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How to Engage with Art and Culture

Daniel A. SiedellAs Christians, how do we engage with art and culture? Whether we try to avoid it and remain unstained by the world, or we press into it in an attempt to redeem it for God’s glory, we all have to ask ourselves this question. So, what passages of Scripture help us answer it, and how do we interpret them and apply them today?

Dr. Daniel A. Siedell, visiting professor of Christianity and culture at Knox Theological Seminary, is teaching a Doctor of Ministry class in March addressing this exact topic. If you’re currently enrolled in Knox’s DMin program, or if you would like to further your education and begin your studies, this is well worth your time. You can apply by visiting DMin.me or, if you’re already a Knox student, register by emailing the registrar.

Dr. Siedell has sent us a letter to share with you, inviting you to take this remarkable class:

Dear prospective Christ & Culture student,

I feel your pain. The world of art and culture is indeed confusing and intimidating. St. Paul tells us to be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents and to dwell on all that is good. And yet we are surrounded by cultural artifacts—movies, television shows, paintings, literature, music, and a host of other images, objects, and events—that may or may not be “good” and worth dwelling on, and we worry that we will lose what’s left of our innocence, not to mention that of our children or our parishioners.

But are art and culture always something to be avoided? Must we always keep them at arm’s length? So much of what we hear and read about art and culture inside and outside the church is negative and polemic, so it’s easy to get the impression that the arts and culture should simply be avoided if they cannot be used as tools for communicating what we think are Christian virtues.

But what about those paintings, novels, comic books, films, and songs—those artifacts of popular and high culture—that move us, that attract us, that describe us? As Christians, how can we justify our interest in, and perhaps even love of, them—especially if they don’t seem to offer an explicitly Christian message, or perhaps they even challenge it?

Join me at Knox Seminary the week of March 10 and we’ll devote a week to thinking and talking about art, culture, and theology from every conceivable perspective. But we’ll also experience art—we’ll explore what happens when we listen to music, look at a painting, read a novel, watch a film, and listen to a poem. In short, we’ll explore how to listen to works of art and culture. We’ll take this week to let art be art, to let it breathe as an aesthetic experience that opens us to God and to the world, in ways that just might surprise us. And we’ll think about how our experience of art and culture can help us understand vocation, deepen our pastoral work, discipleship, counseling, and parenting, and even help us understand preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel itself.

But ultimately, in listening to art and culture, we’ll discover what it reveals about ourselves—about who we are before God and our neighbor.

I look forward to spending the week with you.

Grace and Peace,

Daniel A. Siedell, PhD

Join Dr. Siedell and other brothers and sisters in Christ as they engage Scripture and art, and discover how God intended us to relate to the expressions of the world around us. Apply today, or request more information at DMin.me.

Preaching in Cultural Context: An Interview with Dr. Leith Anderson

Dr Leith AndersonWe recently had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Dr. Anderson will be teaching one of Knox Theological Seminary‘s courses in January.

1. Please tell us some of your story and describe your time as a pastor.

My father pastored a large church in metropolitan New York City for 33 years, so I grew up in the church and in the parsonage. When I became pastor of a small-town church in Colorado, it was really different—a community of about 20,000 and a congregation of 100-plus. I had to learn a different culture. Then I became pastor of Wooddale Church in suburban Minneapolis, with another culture to learn. As the congregation grew into the thousands, the church culture began to change.

2. Please describe your upcoming course at Knox, “Preaching in Cultural Context.” What are some of the course objectives?

Just as missionaries must learn and adapt to new cultures and languages, so native preachers must learn and adapt to changing subcultures in their homeland. This course will study the theology of culture, how to analyze cultures, and how to preach in culturally relevant ways while remaining biblical.

3. With shifting demographics in America, what do you see as the biggest issue facing the church and its task of communicating Christ in this culture?

There are lots of issues, and they’re changing all the time. The challenge for preachers is to avoid preaching to a generation that died 50 years ago, to preach in today’s terms, and to stick with the Bible in our teaching.

4. What do you hope this class will accomplish? 

The class will compare the cultures and preaching of fellow students in ways that will make us all better preachers in our own cultures.

5. How does what you’re teaching in this class reflect what you’re seeing in the broader Christian spectrum as president of the National Association of Evangelicals? 

Through the National Association of Evangelicals, I get to know an amazing variety of churches, preachers, denominations, and organizations across America and beyond. I am amazed at the good God is doing in the USA and around the world. While there are always problems, I see this as the best of times, filled with opportunity. I look forward to everyone in the class seeing God’s amazing blessings and getting excited about seizing the opportunities of our generation.

6. What are some of the key thinkers and writers on culture who have influenced you?

Over half a century ago, Richard Niebuhr wrote Christ and Culture. It’s a classic on the different approaches Christians take to understanding how we view culture in every place and time. At the other end of our generation are today’s newspapers, magazines, movies, television, and videos, which are expressing the changes in current culture.

7. What do you hope a student will take away from the class?

Students will go home with a deeper understanding of their theology of culture, a fuller engagement with the distinctives of people in their own community, and an excitement to be part of what God is doing through their own churches and communities.

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Further your education. Further your ministry. Apply today to earn your DMin with Knox Theological Seminary and Logos Bible Software.

3 Reasons to Attend Seminary

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Samuel Lamerson, professor of New Testament at Knox Theological Seminary.

I come from a fundamentalist background in which believers are often distrustful of higher education. On a number of occasions, I’ve had church members ask me, “Haven’t you been in school long enough?” or “Aren’t you afraid of coming out of school a liberal?”

This distrust of education has a social history in the US, and it’s still felt in certain denominations and areas of the country. If you’re not sure about higher education, why should you think about attending seminary?

I offer three reasons:

  1. Attend seminary because you are called. When the Lord has given us a task, he also equips us for that task. That is the very foundation of the Reformation view of “vocation.” If God has called you to be a teacher/preacher of his Word, it’s beneficial have proper training.
  2. Attend seminary because you recognize the need. Very few of us would feel comfortable being diagnosed by a physician who was “self-taught” with no credentials. The truth is that he or she might be a great doctor, but there is no way to be sure without proper testimonials. If we think that learning about the body is important for a physician, shouldn’t we also think that learning about the Bible is important for a minister?
  3. Attend seminary because you listened. One of the greatest gifts that I have been given in life is the counsel of wise brothers and sisters in Christ. Before you attend seminary, ask the advice of a few people who you trust. (Try to include at least one person who has attended seminary.) Listen carefully to what these counselors tell you. Often, those who are around us (our family, our close friends) know our gifts better than we do ourselves. Pay special attention to this advice, and weigh it against your own sense of calling.

I loved my time in seminary (at Knox and at TEDS). It was a wonderful season of growth and learning for me. The same may be true for you if you attend seminary for the right reasons.

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Learn more about earning your DMin from Knox Theological Seminary with Logos, and start furthering your education today.

4 Questions to Ask Before Pursuing Your DMin

Logos Mobile EducationDeciding to pursue your DMin requires a lot of consideration. Here are four questions you should ask yourself before going back to school:

1. Do I have the time?
A Doctor of Ministry is a rigorous degree, requiring many hours of study and coursework; it can be difficult to fit this into an already-busy schedule. If you’re working or in ministry full-time, it’s worth considering a distance-education model, like that of Knox Theological Seminary. You’ll better balance your time, without losing inflexible hours sitting in a lecture hall and commuting to and from campus.

2. Am I currently serving in ministry?
Some have described a DMin as a less-rigorous version of a PhD. In reality, this doesn’t hold water; a PhD is a research or academic degree, whereas a DMin is a professional degree. One might compare the DMin to the medical field’s Doctor of Medicine degree, which is designed for surgeons and physicians practicing in their fields. Likewise, a DMin is specifically aimed at those currently serving in ministry, who can practically apply what they’re learning as they study.

3. Do I meet the educational requirements?
You need a master’s degree to be accepted into a DMin program. A Doctor of Ministry makes a wonderful addition to an MDiv or other master’s focused on biblical studies and theology—it builds on the master’s degree’s technical foundations to provide deeper insight and further application. See Knox Theological Seminary’s requirements for their DMin students.

4. Can I afford it?
Any education is an investment, and we’re called to wisely steward not just our time, but also our money. We must ask ourselves if adding another financial burden is a wise use of our resources. Thankfully, a Doctor of Ministry from Knox Theological Seminary and Logos is very competitively priced, not to mention flexible. With low monthly payment plans, you can pursue your DMin without sacrificing other investments. See the tuition options for Knox’s DMin program.

A DMin to meet your needs

Knox Theological Seminary has partnered with Logos Bible Software to offer an outstanding Doctor of Ministry program with rigorous study and world-class professors, fully integrated with Logos Bible Software.

The Knox Doctor of Ministry is:

  • Flexible: With week-long intensive sessions offered several times a year, you’ll work in a cohort model to complete the majority of your studies from wherever you are—you don’t have to uproot your family and leave your ministry.
  • World-class: The professors at Knox are the best in their fields. You’ll learn under such renowned scholars as Haddon Robinson, Bryan Chapell, Bruce Waltke, and Jim Belcher.
  • Practical: The Knox DMin courses are designed to offer you, the worker on the ground, practical training and guidance to benefit the ministry in which you serve. This isn’t a theoretical research degree—it’s designed for you, where you’re at.
  • Affordable: With monthly payments as low as $230, you can be a wise steward of your money and still pursue an education to bless your spiritual life and your ministry.

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Further your education. Further your ministry. Apply today!

Preaching Revelation: Learn from an Expert

Dr. Warren Gage headshotDr. Warren Gage, professor of Old Testament and senior advisor to the president at Knox Theological Seminary, will be teaching a one-week intensive class in Bellingham, WA, October 14–18. Dr. Gage would like to formally invite you to attend:

Join us in Bellingham, Washington, next month and learn to preach Revelation as it was intended: namely, as a great encouragement to the people of God to persevere through suffering in hope of the heavenly city. To that end, it gives us the two most magnificent visions of Jesus in all the Bible. We see him in his heavenly splendor, coming to John of Patmos with a glory that causes John to fall at his feet like a dead man. We see the Son of man coming on a white horse of victory as the fulfillment of all prophecy at the head of his heavenly hosts of armies. These visions of Jesus transformed John, and he wrote them with the intent that they should transform us! Continue Reading…

Study the Bible in High Definition

One of our newest and most exciting projects is the Lexham High Definition Old Testament. We’re striving to help you understand the Old Testament’s original context and the intent of the authors—in a way that has never been done before.

What is the High Definition Old Testament?

Learn more about the concept of the HDOT by watching this quick video.

 

The HDOT is now available for download. You’ll get Genesis through Jeremiah, Jonah, and Ruth (in the original Tanakh order) immediately upon purchase; the rest of the Old Testament will be automatically added to your library as we complete and release the content. Get it today!

Want to get more in depth with the Hebrew text? The Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible Bundle (6 vols.) contains the High Definition Old Testament, plus the three-volume Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible.

Learn more about the HDOT, HDNT, and Lexham Discourse resources

Check out these posts for more information on the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and High Definition Old Testament.

Last Chance: Free Book on Community Pricing!

F. W. Farrar’s The Messages of the Book has been on Community Pricing for a of couple weeks. To help people get acquainted with how Community Pricing works, we’re giving it to everyone who places a successful bid. The book will only be available until the end of March, so time is running out!

Frederic William Farrar (1831–1903) was an Anglican minister who wrote both fiction and nonfiction. Farrar’s The Messages of the Books is a wonderful look at New Testament origins, the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels, and much more.

Don’t miss your chance to own this classic volume! If your bid is successful, when this becomes available for download, you’ll get it for free. Bid today!

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4 Outstanding Reformed Systematic Theologies

Of the similarities between natural science and systematic theology, Charles Hodge writes: “If the object of the one be to arrange and systematize the facts of the external world, and to ascertain the laws by which they are determined; the object of the other is to systematize the facts of the Bible, and ascertain the principles or general truths which those facts involve.” Similarly, Michael Horton, in his The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, writes that systematic theology “is like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle, and every believer is a theologian in the sense of putting the pieces together. If we fail to recognize there is a box top (i.e., a unified whole) to Scripture, we will have only a pile of pieces.”

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

For nearly 500 years, Calvin’s Institutes has been a bastion of Reformed systematic theology. Calvin wrote the first edition in Latin in the mid–sixteenth century, with a French edition published shortly thereafter; several English translations have appeared through the nineteenth century from both the Latin and the French editions. The Institutes is comprehensive and surprisingly pastoral, originally meant as an introduction to Christian faith and doctrine. Calvin’s magnum opus is still used in seminaries around the world today, and several translations are available in Logos, including the definitive English translation by John McNeill, available for pre-order.

Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology

Francis Turretin pastored a church in Geneva, and was known as a strong defender of orthodox Calvinism. His seminal work is often called one of the most undervalued systematic theologies in Reformed history. Institutes of Elenctic Theology has been praised by the likes of Richard Gaffin, John Frame, James Boice, Wayne Grudem, and Norman Geisler. These volumes were required reading at old Princeton, and were dutifully studied by such giants in systematics as Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and Louis Berkhof. R. Scott Clark writes, “One of the greatest of the seventeenth-century Reformed dogmatic works, it has retained its influence through its use at old Princeton. These three volumes put in your hands an excellent representative of high Reformed orthodoxy and polemical theology.” See it on Pre-Pub.

Benedict Pictet’s Christian Theology

Pictet, like Turretin and Calvin before him, also hailed from Geneva. His Christian Theology is a well-organized and convincing presentation of theology. Anyone familiar with, for instance, Warfield’s views on plenary inspiration will recognize the same strain of thought in Pictet’s writings, and will find excellent hermeneutics and exegesis employed in Pictet’s use of Scripture, out of which all his theology flows. This excellent volume is now available for pre-order.

Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics

A couple hundred years later, Geerhardus Vos wrote this remarkable systematic theology. Vos wrote in Dutch, but the English translation (with Dr. Richard Gaffin leading the translation team) is available for pre-order. Like Turretin’s Institutes, Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics is written in a succinct Q&A format, which makes it an immensely helpful reference tool and research aid. Here’s an excerpt, demonstrating Vos’ brevity and clarity:

“What is the relation between God’s decree, His free knowledge, and the free actions of men?
God’s decree grounds the certainty of His free knowledge and likewise the occurring of free actions. Not foreknowledge as such but the decree on which it rests makes free actions certain.”

Want More Systematics?

Check out the volumes mentioned above, plus more, on Community Pricing and Pre-Pub. Help us get these important systematic theologies into Logos!

Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite systematic theology!

Get a Free Book on Community Pricing!

Community Pricing lets you help choose the price on some terrific books. It’s one of the best ways to get a great deal: we’ve seen savings of over 90% on some books and collections! Check out this quick video to see how simple it is to save with Community Pricing:

Try It Out and Get a Free Book!

We want to everyone to try out Community Pricing risk-free. To help spread the word, we’re giving away F. W. Farrar’s The Messages of the Book on Community Pricing!

Here’s how to get it: simply place your bid on the book, and if your bid is at or above the closing price, you’ll get the book for free when it becomes available for download.

Spread the Word

Community Pricing relies on—you guessed it—community. The more people bid on a book or collection, the better the chance to drive the price down. So tell your friends about it, and show them how easy it is to save!

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56% Off the Time-Tested Encyclopedia You’ll Love: Bid Now!

Adding a reliable encyclopedia to your Logos library can do a lot for your Bible study. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 Edition (ISBE) is one such time-tested resource, with contributions from leading twentieth-century theologians such as B. B. Warfield, Archibald Alexander, A. T. Robertson, and H. C. G. Moule. This comprehensive encyclopedia is on Community Pricing, where you can bid what you’d be willing to pay.

When you integrate the ISBE into your library, you’ll be able to look up thousands of words or phrases in the Bible or Apocrypha by right-clicking them and selecting the ISBE from the context menu.

Let’s say you’re reading through the Gospel of Luke and come across Luke 1:7: “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” What is the significance of Elizabeth being barren? It brings to mind Abraham and Sarah, but maybe there’s more to it. If you were to look up “barren” in the ISBE 1915 edition, you would find a concise article written by Thomas Rees that gives you a cultural and biblical understanding of barrenness.

“. . . barrenness was a woman’s and a family’s greatest misfortune. The highest sanctions of religion and patriotism blessed the fruitful woman, because children were necessary for the perpetuation of the tribe and its religion. It is significant that the mothers of the Heb[rew] race . . . were by nature sterile, and therefore God’s special intervention shows His particular favor to Israel.”

Further, we read that “metaphorically, Israel, in her days of adversity, when her children were exiled, was barren, but in her restoration she shall rejoice in many children.” This gives us a solid understanding of what being barren would have meant to Jews in that time, which in turn helps us to understand the miraculous birth of John the Baptist.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia covers thousands of topics related to Scripture, history, geography, cultural milieu, and more. Bid now to save 56%!

Note: Do you already own the Ages edition of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 Edition that was built for Libronix? If you do, you’ll receive this updated collection for free; the files will automatically download when it’s complete. The previous edition was created many years ago, using the best digital files available at the time. We’re rebuilding the 1915 ISBE from the ground up—this collection will contain new, updated files. If you don’t own the 1915 ISBE, enhance your library with one of the most useful and trusted reference collections by placing your bid today!

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