This past weekend I spoke at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, NC. There were ten sessions in all, two of them Q & A. The event was well-attended (just under 200 people) and went great. People came from as far as New England. It was nice to meet people who follow this blog, had heard me on the radio, and who had found me via YouTube. It’s always interesting to hear how people find me. It’s also encouraging to meet people who are determined to study Scripture and feed themselves with biblical content when they aren’t getting it from the places they’d like to be getting it.
Personally, I had a lot of fun, both in terms of the sessions and time spent with people outside the event. The response of attendees was very positive. I can’t say enough about the staff at Temple who made everything possible (Senior Pastor Jim Pennington and the Technical and IT Director John Cook). We only had one glitch (more on that below). I’d absolutely do it again, and we’ve already had conversations about doing something in 2016. My wife was able to come with me this time. (For you Facade and Portent readers, I was a little surprised that no one brought her into the Q &A with a question about whether she was Melissa or some other “real life” question). I did, however, meet an enthusiastic fan (Jessica) who will be the namesake for a future character.
The conference was the idea of two people who attend Temple that I met in PA last year (Jay and Amy Bradley). The event is a good example of how “normal” people in a church can make something happen. I’m not a travel enthusiast, but I’m certainly willing to do these sorts of things.
On those occasions when I could unwind, we spent some time talking and thinking about how the event might serve as a model for doing similar events elsewhere. I’ll share some thoughts.
I learned that Temple has a history of inviting speakers with a serious content focus. That helps promote an event within a congregation. But it also helps that the leadership has a track record of teaching people something on Sundays. It’s no surprise that many in the audience had no prior exposure to things like the divine council, but that really isn’t what matters. What matters is that people are taught not to fear thinking about Scripture and are given something to think about on any given Sunday.
Another consideration is that Temple has not been skittish about inviting speakers who don’t share their particular denominational context. In other words, the place has a wider vision than their own Christian sub-culture. That matters for promoting events to the public.
I think those are probably the two most important factors in holding an event like this and having people attend. Temple actually had little lead time on approving my coming and doing any promotion since the senior pastor has only been there for a short time (I recall he told me he’d preached ten Sundays to that point). To his credit, the pastor trusted the people who urged that the event take place.
Temple has posted all the audio for the sessions on its website. This link takes you to the church archive, so to find the audio in the future you’ll need to know the date. At the time of this post, the audio for the Q & A is not yet up on the site, though I am told it will be eventually (those require editing). I don’t as yet have copies of the audio files myself, and I don’t see a way to download the audio from the church website (just play it). [NOTE: I’ve been told if you click on the “i” for “Information” you can download the files – MSH.] I’ll be asking for my own copies of the audio files. The same site has the slides saved as PDF files. However, if you want the actual PowerPoint slides, you can download them here (you can download a free PowerPoint viewer here):
Understanding the Post-Modern, Neo-Pagan, Post-Christian World
Science, Science Fiction, and Spirituality, Part 1
Science, Science Fiction, and Spirituality, Part 2
- This one also includes a 7-minute clip (near the end of the talk) from a YouTube video (play the first seven minutes).
Session 1 – Thinking More Carefully About Biblical Inspiration
Session 2 – Being Honest with the Context of the Bible
Session 3 was Q & A
Session 4 – The Godhead in the Old Testament
Session 5 – The Unseen World and OT Cosmic Geography
Session 6 – The Unseen World and NT Cosmic Geography
Session 7 was Q & A
The glitch I mentioned at the beginning of the post concerns video — the event was not video recorded. The reason was the lighting, which was not conducive to doing so. Hopefully next time that will happen.
You can download the files from the Temple website by clicking the little “i” icon that is over the microphone and pdf icon. From there, it will allow you to save the mp3 file.
Thanks – just hadn’t discovered it.
I’m sorry, please ignore my previous comment. If you want to download audio, you can click the little “i” icon at the top right of the box for the session you want. This will open up a screen with a download link.
okay – just hadn’t discovered it; I’ll check it out.
I’m not the most technical person, especially with this sort of thing.
Glad the conference went well – can’t wait to listen to them. Would love to see you gain a larger platform through events like this. Is it March yet???
PS: I was able to pull the mp3s, email me if you still need them.
will do; I heard that the church has an iTunes feed as well. I don’t subscribe to iTunes, so I may email you.
Thank you so much for such an informative conference. We feel fortunate that we stumbled upon it via your website. Your teaching provides the depth that we are searching for as growing Christians.
I purchased your book “The Facade” at the conference, I can’t put it down! Can’t wait to purchase the sequel. Thank you for all that you do.
Awesome! Post a review on Amazon when you’re done! Thanks for coming, too.
You believe the Church Fathers don’t cut it for understanding the Bible? Explain that please …
Correct. The church fathers were 1000-2000 years removed from the context of the OT. They had no knowledge of all the ancient Near Eastern comparative data (the languages by their time were basically dead and their contents [i.e., ancient libraries full of material] were buried — this material was only deciphered in the 19th century and after). Only a couple church fathers could read any Hebrew (I know of three). People like Augustine for example, couldn’t read it at all and, while being able to work in Greek, worked primarily in Latin (the Vulgate). Augustine confessed to hating Greek, for that matter. I see no reason I should trust anyone to do exegesis in the Hebrew Bible who didn’t know Hebrew.
Anyway, I could fill a book with the reasons why the church fathers are not the correct context for interpreting the Bible, but this is illustrative. My point is not that they never get anything right, though. They of course do. My point is that they miss a lot and in a number of instances, are demonstrably wrong due to the context/worldview disconnect.
I wasn’t exactly talking about Augustine, which I (and the East in general) do not rank very highly. I would even rather read Tertullian. But you recall an important issue, which is that of Masoretic Text versus LXX. There are arguments in favor of either. OT was written in Hebrew, of course, but the MT Hebrew recension is much later than even the church fathers, and the Apostles relied on the Greek text it would seem.
But another thing: if the Bible is a timeless source of truth, and it has multiple levels of meaning, and it is the inheritance of the Church (and before modern times, in organic union with the Church), why are the greatest minds of the early Church inadequate? I used to be context-crazy to the point of once identifying with Messianic Judaism, but I recognize that what the Church Fathers often missed in Letter and in Context, they could gratuitously make up for with Spirit. And compared to even the best interpreter in modern times, they still had the one-up in that they were pious ancients interpreting pious ancients. You could hardly get the teaching of Theosis from Israelite monotheism, but I truly believe it is from the Holy Spirit. I would now rather sell my exactitude and purchase mystery.
It’s not just a textual / versional issue. That’s ONE facet of this. It’s a contextual issue — the church fathers are not from the biblical world. The Bible is filled with “insider” information that only someone of that time period can really parse. The fathers are not from that world, and couldn’t be (I don’t beat them up for that). We aren’t from that world, either, but we have huge amounts of data / primary source material that they didn’t.
Regarding theosis — it’s a very ANE concept that is related to Israelite monotheism (in the biblical-theological understanding of it, naturally).
I’m not saying the fathers are useless. They aren’t, particularly in terms of how they debated heresies of the period. That’s invaluable (and as we move farther down the road of post-Christian culture, they will be important resources for addressing a pagan revival). But they often are wide of the mark in meaning — that is, they come up with meanings people in the biblical world would not only have not recognized, but would have rejected because they don’t jive with their own cognitive framework.
And that’s the real issue. To pretend the Fathers (or anyone living a millennium after the fact) had the same cognitive framework as the biblical writers makes absolutely no sense. We’ll never fully do that either, but we have so much at our disposal to help us that the Fathers didn’t.
This has nothing to do with messianic Judaism, either. It’s much bigger than that.
That is a nice point Andrew. It actually relates to two questions: Since scripture is for all and expected to stand the test of time, were the recipients of an inspired text ever expected to stay within one framework of thought? In other words, isn’t it possible “inspiration” took on a new form; in the form of exegesis? And second, even if the church fathers and others were not privy to original source material and therefore missed some issues here and there, does that in any way alter the overall purpose of scripture?
Hi Mike!! It was a great event! My wife and I talked about the Divine Council the rest of the weekend. My youngest daughter has already read half of “I dare you not to bore me with the Bible” and her boyfriend is tearing through “The Facade” and has told me how much he is enjoying it.
I am the guy who asked for an update on “The Facade” movie (TV show) plans, and I wanted to ask if your wife was jealous of Melissa Kelly now that I see your above comments I wish I had asked that. My wife and younger daughter are very much your typical Southern Baptists, I became fascinated with the Nephilim question several years ago and thats how I found you. Your teaching made an impact and I hope you will be welcome in more denominational churches.
Cool – glad to hear this. Melissa Kelley is 1/3 my wife, 1/3 Dana Scully, and 1/3 a woman I don’t like who won’t be named. I needed that last one in my head for Melissa’s issues in The Facade.
I will be downloading these messages and pdfs and giving the whole thing a great deal of attention. I took several of your courses in the old Memra so much of this might be review. My question is this: suppose I wanted our church to host a conference like this one. I have introduced some of your material and ideas, particularly when I taught a mid-week OT survey, but our people are not ready for this stuff yet. This is a major paradigm shift for many evangelicals. Can you make any recommendations as to how to bring them to a place where they could readily accept this information?
The New Bern event began (in conversation) with the idea of meeting in someone’s home, with like-minded folks. It mushroomed from there, as the pastor got on board. It might depend on where you live, actually. There may be others around you. As I type this a thought popped into my head. I remember back in the early days of the (contemporary, political) tea party that they formed online “meeting” groups. People joined groups, and gradually the group members learned about others in their area who were like-minded. Maybe I should look into how that was done and let everyone know.
Wow-This is getting more and more exciting !- I am sensing we are on the edge of something big that God is doing. -What you are showing us Mike is going to domino into sound Theology and biblical knowledge for all. One thing I want to say first is THANK the folks at Temple church so much for sharing this with us all !-I am so glad you are such a personable guy Mike and share things from your upbringing. Many of us who where saved as young teenagers had the same experience, and God has worked the same things into us has He has with you. We have learned to be kind, and loving, humble and light-hearted. I mean, I related to what you said in that one radio interview “You have no idea dude” We who where saved as young teenagers know what we have endured. It is funny the things that mean something to people. What you said” I had fun at the conference” meant more to me than even some other things. I am just so glad you had fun like that. And what I am also excited about, is that I know so many people , that kind of got off on the 10th floor in their desire for Bible study, but I think its because they didn’t have this realistic, sound, doctrine. But God is wise , and maybe He has kept this for these times. I surrender to The awesome God that we have looked upon in this conference. Some things that were given in this conference. One, I didn’t quite get the “Gods Turf” stuff. Now, I GET it, and want to spread to everyone why fellowship with True Christians, “The pilliar of truth” in the world, is so important. And another truth I got, The “Impressive” thing that God does in just using us people , He could just win through man on earth, not even having to use the power of the angels. It is obvious what God is teaching us. It is not the high and mighty, just the dust that loves Him. I also clearly resonate with the TV influence thing. I stopped watching TV in 1975–(You thought You were “weird” Mike, LoL–But seriously, I attribute so much of my understanding of what you say, to the fact that I know the meaning of having a “different consciousness” because I have diligently kept myself from any “media” Not in a legalistic way, (Which is , as you know,is one of the most primary and all important things we all learn as we go along in Christ. But God help us all to grasp Who and what, we can have through what your bringing to light. I live in Bend Oregon, and am wondering if you are going to be doing anything in the lower Northwest, in the near future? I will be sure to bring friends along.
Thanks for this – it’s appreciated. I’m expecting to be in Portland, OR at least once in March, perhaps twice (both regional meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature are in Portland this year, though in different places). Other than that, nothing is planned. Like New Bern, this will be something people on the ground will have to organize.
I believe this online site is the one that was originally used for tea party groups online. There are just under 500 such groups now in the US, with thousands more that were organized for other subjects.
Perhaps Facebook can be used for this? I don’t know much about FB, so I’m not sure. The goal is to gather the like-minded to one “place” to find out how many there are. I’ll probably blog about this today.
I caught most it and followed along with the slides. I really liked the first few presentations which covered gnosticism in pop culture, etc. Makes a lot of sense to me. It wouldn’t make sense to me that the god of this world would allow the true worldview to be incorporated into the brainwashing modern medias.
But it was all good.
I remained confused on the whole issue of inspiration though, and I think some of that audience was too, hence the questions. For me the confusion comes from, on the one hand your sort of dogmatic approach to what is and what is not inspiration, but on the other saying you really don’t care necessarily about the canonicity issue.
If I was understanding you?
Regardless, the issue seems clear to you but I know many people who struggle with where to draw the lines.
In the end, it was quite a sacrifice you made to make this all happen. I was impressed with your insights and knowledge of the post modern issue and the evolution of such. You’re not just another geek. 🙂
It boils down to this: our definition of inspiration must align with what actually happens in the text. Inspiration as a paranormal event cannot, and does not, align to what’s in the text. Inspiration is a process, not an event, a process by which God prompted humans to write in concert with who they were – their time, place, and culture.
If we remove or denigrate the HUMAN aspect of inspiration, we undermine the whole idea. That might seem counter-intuitive, but consider the sentence in light of the preceding ones.
SBD and Mike,
I totally can relate to SBD’s question regarding inspiration. Regarding Mike’s comment:
Inspiration is a process, not an event, a process by which God prompted humans to write in concert with who they were – their time, place, and culture.
I think, that this actually opens the door to many other things being part of the process. In fact, unless I am wrong, this is what propels Catholicism in a certain way. The question of course is, why ought the Bible be the only product of inspiration? What about centuries of work after? As one catholic wrote to me:
“The message was Christ.[i.e. the thrust of the main message] The Bible is one way we learn about that message. His Church is another.”
The Catholic Church might be part of that long process.
What the Catholic church (or any church) does today is interpret the text. It isn’t producing the text. So what I’m saying is quite different. What I say doesn’t open the door to a perpetual ongoing process — the books aren’t changing or evolving. The process ended when the book was finished. They aren’t still getting worked on.
“Learning about the message” and “producing the book” are two quite different things that should not be confused.
No. Of course the book is closed, but I (and others perhaps) are referring to is that inspiration has taken on a new shape; in the form of interpretation and exegesis and refining the message more and more. So while the book is closed, man’s spirit and his involvement with the text and God himself has never ended.
Interpretation and application are of course ongoing. My point (to the previous comment) was only that those things aren’t inspiration in the biblical sense (with respect to today).
Since I wrote the above comment I watched the introductory podcast sessions. After listening to the presentation on inspiration again I think I get it now.
When I look at my own life I tend to see the work of God, looking back, realizing that I am where am I , or what I am, because God has orchestrated ALL events to get me to this point. Did I make decisions, mistakes, do my own thinking, etc., along the way? Yes. But ultimately the ongoing perfection that is happening to me was, inspired events.
So the bible today is what it is, perfected along the way, making sense to us today, because of the same orchestration, from the original writers to those scholars, centuries later, who made decisions about what is truth, or canon, or whatever.