Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

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

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