Review: Ministry in the New Marriage Culture


mithmc“Same-sex marriage is here. So what do pastors and church leaders do now?”

So reads the first lines emblazoned on the back cover of this book, the latest offering from Jeff Iorg, the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (which, disclaimer, is also where I am studying to complete my MDiv). Dr. Iorg is the editor of this book and has assembled 15 of the leading minds either from or affiliated with the seminary in order to address both this large question and many of the other related questions that follow.

Following the Introduction (chapter 1), the book is divided into three sections: Biblical Foundations for Ministry (chapters 2 & 3), Theological Foundations for Ministry (chapters 4-6), and Models and Methods for Ministry (chapters 7-15).

The first section, Biblical Foundations, is a brief overview of some of the biblical teachings and principles from the Old and New Testaments on marriage and sexual ethics. The book’s point of view on the issues is the historic (or non-affirming) teaching of the church on sexual ethics in general and homosexuality in particular. These two chapters are valuable for anyone who has not done an extensive study of the subject themselves but are also not the point of the book. Those looking for exhaustive treatments will want to look elsewhere, though these chapters serve as an appropriate starting point.

The Theological Foundations section covers Gospel Confidence, Ecclesiology, and Sexual Ethics. Of the three, the chapter on Ecclesiology by Rodrick Durst is a standout: it does an excellent job of bringing historical situations in the history of the church to bear on the current circumstances, is filled with encouragements to the reader, offers case studies of potential church issues, suggests practices that will be of benefit in resolving these issues, AND goes further than most of the other chapters by addressing trans* issues (a step not all of the authors take).

The Models and Methods section is the bread and butter of the book and will most likely be the most helpful of all the sections to pastors and other church leaders. In particular, the Preaching chapter by Tony Merida and the Legal Challenges chapter by Jim Wilson are incredibly valuable resources. I feel the chapter on legal challenges, while not for everyone, would be worth the price of the book all by itself to church leaders for its practical advice and suggestions on ways to preemptively protect churches from possible litigation and liability.

Answering Objections:

But wait, some might ask: why do we need another book by fifteen cisgender, evangelical, conservative authors (who are almost all white to boot)? What could they add that is possibly worth listening to? Don’t we need more voices who don’t represent this point of view?

The first part of the answer to that question is YES! We need more diversity in the conversation. I will not argue on that point. However, this book is diverse in its own way.

This is a book that is not directly arguing the abstract and/or theological question of same-sex marriage. It is instead focused on the practicals–what to do–in light of the legal realities that the churches maintaining the historic teaching are faced with and is mainly addressed to those who already agree with its theological perspective. For the book’s audience, this is a necessary book. There are few resources out there (to my admittedly limited knowledge!) that perform the function this book sets out to accomplish.

Is it a perfect book? No. Some chapters fall flat or come across as tone-deaf. Few will agree with every suggestion that every author makes (at least I don’t). And the book falls far short of answering every possible answer to the problems and opportunities churches will face in this arena. But while it doesn’t provide all the answers, it at least is beginning to ask the right questions and inviting the reader to answer them for themselves.

5 stars out of 5


Jeff Iorg, ed. Ministry in the New Marriage Culture. Nashville, B&H Publishing, 2015. 264 pp. Paperback. $14.99.

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“Alive in You” by Jesus Culture


It’s been a while since I last shared what new music I’m listening to so here’s what’s been on repeat lately!

Jesus Culture’s latest cd has a song called “Alive in You” and I absolutely love it, especially the chorus:

You are God, You’re the Great I AM
Breath of Life I breathe You in
Even in the fire I’m alive in You.

You are strong in my brokenness
Sovereign over every step
Even in the fire I’m alive in You.

This past season has, for various reasons, often felt like a furnace. Heat, pressure, no idea what’s coming next…but Christ, “one like a son of the gods” (Dan. 3:25) not only can keep us alive in the flames of the furnace and use it to refine us: He is also with us in the furnace and sovereign over every step that led us there and every step we’ll take afterwards. It’s truth I need to keep hearing 🙂

 

Book Review: A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene H. Merrill


chronThere are so many different commentaries out there that it can be overwhelming to try and find a useful one! Both in my personal studies at GGBTS and as an employee at the library on campus I’ve seen the benefits of using a good commentary instead of a poor one.

So what do I think of the Kregel Exegetical Library volume on 1 & 2 Chronicles? It’s an excellent balance of helpful exegesis of the text and application of the material that would work equally well for the preacher and for the student or reader wanting to go deeper in their study of Chronicles.

A few specific points. First, the author. Eugene Merrill is an Old Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who has written, among other things, Kingdom of Priests. Definitely a plus to have him writing this commentary and bringing his expertise to bear.

Commentaries fall somewhere on a range from scholarly/technical to pastoral/application. The one end will examine a book verse-by-verse (and perhaps word-by-word!) in a thorough analysis of the historical background, original language, and original meaning while the other end will focus on what the text means for us today and how we can apply it.

While this commentary falls more towards the scholarly side, it is by no means inaccessible to the pastor or layman. The author provides a discussion of each unit of text (rather than word-by-word) and includes textual critical notes, exegesis and exposition, and the occasional excursus of ideas or application of theology.

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles is a well balanced work that would make a solid addition to any study library.

4 stars out of 5


Eugene Merrill, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Grand Rapids, Kregel Publications, 2015. 640 pp. Hardcover. $39.99.

Thanks to Kregel Publications for the review copy, which I received for free in exchange for an impartial review!