Professors Who Can’t Teach

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider’s Story and Advice on Becoming a Bible Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 113:

[excerpt from ch. 9: “Honing Your Rhetoric: The Ability to Lecture and Teach”]

Learning Is Not Enough for Good Lecturing

Sadly, some Christian teachers ought not to be teachers, but because there are so few pure research professors in biblical studies or in any sort of Christian studies, these folks become teachers by default. Some of them can’t lecture their way out of a paper bag. I had a teacher like this in college. The running joke was that the difference between this teacher and the textbook was that the textbook didn’t mumble or stutter. As cruel as that joke may seem, it was an accurate assessment of this poor man’s attempt to teach. He couldn’t explain anything. He just kept quoting the textbook.

Tragically, too few Bible teachers or scholars have had any training in pedagogy, much less in Christian education. Furthermore, they have never even been taught the rudiments of good communication.

Perspectives on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism

The annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society is scheduled to take place in San Francisco later this month. The program is available as a PDF.

There are four prioritized reasons to attend this annual meeting:

  1. Network.
  2. Buy books.
  3. Meet re projects.
  4. Attend sessions.

This session may interest you:

Perspectives on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism

Thursday, November 17, 2011 | 3:00-6:10 pm | Parc 55 – Divisadero

Moderator/Introduction: Andy Naselli (The Gospel Coalition)


  1. R. Albert Mohler Jr. (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary): A Conservative Evangelical View on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
  2. Kevin T. Bauder (Central Seminary): A Fundamentalist View on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
  3. Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary): Response to Albert Mohler and Kevin Bauder

Panel Discussion

The discussion will be related to the book Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism.

Six Videos and Related Resources

When Alex Crain asked me some questions about Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism back in April, he also asked six other questions:

1. What is the gospel? How can God save me?


  1. The Definition of the Gospel” (a talk I gave at a conference on April 8, 2011). Outline (3-page PDF).
  2. D. A. Carson. “The Biblical Gospel.” Pages 75–85 in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future. Edited by Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon. London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996.
  3. ———. “The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1–19).” May 23, 2007. Text, audio, and video available. (A lightly edited manuscript of a sermon preached at The Gospel Coalition’s conference in Deerfield, IL.)
  4. ———.  “What Is the Gospel?—Revisited.” Pages 147–70 in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper. Edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
  5. Greg Gilbert. What Is the Gospel? IX Marks. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.  (Foreword by D. A. Carson. Small, short (127 pp.), clear.)
  6. Milton Vincent. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love. Bemidji, MN: Focus, 2008.  (Cf. my review.)

2. Are Mormons Christian?


  1. Ron Rhodes, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism),” in The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2631–32.
  2. The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 9:2 (Summer 2005) [Read more…]

Using Zotero for Theological Research and Writing

If that topic interests you and you live in the Greenville area, you may be interested in a seminar I’m planning to give at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on November 10 (7–9 PM).

The seminar will expand on this article: “Why You Should Organize Your Personal Theological Library and a Way How.”

It’s for GPTS students, but there is limited room for non-students. Email “bookstore [at]” with the subject line “Zotero lecture” to confirm that there is space.

Another Pilgrim’s Progress Book for Children

I recently highlighted my three favorite versions of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress that I’ve read to my three-year-old daughter:

  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress for Children
  2. Formalist and Hypocrisy Taking a Shortcut

Here’s a fourth:

John Bunyan. Pilgrim’s Progress. Edited by Gary Schmidt. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

  • Large hardcover (12.3 x 9.4 x 0.6 inches):
  • Small hardcover (8.6 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches):

Young children would appreciate it if the picture-to-text ratio were better, but the text is beautifully written.

My top two favorites for young children are still the Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress and Dangerous Journey .

“My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed—and each of the five has been me.”

Tim Keller writes in The Meaning of Marriage  ,

Christian ethicist Lewis Smedes wrote an article that I read as a young pastor and a still new husband. It helped me enormously as both a counselor and spouse. It is called “Controlling the Unpredictable—The Power of Promising” [Christianity Today 27:2 (January 21, 1983): 16–19]. (p. 90)

Keller then interacts with the article to underscore his point that “marriage is essentially a covenant” (p. 90). Here are some excerpts from Smedes’s article:

Some people ask who they are and expect their feelings to tell them. But feelings are flickering flames that fade after every fitful stimulus. Some people ask who they are and expect their achievements to tell them. But the things we accomplish always leave a core of character unrevealed. Some people ask who they are and expect visions of their ideal self to tell them. But our visions can only tell us what we want to be, not what we are.

Maybe we can best find out who and what we are by asking about the promises we have made to other people and the promises we are trying to keep for their sakes.


When I married my wife, I had hardly a smidgen of sense for what I was getting into with her. [Read more…]

Some Practical Counsel for Marriage Seekers

Tim Keller has been pastoring Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City since he planted it in 1989, and the church reflects the city’s demographics: over 80% of the people are single. So Keller has a lot of experience shepherding singles.

His new book The Meaning of Marriage  includes a chapter entitled “Singleness and Marriage.” It concludes with “some practical counsel for marriage seekers,” which unpacks eight guidelines (pp. 207–18):

  1. Recognize that there are seasons for not seeking marriage.
  2. Understand the “gift of singleness.”
  3. Get more serious about seeking marriage as you get older.
  4. Do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a non-believing person.
  5. Feel “attraction” in the most comprehensive sense.
  6. Don’t let things get too passionate too quickly.
  7. However, also don’t become a faux spouse for someone who won’t commit to you.
  8. Get and submit to lots of community input.


  1. You Take Me the Way I Am
  2. My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed—and each of the five has been me.”