As Christians, there are two extremes that we should avoid when considering the history of the church. On one hand, we must be careful not to glamorize the past, assuming that “older is better” and thus seek uncritically to transplant ancient ideas or practices into our modern church contexts. On the other hand, we must beware of an attitude that equates the “modern” with the “good,” and thus turns a blind eye to wisdom gleaned from the lives and lessons of people in the past (C. S. Lewis called this attitude ‘chronological snobbery’). Mature Christians are receptive to all that God wants to teach them from his Word and world, whether that be from the sermon of a minister, the advice of a neighbor, or the pen of a fourth-century monk.
In the conclusion of my recent book Calvin’s Company of Pastors (Oxford, 2013), I suggest a number of ways that pastoral theory and practice in sixteenth-century Geneva might inform and enrich our view of the pastoral office today. Here, I briefly mention three insights that I found particularly relevant.
(1) In Calvin’s Geneva, ministry was profoundly Word-centered. At the heart of Calvin’s sense of vocation was the conviction that Christians “needed to hear their God speaking and learn from his teaching.” Consequently, when Calvin returned to Geneva in 1541, he drafted a church constitution that placed Scripture at the forefront of religious life in the city. Each week, Calvin and his colleagues preached more than thirty sermons in the three parish churches. (This included three sermons on Sundays as well as weekday sermons that began at 4:30 a.m. for maids and household servants!) Children were required to learn the Catechism, which involved memorizing biblical doctrine and scriptural passages such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Geneva’s liturgy was rich in the language and prayers of Scripture, and included regular congregational singing from the French Psalter. Finally, owing much to Calvin’s influence, Geneva in the sixteenth century became the printing center for French Bibles in Europe, with more than eighty editions produced from 1550-1600. (During this period, Genevan printers also produced Bibles in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, and English.) Evidently, Calvin and his reformed colleagues believed that where God’s Word was faithfully proclaimed and gladly received, there the Holy Spirit was at work in power to effect moral transformation in the lives of men and women. The case of Calvin’s Geneva reminds us today that spiritual reformation and scriptural proclamation go hand in hand.
2.) For Calvin, pastoral ministry involved intensive personal care. Having grown up in the reformed tradition, I was sometimes exposed to a portrait of Calvin that focused on his theological genius at the expense of his pastoral concerns and commitments. When one studies the documents of the Genevan church, it becomes clear that this depiction misses the mark. Calvin once stated: “the office of a true and faithful minister is not only to teach the people in public, which he is appointed to do as pastor, but also, as much as he is able, to admonish, exhort, warn, and console each person individually.” In Calvin’s Geneva, all of the ministers were expected to preach multiple times each week. They were required to visit sick people at bedside. Along with the city’s lay elders, they conducted pastoral visitations of all the households in their parish each year before Easter. Furthermore, every Thursday at noon the pastors and elders met in Consistory to interview, reprove, and offer spiritual advice to men and women guilty of a whole variety of sins, from adultery to drunkenness to spousal abuse. Although consistorial discipline could be confrontational and was always intrusive, it constituted a form of spiritual counsel and pastoral care as the pastors and elders engaged people at their point of greatest brokenness and need, seeking to guide them to repentance and spiritual healing. On many occasions, the Consistory also intervened on behalf of the neglected and abused, seeking to protect the weak and poor as well as mediate conflicts between spouses and within households. I came away from my study of Geneva’s Consistory with a deep sense of admiration for the amount of time and effort that Geneva’s pastors and elders devoted to this painful, yet important, aspect of spiritual care. In our modern world where men and women so often struggle with spiritual dislocation, fractured relationships, and deep-seated loneliness, Calvin’s vision for pastoral oversight that includes gospel proclamation and intense relational ministry appears especially relevant and important.
3.) Calvin was committed to accountability and collegiality in pastoral work. Geneva’s ministers had a deep aversion to forms of church government that were hierarchical and autocratic. They believed Scripture taught that, though pastors’ roles might vary from parish to parish, the pastoral office was a single office, and all pastors were equally servants of Christ and ministers of the Word of God. Calvin formalized this commitment by creating a number of institutions that constituted the DNA of pastoral ministry in Geneva. All of the city’s ministers belonged to the Company of Pastors, a church council that met every Friday morning to address concerns of the church. The Company examined students for ministry, filled local ministerial posts (with the approval of the city magistrates), discussed contested points of doctrine, corresponded with foreign churches, and recruited and deployed missionary pastors for France. A second institution was the weekly Congregation, a body created by Calvin (patterned after Zurich’s Prophetzei) where the city’s pastors met to study Scripture together and evaluate one another’s exposition of biblical texts. Calvin insisted that the formation of ministers and the preservation of right doctrine depended on the pastors studying Scripture in community. “The fewer discussions of doctrine we have together,” Calvin once observed, “the greater the danger of pernicious opinions… for solitude leads to great abuse.” One additional church institution that reflected Calvin’s commitment to accountability and collegiality was the Quarterly Censure. Four times a year, before the quarterly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Geneva’s ministers met behind closed doors to air their differences, to address colleagues suspected of immorality or teaching wrong doctrine, and to promote mutual trust and common vision. After the meeting, Calvin and his colleagues shared a lunch of soup together. Though Calvin’s collegial model of ministry did not foster bold innovation, nor allow for strong dissent, it did create a pastoral culture in Geneva where ministers depended on one another, learned from one another, were accountable to one another, and sometimes forgave one another. One suspects that contemporary Protestantism, with its infatuation for robust individualism, celebrity preachers, and ministry empires, has much to learn from the example of Geneva’s church.
Dr. Scott Manetsch is Professor of Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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Constantine Campbell, Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, was awarded Christianity Today’s 2014 Book of the Year award in the Biblical Studies category for Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study. We asked him a few celebratory questions:
Your book won CT’s biblical studies book of the year – how does it feel to be joining a club already populated by the likes of Richard Hays, Raymond Brown, James D.G. Dunn, and D.A. Carson?
I was truly shocked. Winning any kind of award never entered my head. You just hope that it will be useful to the church and academy by offering a faithful reading of Scripture and by putting things together in a way that helps people to understand the truth. But it’s a great honor to have the book recognised in this way, especially when there is so much high calibre work being produced in biblical studies.
Suppose you had to tweet your understanding of “union with Christ” in Paul’s thought. (I’ll give you three tweets [420 characters] if you need them, but points if you can do it in 140 characters or less.) What would you tweet?
Union: spiritual, nuptial, mutual indwelling
Participation: sharing in the events of Christ’s narrative
Identification: belonging to the realm of Christ
Incorporation: built together into the body of Christ
(Easier than reading 480 pages, huh?)
Did you have a favorite biblical studies book from 2013? If so, what was it and why?
The God who became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation, by former TEDS professor (and fellow Aussie) Graham Cole. It is a wonderful synthesis of exegetical and theological reading of Scripture.
Learn more about master’s programs at TEDS. Follow Con Campbell on twitter.
The second installment of The TEDS Lectures, which features Dr. D.A. Carson on the letter to the Hebrews in four lectures, is now available in its entirety.
Dr. Carson, who is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and who is also widely known as the founder & president of The Gospel Coalition, gave these lectures in spring 2013 as part of his Acts, Pauline, & General Epistles canon course.
Dr. Carson’s lectures cover a wide variety of topics in the epistle to the Hebrews, including introductory matters such as authorship and date of writing, as well as more advanced topics in Christology, perseverance, and the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Hebrews’ High Priestly Christology is one of its unique contributions to New Testament theology, and its famous “warning passages” and mapping of Yom Kippur imagery onto Jesus’ death and resurrection have prompted much writing over the course of church history. Dr. Carson has co-authored (with G.K. Beale) a commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, and Hebrews presents a number of interpretive challenges in this area. Dr. Carson emphasizes, however, that most central to this letter is the superiority and centrality of Jesus Christ.
The lectures are free to watch, and transcripts of all four lectures are also available. It is hoped that these lectures–as well as others currently available–can provide additional Christ-centered and biblically responsible resources to the global community of faith.
Watch these lectures on the TEDS Media & Resources page, and follow TEDS on twitter and facebook for updates on new media releases.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School faculty and students have an active presence at the 65th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, MD, on November 19-21, 2013.
Dr. D.A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, gives one of three plenary addresses at this year’s meeting, the theme of which is “Evangelicalism, Inerrancy, and ETS.” Dr. Carson’s talk is titled “An Evaluation of Some Recent Discussions on the Doctrine of Scripture.” Other highlights include a panel discussion about the forthcoming Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (HarperCollins, Dec. 2013), to which Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer contributed a chapter, as well as papers by Drs. Dana Harris, Scott Manetsch, K. Lawson Younger, James Hoffmeier, Stephen Greggo, H. Wayne Johnson, Richard Averbeck, Doug Sweeney, Eric Tully, John Woodbridge, and Grant Osborne. Several PhD students are also presenting; download a full PDF of student and faculty ETS presentations, including times and locations.
It is fitting that Dr. Carson gives one of the plenary addresses at a meeting focused on inerrancy; as one of TEDS’ longtime faculty members, he has written extensively, often with Church History colleague John Woodbridge, about inerrancy and the authority of Scripture. TEDS has always been committed to biblical inerrancy while also acknowledging that there are different ways that united evangelicals might talk about the doctrine (as is evident from comparing and contrasting Dr. Vanhoozer’s and Dr. Carson’s work on inerrancy).
TEDS is also well-represented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, which also takes place in Baltimore just after ETS and includes the American Academy of Religion and Institute for Biblical Research. The SBL 2013 list of presenters can be searched by faculty last name to find sessions, locations, and times.
To learn more about TEDS, watch one of the newly released TEDS Lectures, featuring D.A. Carson on Hebrews and Dana Harris on Luke-Acts.
Dr. Colwill is one of the newer additions to the TEDS faculty. We caught up with her in her office; this interview has been edited for clarity and space.
Tell me a little bit about yourself – where were you before coming to TEDS, and what are your responsibilities here now?
Before coming here I was at Asbury Theological Seminary, in Kentucky. I was a professor in the practical theology school and taught in the department of leadership. I was also the director of institutional research and evaluation for the entire seminary, which included the online, Kentucky, and Florida campuses.
At Asbury I taught master’s courses, and here [at TEDS] I teach PhD courses in the areas of organizational development, organizational leadership, and teams. Many people in the PhD-Educational Studies come from around the world; they are often in teaching faculty roles as well as wearing one or two other hats, such as administration. So there’s a need to understand how adults learn and how to create effective and significant learning environments as well as culturally appropriate ways of learning. With their multiple hats, they need both an understanding of how how to create significant learning environments but also how to help an organization learn and develop.
Are you from Kentucky?
My mother is, but I’m originally from Colorado.
I understand that you have two PhDs – what are they in?
Education and organizational development.
The PhD EDS and the MA EM were recently redesigned. What’s the significance of this?
Yes; we’re trying to retain the historic values & ethos of the program, both honoring the past and also giving them a fresh look, incorporating new theory and practice. We’re now into the first iteration of the actual curricula. It’s been a lot of fun.
What have been some of your primary areas of research?
My areas of interest are leadership development, teams, and organizational leadership. I’ve done research in the area of the scholar-practitioner—the equivalent you might hear about is science-practitioner, or pastor-scholar. A scholar-practitioner is a person who’s up to date in the theory base but also is active in the practitioner realm. I’ve studied how people bridge those worlds. Many of the people who are attracted to an education degree, or a leadership / organizational development program, are scholar-practitioners. You have to stay current in the theory, but you aren’t a full-time scholar because you have a lot of responsibility in your organizational leadership role. So I’m interested in how to help those types of people thrive.
Another area of interest is the world of metaphor. I wrote a chapter in an organizational development consulting text on tracing the evolution of organizational theory; it looked at organizations through the lens of metaphor, from the time of the Industrial Revolution into postmodernity, using four metaphors that capture philosophically the evolution of that space. As you trace the history, you can almost lean forward and see what might be next. If you can do that ,you can build towards the competencies that might be needed for tomorrow. You look back to look forward.
The average local church pastor probably is not very well trained in the area of organizational leadership or organizations theory, but I imagine they could benefit from some of these insights. If you had to give one or two pieces of concrete advice to a local pastor, what would you give?
I think the two areas most helpful right now are, as a leader, self-awareness and building competencies in emotional & social intelligence. Emotional intelligence is how you manage your internal world and how you dial down anxiety, how you have self-control as a leader. Social intelligence is how you interact with and persuade others toward the common good: doing it in an authentic manner, not in a way to manipulate people. A second major area is systems thinking with regard to organizational change and development.
What have been some things that have very powerfully shaped your faith?
Throughout my journey as a Christian I’ve had really good mentors. Because of that, I’ve also actively sought out really good mentors. God has been very good to me to bring a lot of amazing people into my life.
Earlier I asked you about a couple key takeaways for pastors, and you mentioned emotional intelligence and the pastor’s networks. What are some books you’d recommend for pastors interested in those areas?
Regarding emotional and social intelligence, Daniel Goleman and Richard Bogatzis wrote Resident Leadership. The Leader’s Journey, by Herrington, is also very helpful. In terms of leadership and systems thinking, I really like Heifetz; he talks about the difference between adaptive challenges and technical challenges in leading organizations. If you haven’t read anything by him, he’s really helpful. In terms of actual systems theory in organizations, Peter Senge is the one who moved systems thinking into the organizational theory literature. His seminal book is called The Fifth Discipline, and that was written I think in the nineties. He’s moved on a bit, but people still find that very helpful in terms of applying a systems view to organizations. There’s so many, so it’s really hard to narrow it down!
When you’re not doing research, what else do you like to do? What do you enjoy?
When I get the chance I like being outside and playing sports. I also enjoy reading and traveling ot new places. One of the reasons I moved back to Illinois is that I have three daughters who live here; two are married, and [points to pictures on her desk] this is grandson 1 and grandson 2, and they’re ten months and three months. So pretty much any discretionary time I have I’m hanging out with my family.
Following on the heels of D.A. Carson’s four lectures on Hebrews, the next set of TEDS Lectures features Associate Professor of New Testament Dr. Dana Harris giving an introduction to Luke-Acts.
These seven videos–filmed during one three-hour lecture in spring 2013–provide a glimpse into Dr. Harris’ NT 5000 course. NT 5000 is a general introduction and overview of the whole New Testament. These videos also feature compelling one-on-one interview footage in which Dr. Harris elaborates further on several key points from her lecture as well as explains aspects of her teaching style.
These lectures provide invaluable insights into Luke-Acts as well as a compelling picture of what it’s like to be a part of the TEDS community. A new video in the series will be posted every Tuesday, so be sure to stay tuned to the TEDS Facebook and Twitter feeds to be notified of when new lectures from Dr. Harris have been made available.
Driscoll accuses Christian pacifists of being selective with biblical texts.
He should have read his own texts more closely.
by Dr. H. Wayne Johnson, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology & Director of the Master of Divinity
In a recent post, Mark Driscoll asks the question, Is God a Pacifist? His answer is “no,” and a Christian doesn’t need to be one either. Driscoll takes aim at a version of Christian pacifism which is apparently built on a misunderstanding of the sixth commandment (thou shall not kill – ever) and which sees Jesus as a “long haired, dress wearing, hippie,” a kind of “pansy or pacifist” (which he apparently equates). So he sets out to correct these misunderstandings by commenting on Exodus 20, Romans 13 and Revelation 14. Driscoll suggests that those who hold to this view of Jesus “are prone to be very selective in the parts of the Bible they quote.” Unfortunately, in his own narrow selection of texts, Driscoll manages not only to shoot down a straw man, but neglect some critical passages in the process.
As an evangelical Anabaptist, I feel compelled to chime in. It may be a surprise, then, to start by saying I have little disagreement with many of Driscoll’s biblical observations. He argues that the sixth commandment refers to “murder,” not all forms of killing. I agree. He also argues that Rom 13 grants governing authorities the power of the sword to carry out justice and keep the peace. Again, no disagreement there. Finally, he affirms that the picture of Jesus in his second coming (e.g. Rev 14) is one of justice and dramatic, even bloody, violence. I agree. I also agree that some pacifists bend these texts in defense of pacifism (wrongly, in my opinion). The problem comes when Driscoll assumes that his biblical observations leave a biblical Christian pacifism without a leg to stand on. I offer three points for consideration.
1. In focusing on Jesus’ second coming (Rev 14), Driscoll rightly points to Jesus as the one who carries out vengeance (and violence) against evil. However, in a discussion of pacifism, he completely overlooks the importance of Jesus’ first coming. Multiple texts speak of Jesus’ meekness, silence and non-retaliation in the face of violent enemies (echoing Isa 53 and 42). For example, 1 Peter 2:21-25 lifts up Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf and his non-retaliation toward his enemies. The latter is an “example, that you (Christians) should follow in his steps” (v. 21). Ironically, Driscoll focuses on the violence of Jesus’ second coming (which we ought not imitate), and neglects the Christ of the first coming whom we are called to imitate. One wonders how this Jesus would be distinguished from Driscoll’s pansy pacifist. Perhaps clearing the temple makes up for it all. Much more could be said here, of course, about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as well as “taking up one’s cross” (which is not less than the risk of persecution and suffering at the hands of enemies).
2. If we agree that God is not a pacifist (though perfectly sinless in his justice and violence) and that Jesus, in the end, will be violent in the consummation, why must we assume that Christian pacifism is therefore illegitimate? To the contrary, Rom 12:14-21 seems to explicitly connect God’s violent vengeance with unwavering commitment to do good to those who persecute us. He says,
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Rather than repay enemies evil for evil or take revenge on them, the text clearly calls Christians to bless and do good to them, even caring for their physical needs. It’s interesting to note that this text assumes the possibility of physical harm (“persecute us,” “the pain of unjust suffering” and “receiving a beating”), but this is clearly not a loophole for disobedience. Finally, it is clear that the necessity of divine justice and the legitimacy of our desire for vengeance are both acknowledged in this passage. However, this vengeance and justice are placed squarely on God’s shoulders and not ours. We can conclude that Christians do only good to those who persecute them precisely because vengeance belongs to God. In other words, Christians can only be pacifists because God isn’t. Or, put yet another way, we are called to non-violence as an act of faith in God’s perfect and just violence. This is why Jesus’ non-retaliation is called trusting in him who judges justly (1 Pet 2:23).
3. In referring to Rom 13, Driscoll makes a common interpretive assumption that moves too easily from government to Christians. He assumes that once the use of violence (i.e. sword) is justified for the government, some form of violence on the part of the Christian is seen as necessary. Pacifism, in the end, isn’t realistic. The result is that Christians simply have to “work within the authority God has ordained and the means God has allowed… to align our imperfect efforts with the perfect will of God.” Here Driscoll, it seems to me, echoes the “realism” of H. R. Niebuhr – the nonviolent ideals of Jesus are good but ultimately unrealistic in this dangerous world, so we need to figure out how to temper this ideal with the necessities of self-defense and the sword.
I disagree. Christians can and should acknowledge the role of the sword in government. But I believe we have a distinct and higher calling in the world. That calling is empowered by the Holy Spirit, as we seek by God’s grace to obey the commands of Jesus – even at the cost of our own sacrifice. In the specific commands and example of Jesus regarding violence and enemies, we bear witness to the power of the Gospel. The loss of this distinctive calling and ethic is why the clichéd scenario of defending your family from intruders (used by Driscoll and countless others) essentially misses the point. The distinct calling and power of the Christian in the Gospel is factored out of the equation. It may certainly be reasonable for governments and people at large to blow away a maniacal monster in self-defense and the defense of loved ones. But isn’t it also possible that, for the Christian with a higher calling, the presence of the Spirit of God and the love of Christ working through them may open other possibilities? This is not naiveté, for we understand that the result may be suffering and even death (i.e. the cross). But it may not be, and even if it is we are in good Christian company, including that of our Lord. Rather than portraying Christian pacifists as cowardly pansies, might the model be more like that of Antoinette Tuff, who heroically and compassionately talked down a school shooter in Georgia?
Mark Driscoll does us a service by showing that God is not a pacifist and Jesus will bring divine justice and vengeance. In his caricatures of pacifism and the pansy pacifist Jesus, however, I think he unfairly dismisses the position and too quickly writes off a more biblical version of Christian pacifism. For the sake of Christian unity and the Gospel we owe it to one another to discuss these matters with both nuance and charity.