Your Seminary Degree Will Soon Be Like Vintage Wine.

Tony Jones has recently blogged about "A Tale of Three Seminaries", commenting on the enrollment numbers of Luther Seminary,  United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and Bethel Seminary.  Jones reached out to all three seminaries to confirm the enrollment numbers.  So far, only Luther Seminary has responded.  Vice President of Enrollment, Carrie Carroll, wrote a cordial response but one thing stuck out that concerned me:

We have launched a new curriculum this fall that shortens the time to completion for our M.Div. students so that they can graduate with less debt.

Well, I'm all for less debt for students, however, it would seem that a shorter time for completion would necessitate less education.  This means that your 1983 M.Div should theoretically be worth more than a 2015 M.Div.  No worries, though, as I'm sure academic institutions and churches won't care, just as long as you're willing to work for cheap.

I also wonder it this will be a trend and that soon, seminaries will be offering 3 month M.Div's because the Federal Reserve will keep inflating the money supply and that will be all that students can afford. 

Hopefully, this will spark a debate about the necessity of piece of paper that's approved by an institution and we start seeking other ways to validate people's education. So if you have an older degree, crack open a bottle of the oldest Cabernet you can find (unless you're Southern Baptist) and enjoy the sweet taste of fermented grapes and a seminary education of days gone past.

Be sure to check out my podcast episode on the Seminary Bubble.

Give 'em Heaven

Fourteen-year-old Larissa Heatley, Dallas Willard’s only granddaughter, delivers a great tribute at his memorial service. I've enjoyed two of Dallas Willard's books: The Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God. In the Divine Conspiracy, he has a number of great insights into Scripture but his take on the Beatitudes was a confirmation that my own take on them was correct. Hearing God is a great primer for those who don't feel they can hear God.

The Lord is near. Have no worries.

Joel J. Miller gives insight on Philippians 4:6-

If we read the simple admonition, it’s easy to see Paul as some sort of Bob Newhart character yelling, “Stop it!” But before you think I’m being flip, let me redirect the blame to the people who first invented our scripture notation system.
If you read commentators before the advent of the numbering system, they do something different with the emphasis and structure of the passage. The end of verse 5 says, “The Lord is at hand.” The start of 6 says, “Have no anxiety about anything. . . .” Ancient commentators like John Chrysostom and Theodoret of Cyrus read these as one verse, not two separate verses. Chrysostom quotes it as, “The Lord is at hand, in nothing be anxious.” Theodoret’s treatment is the same: “The Lord is near. Have no worries.”
Our eyes are on the wrong thing if we’re merely praying to have life’s worrisome aspects eliminated so we can carry on stress free. Rather, we have no reason for anxiety because the judge of all the earth is already on his way.
Read the rest here.

Sunday Morning Prep

The Digital Age - Rehearsals - "All The Poor And Powerless"

Sunday Morning Prep

Greater Things

My friends and worship leaders at my church, Fred and Andrea Butson, have put out a new worship album. Listen to the music and watch the video below.

Could More Books Be Added To The Bible?

In his post Why I Believe the Canon is Theoretically Open (and Am Fine With It), Michael C. Patton writes about whether or not the Canon of Scripture is open or closed. He believes it is open (theoretically), although he doesn't believe any more will be added to it. One of the reasons I liked the post is because it addressed the misuse of Revelation 22:18-19:

No matter how hard you look, you would be hard pressed to find a place that definitely “closes” the canon. Revelation 22:18-19 is often referred to as evidence:
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
The problem with using this passage is that it is specific to the book of Revelation. Just because the book of Revelation occurs last in our canon does not mean this warning applies to the entire Bible. It is meant to communicate a general statement about those who would be tempted to add to or take away from God’s word in general, and to the book of Revelation specifically. Yet the same warning is given in the books of Deuteronomy and Proverbs:
Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

Proverbs 30:6: Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Does this mean that once Deuteronomy or Proverbs were complete, no one was supposed to add any other books? I don’t know anyone who would make that argument.

The War Scroll

The War Scroll is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls and mostly describes the battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. You can read it here. Most of it consists of mundane details of battle order but there were some interesting parts. I was initially curious to read it because of some commonalities with Ephesians:

The first attack of the Sons of Light shall be undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, the army of Belial...
- War Scroll Col 1:1

For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,
- Ephesians 5:8

wherein aforetime ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience;
- Ephesians 2:2

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
- Ephesians 5:6
Also, notice the passage below echoes the Ephesians verses as well:
...You yourself made Belial for the pit, an angel of malevolence, his [dominio]n is in darkne[ss] and his counsel is to condemn and convict. All the spirits of his lot -- the angels of destruction-- walk in accord with the rule of darkness, for it is their only [des]ire...
- War Scroll Col 13:10-12
Belial is another name for Satan and his angels are described as angels of destruction. I talk about that in my post on Satan as well. In that post, I also talk about Satan's function of testing. See the passages below regarding testing:
...Throughout all our generations You have made Your mercies wondrous for the rem[nant of the people] during the dominion of Belial. With all the mysteries of his hatred they have not led us astray from Your covenant. His spirits of destruction You have driven [away from us. And when the me]n of his dominion [condemned themselves]...
- War Scroll Col 14:9-10

When [Belial] prepares himself to assist the Sons of Darkness, and the slain among the infantry begin to fall by God's mysteries and to test by these mysteries all those appointed for battle,
- War Scroll Col 16:11
Also, compare the passage below with Eph. 5:11:
...For they are a wicked congregation, all their deeds are in darkness;
- War Scroll Col 15:9

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
- Ephesians 5:11
This battle is described as a "Day of Vengeance" like I talk about in my Ephesians post on The Day of Destruction.
...All of them shall be volunteers for battle, pure of spirit and flesh, and prepared for the day of vengeance...
- War Scroll Col 7:5
Ultimately, I don't think Paul was alluding to The War Scroll when he wrote Ephesians but they do seem to share a common vernacular.