Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Archive for May 2009

Reflections on Seminary part 3

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Year three marked one of the more satisfying years academically. After going through a year of Hebrew language study I took my first exegesis class with Dr. Peter Gentry. His influence on my understanding of the Old Testament and my love of the biblical languages far outweighs any other. It was during this class (Exegesis of Isaiah) that I made conscious decision to study the OT to a greater degree, with the hope of resurrecting the OT in preaching and teaching in the church. It has been my observation that most church members, young and old, limit their own understanding of the OT to the Psalms and Proverbs, with a splattering of the great stories of Abraham, Moses, and David (just take a look at many of our Bibles: the NT with Psalms and Proverbs). Rarely does one find a pastor preaching through a book of the OT on Sunday mornings. Additionally, the influence of John MacArthur (whom I love and admire) has somehow convinced many pastors in reformed circles that the church is only to be taught from the NT, and that the OT is limited to illustrative purposes. This was, and is, not satisfying to me. As I understand the task, pastors are to preach the whole counsel of God. The church cannot and must not limit themselves to being practical Marcionites. God has made himself known in his Word, and for all our battling to preserve the authority and inspiration of the Bible, we must act and preach like the whole of it, and not individual parts, is worth the battle. Pastors are never called to preach only the New Covenant (as some might say). Pastors are called to preach the Word.

This leads me to further recommendations. First, do not wait until your final year of seminary to begin Hebrew and Greek. Most seminarians start off with Greek but avoid Hebrew like a plague. In fact, there is a common notion among seminarians that it is unwise to take Hebrew and Greek in the same semester. While there are certain factors that may prohibit this (e.g. full-time job), it is not insurmountable. The earlier you can take the biblical languages the better. Then, as you progress, you can continue to take exegesis courses to improve your skills, and by the end of seminary you should have a good grasp on both languages. Second, study in small spurts and not big chunks. For instance, if it’s Monday and you have a Hebrew vocabulary test on Thursday, don’t wait until Wednesday to begin and don’t work on all 50 vocab words at a time. Rather, divide the words into groups of 10 and put them in your pocket. As you walk to class, sit at lunch, wait for an appointment, etc., get the cards out and go through them a few times. Our brain is more inclined to remember these things if they come in doses, and not all at once. Most of us, including myself, can’t remember everything at first glance. Therefore, help yourself out by studying throughout a day instead of all at once. Third, don’t be content to spend all of your time working on vocabulary and syntax only to lose everything you’ve worked on in a year or so. Continue to work on these things periodically. It will be well worth your effort.

Back to my third year: things changed dramatically for me at Kenwood during this time as well. In December of 2007 our preaching pastor left the church to take a professorship in a different state. The following week our other associate pastor, whom everyone assumed would take the preaching role, was called to military duty, also out of state. This left me for the care of the church. I began preaching every Sunday morning and teaching every Sunday and Wednesday evenings. While the responsibilities were difficult to maintain as a full-time student, and while there were certainly bumps in the road involving church members, I loved the work and grew as a Christian.

One of the best things that happened to Jenn and I this year was catching up with fellow Liberty grads who were at Southern. I had no idea that so many of us were in one place! Noah and Brandy Lee, Asa Hart, Brad Swartz, Randall and Bethany Breland, and Andy Miller have all been great friends that have challenged and loved both of us during this time. Additionally, Michael Naak (not from LU) and I grew very close as we met each week for accountability and encouragement. He was, and is, an extremely good friend who graciously supported me during many tough months at Kenwood, prodding me to continue to persevere and preach the Gospel, even when it might be offensive to some.

Here are some pictures from year three – a reenactment of our engagement in Cincinnati (2nd anniversay), Naak bowling, the LU guys and gals, New Attitude conference with my in-laws (now called “Next“), a big snow storm, and my parents trying on some hats at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe:

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Written by Josh Philpot

May 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Reflections on Seminary part 2

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The second year of seminary proved equally eventful. The first items on our list to complete once we moved to Louisville were to find a church and find a job! God was gracious in both. About two weeks into our transition to Louisville (with an apt. on Noblitt Drive – our own little ghetto hideaway!) I was hired at Kenwood Baptist Church as Pastor of Worship and Jenn was hired as an academic counselor for the University of Louisville. Indeed, God was very gracious. I additionally began to go to school full-time at SBTS, sitting under men like Drs. Russell Moore, Duane Garrett (now my Ph.D. supervisor) and Tom Nettles. I was learning Hebrew (a fruitful enterprise for anyone!), studying the Bible, leading worship, and struggling to be a good husband and diabetic. The latter was, and is, harder than the former, given that my excellent wife makes husbandry so much fun! Towards the end of that year I also was ordained by Kenwood, and then spent a couple of weeks hiking through the Grand Canyon with my great friend, Justin Petrochko (BFF, for sure…).

One of the great challenges during this year was disciplining myself to accommodate the seminary work load, particularly the reading. For those who are not familiar with the seminary lifestyle, reading is a fundamental requisite. And not just any reading. No, in seminary we don’t have the pleasure of reading great literary works from Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Bronte. Rather, we read books that take a few moments to figure out what even the title might mean. At seminary, the professors have a much different interpretation of Ecclesiastes 12:12 than Solomon probably did – “Of the making of many books there is no end.” For instance, this first semester I noticed in the syllabus a certain book for my class on John Calvin entitled, Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment. Huh? (that was my first reaction). At that point in my life everything about that title gave me the sweats! I figured, then, I should dissect the title word-for-word. I knew what a “Protestant” was, but what the heck is “Scholasticism?” I knew what an “Essay” is, but what in the world is an “Essay in Reassessment?” Thus, I began my journey. But I quickly figured out that reading the work of John Calvin was fun (I read his magisterial Institutes of the Christian Religion my first semester), as well as reading theology. Henceforth I became a lover of books and reading!

But back to my original problem: what about disciplining oneself to accomplish all this reading? Each class required, on average, about 1200 pages of reading. I usually took 4 classes per semester, which amounts to nearly 5000 pages. My solution, and my recommendation, is threefold. First, try your best to get a list of the reading requirements for your semester as early as possible and begin to digest the material ahead of time. In a given semester, I would usually order my books at least a month in advance and have a couple of books completed by the start of the class. Believe me, this pays off in the end. Second, read at all times of the day. Know what periods of the day are better for you to focus and commit to them. Perhaps this is early in the morning (like me), or later in the evening (like most seminarians). But don’t be content to leave your reading to this period. When you have 15-30 minutes here or there for lunch or whatever, try to get some reading done. This could also be time in the car in the middle of a traffic jam, or while in the waiting room at the dentist’s office (who needs those magazines anyway?). Again, the payoff is great, even if you only get a few pages read here or there. Third, just focus. We have so many distractions around us that keep us from getting work done. I would suggest sacrificing any number of those distractions for good solid work. I am always amazed when I go to the school library and see someone sitting at a table with their laptop open, earphones in, iphone nearby, reading a book. What?! How can one expect to get anything done with all those distractions? Perhaps I’m just not a good multi-tasker, but if I’m required to read and absorb Justification and Variegated Nomism then I think it would be wise to set aside other things in order to concentrate on the subject matter. So that’s my recommendation/admonition. Read ahead of time, at all times of the day, and focus while doing so.

Here are few pictures from year two – the campus at SBTS, the Kenwood church building, a few Grand Canyon pics with Justin, and my little niece, Josie, who came into the world during this second year:

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Written by Josh Philpot

May 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Seminary

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Reflections on Seminary part 1

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A little over a week ago (5.15.09) I graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. What transpired during the four years it took me to complete the degree has been nothing short of extraordinary – emphasis on “extra.” As such, I felt that it might be helpful/interesting to recall my experience as a seminarian for others who want to know what this kind of life is like, or who are currently swimming through the clear-but-sometimes-murky waters of the pastor-in-training (or was that murky-but-sometimes-clear?). I’ll post something different about my experience for the next few days.

Let me begin with a conclusion: I loved seminary! While difficult academically, straining on relationships, challenging to marriage, and financially strenuous, the experience and education was incredible. Therefore, I have a completely positive outlook on seminary am thankful for God’s grace in sustaining me through it.

I started seminary in Fall 2005 at Liberty University, my undergraduate Alma Mater (B.M. in Spring 2005). My schedule that year included Systematic Theology I, Old Testament I, the Doctrine of Islam (which was a mistake), and Theology of Exodus. While I didn’t enjoy the teaching of my professors (save one), I remained committed to working hard. If I remember correctly, I had only one week of class in August before Jenn and I drove to New York to be married. While I was starting a Master’s degree Jenn was one year away from completing her’s in counseling, and although we both felt that we would like to move and attend a better seminary (like SBTS), we first decided to stay at LU until Jenn’s education was done. So, my first year was spent at LU and was highly eventful. I took 4 classes during that time, worked as a grad assistant, got married, found out that I was a type-1 diabetic, worked as an academic adviser, and moved to Louisville to begin at SBTS and study full-time.

As an aside, the choice to go to SBTS was based on many reasons, not the least of which was its characteristic adherence to the Reformed faith and world-class faculty. Overall I just felt that I would be better equipped for the pastorate if I went to SBTS. I still think this is true.

Here are a few of the limited pictures we have from that first year: the campus at LU, our wedding, and a few good friends that we left in Virginia:

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Written by Josh Philpot

May 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

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Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary – Joyce G. Baldwin (TOTC)

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imageDBThis is an insightful and perceptive commentary that I completed this morning. Baldwin, now deceased, shows great exegetical skill as she expounds on one of the more interpretively difficult books in the OT. She is conservative in her approach, rightfully noting that the biblical and extra-biblical evidence supports the historical Daniel as the author, and that the historical personalities, dates and prophecies within the book are true. Additionally, Baldwin holds to a high view of Scripture and of God’s sovereign purpose and control of all of history, which is a needed refresher in light of the monumental but critical commentary of Collins (Hermeneia), and even Goldingay (WBC, who regards chapters 1-6 as allegorical). Although short and not completely exhaustive, I would highly recommend this commentary, especially for pastors. For me, it has been a great introduction to the subject matter of Daniel before my upcoming Ph.D. seminar on the book this fall.

Baldwin’s analysis of Daniel is as follows:

PART I: STORIES

I. Prologue: The Setting (1:1-21)
II. The Nations and the Most High God (2:1-7:28)
A. Nebuchadrezzar dreams of four kingdoms and of God’s kingdom (2:1-49)
B. Nebuchadrezzar the tyrant sees God’s servants rescued (3:1-30)
C. Judgment on Nebuchadrezzar (4:1-37)
C1. Judgment on Belshazzar (5:1-31)
B1. Darius the Mede sees Daniel rescued (6:1-28)

PART II: VISIONS

A1. Daniel has a vision of four kingdoms and of God’s kingdom (7:1-28)

III. The Second and Third Kingdoms Identified (8:1-27)
IV. Daniel’s Prayer and the Vision of the Seventy “Weeks” (9:1-27)
V. Vision of the Heavenly Messenger and His Final Revelation (10:1-12:13)

Here is a nice juicy quote concerning the hard text of Daniel 11, pp. 184-85:

“With regard to prophecy as foretelling, the church has lost its nerve. An earthbound, rationalistic humanism has so invaded Christian thinking as to tinge with faint ridicule all claims to see in the Bible anything more than the vaguest references to future events. Human thought, enthroned, has judged a chapter such as Daniel 11 to be history written after the event, whereas God enthroned, the one who was present at the beginning of time and will be present when time is no more, may surely claim with justification to ‘announce of old the things to come’ (Is. 44:7).”

Written by Josh Philpot

May 26, 2009 at 2:59 pm

What is preaching?

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First, watch this and be motivated, concerned, and energized for your task as a preacher (at least give it 6 minutes and 48 seconds):


Second, I’m surprised that Piper has a suit other than the usual plaid jacket/blue shirt/flowery-tie thing he always wears.

Third, I truly believe that John Piper is the greatest preacher of our day.

Written by Josh Philpot

May 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm

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