Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

A Call for Musical Pastors via Bob Kauflin

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Lately I’ve been trying to say and teach our congregation that worship leading is a pastoral task. We call the people of God to sing God’s words for God’s glory, to say and speak the truth about God and his redemptive plan to one another. Or to say it differently, we put words in their mouths. As a friend of mine once said, leading worship means leading worshipers, which is inherently pastoral. One of the main influences of my ministry as a pastor for worship is Bob Kauflin, who leads Sovereign Grace Worship. Today he has an excellent blog post along these same lines:

A Call for Musical Pastors:

An increasing number of musicians have full time worship ministry in their sights. They hope that one day they’ll be able to make a living playing their instrument, leading people in songs of praise.

That’s a great goal. But I’m not sure it’s the best one.

If you believe God’s called and gifted you to serve the church with your music vocationally, I want to suggest that you consider whether God’s calling you to be a pastor as well. A musical pastor. Of course, not every musician who leads congregational singing should or will be a pastor. But if you hope to join a church staff some day, I want to suggest six reasons why preparing to be a pastor musician is better than simply aiming to be a worship leader.

Read the rest to get those six reasons. Kauflin’s point here pushes up against the more common definition of a worship leader in evangelical pop culture: a musician who sings and leads a band in front of a church. But I think Kauflin’s words are wise in this regard. Church leaders shouldn’t pass over them lightly:

Can someone lead music in the church and not be a muscial pastor? Sure. . . . But pastors will always be responsible to choose and lead what the church sings. It’s pastors, not worship leaders, that God will ultimately hold accountable for those they shepherd (Heb. 13:17). Which means it’s possible that if you want to be a pastor or already are, any musical training you get is only going to serve you and your church.

So what might happen if more churches were led in song by musicians who were pastors, or pastors who were musicians?

I’m not exactly sure, but I’m confident our hearts, our songs, and our churches would all be the better for it.

May the Lord raise up pastors who are gifted to lead musically in our churches.

(Via Bob Kauflin)

Written by Josh Philpot

April 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Worship

Albert Mohler on Childlessness and Contraception

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Today, World Mag posted an interview with Albert Mohler about his tenure as president at Southern Seminary. It is a very interesting article. One of the questions concerns his view of childlessness and contraception. I appreciate his response: 

In the Bible, childlessness is always discussed as something that is grievous and a cause for sorrow rather than a cause for joy. There are purposes for which people were childless in the Bible, but that’s much like what Paul argued in I Corinthians 7 about someone who was unmarried. You’re unmarried for a purpose that is tied to the gospel. The idea that healthy married people, a man or woman who are married together would choose childlessness just as a lifestyle is alien from the Scripture. If that’s controversial, just try to find any hole in that argument from the Bible. I don’t think you’re going to find it. In fact, I’m confident you won’t.

Contraception is not as easy of a question to answer as you might think or people might want. The Roman Catholic Church has an easy answer, and that is no to any kind of artificial contraception. Quite frankly, their definition of natural stretches the imagination of what natural means. What we do need to recognize is that evangelicals just joined the contraceptive bandwagon unthinkingly, unreflectively, and, I think, unfaithfully, and just thought that any pill had to be a good pill. It has unleashed far more sorrow than joy in this world and has led to an understanding that babies are now simply an elective accessory and has made every pregnancy a tentative pregnancy. You have to put that alongside the availability of legal abortion. By the time you put together the triumvirate of no fault divorce, the availability of contraception, and the availability of abortion on demand, what you have is a situation that has just completely transformed the value of life as recognized by this society.

Read the whole article here

Written by Josh Philpot

March 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Culture, Family, Seminary

Martin Luther on the Value of Reading the Old Testament

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I recently came across this great quote from Martin Luther on the value of reading the Old Testament: 

There are some who have little regard for the Old Testament. They think of it as a book that was given to the Jewish people only and is now out of date, containing only stories of past times. . . . But Christ says in John 5, “Search the Scriptures, for it is they that bear witness to me.” . . . [T]he Scriptures of the Old Testament are not to be despised but diligently read. . . . Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings and think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find that divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies. . . . Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them. 

Martin Luther, “Preface to the Old Testament,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 35 (ed. E. Theodore Bachmann; Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1960), 235-26. 

Written by Josh Philpot

December 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Books, Old Testament

Using Commentaries in Digital vs. Print Format

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Brian Tabb recently reviewed the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary series in digital format (from Accordance Bible Software) for Themelios. In the review he posts some comments about the advantages of using digital commentaries instead of in print format: 

There are several advantages to owning the Anchor Yale Bible commentary series digitally on Accordance (see further the review of Accordance 10 Ultimate Collection in Themelios 38.3 [2013]: 453–55). First, on Accordance, the 87-volume set costs roughly one third of what it does in print—$1,499 versus $4,458. The Accordance version also retails for nearly $500 less than the same commentaries on Logos (reviewed in Themelios 34 [2009]: 226–27). Second, the Accordance set is compact and portable, unlike its print counterpart. The print volumes take up approximately eleven feet of shelf space, and it is challenging to fit more than one or two in a backpack or briefcase. In contrast, Accordance users may access this massive collection anywhere on Mac, Windows, iPad, and iPhone. Third, Accordance digital commentaries offer enhanced usability over print commentaries. Users may type in a Scripture reference to instantly navigate to the relevant translation and commentary. Additional search options include title (key words in a book title or section heading); English content; Scripture (references anywhere in the commentary body); Greek/Hebrew content; transliteration; translation; manuscripts; bibliography; authors; captions (for maps, illustrations, and tables); and page numbers. For example, a search for the translation “rectify” yields sixteen instances where J. L. Martyn distinctively renders δικαιόω and related terms in his Galatians commentary. A bibliography search indicates that eighteen of the twenty-six NT volumes cite Joseph Fitzmyer, while only one (Romans) refers to G. K. Beale. Caption searches for Palestine or Jerusalem lead users to relevant maps (Mark 1–8, ix; Acts, 190) that would be difficult to find going volume by volume with the print edition. Users may also create a custom group of commentaries to enable a single search within that group for a particular Scripture or keyword. This allows the pastor preparing a sermon or the student working on an exegesis paper to locate the most relevant pages in his favorite commentaries with one simple yet powerful search.

Read the rest for the full review: Themelios | Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries: Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament

Written by Josh Philpot

December 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Books, Mac, Technology

Peter Gentry on Daniel 9 and upcoming publications

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Over at My Digital Seminary there is an interview with Peter Gentry on Daniel 9:24-27. At the end of the interview he lists the projects he is currently working on, all of which are of interest for biblical studies: 

  • My magnum opus is a critical edition of Ecclesiastes for the Goettingen Septuaginta. Hope to finish it this summer. 
  • Steve Welllum and I are producing a 250-page abridgement of KTC. 
  • I am translating from French the best study of Isaiah 7:14 ever written, showing that it is a direct prophecy of the virgin Mary. 
  • I am working on a discourse grammar commentary on Isaiah (In the Hearing the Message of Scripture series). 
  • In collaboration with others, I am writing state of the art information on Origen and his Hexapla.”

I’m particularly interested in “the best study of Isaiah 7:14 ever written.” 

Written by Josh Philpot

November 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Old Testament

The Word of God in Our Mouths | Doxology and Theology

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Over at the Doxology and Theology blog I have a post on The Word of God in Our Mouths. Here’s an excerpt: 

The task of worship planning is a pastoral discipline. I say pastoral because the planning and leading of worship services is a matter of teaching good theology. Like any good pastor, we should desire to get the Word of God into our people at every point of the service, which means that we’re doing more than leading songs for our congregations: we’re putting words in their mouths. We’re causing our people to actually say specific words and to respond in specific ways. So what we do has great influence.

We’re giving our churches categories of understanding for doctrine and response. Through our liturgies we’re teaching them the gospel, the true nature and work of Jesus, and how we take part in the story of God reconciling all things through Christ. In this sense, our worship leading has more to do with formation/sanctification than it does with affection. There are some who plan services around what affects them emotionally. But our affections do not always change our actions. The truth of God does.

Read the rest here

Written by Josh Philpot

November 11, 2014 at 3:14 am

Posted in Theology, Worship

Chiastic Structure of Daniel

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In Jim Hamilton’s new book, “With Clouds of Heaven,” he proposes the following structure for the book of Daniel:

1, Exile to the unclean realm of the dead
     2, Four kingdoms followed by the kingdom of God
          3, Deliverance of the trusting from the fiery furnace 
               4, Humbling of proud King Nebuchadnezzar
               5, Humbling of proud King Belshazzar
          6, Deliverance of the trusting from the lions’ den
     7–9, Four kingdoms followed by the kingdom of God
10–12, Return from exile and resurrection from the dead

Hamilton then attempts to give the message of Daniel in one sentence: “Daniel encourages the faithful by showing them that though Israel was exiled from the land of promise, they will be restored to the realm of life at the resurrection of the dead, when the four kingdoms are followed by the kingdom of God, so the people of God can trust him and persevere through persecution until God humbles proud human kings, gives everlasting dominion to the son of man, and the saints reign with him” (83).  

Hamilton, James M., Jr. With Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology. New Studies in Biblical Theology 32. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2014.  

 

Written by Josh Philpot

August 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Old Testament, Theology

Jonathan Swift on “Wisdom”

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Keen insights from Jonathan Swift as described by the hack narrator in A Tale of a Tub

[W]isdom is a fox, who after long hunting, will at last cost you the pains to dig out. It is a cheese which, by how much the richer, has the thicker, the homelier, and the coarser coat, and whereof to a judicious palate the maggots are the best. It is a sack-posset, wherein the deeper you go you will find it the sweeter. Wisdom is a hen whose cackling we must value and consider, because it is attended with an egg. But then, lastly, it is a nut, which, unless you choose with judgment, may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm.

Written by Josh Philpot

August 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Books, Culture, Wisdom

Farewell Gungor

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Yesterday, an article was published in World Magazine about the uber-hipster artists Michael and Lisa Gungor and their drift from biblical orthodoxy in their music. Michael Gungor in particular seems to have “lost” his traditional faith at some point along the road, choosing to express in his music a spirituality mixed with some form of doubt. Apparently, Gungor has teamed up with the king of doubt, Mr. Rob Bell himself, to write poetry for a few new EPs, also collaborating with Rachel Held Evans in expressing how “God is mother.” 

The drift from traditional biblical orthodoxy is evident in Gungor’s earlier songs too, and anyone with a keen theological sense could probably see where Gungor was headed. In his 2013 song, “Yesternite,” Gungor writes, “Yesternite the gods they disappeared from sight / the angels flapped their wings and took their songs to flight / the shadows lift their hands and praise the light.” The article in World Magazine points to Gungor’s description of these lyrics on his blog, where he uses “gods” as a general mythological construct to represent the stories that “we thought were true, but no longer are. Stories that we lived by, defined ourselves with, but can no longer believe in.” Regarding Adam and Even or the biblical account of the flood, Gungor admits that he has “no more ability to believe in these things then I do to believe in Santa Claus.”

The news is very disappointing and sad, especially since Gungor’s music is so rich and creative from a musical standpoint, even if Gungor’s lyrics are ambivalent on the theological issues he addresses in his songs. Gungor’s most popular song, “Beautiful Things,” is often sung in churches:

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

I guess all of this is now in doubt from Gungor’s perspective. But we should be wary of doubt as a spiritually helpful way to evaluate our convictions and traditions. Jesus counseled his disciples with regard to his real nature and his power over the sea, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:31). Gungor may not perceive what he is doing, but he’s actually teaching people doctrine with his ambiguous language and, in my view, belittling God by casting doubt on God’s word. This reminds me Matthew 15:8-9. Quoting from Isaiah 29:13, Jesus says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” 

Our convictions should rest in Jesus, whether we find him hard to believe or not. But the good thing is that Jesus is convincing, and he has given us the true story of the world and of our God. God does indeed make beautiful things out dust, and makes hope spring around us, and calls light out of chaos—through Jesus. And we should have faith in him and his word. His commandments are true and righteous altogether. Let’s not depart from them as Gungor has. 

Written by Josh Philpot

August 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Music, Theology, Worship

Reverberations of Exodus

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Peter Leithart offers the following critique of a new book, Reverberations of Exodus, which I bought recently but haven’t started:

What [the authors] miss is the cumulative inter-textuality of the Bible. If Joshua and Ezekiel are new Moseses who enact, somehow, new exoduses, then the New Testament allusions and echoes to exodus should reverberate across the whole [instead of in isolated texts]. When Jesus leads an exodus, he should be understood not just as new Moses but as new Moses-Joshua-Ezra-Ezekiel. By the time we get to the New Testament, exodus doesn’t strike a single note or an octave but a chord that reverberates, sometimes discordantly, throughout the Scriptures from the end to the beginning.

(Via Peter J. Leithart)

Written by Josh Philpot

July 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm