Written by Derek Cooper Tuesday, 16 June 2015 15:48

Most every spring, a cohort from Biblical’s LEAD Master of Divinity program prepares to attend what is called our Intercultural Ministry Experience, an international course designed to extend the learning process from the classroom to a completely different cultural and historical context. This year, Cohort 22 traveled to Turkey and Greece!

Turkey Ministry

What did we do? First, we studied on campus, then we traveled and listened while on location. Our preparation for the trip included reading and discussing books on Christian history in the Byzantine Empire, cultural intelligence, pilgrim spirituality, and the politics of modern Turkey.

The first part of our trip to Turkey and Greece was confined to Istanbul, “the land of 2,500 mosques.” Today, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world, boasting a population of close to 15 million. At the heart of Old Istanbul, in an area called Sultanahmet, stands what used to be the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, two of the most influential kingdoms in all of world history, which ruled large parts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. While the Byzantine Empire (330-1453) was Christian, the Ottoman Empire (1099-1923) was Muslim. Both used the city of Constantinople (what is now Istanbul) as their capital—and for good reason. Not only was this city geographically strategic, but it is one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world.


Written by Rick Houseknecht Thursday, 11 June 2015 11:03

Between Us

I grew up as an avid fan of the group Rush. While each member of this power trio is an excellent musician, Neil Peart, the band’s percussionist, is considered a legend in his own time.

Neil Peart

In addition to his drumming prowess, “The Professor” (as he is affectionately known to his bandmates and fans) is also a very thoughtful lyricist. The words to his song Entre Nous, “Between Us,” have taken on new significance for me as I have been reflecting on the missional conversation over the past several years.

Although Peart is not a fan of Christianity, the song lyrics (especially the chorus below) are pertinent to a fundamental challenge believers have struggled with historically and continue to confront.

Just between us I think it’s time for us to recognize the differences we sometimes fear to show

Just between us I think it’s time for us to realize the spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow


Written by Kyuboem Lee Tuesday, 09 June 2015 15:59

A couple of months ago, I heard about a Youth Alpha ministry going on in the Esperanza Health Center gym in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia from my wife Christe, who works at the Health Center, and from my church planter friend Matt Lin, the pastor of One Hope Community Church.

Missional Lessons

I was hearing about some wonderful energy for ministry among the mostly Hispanic neighborhood teens. I wanted to find out more, so I sat down for a chat with Jeremy Chen, a Biblical student and an intern at One Hope.

What I found out was that the HP Youth Alpha program cannot be perceived as a stand-alone program in a vacuum. Rather, it must be properly situated in the context of a relational network that has been built over many years by incarnational churches and individual Christians within a particular urban community. The story being told is a story of partnerships, presence, and prayer.


Written by Manny Ortiz and Susan Baker Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:11

Why should we plant churches in the 21st century? Stuart Murray wrote in his book Planting Churches in the 21st Century, “I am convinced that church planting is crucial for the continuing mission of the church and the health of the Christian community.” But why is this true? The overarching dynamic that is requiring us to rethink how we do church is globalization. Globalization equates to movement - movement of people, movement of economies, movement of religious influence, movement of data.

Urban Church Planting

What does this mean to us in the U.S. and in Philadelphia in particular?

Between 2000 and 2010 the total number of foreign-born people in the U.S. increased by 7.5 million. Most of the increase came from Asia (2.5 million), Africa (.6 million) and Latin America (4.5 million) whereas the number of foreign-born from Europe actually decreased by almost .1 million.

What does this mean to the church?

It means our churches must be able to effectively minister to a much more diverse population. Where can we find this diversity? Mostly in the cities as people are drawn to existing family and friends as well as a variety of economic opportunities. Urbanization has increased to a point where over 80% of the U.S. population can be found in urban areas.


Written by Dr. Milton Eng Tuesday, 02 June 2015 16:18

Many years ago when I considered going to seminary, Biblical was one of my options. I wrote the admissions office and they sent me some interesting materials. Among them was an article authored by Dr. Allan MacRae entitled, “With the Rich in His Death.” Dr. MacRae was the co founder and first president of Biblical.

Study Hebrew

In the article, he does a wonderful job of unpacking the meaning of Isa 53:9, “And he made his grave with wicked, and with the rich in his death.” (KJV) This prophecy of Christ is actually alluded to in the brand new NBC mini series A.D. The Bible Continues. In the very first episode, “The Tomb is Open,” Caiaphas, the high priest is dismayed to hear that the deceased Jesus has been placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea – in fulfillment of Isa 53:9! (You can view the scene by skipping to about 20 minutes in).

Dr. MacRae demonstrates how even just a basic knowledge of Hebrew can open up the Scriptures in new and fascinating ways. He shows how careful attention to the text will not only curb the tendencies of modernist interpreters, but also confirms in greater detail the Bible’s divine inspiration.


Written by Drew Hart Thursday, 28 May 2015 14:07

Most American Christians would probably say that at the center of the Christian life is the Bible, and being biblical. Most are convinced that being biblical separates the sheep from the goats, but this is not so.

Jesus and Allergies

The problem with this framing is not that a ‘biblical orientation’ demands too much but that in reality it demands too little. It is too vague rather than too specific. It still remains a wide path rather than the narrow one. Merely using the term biblical does not necessarily call one to the concrete and particular life set free by our Creator. In fact, people have used the Bible to justify almost every way of life. Rarely in the Church in the West has what has been considered ‘biblical’ aligned very well with a life formed after the birth, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Too often, claims of living biblically has left those unwilling to accept the costs of following Jesus with creative theological justifications for having discipleship to Jesus allergies.

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

There’s a good chance that all around you folks are suffering from discipleship to Jesus allergies. It’s a terrible illness. And it seems to spread in the Church like weeds.


Written by Manny Ortiz and Susan Baker Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:49

In our years of experience working in several major cities and continuing to do so in New York City and Philadelphia, we have noticed that the church panics when it is looking for leaders who are both contextually and theologically prepared. Therefore, many have reached outside the local church to solicit help from those who are theologically sound but may not be contextually relevant, or they are contextually relevant but lack theological training.

Urban Leadership

When that panic button goes off, another venue might be to solicit help from other urban churches. In any case there is a problem of orientation and re-education into a new context, because in the city the cultural and social dynamics vary a great deal from community to community.

The urgent call for us is to prepare leadership from within the local church to advance the kingdom of God in a diverse and changing world. One means to this end is to be intentional about growing leaders both for the local church and for the missional work of the church through church planting. This begins with an identification/selection process.

We believe that the local church has within itself all the necessary gifts to carry out its unique ministry. The question is how do we identify potential leaders and then select them for a process that continues from that point on. This is best done in a non-formal setting developing leaders through relationship building, reflection, and response.


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