Announcing My New Book: Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church

For those that follow this blog, you will know that the issue of spiritual abuse has been on my mind for the last several years now. Even before Mike Cosper’s excellent podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, put it on the national radar, I’ve been concerned about some trends and patterns I am seeing across the spectrum of evangelical and reformed churches.

As a seminary president, and professor of New Testament, it’s part of my job to think about such things. After all, producing the next generation of leaders is what we are all about. And, more than anything, we want them to be like Christ.

And …

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Is It a Waste of Time for Seminary Students (and Pastors) to Learn the Biblical Languages?

It’s that time of year again.

On Monday, a wonderful new crop of seminary students here at RTS-Charlotte will begin the grueling month-long experience of Summer Greek. And, like all seminary students before them, they will begin to ask the question of why studying these ancient languages even matters. After all, a few years after graduation all will be forgotten. In the midst of a busy ministry life, who could possibly maintain proficiency in the languages?

As a result of these questions, some students decide (very early on) that the biblical languages are just something to be endured. They are like a hazing ritual at a college fraternity or sorority. …

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Why Gentleness in Ministry Matters More Than You Think

Well it’s that time of year. This Friday we will graduate another class of seminary students at RTS Charlotte, sending them off to serve the Lord in a variety of ways.  And during each of these graduations, I have an opportunity to give a final “charge” as the president of the campus.

This year, I have been reflecting on RTS’s motto: “A mind for truth, and a heart for God.”  At RTS, we care very much about the mind—we value rigorous scholarship combined with a commitment to the historic truths of Reformed theology. But that is not all that matters to us. We also care about our students’ hearts; …

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A Key Sign You are Maturing as a Preacher

As a seminary professor (and a pastor) I spend a lot of time helping students grow and develop as preachers. After hearing a student preach, I will often get coffee or lunch with that student and we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the sermon and how it can be improved.

Over the years, I have learned to ask students a key question that can reveal a lot about how they are developing as a preacher.

“What did you leave out?”

Most of the time that I ask that question I am met with a blank stare. Students expect to be asked about the content of the sermon—i.e., what …

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How Do You Know If Your Church Is Legalistic?

Legalism. Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s bad.  And in a world where Christians seem to disagree over basically everything, that’s saying something.

Even so, if you asked the average Christian to define legalism, the answers may not come so quickly. What exactly counts as legalism?  How do we know it when we see it?  The confusion is exacerbated by the fact that the term can be used in different ways.  People can use the same word but infuse it with very different meanings.

In hopes of dissipating a little of the fogginess, here’s a breakdown of different ways to understand legalism.…

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