joseph of Arimathea in petitioning Pilate for the body
out. He won.
of the crucified Savior, provides the spices
I was tired and vulnerable and He won.
for His burial, and aids in the preparation
I let Him in. This is what I said at the
of the corpse for burial (Jn. 19:38-40).
moment of my conversion: I said, “Okay!
Consider what this really means.
Come in. I quit....”
It is night again. The darkness covers
Then, when I was dozing, tiny kitten
Nicodemus as it did when he met Jesus
that I was, He picked me up like a mother
for the first time. But now he does not
cat, by the scruff of my neck, and deposited
hear about a new birth from Jesus but faces rather a fresh death. Nicodemus’ actions in the face of that death are perhaps the best mark of a new birth. Nicodemus goes in what must be degrading humiliation to petition the Roman governor for the body of a crucified, renegade preacher. Such actions will cause Nicodemus to be rejected by his colleagues and scorned by his people. He sacrifices his pride for the body of a dead man. Nicodemus looks up to a cross as they take the body down, and perhaps takes on
me in a little church... That’s where I
Nicodemus is at the end of his world but, of course, that is where the Kingdom of heaven begins – and is about to break wide open.
to believe.2 Almost always in our spiritual re-birth there is a journey that must be taken to the ends of the earth, to the ends of ourselves. Believers need to hear this too, right? We get into the orbit of this world and forget the things of God. We look for security and peace in all the wrong places. Over and over again, we have to relinquish those vanities. We need to be reminded of this for ourselves and we
his own shoulders the weight of the body
need to be reminded for others. We
of that One. Does Nicodemus feel the weight of his own
cannot be the witnesses we ought to be without realizing
sin thinking, “I did not defend him?” Nicodemus is a Jewish
again and again that what heaven holds cannot be found
holy man who is not supposed to touch the dead and in
in the things of the earth. The good news is that when our
doing so risks everything his privileged status provides.
journey comes to the ends of the earth, the trip is not over.
Nicodemus, whose name means conqueror of people, has
The ends of this earth is also the edge of heaven and the
been conquered in spirit. He is at the end of his world. He
beginning of a better journey to the heart of the Son.
is willing to risk it all for the sake of One who gave His all.
When you come to the end of yourself, Jesus still awaits
Nicodemus is at the end of his world but, of course,
and a new life – a better life, the one that truly satisfies –
that is where the Kingdom of heaven begins – and is about
to break wide open. The Spirit often works this way in
continued on page 15
the process of new birth from this earth: we are taken on a journey to the end of our world, a journey that is really to
the end of our self.
was when I came to. And then I came
Susan Olasky, “Like a Puppy in a Christmas Stocking,” World, 20 September 2003, 25.
Training Servants of the Triune God
DR. JAY SKLAR Assistant Professor of Old Testament
LORD Is Against Me!
So [Naomi and Ruth] went on until they came to Bethlehem. And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women [of the city] said, “Is this Naomi?” And she said to them,“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” – RUTH 1:19-21 (NASB) * *Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
The LORD Is Against Me!
I wonder if Naomi’s words make you feel uncomfortable? They are blunt; they are angry; and they are accusatory against the LORD. What would lead an ancient Israelite to be so bitter?
t all began some ten years earlier. First, Naomi
‘bitter’ in Hebrew], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly
and her family have to leave Bethlehem and
with me” (Ruth 1:20).
travel east to the land of Moab due to a severe
Naomi sees it as an insult to be called “pleasant” after all
famine. Then, Naomi is widowed in Moab when
that has happened to her! And to underscore her feelings,
her husband dies. Now only Naomi and her two
her rebuke continues: “I went out full, but the LORD has
sons remain. Things seem to brighten slightly
brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has
when her sons marry. They all continue to live
afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:21). Naomi feels like the LORD
in Moab for another ten years – but then
Naomi’s sons also die. Losing her husband is bad enough;
Himself has taken the witness stand against her and, more
losing her two children as well is unbelievably tragic.
than that, has brought calamity upon her. She feels like the LORD has set her in His sights and has begun to embed fiery
arrows of pain in her heart one by one. And for this reason,
All of this leads Naomi to conclude that the LORD is
Naomi says, do not dare – do not dare! – call me “Pleasant,”
against her! You can see this first in her words to her
for the LORD is against me.
daughters-in-law. After her sons die, Naomi prepares to
Naomi has looked at the tragedies in her life and
return to Bethlehem, where the famine has ended. Her
concluded: The LORD is against me! Perhaps there are
two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, also prepare to
times in our own lives when painful circumstances have
return with her. Naomi, however, cannot ask them to make
made us feel the same way as Naomi. But the book of Ruth
that kind of sacrifice, so she tells them not to come. When
as a whole comes to a different conclusion than Naomi.
her daughters-in-law protest, Naomi tells them again not
The book of Ruth teaches that in a fallen world of pain
to come and underscores her words by saying, “No, my
and hurt, the LORD does not forget His covenant children.
daughters, for it is more bitter for me than for you, for the
This book does not explain the problem of evil; it does not
hand of the LORD has gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13b).
explain why bad things happen to good people. It assumes
Naomi has concluded that the LORD is against her.
that we live in a fallen world and that we will feel the effects
You see the pain and distance from God that Naomi feels
of pain, and sin, and death. But it does not conclude with
even more strongly in her words to the women of Bethlehem.
Naomi that these realities mean that the LORD has forsaken
Naomi has just returned home after a ten-year absence.
us. Time and again it teaches instead, in the midst of the
Naturally, the entire town is abuzz! We can almost hear the
brokenness, the LORD does not abandon His steadfast love
townsfolk calling to one another: “Could it be? Is this Naomi
for His covenant children.
– the ‘pleasant one’ – that has returned?” And yet right in the midst of all this buzz and excitement comes a rebuke
The LORD’S Provision of Ruth
from Naomi as she says, “Do not call me Naomi [‘Naomi’
We can see this first in the LORD’s provision of Ruth
means ‘pleasant’ in Hebrew]; call me Mara [‘Mara’ means
to Naomi. As Naomi is trying her best to dissuade her
Training Servants of the Triune God
daughters-in-law from remaining with her, a ray of the
Significantly, Ruth “happened to come to the part
LORD’s steadfast love beams down onto the field of Naomi’s
of the field belonging to Boaz…” (Ruth 2:3). The word
life. Ruth clings to Naomi and says, “Do not urge me to leave
“happened” may sound at first as though it was blind chance
you or to return from following you. For where you go I will
that Ruth ended up in Boaz’s field. Not so! When the author
go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my
of Ruth says that she “happened” upon the field of Boaz,
people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die,
it is his way of saying “that no human intent was involved.
and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me
For Ruth and Boaz it was an accident, but not for God.
and more also if anything but death parts me from you!”
The tenor of the whole story makes it clear that the narrator
sees God’s hand throughout.” 1 In short, the LORD guides Ruth to this very field. As we will see, He does this as
Ruth is making a commitment here to love Naomi until her dying day. It is a commitment of what the Israelites
another demonstration of His steadfast love for Naomi
would call hesed: steadfast love. And this is what has
and for Ruth.
happened: in the midst of Naomi’s hurt
No sooner do we read that Ruth has
and pain and unspeakable grief, the LORD
ended up in Boaz’s field, then who should
– in His steadfast love for Naomi – has
appear? Boaz himself! After greeting
provided Ruth to Naomi, who will in
the reapers Boaz asks the foreman,
turn be a manifestation of the LORD’s
“Whose young woman is this?” (Ruth
steadfast love for Naomi. It is a whisper
2:5). The foreman replies, “She is the
of the voice of the LORD saying, “Naomi,
young Moabite woman who came back
please know that the presence of tragedy
with Naomi from the country of Moab”
in your life does not mean that I am
(Ruth 2:6). It seems that the sacrificial
against you. Please know that even in
and steadfast love that Ruth had shown
the midst of tragedy I am still the LORD of steadfast love.” Naomi could not hear the whisper at this point in the story, and so it can be in our own lives. There are times when the pain is so raw, or when we focus upon it so much, that we are oblivious to the LORD’s care for us in the midst of it. So
And for this reason, Naomi says, do not dare – do not dare!– call me “Pleasant,” for the LORD is against me.
to Naomi was known throughout Bethlehem. In fact, when Boaz learns that this is Ruth, he wastes no time in rewarding her with a generous provision of food and drink and a promise of physical protection while she is gleaning in his fields. Ruth is overwhelmed; this man, whom she has never met and has never
it was for Naomi. And yet the steadfast
even heard of, is treating her as though
love of the LORD for Naomi continues as
she were part of his own household.
the story goes on.
Bowing with her face to the ground, Ruth asks, “Why have I found favor in your eyes…?” (Ruth 2:10).
The LORD’S Provision Through Boaz
Some might suspect that Boaz was attracted to Ruth and was
When Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem we are
trying to win her heart with all these gifts. But the answer
introduced to a man named Boaz (Ruth 2:1). We are not
that Boaz gives points in another direction. He says, “All
told much about him, only that he is a relative of Naomi’s
that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death
deceased husband and is a man of some standing.
of your husband has been fully told to me...” (Ruth 2:12a).
It is the beginning of the barley harvest and Ruth says to
Boaz recognizes fully the steadfast love that Ruth has
Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of
shown for Naomi, and now wishes the same steadfast love
grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor” (Ruth 2:2).
to be shown to her. He goes on to say, “May the LORD repay
According to Israelite law, the poor and needy were allowed
you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you
to go into the farmer’s fields after the harvest and pick up
by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have
any of the cut grain that had not been bundled (Lev. 23:22). Ruth sets out to gather grain in this manner.
Hals, The Theology of the Book of Ruth (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969), 12.
come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:13). And the reward does
In either case, Naomi goes on to say, “…do not make
indeed come – through Boaz himself! Not only does he let
yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and
Ruth glean in his field and offer her protection, but Boaz
drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where
even commands his harvesters to pull some of the grain out
he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he
of the bundles so that Ruth has more than just the scraps to
will tell you what to do” (Ruth 3:3b-4). When we read this
pick up (Ruth 2:16). In fact, when Ruth comes home at the
we wonder, “What in the world is going on?” There are
end of the day, Naomi is amazed at the amount of food that
things in this chapter that we might not ever completely
she brings home! When Ruth tells Naomi that it was Boaz,
understand because the culture is so different from our own.
Naomi utters these words: “May he be blessed by the LORD,
But we can still grasp the overall point of what is going on.
whose steadfast love has not forsaken the living or the dead”
Ruth carries out Naomi’s plan exactly. She goes down to
the threshing floor, waits until Boaz is finished eating and
Naomi is not only receiving the
drinking and falls asleep, and then goes and uncovers his feet
steadfast love of the LORD through His
and lies down at the place of his feet. In
provision of Ruth, she is now receiving
the middle of the night Boaz suddenly
the steadfast love of the LORD through
realizes that there is a woman lying at his
His provision of Boaz. And so the LORD
feet. He asks, “Who are you?,” to which
whispers again, “Naomi, please know that
Ruth replies, “I am Ruth, your servant.
the presence of tragedy in your life does
Spread your wings [i.e. the corners of your
not mean that I am against you. Please
garment] over your servant, for you are a
know that even in the midst of tragedy
redeemer” (Ruth 3:9).
I am still the LORD of steadfast love.”
There is a play on words going on in
The whisper becomes a stronger voice as the story continues… Naomi Makes a Plan
After hearing of the kindness of Boaz, Naomi makes a plan. In chapter two, Ruth was the problem-solver, essentially saying, “We don’t have food and I want to help with that; I’m going to go and glean.” In chapter three, Naomi becomes
this verse. In chapter two, when Boaz first
[The book of Ruth] does not conclude with Naomi that [painful] realities mean that the LORD has forsaken us.
LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12). The word for “wing” is used to describe the wing of a bird and it is also used to describe the corner of a garment. Now in chapter three Ruth says
the problem-solver, essentially saying,
to Boaz, “Please take the corner of your
“Ruth, you don’t have a husband; I want
garments – your wings – and cover not
to help with that.”
only your feet, but me as well, and in this way symbolically
The prospective husband is Boaz. The basic plan is this:
demonstrate that you will take me under the refuge of your
Ruth is to go and find Boaz and let him know that she would
wings as your wife.”
like to become his wife. It was the harvest season, and Boaz
Boaz understands immediately that Ruth is asking to be
and the other harvesters would be down at the threshing
his wife, and he is only too happy to agree! He says to her,
floor working, and many of them would even sleep there at
“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all
night. With this in mind, Naomi tells Ruth, “Wash therefore
that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are
and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to
a worthy woman” (Ruth 3:11). There are a few issues that
the threshing floor…” (Ruth 3:3a). Some understand Naomi
Boaz will need to iron out (Ruth 4:1-12), but in the mean-
to be telling Ruth to dress her best; it is just as likely that
time he sends Ruth home with a generous gift of barley,
she is telling Ruth to change out of the garments that a
telling her that she “must not go back empty-handed to
widow wore (see Gen. 38:14, 19) in order to signal the end
[her] mother-in-law” (4:17).
of her mourning and her return to regular life.
meets Ruth, he says to her, “May the
continued on page 27
Training Servants of the Triune God
As Covenant Seminary exists to train servants of the triune God to walk with God, to interpret and communicate God’s Word, and to lead God’s people, we recognize the importance of prayer to guide and continue the mission. While much of our training takes place in one geographic area as students relocate for study, the mission continues in the lifetime of ministry that the Lord grants as people continue on from Covenant Seminary. Therefore prayer for the seminary and its mission comes with a local, national, and global scope. We are grateful for your prayers for Covenant Seminary. We hope that this prayer calendar that can be prayed through during the spring months will help focus your thoughts and prayers for the seminary, its students, and alumni. As the color key indicates, the dark squares share campus This, then, is how you should concerns, the medium squares pray: “Our Father in heaven, national concerns, and the white squares international concerns. hallowed be your name, your
kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” – MATTHEW 6:9-13
It is good to praise the Lord and make music in your name, O Most High... Psalm 92:1
Pray for the graduating seniors as they candidate for ministry positions this spring. Pray that search committees and candidates would have great wisdom in this process and that their efforts would advance the Kingdom geographically and generationally.
Pray for a new ministry started by Leanne Downing, the wife of Pastor Sam Downing (M.Div.’89), at City Presbyterian in Denver, Colorado. “Street’s Hope” offers mercy and assistance to Denver’s prostitutes and drug-addicted women. Pray for the power of God to go forth setting these women free to serve the Lord.
Due to growth, currently two new professors are needed to serve in the ongoing mission of the Covenant Seminary faculty. Pray that the Lord would provide two godly teachers who are specially equipped to train Covenant Seminary students.
Pray for the pastors and ministry leaders from across the nation that attended the recent Worship Renewal Conference hosted by Covenant Seminary. Pray that their leadership of congregational worship would be deeply enriched as they reflect on this recent equipping conference.
Pray for the annual meeting of the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains (Feb. 28 to Mar. 1) chaired by Library Director Jim Pakala. Pray for the Covenant graduates/students who currently serve as military chaplains including Steve Prost (M.Div.’03, in Iraq) and Seth George (current Th.M., in Iraq).
...to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night... Psalm 92:2
Praise the Lord for Dr. Bryan Chapell’s recent opportunity to minister in Senegal. Pray for the strengthening of the pastors from Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Congo who attended a conference for which Dr. Chapell served as guest teacher.
Pray for a suitable location to hold the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute’s Friday Nights @ the Institute ministry as those involved seek to model and serve as salt and light in the St. Louis metro area.
Pray with Greg Blosser (M.Div.’02) and Grace Central Presbyterian in Columbus, Ohio, for the continued gathering of the unchurched and the religiously disenfranchised. Ask God to bless the evangelistic efforts of this church.
Pray for the physical and emotional needs of the millions of people affected by the Asian Tsunami disaster. Pray for the members of Christ’s Church reaching out with His provision during this time. Pray that these stricken people would know the love of God even now.
“...the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Pray that the Lord would use Covenant Seminary to raise up leaders committed and able to communicate the truth of God’s Word and point people to Jesus in all of life.
...to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. Psalm 92:3
As recently elected political leaders take office, pray that the Lord’s justice and mercy would be reflected in their leadership.
Pray for the community space under development in Covenant Seminary’s Founders Hall. Pray that this space would be used richly for ministry preparation and the formation of relationships that will further the growth of the Church.
Pray for Dr. Nelson Jennings, Associate Professor of World Mission, as he teaches two new courses this semester. Particularly pray for his efforts in teaching an introduction to nonWestern Church history. Pray also for his research and travel to West Africa and the Southern Philippines.
Pray for the Lord’s provision for all the needs of Christ Church in Mankato, Minn., pastored by Greg Lawrence (M.Div.’01). Pray for the continued rising up of leaders within this congregation and that the Lord would meet the financial needs of this congregation.
Praise the Lord for the recent opportunity for Covenant Seminary students to travel to and serve in Yucatan, Mexico. Pray that, as these students grow in a mission mindset, they would bless the churches they serve now and in coming years.
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands. Psalm 92:4
Pray for the 2005 PCA Mercy Ministries Conference that will be held from April 14 to 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. Pray for Covenant Seminary alumni Mike Higgins (M.Div.’96) and Randy Nabors (M.Div.’76) as they prepare to teach about living as merciful and just people in our churches and society.
Pray that Dr. Richard Winter’s soon-to-be released book on perfectionism (InterVarsity Press) would serve as a healing tool for many who struggle emotionally in this area. Pray for Dr. Philip Douglass as he writes a book during his spring sabbatical on understanding church cultures and dealing with conflict.
Pray for Covenant Seminary alumni ministering in Europe. Pray especially for Kor Van As in the Netherlands. Pray that the church he pastors in Oostzaan would increasingly become a community that is led by the Spirit. Please pray that the church’s small groups will be safe places where people can grow in trust and love for God and each other.
Pray for the students who come to Covenant Seminary to be further equipped to serve young people through the Youth in Ministry Institute (Yimi). Pray that the courses, speakers, and mentoring offered through Yimi would bless the next generation.
Pray for the Redeemer Presbyterian Church congregation pastored by Bryant McGee (M.Div.’97) in McKinney, Texas. Praise God that He has provided the means for them to build a new church building this winter and spring. Pray that this building would be an asset to their growing congregational ministry and witness in their community.
M.Div. Master of Divinity; M.A. Master of Arts; M.A.C. Master of Arts in Counseling; G.C. Graduate Certificate; Th.M. Master of Theology; D.Min. Doctor of Ministry
Training Servants of the Triune God
ALUMNI If you have information for Alumni News, please mail it to Covenant Magazine or e-mail Alumni News: alumni @covenantseminary.edu Christ Church of Gundlupet, Karnataka, India, pastored by Z.A. Gnanadhas (M.A.’95) dedicated their new church building on December 15, 2004. Kurt Peistrup (M.Div.’96) was engaged to Jill Scoggins on December 24, 2004. They will celebrate a late-spring wedding. Jill will join Kurt in serving internationals in London. Kurt serves with Mission to the World. Bob O’Bannon (M.Div.’02) was ordained as pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in Yorktown, Ind., on September 19, 2004. Scott Dean from Crossroads Community Church in Fishers, Ind., preached for the service, and Brian Kinney (M.Div.’92) also participated. Joe Scheets (D.Min.’02) has been appointed Directing Pastor of The First United Methodist Church of Rantoul, Ill. John Franks (M.Div.’03) was ordained and installed as Assistant Pastor of Youth and Families for First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Ga., on November 14, 2004. Jay Sklar, Associate Professor of Old Testament, preached for the ordination service. John and his wife, Erin, are happy to announce the birth of their second daughter, Anna Bray, born on April 29, 2004. Older daughter Callie is three years old. Chad Donohoe (M.Div.’04) was ordained on November 20, 2004, and is serving as college Pastor at Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lawrence, Kan. Chad and his wife Tiffany attended Grace EPC while they were students at the University of Kansas and have returned to serve that
church. They have three children: Peyton (6), Quinton (4), and Paige (2 in April).
birth of Adam Reinhardt on July 23, 2004. The Lees live in the St. Louis, Mo., suburb of Maplewood and attend Grace and Peace Fellowship.
Clay Smith (M.Div.’99) began serving as Assistant Professor of Teaching and Education for Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo., this past January. Clay and his wife Missy (N.A.C.’00) have one daughter, Emma Kathryn, who will turn one in April.
Duane (M.Div.’98, M.A.C.’98) and Julie Otto joyfully announce the birth of Mary Elizabeth Stuart “Libby” on October 25, 2004. Libby was greeted by big brother Calvin (6) and big sister Sophia (4). Duane serves as the Associate Pastor of Lakemont Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Ga.
With the Saints David I-San Chan (B.D.’62) passed from this life to his eternal rest on April 14, 2004. David served with Scripture Union for 24 years, traveling extensively as he served in God’s international world mission. Born in Taiwan, David spent much of his adult life living in Singapore where a regular Sunday would often include preaching and conducting the Lord’s Supper in the languages of Hokkien, Mandarin, or English at several different churches. David was also a long-time friend and advisor to Japanese Christian Fellowship. After his retirement from Scripture Union, he served many churches in various pastoral roles. David is dearly missed by his family and all those he loved.
Frederick Chrishon IV was born to Chrishon (M.Div.’00) and Danielle Ducker (M.A.’00) on November 4, 2004. Chrishon serves as Youth Pastor for Grace Presbyterian Church in Ocala, Florida. Little Chrishon joins big sister Charissa. Craig (M.Div.’00) and Stacy Pohl, together with big sister Karis (2), celebrated the birth of Aimee Grace on November 3, 2004. This past September, Craig began serving as leader of Mission to the World’s “Team Ecuador.” This newly combined team focuses on church planting, leadership training, and community development with missionaries and national partners based in both Quito and Guayaquil.
Filling the Quiver Three-year-old Gresham Machen Smith welcomed his brother Isaac Alexander into the world on June 16, 2004. Daddy David Smith (M.Div.’95) teaches doctrine and apologetics at Delaware County Christian High School in Newtown Square, Pa., and has begun work on his Ph.D. dissertation in historical theology.
Greg (M.Div.’00) and Courtney (M.A.’00) Thompson celebrated the birth of Margaret Bell on June 28, 2004. Margaret joins her older sister Caroline. Greg is the R.U.F. campus minister for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Greg (M.Div.’01) and Leanne Doty welcomed their first child, Renee Lynn, on June 24, 2004. Greg serves as Assistant Pastor for
Gary and Deborah (Allinder) Lee (M.Div.’98) celebrated the
Youth for Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Ga. Jonathan Weyer (M.Div.’01) began serving as pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Mission Church in Lakeland, Fla., this past October. Jonathan and his wife Wendy are expecting the birth of their second child. The new baby will join big brother Colin. Neil (M.Div.’02, M.A.C.’03) and Dana Gamblin welcomed Remington Shaw on October 26, 2004. The Gamblins have recently moved to the Denver, Colo., area where Neil will be working with St. Patrick Presbyterian Church in the areas of mercy ministry and counseling, as well as with other area churches as a counselor. Julia Gray was born to Daniel (M.Div.’03) and Robyn (M.A.’03) Shipes on January 2, 2005. The Shipes live in Lecanto, Fla., where Dan and Robyn serve on the staff of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church leading youth ministry.
Professor Emeritus News R. Laird Harris has recently completed a study in Gospel parallels. He has arranged the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with their parallel references in a column format on single pages. Dr. Harris has sought to improve upon features of earlier reference Bibles by bringing more information onto one page. He is now seeking a publisher. Dr. and Mrs. Harris reside at Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community in Quarryville, Pennsylvania.
Join Us The Covenant
Greece 2005 Tour
PATHW AYS of Paul
DATE: July 25 to 29, 2005
DATE: June 22 to July 2, 2005
CO-SPONSORED BY: Covenant Theological
HOSTED BY: Dr. Bryan and Mrs. Kathy Chapell
Seminary and Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center TEACHING LEADERS: Drs. Jay Sklar and David Chapman
Plan your family vacation in the North Carolina mountains, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation and immersed in delightful Bible teaching by Covenant Seminary professors. This conference provides an opportunity for Covenant families, both parents and children, to explore God’s gracious covenant and what it means for daily living as a family today.
Trace the path of God’s mighty work in the early Church as Covenant Seminary President Dr. Bryan Chapell leads a teaching tour along the Pathways of Paul. Stops along the way will include Athens and Corinth. Additionally a beautiful Aegean Sea cruise will make stops at six ports including Ephesus, Patmos, and Santorini. Make plans now to spend part of your summer being renewed in the fellowship of other believers, the study of God’s Word, and the beauty of Greece.
CALL 1.800.903.4044 FOR MORE INFORMATION
EVENTS Gatherings, Conferences Lifetime of Ministry Lecture Series
Art @ the Institute
Church-Based Community Ministry
This spring the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute will show work from a number of artists including:
DATE: March 4 to 5, 2005
Christ commissioned the Church to be salt and light in this world’s cultures. This course investigates the Church’s role in
CAROL BOMER, PAINTER
justice and mercy issues connected with community development
DATE: March 12 to April 12, 2005
and Gospel outreach. As a part of Covenant Seminary’s Lifetime
Carol Bomer’s art has been called “a silent form of poetry.”
of Ministry Lecture Series, this two-day course can be audited*
In her work she seeks to evoke both image and impression, the
for $25. Register on the Covenant Seminary website.
tangible world and the spiritual world. Her hope is that her work will bring glory to God and show truth and love to man. Carol
Fall 2005 Francis A. Schaeffer Lecture Series
Bomer lives in Asheville, N.C., and has worked professionally as
Two Worlds Under One Roof
a painter since 1976. She has had over 30 solo shows in the U.S.
DATE: October 21 and 22, 2005 PLENARY SPEAKER: Bill Romanowski, author of Eyes Wide Open:
JOE COGLIANDRO, PHOTOGRAPHER
Looking for God in Popular Culture
BEAUTY: A JOURNEY THROUGH ISRAEL, SINAI, AND JORDAN
This fall the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute is teaming up with the
DATE: April 16 to May 21, 2005
Youth in Ministry Institute to talk about bridging the generation
Covenant Seminary student Joe Cogliandro gives viewers a
gap between teenagers and adults. This conference is
glimpse of the striking beauty and character of the Middle East.
geared toward anyone working with youth including
This show was inspired by the abundant and thriving culture Joe experienced in his six-month travel and stay through
youth leaders, pastors and parents.
Israel, Sinai, and Jordan.
Yimi Summer Conference
thinking, serious questions, fun, small group
interaction, and ministry trips to learn
DATE: June 20 to 25, 2005
through experience. A special Youth Leader
This summer Covenant Seminary’s Youth in
track (staff or volunteer) will also be offered.
Ministry Institute (Yimi) will bring together high school students from across the nation to help them
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the conference mailing list.
grow in their view of God, themselves, others, and the entire world. Students will explore a Biblical understanding of one truth, one Lord, and one Church while seeing the implications for this teaching in everyday life. The conference will take place on the campus of Covenant Seminary and will include intense
Please join us:
These events are open to the public and are offered free or for a minimal charge. To learn more about any of these events, please log on to www.covenantseminary.edu or call 1.800.903.4044.
A Journey to the Ends of the Earth
continued from page 5 The Journey to the Heart of the Son
We all have trouble looking on the horror of our own sin
The journey to heaven, on which Jesus now leads
and recognizing our own need for forgiveness. What about those whom we would lead to the heart of
Nicodemus, begins with a reference to the past – to the last miracle performed by Moses. Do you remember the story?
the Son? Why won’t some of them look up to Him? It is
The last of Moses’ recorded miracles, told in Numbers, is
because on the cross they have to look at the thorns on the
the account of deliverance from a serpent attack. The story
brow, the nails in the hands, the blood pooled beneath his
begins with the nation of Israel growing impatient with their
feet – and weep. Looking to the Son requires a realization
journey to the Promised Land. They complain against Moses
that it is for my sin and rebellion this Savior died. But when I cannot bear the sight of my own sin, my God
and God. Emblematic of the venom from their mouths, God sends poisonous snakes to plague them.
looks at my sin there upon the cross and,
They begin to die, but Moses petitions
then, He passes over me. When I see
God for them. God subsequently instructs
that, then I have seen the Kingdom of
Moses to construct a serpent of bronze
God, and I have taken the journey to the
and lift it on a pole. Anyone who would
heart of the Son. Former seminary student and current
look up at the serpent – trusting in God’s
military chaplain, John Griessel, tells of
provision – would live.
an experience of farm workers during
Now Jesus says to Nicodemus, even
harvest season. In the fury of the corn
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. The implication is plain. Christ Himself must be exalted, lifted up, and those who look up to Him will live. Look through Nicodemus’ eyes to consider the journey he must take to the heart of the Son. Nicodemus knew that the raised-up serpent looked like what was afflicting the people, not like what was delivering them. The serpent was the symbol of their sin. For Jesus to indicate
Our means is to lead them to the end of this earth and to the heart of the Son with the simple Gospel call, “Look up.”
harvest an auger at the top of a grain elevator clogged and stuck. One of the workers crawled down into the hopper to undo the clog not realizing that the power to the auger, the great screw that funnels the grain into the bins below, was still engaged. As soon as the worker cleared the clog, the auger began to turn and suck the man along with the tons of grain down its throat. The man quickly sunk to his chest, as if in quicksand. Fellow workers lowered a rope to him, but
that He would be lifted up is to indicate that He will take the place of the serpent; He will stand
the man – panicked by his predicament – was simply looking
in as the sin of the people. This is Christ’s own acknowledge-
down and trying to swim through the grain. His deliverance
ment that He who knew no sin would become sin for us
was within reach but he did not see it. Together with one
(2 Cor. 5:21).
voice to rise above the roar of the auger, the fellow workers yelled, “Look up!” He did, and was saved.
What do you see when you see Jesus? Goodness, faithful-
Our call is not so different for those that we love and
ness? You should see these things. But what Jesus is showing Nicodemus by reference to the Savior’s future suffering is the
Christ loves. We see them swimming through the sin and
awfulness of Nicodemus’ own sin. In Christ’s blood we see
rebellion that will soon engulf them. Our goal is to lift their
our sin on Jesus.
eyes from the things of this earth and look to the One who alone can save them. Our means is to lead them to the end
A Mere Look
of this earth and to the heart of the Son with the Gospel
Why was it hard for the Israelites to look at the serpent?
call, “Look up.” n
It was hard because the serpent of bronze reminded them of the venom of their own complaint and lack of trust. www.covenantseminary.edu
Training Servants of the Triune God
THERE IS ROOM The Church’s Ministry to the Mentally Handicapped An interview with Neil Bennett (D.Min.’04)
Recent graduate Neil Bennett researched an intensely personal and practical subject for his Doctor of Ministry dissertation that will be with the Church throughout this age: ministry to mentally handicapped children and their families. While such ministry comes about due to the brokenness and suffering of our world, Neil is well aware that the Lord’s redeeming hand stretches with comforting, healing balm to touch the lives of handicapped people and their families. The following e-mail interview with Neil reveals the depth of his understanding on this subject and his heart to see the church ministering to the “least of these.”
NEIL BENNETT Pastor of Churchill Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas
The Church’s Ministry to the Mentally Handicapped
to meet the needs of my own son and, on a theological level,
Q CM: How would you describe your findings in regard to the experience of mentally handicapped
to look for answers in God’s Word to see what it said about
children and their families in the church?
the Church’s proper response to the mentally handicapped.
NB: Without denying the progress that has been made in Q CM: Can you share a bit about facing the news
this area in recent years, it is clear that many families with
that your son was diagnosed as autistic?
mentally handicapped children struggle to find their place in the church. Some families with special needs kids come
NB: The diagnosis itself was not as big an issue as the
to church and find that there are no other families with
frightening changes we saw in our son’s behavior at the
similar needs. There are no programs in place to meet the
onset of his autism. Life with Matthew began in the
needs of their child, and they run into walls of disapproval
typical way. The first couple of years of his life were quite
and misunderstanding. They may visit the church, but often
normal. He smiled, he crawled, he walked, and he talked.
they don’t come back. These parents have been through too
Not sentences, you understand, but words. Lots of words:
many disappointments to believe that anyone, even the
“Mama, ball, truck, go, bye-bye, hurry, help, light, and
church, will automatically accept their child.
Hallelujah.” (The Preacher’s kid, you know.) And of course, my personal favorite of all his words
Other families with mentally
handicapped children do find a place of love and acceptance
Every Covenant Seminary Doctor of
I remember one day when he was
among a local church family.
Ministry student, in the final stages
about two, Matthew toddled over to
Whenever this happens, some
of studies, sets out to gain a greater
me, held up his arms to be picked
surprising and wonderful things
understanding of some particular
up, and then he looked at me with
occur. Many mentally handicapped
aspect of pastoral ministry. In final
sparkling eyes and said, “Daddy!”
children and adults come to occupy
form, the research that the student
That may not sound like such an
important places in the hearts of
completes toward this end becomes
outstanding event to you, but I shall
their church families. The presence
his dissertation. Doctor of Ministry
of mentally handicapped people
dissertations reflect the day-to-day
teaches church members important
issues of pastoral ministry and serve
lessons about accepting and loving people who may be different from
never forget it, for that is the last time I ever heard my son say, “Daddy.” It was soon after that when the silent thief of autism began to take over our
to bless the Church at large as the legacy of a pastor’s work is shared.
son’s mind causing him to withdraw
most. Not only that, but many
into himself. Odd ritualistic behaviors
mentally handicapped people can
began to occupy his days. He stopped
be powerful communicators of spiritual truth. Many
smiling and making eye contact. And gradually the words
mentally handicapped persons model Christ-like virtues
just went away until they were all gone. It is a frightening
of love and faith and truthfulness while living their lives
thing to see your child being snatched away before your eyes
with absolute simplicity, trust, and lack of pretense. They
and drawn into a terrible silence. Matthew is now 15 years old. His autism is quite severe.
teach powerful lessons about patience and perseverance
He cannot speak, although he does laugh, and sometimes
in spite of difficulties.
he cries. He loves music and cars and being outdoors. He has some unusual behaviors, and in general he functions
Q CM: How did you begin to have a desire to address this subject?
approximately on the level of a four-year-old, although he
NB: My interest arose quite naturally out of my role as a
is making progress. Matthew communicates by means of an
father and a pastor trying to cope with my own autistic son,
electronic device that generates speech as he inputs symbols.
Matthew. At the time, my own church had no place for a
His favorite expression is, “I’m hungry; I want pizza!” If you
child like him, and I was compelled, on a practical level,
knew him, you would love him! He currently attends a
Training Servants of the Triune God
The Church’s Ministry to the Mentally Handicapped
special class in the public school, and we are very proud
Q CM: What are some pitfalls that the church
of him. By the way, his name, Matthew, means “gift of the
commonly falls into in ministering to mentally
Lord,” and he is just that!
handicapped children or adults and their families?
NB: The greatest pitfall the church must avoid is simply not Q CM: How do we build a Biblical framework
doing anything. Most churches do nothing with regard to
for viewing people with mental handicaps?
this kind of ministry until they are forced to do so. In 1990,
NB: A theology of the mentally handicapped must begin
the Americans with Disabilities Act set the stage for inclusion,
with an understanding of man as a unique creation of God.
and the legal community has provided impetus for still more
Human beings were created in God’s image. As bearers of
inclusion of disabled people, yet the church has lagged
the divine image, it is important to recognize that all human
behind. Indeed, many in the Evangelical and Reformed
beings have dignity and worth in God’s sight. With this
traditions have, by and large, done the least in this arena.
truth firmly established, one can see that no human being
The Church must be proactive in responding to the
can ever be written off as worthless or hopeless. The
presence of mentally handicapped children and their
mentally handicapped are persons of worth and value who
families. Local churches should welcome all who come,
are, as Psalm 139 states, “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
but churches should go beyond simply accepting those mentally handicapped children and families who happen
Scripture consistently upholds the cause of justice and a sense of compassion for the weak.
to enter through their doors. Churches can intentionally cultivate relationships with group homes and special schools for the mentally disabled. Acts of service and kindness aimed specifically at these target groups may open doors for further ministry while providing opportunities to share the
Q CM: How do we build a Biblical framework for
Gospel. We must not forget the weary parents of mentally
ministering to people with mental handicaps?
handicapped children who are often in need of respite care,
NB: The Biblical stance regarding the treatment of the
support groups, and prayer partners.
mentally handicapped can be discerned from the fact that
To discover and respond to the needs of mentally
Scripture consistently upholds the cause of justice and
handicapped children and their families the church must
a sense of compassion for the weak. Throughout the Old
avoid the pitfall of thinking that we have all the answers
Testament, God identifies with the cause of the poor, the
and take time to listen to the stories of such families. If
needy, and otherwise marginalized persons of society
more parents and their mentally handicapped children were
(see Ps. 72:1-14; Isa. 35:3-6). In the New Testament, there
encouraged to publicly share their stories, then those stories
is a continuation of this theme with a striking emphasis on
would doubtless open many new paths of understanding and
the glorification of the weak. Jesus, who was fond of saying
ministry between such families and local churches.
“the last shall be first,” also indicated that service rendered
It is also imperative that churches make every effort to
unto “the least of these brothers of mine” could be reckoned
befriend the mentally handicapped while never patronizing
as service unto the Lord himself. The healing ministry of
them. Families of mentally handicapped children long for
Jesus focused not only on physical restoration, but also
friendship and genuine acceptance. Parents of a mentally
on restoring disabled people on the fringes of society to
handicapped child do enjoy talking about many other
their place in the religious community. The Apostle Paul
subjects besides their child’s condition, history, and progress
elaborated on Jesus’ concern when he urged Christians to
(or lack of progress). Sensitive church members will seek to
help the weak and to remember that God often uses the
befriend these parents for friendship’s sake, and not simply
weak to put to shame the strong. In 1 Corinthians 12:22,
out of a sense of pity, guilt, or obligation. Mentally handi-
Paul argues that, in the body of Christ, the weaker members
capped children need friends too. It is important that they
are actually the most indispensable.
experience friendship with other children who are not
An interview with Neil Bennett (D.Min.’04)
disabled just as it is important for non-disabled children
constantly strive to “resist the loss of humanness in our
to experience friendship with the mentally handicapped.
generation.” The value placed upon the lives of mentally
This context of friendship will provide many opportunities
handicapped persons may indeed prove to be one of the
for spiritual growth.
greatest moral tests for Christians in the days ahead.
In the last several decades there have been numerous assaults against the image of God in mentally handicapped persons.
Q CM: How can the church address the spiritual growth of mentally handicapped people?
NB: Like all people, the mentally handicapped need to know the love of Christ and the power of the Gospel. One mentally handicapped young man said, “I know I learn more slowly, but my soul is not retarded.” Some mentally handicapped people would do well in a separate
Q CM: How can mentally handicapped children/
Bible class designed especially for them. Others who are higher functioning can be mainstreamed into a regular class
people be integrated into the life of the church?
with just a little extra assistance. Don’t worry about them
NB: Churches should take care not to isolate the mentally
slowing the other kids down; they are more likely to speed
handicapped as separate from the rest of the church body.
them up morally and spiritually! The church needs to have
God sought to identify with hurting humanity through the
the attitude of, “We want you here! Whatever you need,
Incarnation and the Passion of Christ. Disability and suffer-
we will try to provide it.” The church I previously served
ing are part of communion with God. It follows then that
had a Vacation Bible School for the mentally handicapped.
the presence of the disabled is necessary for the Church to
This generated a tremendous response in the community.
truly know God in His fullness. To exclude them is to dimin-
Parents have questions about their mentally handicapped
ish the Body of Christ. In Jesus’ parable of the great feast in Luke 14, the Master
child’s place in the Kingdom of God that only the Church
orders his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys
of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind Q CM: How has having an autistic son informed
and the lame.” I believe the mentally handicapped would
your reading of God’s Word and world?
also be a part of this group which would include those
NB: I know that my son’s life has great value in the eyes
crippled in body as well as those crippled in mind, the poor
of God. When I read the Scriptures along with the news
as well as the poor in spirit. “And the servant said, Lord,
headlines, I am especially sensitive to sanctity of life issues
it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room.”
with regard to the mentally handicapped. In the last several
These words of Christ still speak prophetically to His
decades there have been numerous assaults against the image
Church today. Although the doors have been opened and
of God in mentally handicapped persons. Some have tried to
some of God’s mentally handicapped children have found
define severely mentally disabled persons as being less than
their place at the Master’s table, there are many, many
human. Others appeal to the economic burden imposed
who still remain outside. There is yet room. n
upon society in caring for the needs of the mentally handi-
If you have further questions regarding ministering to the
capped and wonder if the money could be better spent upon
mentally handicapped, Dr. Bennett can be contacted by e-mail
more productive members of the population. The advances
at email@example.com. Recommended reading from Dr. Bennett: The Power of
of modern medical technology exert further pressure on the
the Powerless: A Brother’s Legacy of Love by Christopher
sanctity of life with respect to the mentally handicapped.
De Vinck (Crossroad Books).
Some would reason that it is better not to allow a mentally handicapped child to be born at all when such a thing can
be prevented. Francis Schaeffer said that Christians must
Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 5, Book 3 (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1982), 408.
Training Servants of the Triune God
COVENANT FAMILY Dale Weldon Pastors Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Ga. A pastor fulfills numerous roles in the life of a church. He is a preacher, a teacher, a counselor, an evangelist, a caregiver, a worship leader, and more. While these images are quick to come to mind in thinking of a pastor’s vocation, Dale Weldon (M.Div.’80, D.Min.’01) brought up another lessmentioned image in a recent interview with Covenant magazine. Over the last 25 years in pastoral ministry Dale says he has been privileged to be an honorary family member. He’s right of course. The Church is the family
The people of Covenant Presbyterian Church
of God and familial imagery is laden through-
are young and old. They come from all kinds
out Scripture. Dale says he first realized the
of backgrounds. Outsiders who visit their con-
essence of this calling during his first year out
gregation see their family ties, but they just call
of seminary. He was serving as Assistant Pastor
it warmth. They are a welcoming family. Being welcome in a family is important in
for First Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One day’s events still stick
a town like Fayetteville (in the metro-Atlanta area) that
with him. He had just left the hospital where he greeted
has seen rapid growth in recent years and where most people
the newest member of the First Reformed congregation.
are not from there. Family ties outside of flesh and blood
But his next destination was a hospice.
Dale says that one “There I was at crucial moments for two people, one just beginning life of the blessings and and the other on the other side of life,” challenges of living as Dale says. “This is the honor of being a pastor, you are invited into people’s the family of God is to lives at their most significant moments and also during the moments in understand each other, between. It is like being an honorary love each other, and family member.” The congregation Dale has pastored serve together across for the past 16 years in Fayetteville, Ga., the generations. knows a lot about those family ties. COVENANT MAGAZINE
become all the more essential when you need grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins and most of your family are hundreds of miles away. So Dale is glad that the members of Covenant Presbyterian Church can be that for one another through their bonds in Christ. What does it look like for the church as the family of God to all live under “one roof”? Dale says that one of the blessings and challenges is to understand each other, love
11:00 am worship service at Covenant Presbyterian Church
each other, and serve together across the generations.
they welcome the outsider. “The Lord has made our church
Outside of the body of Christ it is easy to fall into a
into a kind of re-entry point for people who have left the
very segmented life: teenagers work and spend time with
church for some reason,” Dale says. Covenant Church is
other teens, young parents group together, older folks
also involved in impacting their community through church
stay in their communities. But Dale is encouraged that
planting. They have helped support the planting of five
reconciliation in Christ means reconciliation across those
churches since Dale has been there, two of them pastored
barriers and that is what they strive for at Covenant Church.
by African-American men.
A few months ago Dale preached a series of sermons on
Dale also is deeply committed to the idea that the
“One Church, Four Generations” (the builders, boomers,
pastor, as a family leader, needs to come into the church
busters, and bridgers). He was inspired to do so upon the
body with the idea of the long haul in mind. In 2001,
realization that Covenant Church is truly blessed by the
Dale completed a Doctor of Ministry dissertation on
generations who are coming and that they should not
The Impact of the Long-term Pastorate. This is something
take that for granted.
Dale felt to be of utmost importance in recent years and
Not only do Dale and the people of Covenant Church
sought to find out more about long-term pastors as the
strive to embrace each other within their church body, www.covenantseminary.edu
central focus of his Doctor of Ministry degree.
Training Servants of the Triune God
“This is the honor of being a pastor, you are invited into people’s lives at their most significant moments and also during the moments in between. It is like being an honorary family member.” – DALE WELDON
It was like watching one of my own children get married.”
He interviewed 12 pastors on the subject and his
It is clear, when speaking with Dale, that he loves
findings were quite positive. “Basically the long-term pastorate helps the pastor, his family, and the church in the
his work. He does not underestimate the challenges, but
areas of stability, breadth of ministry, and depth of ministry,”
he considers himself blessed by God. “The older I get the
Dale says as he comments on his findings. “In the past the
more reality sets in,” he says. “I appreciate more being
long-term pastorate was the norm.
Presbyterian which means being
Today we need to think long and
surrounded by elders, I appreciate
hard about how the transient
the Word of God which is the same
nature of our society affects the
for every generation, I appreciate my
church all the way to the pastor.
family, and I appreciate the Church
Unfortunately statistics that span
which is the family of God.” n
a number of denominations put the average pastorate at much lower than even five years. It is Dale and the junior high Sunday school
A church grandmother
important to counteract this trend by at least considering
Dale Weldon and the family of Covenant Presbyterian Church
the value of the long-term pastorate.” Dale is quick to say that there are times when many pastors are called to move. “All you have to do is look at the New Testament to see Paul moving around – but that was his calling.” Dale’s findings show that the value of the long-term pastorate should not be underestimated. “I think
Dale and his wife Connie
it is important for pastors when they accept a call to at least Covenant Seminary is honored
have in mind that they will be sticking around for a while.”
to have a role in sending out men
Sixteen years at Covenant Presbyterian Church has enabled Dale to enjoy the stability, breadth, and depth
like Dale into pastoral ministry.
that comes from being there to watch a generation grow up.
Please join in giving thanks
This past Christmas he officiated a wedding. “The bride was
for the faithful service of so many
a little child when I first met her,” he says. “I was honored to
Covenant Seminary alumni across
be a part of one of the most important days of her life.
the U.S. and around the world.
Training Servants of the Triune God
APOLOGETICS FAILURE AND
The Difference Between Perceived and Actual Failure “...but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect....” 1 PETER 3:15,16a ESV When it comes to discussing Christian apologetics,
about evangelistic failures, two reasons come to
there are certain topics that come up almost imme-
mind – both of which betray the superficiality
diately. There is the question of content, of what
of my own heart. First, I neglect to focus on my
actually to say when making a case for Christianity.
apologetic failures because I do not want to have
What lines of argumentation might we employ?
to admit these failures, much less talk about them.
What strands of evidence seem compelling? There is also the
Unlike the proverbial fisherman, I rarely delight in telling
question of methodology, of how to make a good case for the
the story of the “one that got away.” Pride, it seems, is
Christian faith. How do we engage a different way of
quick to expunge all reference to error
thinking? How do we identify and
and failure. Second, in the past I have not taken
utilize meaningful points of contact? How do we build bridges across to
the time to study my failures because
I doubted that doing so had any value. In many instances, the feelings of
These aspects of sharing the Christian faith are fundamental
disappointment, embarrassment, or
to the practice of Christian apolo-
even frustration that washed over me
getics. Yet while certain topics have
as a result of apologetic opportunities
become almost synonymous with
flubbed or gone wrong, led me to
our discussions about apologetics,
conclude that little could be gained
many other issues are barely if ever
from such failure. I now believe this
raised at all. At the top of my list
is true for others. The negative reac-
of neglected topics, and most con-
tions and stern self-chastisement
spicuous by its absence, is the topic
that follows on the heels of failure
of apologetics and failure.
lead us to deny that any failure can be worthwhile or beneficial.
Bringing Failure Into View
Doubtless there are other reasons
Why is it that apologists are not talking more about their
why we do not like to think about our apologetic failures.
failures? As I turn to confront my own reluctance to share
Apologetics and Failure
Yet I am sure that all of us who have attempted to give a
MARK P. RYAN (M.A.’99)
word back (apologetics literally means “to give a word back”)
L’Abri Fellowship, Southborough, Mass.
will recognize the above two reasons as often lying close to the root of our unwillingness to seriously engage the reality
means. Not having answers for
of failure and its implications for apologetics.
all of the questions that one may be asked may be disappointing
and it can be a setback, but it is
Nonetheless, having identified failure as a neglected reality
not actual failure.
within the field of apologetics and having offered a couple
n Not Getting in ALL of the Gospel
of reasons as to why this is so, let me now address what
Viewing anything less than a comprehensive Gospel
actually constitutes failure in terms of the apologetic task.
presentation as unqualified failure is another stereotype,
There are two types of failure: perceived failure and
which, like the first, only serves to make people feel
actual failure. Perceived failure can be defined as not achiev-
inadequate and ill-equipped to talk about the Jesus in
ing a desired end or outcome or falling short in something
whom they believe. Yes, one key aspect of “giving a word
desired or approved. While actual failure is non-performance
back” is gaining the opportunity to present the Christian
of what is due, required, or expected. The difference between
Gospel. Yet we also need to recognize that our calling is
the two is the level of obligation involved, the level of
not to force-feed or simply dump the whole Christian
having omitted, ignored, or broken with something
story upon people all at once, regardless of contingent
...the feelings of disappointment, embarrassment, or even frustration that washed over me as a result of apologetic opportunities flubbed or gone wrong, led me to conclude that little could be gained from such failure. Perceived Failure
circumstances. As apologists, our calling involves
Under the category of perceived failure are those
being sensitive to God’s good providence: to what He
occurrences that are most commonly held up or thought
is presently accomplishing in the person in front of us.
to be clear instances of failure by people concerned with
Therefore we must be faithful in sharing the portion
apologetics but which are not really failures at all. This
of Gospel truth that is most timely and most applicable
includes perceived apologetic failures such as:
to the person’s individual concerns. On some occasions
n Not Having ALL the Answers
this may very well include an explanation of the way of
While it is necessary for us to be able to formulate our
salvation, but not always.2
n Not Winning the Argument (Not Gaining the Hearer)
faith in elementary propositions so that we can speak about it meaningfully, and while we should have a basic
Thirdly, and perhaps most important of all, “losing the
working knowledge of the Bible and be able to explain the 1
way of salvation – nowhere does the Word of God or God Himself expect, much less require us to be all-knowing. 2
Omniscience, though an attribute of God, is not a prerequisite for apologetics! We are creatures made to acquire knowledge progressively in dependence upon various
For example: “I failed to watch NBC nightly news last night” vs. “I failed to do my income tax the last three years.” The first is not required the way the second is. If this shocks you, let me assign you some homework. Read through the Gospels and count the times Jesus gives what we have come to think of as a comprehensive Gospel presentation. Additionally, read Jerram Barrs, The Heart of Evangelism (Crossway, 2001), especially pages 181ff.
Training Servants of the Triune God
Francis A. Schaeffer Institute argument” is also not actual failure. If we bear in mind
to engage in apologetics with these words: “yet with gen-
the Scriptural witness to the sinful and rebellious nature
tleness and respect.” Paul too adds a similar qualification:
of the unregenerate heart and mind, as well as to the
“with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition”
necessary work of the Triune God in the process of con-
(1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:23-25; Tit. 3:2). To fail to show
version, then we have to recognize that the language of
gentleness and respect, to fall into outright quarreling and
“losing” and or “winning” is largely inappropriate from our
hostility, is a serious failure – and this failure places us at
limited and transient vantage point. The convincing and
cross-purposes with the very truth we are defending.
n Relying on Our Own Apologetic Prowess
convicting that is needed to “gain the hearer” is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the job of the apologist (Jn. 16:8-
Christian apologists also fail when we think communicat-
11). Additionally, what looks like “losing” to us may well
ing and defending our faith is entirely dependent upon
be something else to God (Isa. 55:8-11; Isa. 6:8-9; Mk.
our own ability. When we put our faith in our knowledge
4:10-12). We may simply be one voice in a chorus of
or experience we make a major mistake that shows
voices and events yet to unfold in the individual’s life.
evidence of pride (Mt. 23:12; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).
n Abandoning a Christian World and Life View
Not having the answers for all of the questions that one may be asked may be disappointing and it can be a setback, but it is not actually failure.
Finally, we fail as apologists if we abandon a Christian world and life view by consenting to answer in terms of unbelief. This happens when we deny the reality of sin and judgment or some other aspect of our faith in order to appease our hearer. This is the sin of treachery or treason (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). The Word of God clearly addresses each of these realities. We can only plead our guilt and acknowledge these particular failures to be actual failures. Unfortunately
What Then Is Actual Failure?
such failures can also be termed “toxic failures,” for not only
Actual failure has to do with omitting or ignoring what
are these failures purpose-defeating but they are also serious
we may justly be held accountable for and/or obligated to
spiritual pollutants if left unchecked. When such failures are
perform. In connection with our calling to “give a word
not speedily remedied, they poison apologetic effectiveness
back,” actual failure includes the following:
and contaminate other areas of our apologetics and Christian
n Having No Answers
life in general.
The Christian apologist fails when he or she does not
While much more remains to be said about actual versus
have any answer or any edifying response to give to the
perceived failure, for now I simply want to conclude by
objection, question, or remark put to him or her. Given
noting that while neither perceived nor actual failure
the rational and cognitive nature of saving faith, given
is completely avoidable, both species of failure do come
the missionary nature of Biblical religion, and given the
under the overarching providence of God and therefore can
explicit commands of the Bible to be “ready to make a
be taken up by God and employed positively in the life of
defense” and to “make the most of the opportunity” –
the Christian apologist. This brings us to considering why
having absolutely nothing to say constitutes real failure
it may be good for us to lose an argument. n
that needs remedying (1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:5-6).
n Being Rude, Condescending or Hostile in Either
Part II of this series of Apologetics and Failure will consider
Attitude or Manner
“why it may be good to lose the argument” and will be featured
Regarding our manner, the Bible is explicit. Consider the
in the Summer 2005 issue of Covenant magazine.
example of Jesus: His patience, grace, mercy, sensitivity, and so on. Additionally, Peter qualified his own command
The LORD Is Against Me!
another “child” – a child that the LORD has provided –
continued from page 9
and holds him tenderly to her breast. And we hear again the LORD’s tender voice: “Naomi, precious Naomi; please
At this point the voice of the LORD is more than a whisper, for this is the second time in the book that the word
know that the presence of tragedy in your life does not mean
“empty” or “empty-handed” has been used. In chapter one,
that I am against you. Even in the midst of tragedy I am still
it was spoken in anger by Naomi as an accusation against
the LORD of steadfast love.”
the LORD: “I went out full but the LORD has brought me
It is important to emphasize what the book of Ruth is
back empty” (Ruth 1:21). In chapter three, however, it is
and is not teaching. It is not teaching that the provision of
spoken by Boaz in tenderness and steadfast love. It is as
this child, or the provision of Boaz, or the provision of Ruth,
though the LORD Himself is responding to Naomi’s accusa-
simply makes things all better. When Naomi’s husband and
tion and even using her own words to say tenderly to her
children died, a piece of Naomi died with them, and not
through Boaz, “Naomi, I have not forgotten your emptiness.
even a grandchild can erase that loss. But the book of Ruth is teaching that
I am not against you. Please know that even in the midst of tragedy, I am still
even when we walk through the valley of
the LORD of steadfast love.”
the shadow of death – and there will be times in all of our lives when that valley
The LORD will continue to speak these
comes – that even there the LORD will
words to Naomi as the story finishes.
be our Shepherd of steadfast love. When
The LORD Provides a Redeemer
the LORD places another child on the lap
By the end of the story, Ruth and Boaz
of Naomi, He is not saying, “See, it’s all
marry and Ruth gives birth to a son.
better now.” What He is saying – to
The women of the city – the same women who greeted Naomi in chapter one and whom she rebuked – now bless the name of the LORD and make one thing crystal clear: the LORD is not against Naomi; He is for Naomi. They describe the boy saying, “He shall be to you a restorer of life…” (Ruth 4:15). Let me translate the word “restorer” literally: “He shall be to you one who causes life to return…” We miss it in the English, but
The book of Ruth thus becomes a call to trust in the LORD of steadfast love even in the midst of suffering and loss.
Naomi and to all who feel like the Naomi of chapter one – is, “I have not forgotten you. The world is often a dark place, and the effects of sin in this world are painful and real, but even when the pain of a fallen world hits you most keenly and you feel as though you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I am still there, by your side, ever ready to comfort and help. I am still your LORD of steadfast love.”
in the Hebrew the women use the same
The book of Ruth thus becomes a call
word that Naomi did in chapter one
to trust in the LORD of steadfast love even in the midst of
when she said, “The LORD has caused me to return empty…”
suffering and loss. It does not answer the “why” of Naomi’s
(Ruth 1:21). Again, in chapter one this expression was used
suffering, at least from Naomi’s perspective. But throughout
by Naomi as an accusation against the LORD. In chapter four
the book the voice of the LORD continually beckons her to
these words are used as a reminder that the LORD is not
trust in Him even in the midst of the “whys.” And His voice
against Naomi; indeed, they are one more whisper of the
beckons to us to do the same. When we feel like the Naomi
LORD’s steadfast love.
of chapter one, we need to remember the LORD of chapters
In fact, when the women finish speaking, we read these
one, two, three, and four, the LORD of steadfast love that
words in verse 16: “Then Naomi took the child and laid
continually says to His covenant children, “I have not
him on her lap and became his nurse.” The word for “child”
forgotten you; I am not against you; I am, and will ever be,
here occurs one other time in the book of Ruth. It is chapter
your LORD of steadfast love.” n
one. We read there that Naomi lost her two “children,” her two “boys” (Ruth 1:5). We read here that Naomi now takes
Training Servants of the Triune God
CAMPUS For a campus calendar, log on to www.covenantseminary.edu. 50 Days of Prayer Mission to North America is once again providing a prayer guide with devotional messages for the 50 days leading up to the Presbyterian Church in America’s General Assembly (June 14 to 17 in Chattanooga, Tenn.). The “50 Days of Prayer” devotional and prayer requests can be found online at www.pcacep.org and www.pca-mna.org starting in late March 2005. The focus of the devotional messages is on The Parables of Jesus. This publication is intended to mobilize the PCA in concerted prayer.
Chapell Serves in Senegal Seminary President Dr. Bryan Chapell spent a portion of the month of January serving in Senegal, a largely Muslim country where Mission to the World Missionaries rejoice in the planting of 15 new churches in recent years and about 200 conversions per year. During that time, Dr. Chapell taught for a pastors’ conference attended by pastors from Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Congo.
Pastors Summit Program Begins The Pastors Summit program, jointly led by Covenant, Reformed and Westminster Seminaries officially began this past January. The program, made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., brings together pastors from around the country to participate in a two-year, six-meeting program to explore sustaining pastoral excellence in the 21st century. The Pastors Summit Program helps pastors involved build community among fellow pastors,
gain ongoing training and equipping, and find renewal in their calling. Because theological seminaries lead this program, there is a natural outlet to use these lessons in training the next generation of pastors. At Covenant Seminary the program is led by Bob Burns, Director of the seminary’s Center for Ministry Leadership. Find out more on www.pastorssummit.org.
Pastors and Business Leaders Gather for Intersect This April, pastors and business leaders who also serve as ruling elders will gather at Covenant Seminary for the first meeting of Intersect. Intersect is a forum created to help church and business leaders discuss how to sustain growth and change within their organizations. The forum explores dynamics of growth and change; common ground between church and business structures; and leadership models built on God’s common grace that span multiple vocational arenas. This program is made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. For more information call 314.392.4203.
Covenant College; in St. Louis, Mo., April 7 to 9, leading Intersect Forum for pastors and business leaders at Covenant Seminary.
Jerram Barrs, Professor of Christianity and Contemporary Culture, in Suffolk, Va., March 4 to 6, leading mission conference for Westminster Presbyterian Church; in St. Louis, Mo., March 11 to 13, teaching for L’Abri Jubilee; in Zionsville, Ind., April 15 to 17, teaching for the Institute for Christian Thought; in Baltimore, Md., May 14 to 17, teaching for Timonium Presbyterian Church and Chesapeake Presbyterian Church.
David Calhoun, Professor of Church History, in St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 9 to May 1, teaching Sunday School for Central Presbyterian Church; in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 30, preaching for Christ Presbyterian Church; in Chicago, Ill., March 13, teaching for Missions Conference at Covenant Presbyterian Church; in Savannah, Ga., May 8, 15, 22, and 29, teaching Sunday School for Independent Presbyterian Church.
Hans Bayer, Associate Professor of New Testament, in St. Louis, Mo., March 11 to 13, teaching for L’Abri Jubilee.
Zack Eswine, Assistant Professor of Homiletics, in Lexington, Ky., during Spring 2005, serving as Interim Pastor for Tates Creek Presbyterian Church.
Bob Burns, Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Center for Ministry Leadership, in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., March 22 to 24 for Assessment Consultation at
Douglass Writes on Church Cultures and Conflict
Seminary Faculty and Alumni Participate in L’Abri Jubilee
Dr. Phillip Douglass, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, is spending his Spring 2005 Sabbatical writing a book on understanding different church cultures as a means of dealing with conflict. Dr. Douglass teaches on this important subject in his Ministry Leadership course which is required for all Master of Divinity students. The book will be published by P&R Publishing.
Robert Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology, in Collinsville, Ill., each Sunday in March through May, preaching for Hope Presbyterian Church.
Covenant Seminary faculty and alumni will join with L’Abri Fellowship this March to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of L’Abri. A celebration involving people from around the world will be held at the America’s Center in St. Louis, Mo., from March 11 to 13, 2005. Among those involved are Jerram Barrs, Professor of Christianity and
Richard Winter, Professor of Practical Theology, in St. Louis, Mo., March 11 to 13, teaching for L’Abri Jubilee.
Contemporary Culture, who will teach on Francis Schaeffer the Man; as well as Richard Winter, Professor of Practical Theology; Hans Bayer, Associate Professor of New Testament; and Udo Middelmann (M.Div.’67) who will lead workshops. For more information log on to www.labrijubilee.org.
Briefly Stated Covenant magazine is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, the National 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. Volume 20, Number 1. ©2005 Executive Editor David Wicker Managing Editor and Writer Eileen O’Gorman
Copy Editors Betty Porter Huntley Cooney
Circulation Paul Rawlins Photography Ed Eubanks Michael Barber Joel Hathaway Lacour-Niesen Visuals Middendorf Photography
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him
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An OPEN DOOR in Edinburgh For the past six years Mark Mark said. “At that point our (M.Div.’07) and Jenny (G.C.’07) lives were becoming busier and Stirling have had an open door we were realizing how much in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1998 we needed further mentoring the Scottish couple joined the and teaching.” staff of The Navigators to serve Mark had resigned from a God’s purposes in one of the career as a medical doctor to join leading cultural capitals of The Navigators staff. Jenny was Europe. Mark and Jenny sought trained as a nurse. As they both to help university students desired to continue in vocational understand and live out the Christian ministry, seminary Gospel of grace in every aspect seemed like the logical next step. The Stirling Family of their lives. Today Mark and Jenny long About 45,000 university students live in Edinburgh, attending to live out what they are learning at Covenant Seminary to serve a number of academic institutions. Perhaps one or two percent of God’s Kingdom purposes in Edinburgh more effectively. One of those students would consider themselves to be Christian. In spite their passions is to equip believers to engage faithfully with the of the spiritual wilderness that the statistics show, the Stirlings had post-Christian European context. many years of seeing the hand of the Lord at work in the lives of “Unfortunately, in the Scottish society it is easy for Christians students there. to develop a kind of a fortress mentality,” Mark says. “Many of The Stirlings’ conviction as they led campus ministry, and their those with whom we worked were afraid to talk about their faith. conviction to this day, is that people need to see the relevance of However, we found that although unbelievers may communicate Christianity as the Gospel impacts all of life. This means that the that they don’t want anyone to tell them what to believe, that Bible is relevant to the lives of the 21st century Scottish student. does not mean they are not interested in truth. In that context, It also means that Christian community should reflect the love of relationship and dialogue are essential.” God as grace is extended and individuals are reconciled to God The Stirlings know that they need to have the long haul in and each other. mind when thinking about ministry leadership. “Discipleship in Biblical relevance, Christian community, and cultural engagethe Scottish context, or really anywhere, does not take place in ment are among the topics that the Stirlings are passionate about one sitting,” Jenny says. “It is a commitment to love people.” as they talk about serving their fellow Scots. A longing to be further So one day soon the Stirlings’ door will again be open in trained in such Gospel ministry caused the Stirlings to uproot from Scotland. This time they will have added all of the training in their country with their four children and make a journey to a Biblical study and apologetics they gained at Covenant Seminary. completely foreign place to attend seminary. “We are thrilled to be at Covenant Seminary and have the Mark’s link with Covenant Seminary started when he took opportunity to step back from busy ministry and be fed,” Mark a mini-course on apologetics that Jerram Barrs, Professor of says. “The more we study, the more our burden grows for Scotland. Christianity and Contemporary Culture, was teaching in We long to see more and more of our own people set free by the Cambridge, England. “I was really inspired and challenged,” grace of God in Christ Jesus.” n COVENANT MAGAZINE
Training Servants of the Triune God
Published on Apr 1, 2005
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to glorify...