Why I haven’t been writing lately: Fall ’11, pt. 1

Over the last nine months or so I had such a steady and fun habit of writing for the blog. The last month and a half, however, has left me no choice. I had to say “No” to something, so writing here hasn’t made the cut onto my schedule.

What’s been slowing me down is actually what I’ve been wanting to write about. In this post and the following I’ll discuss the five classes I’m taking this fall semester and in a subsequent post I’ll write about the preaching opportunities I’ve had of late.

This semester of classes has probably been my favorite so far. The subjects, the teachers, the reading, and my classmates have already made this semester very beneficial. Here is a list and brief description of each time-consuming and blog-killing class:

Christian Ethics with Dr. Russell Moore – This is a pretty big class with over a hundred students. Still, Dr. Moore encourages a lot of discussion considering the size, and his lectures are stellar. Dr. Moore is an interesting communicator because he is almost naturally provocative (Check out a couple of his blog posts to see what I’m talking about.). He is a conservative evangelical Protestant Christian, but it doesn’t matter who he’s talking to or what he’s talking about he always seems to unsettle you no matter your perspective. When you combine that with the topics of the class (church and state relations, bioethics, sexual ethics, etc.) it makes for some thought provoking class-time. Dr. Moore is also very pastoral in his approach to the class. By that I mean that he is trying to prepare pastors for ministry more than he is trying to train apologists for the broader culture. Both aspects are present, but the pastoral side takes precedent.

Some of the books for this class are: Evangelical Ethics by John Jefferson Davis (very helpful survey of ethics from the perspective of having a very high view of biblical authority for the Christian life), Bioethics: A Primer for Christians by Gilbert Meilaender (just opened this one today), and Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community by Wendell Berry.

Marriage and Family Enrichment with Dr. William Cutrer – Dr. Cutrer has one of the most interesting ministries I’ve ever heard of. He is an OBGYN who after practicing medicine for a couple of decades was called to pastoral ministry. After graduating from seminary he pastored for several years before being hired on hear at Southern. Now he teaches counseling classes and helps run the on-campus medical clinic. He teaches this class with his wife, and the students’ spouses are also required to be a part of all of the classroom time and study assignments. The content for this class has been wildly helpful. Plus, Meg and I have really enjoyed the time we’ve gotten to read together, go to class together, and perform the assignments together. The material for the class is what Dr. Cutrer teaches in pre-marital counseling and when he and his wife do weekend marriage seminars. Meg and I are not only learning a lot but also being equipped to do marital counseling in the future.

Some of our books: Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn (This book is soooooooo unthinkably good. It was seriously a page-turner, a rare happenstance for me. The book (having been written by Dr. Cutrer) basically is the class in book form. I will definitely be giving this one away in the future.) and Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas (The sub-title pretty much says it all. This book seeks to give readers a view of marriage that sees it as a spiritual discipline. Meg and I read through this together and had some good conversations with the discussion questions in the back of the book.)

Christian Preaching with Dr. Hershael York – Dr. York has been one of the most interesting and insightful people I’ve ever met. He has an incredibly wide range of life experiences combined with a very warm personality and a bold spirit. Particularly helpful is his experience in and heart for pastoral ministry. He tells us all the time that “Our hermeneutic for a text of Scripture is the author’s intent” meaning that we have to do the hard work of understanding what the passage we’re preaching means and the author’s meaning has to be what we preach. On the other hand, Dr. York also realizes (and makes sure that we realize) that we are not preaching to seminarians. Often times we’re not even preaching to high schoolers or those with an equivalent education. Therefore, we have to preach such that people can understand us and see the relevance of God’s word for their lives.

Books: Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition by Hershael York and Bert Decker (A helpful book on expository preaching which basically covers all the lecture material we cover in class, seeing that Dr. York wrote this book.) and Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson (A modern classic that covers a lot of the common interpretive mistakes of Scripture exegetes.).

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