Jeff Iorg Blog
A friend of mine committed himself to Jesus as his Lord and Savior a few weeks ago. I was part of the process, helping him along the way in his decision. I felt like a midwife – in the room trying to help but really only catching the baby when new birth happened! It was an amazing moment, watching a person’s inner transformation happen before my eyes.
Because I’m a seminary president, people ask me all sorts of complicated theological questions (assuming I have the answers, or at least I want to argue the points). My practical bent (remember, I’m really a displaced church planter masquerading as a seminary president), always tilts my answers toward how theological complexity works itself out in the crucible of doing ministry with everyday people.
Consider the doctrine of salvation. When my friend was ready to become a Christian, the grace of God was evident. Repentance and faith were in the mix. He was definitely deciding to change, but larger forces were shaping him toward his decision. Looking back, all of that can be analyzed. In the moment, none of it mattered to my friend. He had never really considered those theological categories. After a long process, he had simply come to the end of himself and wanted Jesus to take over his life. Submission to Lordship, experiencing grace, repentance from sin, faith in God – all of it was happening all at once as my friend became a follower of Jesus.
Theology is important – very important. But one measure of how well you understand theological concepts is your ability to explain them to everyday people. Is your theology – no matter how pristine it is in the ivory tower – communicable to shift workers, the woman who served your lunch, the high school dropout raising two kids, or the urban professional who has never read a Bible? In short, can you communicate your theology to everyday people with no theological training in such a way they experience God? If not, your theological training was inadequate. The professionals may get it, but the people who need it don’t understand what you are talking about!
May God give us, especially those of us who work hard at teaching theology, the humility to remember this: the end of theological pursuit is changed lives, not polished papers earning good grades from the academy.
What About Those Who Have Never Heard?
Mar 31 2008
One of the outstanding younger theologians in Southern Baptist life today is Dr. Chris Morgan, Professor of Theology, at California Baptist University. In the past two years, Dr. Morgan has edited two important books – Hell Under Fire
and Faith Comes by Hearing
– A Response to Inclusivism
If you can judge a man by the company he keeps, these books reveal much about Dr. Morgan. He has assembled outstanding writing teams that produced significant contributions on two subjects of vital importance. Golden Gate is a Great Commission-centered institution. Grappling with the present condition and eternal state of those who have not heard about Jesus Christ is part of spiritual formation for our students. Dr. Morgan’s books are well-reasoned, well-documented resources for students thinking through this challenging subject.
Faith Comes by Hearing
is a particularly important book because it addresses a fundamental issue in our world – the unique claims of Jesus Christ. Most people do not mind interjecting God – as a generic concept - into almost any discussion, situation, or arena of life. But Jesus is another matter. To follow him, and espouse his exclusivity as a means of salvation almost guarantees you will receive the most onerous modern negative accusation possible – intolerant!
One of the reasons I like Dr. Morgan is he has a pastoral perspective on theology. He is a professor…but also a pastor of a “rank and file” Baptist church. Something about preaching weekly, leading the typical people found in a normal church, struggling with church problems and challenges, and helping lost people become vibrant disciples keeps a person’s perspective from being skewed by the ivory tower of academia. Dr. Morgan writes like Christians should live – with uncompromising biblical conviction, but also with love and respect for persons with different beliefs or conclusions.
Dr. Morgan represents the best of Baptist academic life – serious biblical scholarship coupled with passionate missional practice. Our Golden Gate faculty also has many men and women like this. It is an honor to serve with them and partner with Dr. Morgan and the team at Cal Baptist as we train leaders on the west coast.