Thursday, October 1, 2015

Interview With David Alan Black: It's All Greek to Me

David Alan Black Interview: Seven Marks of a New Testament Church

Encouraging Words From A Student

I just got to the office a little while ago. Right when I sat down the noise thingy for my inbox went off, signaling that I had an incoming message. It was a note from one of my students.
"Hi Tom . . . I would like to say thank you for putting so much into this class. It has really made a difference in my learning experience. For many years, I tried to learn Spanish, but it simply didn't stick. However, for the first time in my life, I really feel like I can learn another language and put it to good use. Thanks, amigo. PS, Yes, last week was and still is a kick in the pants! Lol"
Amen, and praise God!

I sent this note off to my students last night:
"I'm thankful for each one of you. You're working so hard in this class. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. I'm praying for you all each day. Don't forget Phil. 4:13 and Eph. 2:10: You can do everything that God has prepared for you to do beforehand not by your own strength, but from the strength that he gives you. This class is part of what he's prepared for your life, and he'll give you the strength."
We're in this together! Iron sharpens iron.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Greek As A Tool, Not A Magic Key

In this video, I talk to my BIB515 students about what Greek is and is not, as well as how we will focus on putting Greek to use in our study of the New Testament.

Three Reasons Why I Don't Use Greek When I Teach

In this video, I give three reasons for why I do not use Greek in the act of teaching. You've heard someone do it before, I'm sure. "This is the Greek word _____. It means ______ or _______." Instead of doing that, I just explain what the text means, leaving out any and all Greek words. These are just three reasons for why I choose to do so.

A Question About Mentoring And Inerrancy

Over at the Defending Inerrancy blog, Dave Farnell asks the question, "Can you reject biblical inerrancy and still be a faithful mentor?" Read it here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Talking About The Spiritual Disciplines On The Radio

My friend Ricky is going to be on the radio up in Buffalo, NY this afternoon discussing the spiritual disciplines. I'll be tuning in for sure. You can join in as well and stream the discussion by clicking here. Ricky, by the way, is planting a church up in the the beautiful city of Buffalo. It's exciting to see how God works when a church is being planted. He provides, he brings people together, he schedules divine appointments, he reaches people with the gospel, he lights a fire under people who haven't always been living for the only thing that matters. That's what's going on up there in Harvest Buffalo. I get to hear the fruit reports on an almost daily basis. God's up to some really amazing things there. If you know someone that is up there in Buffalo or its environs and you want to see them plugged into a church that is serving one another and committed to studying and living out the Scriptures, introduce them to Harvest Buffalo. You can visit their website here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Beautiful Sunset At Capital

I like to go outside and walk around the building where our seminary is located in Greenbelt, MD. Sometimes I just have to get up and disconnect my brain from whatever I've got it plugged into. Other times I walk over and invite my bride if she's got a moment to take a quick stroll on her break. There's a particular time of the day that I really love to go outside, and that's around sunset. I snapped this pic of the sky as I walked around the buildings this evening.

A Cuban Sandwich At A Wings Restaurant

I went to Buffalo Wild Wings over the weekend. It's the first time I went there and did not order some wings. This time I saw a Cuban sandwich on the menu and, folks, it started talking to me. I mean, this sandwich just started talking, "Thomas, what do you want with those wings? You get those every time you're here. I'm only going to be here a little while. I'm just a promotional. Better get me while you can." Yep, I was convinced. If you're looking to try something new, allow me to recommend that Cuban sandwich. It's not like the ones I've eaten at the Cuban restaurant in Tegucigalpa, but it sure is good.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Must Watch Logos Pro Video If You're Learning Greek (Or Want To)

Logos just posted a video on their blog on how to learn Greek using just some of the most basic features in their Bible software. Seriously, I can't tell you how helpful using the visual filter tool is for learning Hebrew or Greek. Want to work on how to distinguish between the aorist and the imperfect? Just use the visual filter tool and pay attention to the differences as you work through your Greek New Testament. Flip through a few chapters and you'll start to see the patterns. Does it have something the σα? Then it's aorist for sure. Does it not have the σα but you still see the augment (ε/η)? Might still be aorist. Does the stem look different? If it's changed, then you still have an aorist. If it hasn't changed, you're looking at an imperfect. The great thing about using Logos for something like this is you get the answer key every time. Just hover over the word!!!!!!

Check out the post and video here.

Greek In Greenbelt

I joined up with my BIB515 Greek class this week in Greenbelt, MD. What an exceptional class. It means a lot when you have students with the right focus in their studies, and our students at Capital are exceptional. If I could sum up our class time in two sentences, they would read as follows:
1. A knowledge of Greek grammar and syntax coupled with a willingness and a resolve to put it into practice day in and day out will have a significant impact in your study of the New Testament, your walk with the Lord, and the ministry God has given you. 
2. As valuable as Greek is, it is not the most important thing . . . not even close. The main thing–the only thing–that really matters is the Great Commission. Greek is just something we carry with us in the work Jesus has given us to do. 
I loved meeting with our students again this week. This week in Greenbelt, last week was Indy. We covered a lot. I'm praying that the class will bear eternal fruit in our students' lives. I can't wait to see how!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Post On Textual Criticism

I was reading a post by Jeremy Meyers over at his blog "Redeeming God." He's got some good description of textual criticism in the post. You can read it here. He does write one thing that I want to point out:
"All I am saying is that no matter how much Greek you know, there will always be people who know more than you, and will say that your theology is wrong because you don’t know enough. Even world-class Greek scholars like Comfort 'one up' other world-class Greek scholars by saying that the others didn’t understand the tendencies of the scribes who copied the texts."
It's interesting. It's true we will never know it all, none of us, this side of heaven. There's always someone who will know more, usually lots more, than we ourselves know about any given topic. And  we need to be careful and humble in the work we do as exegetes. Nevertheless, comprehensive and exhaustive knowledge are not prereqs for studying the biblical texts. Thankfully!

The one thing that I would say about Meyers' last couple of paragraphs is this type of work in exegesis isn't just something that "scholars" have to deal with. Textual issues matter for us all. And we should really give people in our local churches a grid by which they can work through these issues on their own. What are you going to do in Matt. 5:22 with the word εἰκῇ for example? Whether or not that word is present or not totally changes what Jesus is saying! Meyers writes, "If you want to know what the Bible says, just study it, read it, pray over it, and ask God to guide you by the Holy Spirit." He's right. I just think when we say "just study it" that such study includes textual analysis.

By the way, the Amazon page for Comfort's book has this subtitle for the text: "An up-to-date commentary on all the significant manuscripts and textual variants of the New Testament." All is a really, really big word. I bet there might be one significant textual variant not discussed in the book. Maybe two. You know what, maybe three.

Visiting Philadelphia Over The Weekend

Lesly and I joined my dad in Philadelphia over the weekend. Out of all the family trips we took when I was a kid, our family never went to the birthplace of America. We live about two hours from Philly now so we decided to take a look and see the historic sites on a day trip. I'm glad we did. Independence Hall and its environs really doesn't disappoint, and it brings to life so much that I have read in the past. History comes alive when you can look at something firsthand. Pictures are great, stories are great, but nothing compares to seeing something in person. The depictions I've always had of Independence Hall presented a large meeting place. The room where the Continental Congresses took place was not as large as I had thought. The saying "images in mirror are larger than they appear" applies here.

For me, the real treat was seeing the first meeting place of the Congress, which sits in one of the buildings adjacent to Independence Hall. On the first floor was the House of Representatives, and on the second the Senate. Our tour guide, who was exceptional (something I don't always experience with NPRs, especially at Civil War sites), drew out the significance of what took place in the House chamber on Saturday, March 4, 1797. You can read about the events of that day in a number of books.  And its definitely worth reading about. Adams was inaugurated as President, in the presence of Washington. Nothing like what happened that day had really ever happened before. A man with all the power and esteem of the people sat down and relinquished his power voluntarily.

From what I've read about the night before, Adams couldn't sleep. If there was one thing he could have had that day as he took his oath, it was his wife. She was unable to be in Philadelphia that day. In one sense, that day was more important than the day that Washington became president. People had come to power in the past, though not in the same way that Washington had. But the real test of the new found law of the land was whether or not elected individuals could recede back into public life. That's what happened that day. Power was relinquished. The heaviest baton was passed, one that men in the past had clung to with all their might.

I loved seeing the first meeting place of the United States Supreme Court, which lay on the opposite building adjacent to Independence Hall. All of today's struggles in American politics seem so foreign when you step into that room. Jay and his fellow justices wrestled with some major issues. No doubt. But like all power systems in the world, the longer they run their course, the more micromanaging their work becomes . . . and they lean into affairs that were not ever intended to be theirs to rule for or against. Did you know that John Jay resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court? He did . . . to become Governor of New York. Did you know he ran for President later on? He did . . . but only received one vote. A single vote.

I loved visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier just down the street from Independence Hall. Very cool.

And when you're in Philadelphia, you eat Philly cheese steak! We had the best you can find. Hint: They're in the East Market!

I didn't get to see the National Treasure, though. I don't know where they moved that Mason's collection that Nicholas Cage found. Maybe it's now in the basement of the Alamo. I don't know.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Greek Class Six Hundred Miles Away

Well, I'm back in the Capital region. I had a wonderful couple of days with our students on the Indy campus. We discussed a lot of Greek and how to use it in exegesis. We talked about everything from textual criticism to the many uses of the adverbial participles. We worked together diagramming passages in our Greek New Testaments and made a trip to the library to track down syntactical issues in Phil. 1:27-30. Lots of hands on training. This is what made the difference in my life when it comes to using Greek. And it's what makes the difference in our classes here at Capital Seminary.