Josh Philpot

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Archive for the ‘Old Testament’ Category

Tom Schreiner on the Differences between Biblical and Systematic Theology

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In the new issue of Themelios, Tom Schreiner writes a response to Gerald Bray’s critique of his biblical theology, “The King in His Beauty.” In the first few paragraphs he offers a clear and helpful overview for how biblical and systematic theology differ but complement one another. He also lambasts Bray for totally misunderstanding his book. I was at the panel discussion at ETS last November where Bray’s review was presented, so I’m glad to see Schreiner’s rejoinder here. Many of the attendees at that presentation were likewise confused with Bray’s response. In Schreiner’s own words, 

The fundamental problem with Bray’s review is that he misunderstands both my book and biblical theology. He seems to think that I am trying to write a systematic theology, for he emphasizes that biblical theology is only a prolegomenon to a systematic theology. Here’s the rub: I agree! Systematic theology is a culminating discipline that includes exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, and philosophy. Bray critiques me as if I were attempting to write a culminating work, a systematic theology, and by doing so he veers off course from the outset of his review. I agree with Bray that Christian theology reaches its apex in systematics. I didn’t think anyone would read my book as if I were trying to compose an alternative to a systematic theology.

Nor is it evident that Bray understands what biblical theology is in distinction from systematics, or perhaps he believes there isn’t any place for biblical theology, because he doesn’t commend it in his review. We need both systematic and biblical theology, for in the latter the story of scripture is rehearsed, the narrative of scripture is unfolded for the reader. Such attention to the historical outworking of God’s plan (the establishment of his kingdom!) ensures that we are reading the scriptures contextually and canonically. For instance, Bray doesn’t devote much attention to the historical unfolding of God’s revelation in his book. But it is clear in reading the NT that the Mosaic covenant was an interim covenant, that it was meant to be in force for a limited period of time. We learn from this that it is imperative to read scripture epochally. We don’t offer sacrifices or wear clothes with only one kind of fabric since such regulations are part of the Sinai covenant, and we aren’t under that covenant since the new covenant has arrived in Jesus Christ.

To put it another way, systematic theologians need biblical theology, for otherwise they may make claims that violate the intention and purpose of the texts cited. Biblical theology as a mediating discipline supports systematics. Systematics may stray from the scriptures in constructing doctrines, and biblical theology serves systematics by tying us to the biblical text and by ensuring that we interpret the scriptures in its epochal framework. The structures and themes unpacked in biblical theology undergird (or should undergird) the work of systematic theologians. Biblical theology, like systematics, plays a vital role in our understanding of the scriptures. Let’s take one example of what concerns Bray. He complains that I don’t unpack the Trinity, but he misconstrues my book and biblical theology. The Trinity is central to Christian theology, and any systematic theology that doesn’t make the Trinity prominent is woefully deficient. But I didn’t write a systematic theology, nor am I claiming that the work of biblical theology is a culminating discipline. Still, biblical theology provides the raw materials for the doctrine of the Trinity by showing that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all divine, while also emphasizing that the scriptures teach that there is only one God.

You can read Schreiner’s review of Bray’s “God is Love” here. The contrast between the two reviews is startling.

Written by Josh Philpot

April 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Three things are never satisfied

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Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:

  1. Sheol,
  2. the barren womb,
  3. the land never satisfied with water, 
  4. and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

 (Prov. 30:15b-16)

Written by Josh Philpot

March 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Old Testament

Selfie-Deception

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Over at the Gospel Coalition Worship blog I have a post on “selfie-deception.” I try to point out that selfies (the Instagram kind) can be a form of self-worship, and that a way forward would be to focus on texts that emphasize the “face” of God, like Exodus 34 and Numbers 6. Here is an excerpt:

These are only a few of the many verses in the Bible that speak about the glory of God’s face and its impact on his people. But this should be what we desire. It should be our earnest hope for our congregations as we lead them, when we pray for them, and when we care for them. And it should shatter our self-interest and our selfie-deception.

Indeed, it’s the natural result of focusing on God. Considering his work, his power, his sovereign will, and his grace to us in Christ naturally leads to rejecting the sort of self- expression that so sinfully pervades our culture, because in doing so we reject one glory (the glory of our faces) in favor of a far greater glory (the glory of God).

So with these texts in mind, is it too much to ask that we refocus ourselves and our selfies, to rethink how we think about our faces? Instead of dispersing our faces among so many selfie-factories, perhaps we should focus on a single point, or rather, a single person—the face of Jesus Christ. Selfies say, “I’m here! I’m important! I matter!” God says that he is what matters, and the only image that should concern us is the one in whom rests the image of the invisible God. God says that we should dwell on the light of his face, which, as Paul states, is so clearly seen “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). We want glory. We desire it. We want the light on our faces. But in Christ alone is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” (#nofilter)

Read the whole thing here.

Written by Josh Philpot

February 21, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Where do we find wisdom?

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Proverbs 8 is a beautiful passage of scripture, although it’s very difficult to interpret. One of the central questions in that chapter is, “where can we find wisdom?” Wisdom is personified in Proverbs 8 as elsewhere in the book and is presented by the author (Solomon, I believe) as an extremely attractive, beautiful woman—Lady Wisdom. So where does one find such an attractive woman? The chapter gives details about finding her and also about the the places where she can be found:

  1. She is “on the heights, beside the way” (v. 2a)
  2. She is “at the crossroads” (v. 2b)
  3. She is “beside the gates in front of the town” (v. 3a)
  4. She is “at the entrance” (v. 3b)
  5. She is “among the paths of righteousness/justice” (v. 20)
  6. She is “at the beginning of Yhwh’s way” (v. 22)
  7. When God established the heavens, she was there (v. 27)
  8. She is “beside him [God], like a master workman” (v. 30a)
  9. She is “before him [God]” (v. 30b)
  10. She is always “rejoicing in his inhabited world” (v. 31)

What can we conclude from this list? Two things: 1) “Wisdom”—Lady Wisdom—is with God, and 2) she is amongst us in the world.

These concepts obviously have to do with God’s presence. Wisdom, therefore, is much like the “angel of Yhwh” in the OT. Wisdom is “with” God (indeed, the personified wisdom is God in some sense), but also in the world at the same time. To grasp wisdom, taking hold of her, not forsaking her, loving her, and prizing her highly (Prov 4:5-9), is to partake in the presence of God himself.

Written by Josh Philpot

December 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Old Testament, Theology

The Preface of My Dissertation

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On Friday I will graduate for the second time from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The first time was when I completed the MDiv in 2009, and now four years later from the PhD program. I had the opportunity to write a “Preface” for my dissertation, which I had never done before. So in reflecting on this process, I wrote the following:

This project would not have been possible without the guidance of the many people who encouraged me to pursue a seminary degree, and who were faithful to support me through to its completion. This entire dissertation was written from Spring, Texas while serving as Pastor for Worship at Founders Baptist Church. I am deeply thankful to Founders for allowing me to spend this last year writing. The people of Founders have been truly amazing in their display of love for me and my family. I am especially thankful for Pastor Richard Caldwell for his constant care and support, as well as his interest in my topic.

My interest in Exodus 34 and the episode of Moses’ shining face began with a discussion outside of the office of my supervisor, Dr. Duane A. Garrett, who was completing a commentary on Exodus at the time. He suggested that I write a paper on this passage seeing that it was commonly misunderstood, especially in evangelical circles. My later work on Exodus 34 was generally well received, and so Dr. Garrett suggested that I consider it for my dissertation. I am extremely grateful to him for his support and guidance during this process, and for taking me on as one of his doctoral students.

My doctoral studies began while I was serving with Dr. James M. Hamilton Jr. on the pastoral staff at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Hamilton has influenced me pastorally and theologically more than any other person. I am grateful to him for his friendship and love for me and my family, not to mention his keen insight on all Old Testament matters and comprehensive biblical knowledge. Out of all the things I miss about Louisville, I miss serving with Dr. Hamilton the most. Thank you for modeling a strong work ethic, humility, sincerity, and biblical preaching.

My wife, Jenn, has been the constancy one needs when completing a large-scale project. Thank you for your endless prayers and encouragement, and your devotion to me when I grew weary from time to time. Thank you for your love, most of all, and for your commitment to being a godly wife and a mother. You bring more joy to me than you will ever know! And, “The heart of her husband trusts in her” (Prov 31:11).

To our kids, Isaiah, Eliana, and Mikaela, thank you for confirming for me each day that “the light of the eyes rejoices the heart” (Prov 15:30). I am looking forward to having many more mornings and evenings together!

Lastly, I am dedicating this dissertation to my parents, Gary and Pam Philpot. Your influence on me as a young man was a significant blessing throughout. And now, as a husband and father, I am beginning to understand just how important Christian parents are in the lives of their children. Thank you for your prayerful encouragement and loving example of a godly marriage. My prayer is that the Lord would “make his face to shine upon you” (Num 6:25) as you persevere in the gospel of grace.

Joshua Matthew Philpot
Spring, Texas
December 2013

Written by Josh Philpot

December 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

Riches, Honor, and Life

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In 1 Kings 3:13-14, God offers Solomon riches, honor, and long life, although the latter is conditional upon Solomon’s obedience to God’s law:

I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.

These three benefits are in Lady Wisdom’s hands in Proverbs 3:16 (“Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.”), and are the “rewards for humility” in Proverbs 22:4 (“The reward for humility and fear of the Yhwh is riches and honor and life.”).

In Christ, the results of a wise life are “riches” in heaven (Matt 6:19-20), “honor” in believing (1 Pet 2:7), and “eternal life” (John 3:36).

Written by Josh Philpot

December 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Old Testament, Theology

Ardel Caneday on Peter Enns and the NT Use of the OT

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At the Credo Magazine blog, NT scholar Ardel Caneday completed a series on the NT use of the OT, and particularly with recent arguments from OT scholar Peter Enns. Enns was dismissed from Westminster Theological Seminary a few years back (he may have resigned; I can’t remember) over the hermeneutical position he took in the book, Inspiration and Incarnation. The articles from Candeday are long but worth the time for anyone interested in the topic, especially the last two which deal with Enns in particular:

On the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament (part 1)

On the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament (part 2)

Would Paul Have Made a Good Evangelical? (part 3)

Would Paul Have Made a Good Evangelical? (part 4)

While not dismissing the value of some of Enns’ works on the OT (his Exodus commentary in the NIVAC series is excellent, as are some of his contributions to Wisdom Literature studies), his more recent works have only confirmed why WTS dismissed him (rightly, in my opinion) from their faculty.

Written by Josh Philpot

June 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm