Covenant Theological Seminary

Pastors Leading Congregants to Participate in God’s Mission through Their Vocations

This study discovered how pastors lead congregants to participate in God’s mission through their vocations. A pastor who wants to equip people to be missional sees that they are already participating in God’s mission through their vocations. This qualitative research involved interviewing eight pastors who are leading their congregants to be missional in their vocations. The literature review explored the mission of God’s people and a theology of vocation. The interviews discovered what pastors attempted to help people be missional though their vocations, what challenges they faced, and their results. Recommendations are presented for implementing this discipleship paradigm in churches.

Postmortem Preaching and Primopetrine Polemics

What happens to those who die without ever having heard the Gospel? A number of theologians, both ancient and recent, have suggested that these will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel after they die and that those who repent and trust in Christ for salvation in response to this message will be saved. In support of this view, proponents have put forward several Bible passages, but the case depends on the interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6. On close examination of these verses within their cultural and literary context, neither of them supports the view which has been alternatively been called “postmortem evangelism,” “future probation,” or “divine perseverance.” Since the Biblical case for this view depends on 1 Peter, it seems that there is no Scriptural warrant for it. Since there is no Scriptural warrant for it, Christians ought not to teach such a view.

Expositing the Scriptures in Preaching to Digitally Saturated Congregants

Expository preaching in the digitally saturated context of the twenty-first century presents
challenges that have been and continue to be under-addressed. A massive media shift,
comparable to the dawn of the printing press, has been changing cultures worldwide for over a
decade. While resources regarding media ecology are increasingly available—as are resources
dealing with expository preaching and culture—preachers lack resources for expositing the
scriptures in a digital age, with its shifting epistemologies. The purpose of this study is to
examine how preachers navigate the challenges of expositing the scriptures to digitally saturated
Four research questions guided this qualitative study: 1. In what ways do pastors describe
the effects of digital saturation on the lives of their congregants? 2. What challenges do pastors
experience in intentionally preaching expositionally to engage their digitally saturated
congregants? 3. What opportunities do pastors experience in intentionally preaching
expositionally to engage their digitally saturated congregants? 4. What strategies do pastors
employ in meeting the challenges posed by intentionally preaching expositionally to engage their
digitally saturated congregants?
The findings of the study show that the current media ecology has shifted in
demonstrable ways from that of the print age, giving way to emerging epistemologies. This study
also reveals valid concerns regarding the emerging digital ecology and the church’s vital need to
better understand these epistemologies. Additionally, specific practices and approaches to
reading and preaching scripture are presented for improving gospel communication in the current
media context.

Restoration of Pastors Who Left the Ministry in an Honor-Shame-Based Society like Singapore

Pastoral ministry compacted with challenges. Unable to put up with the vocational pressures several pastors quit the ministry. Quitting pastoral ministry has serious and long-term implications for Asian pastors. They run the risk of being unkindly labeled as poor examples for the ministry. Some boldly attempt to return and try to reintegrate in the Lord’s work. But not easy! The failed pastor’s family undoubtedly will suffer embarrassment, shame, and emotional duress. Only by God’s grace, can they survive in the ministry.

What Does the Bread of Life Discourse Reveal about the Benefits Communicated to the Believer in the Lord’s Supper?

In this thesis, the author defines and explores the benefits received by the partaker of the Lord’s Supper. Though many theologians have addressed this question throughout history, there remains a greater need to engage this question from the standpoint of the Bread of Life Discourse. With the intention of answering this question solely through Scriptural exegesis, the author chose to conduct an exegetical study of the Discourse as it is recorded in John 6:22-59. After examining the structure and historical context of the passage, she deemed it necessary to address whether the Discourse and the sacrament were related, and if so, the nature of that relationship. Through linguistic, structural, and historical considerations of John 6:22-59, she concluded that the passage at hand is indirectly related to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Discourse and sacrament share key Christological teachings.
The scope of this project yielded a list of the various gifts Christ gives to the one who “comes and believes,” or “partakes” of him, as well as a description of each. This study is a valuable resource for the Church as it provides a deeper understanding of the spiritual realities surrounding the Lord’s Supper. The Supper is a binding, covenantal act believers perform, in which they receive visible, tangible signs and seals of Christ’s benefits given to them.

Jugglers for the Lord: How “Sandwich Generation” Pastors Care for Multiple Generations of Family Members While Leading Congregations

“Sandwich generation” literature deals with the challenges, benefits, and coping strategies of caregivers, but lacks studies of “sandwiched” clergy as a distinct vocational group. This qualitative study explored how “sandwich generation” pastors navigate the simultaneous demands of ministry and caregiving. Data from semi-structured interviews with seven pastors was analyzed using the constant comparative method. The research examined challenges, benefits, and coping strategies of “sandwiched” pastors. This study concluded that “sandwiched” clergy experience the most significant challenges in the personal arena, while also experiencing significant benefits in the arenas of personal life, marriage, and vocation. This study also found that “sandwiched” pastors cope with challenges by managing self, relying on social support from family and congregation, and accessing formal support from a variety of professional practitioners and institutions.

Diversity for the Rest of Us: Pursuing the Imperative Beauty and Benefits of Koinonia in Christ between Mono-Ethnic Anglo- and African-American Churches

In light of the chronic segregated state of the church—alongside the compelling biblical impetuses toward diversity, pastors’ related convictions and aims, and the formidable challenges they face along the way—the purpose of this study was to explore how pastors of mono-ethnic Anglo- and African-American churches lead their congregants to pursue koinonia with congregants of churches of the other ethnicity—either as a preliminary step in the process of becoming more diverse, or even while expecting to remain mono-ethnic (in situations where a church’s mono-ethnicity accurately reflects its context).
The themes that surfaced during the pastor interviews were identified, organized, and presented in accord with the research questions that directed this study. Specifically, the themes that emerged under Biblical Impetuses were 1) Our Oneness in Christ, 2) The Great Commission, and 3) The Second Great Commandment. Those under Identifying the Challenges were 1) Fear, 2) Anger, 3) Distrust, 4) Guilt and Shame, and 5) Surprise. Under Working Through the Challenges: 1) Prayer, 2) The Gospel, 3) Friendship, 4) Acknowledgement, 5) Education, 6) Joint-Congregation Events and Ministries, and 7) Black Leadership. And then under Growth Through the Challenges: 1) The Sense of Our Oneness in Christ, 2) Patience, 3) Humility, Repentance and Prayer, and 4) Obedience.
The study revealed that this essential pursuit hinges around 1) prayer, 2) relationships (genuine, contagious friendships that begin with the pastors and flow down into the congregations from there), 3) bold, sensitive pastoral leadership, 4) education on cultures and where our present life together lies within God’s larger redemptive story, and 4) the importance of seeing through one another’s eyes in the midst of the story.

A Diagnosis of the Challenges of Making Exhortations Faced by Preachers Who Employ Biblical Theology in Sermon Preparation of Old Testament Narrative Texts

The purpose of this study was to investigate how preachers who employ biblical theology in their sermon preparation of Old Testament narrative texts diagnose the challenge of making exhortations.
For preachers in Reformed circles who believe that application in preaching is a fundamental requirement, there is a key challenge: how to bring together biblical-theological method with practical exhortations to hearers in a sermon. In homiletics literature this challenge has been both acknowledged and described. The negative effects of this challenge have also been described. Furthermore, a significant amount of literature exists on how to generate application in sermons. Little literature exists however, that describes the nature of the problem itself and its possible causes.
This study used a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with five preachers from several denominations, varied preaching contexts and extensive experience who were committed to using a biblical-theological method in their sermon preparation and who knew the challenged outlined above as a practical reality. The literature review and constant-comparative analysis of the five interviews focused on narrative and ethics, Old Testament narrative and Christian ethics and the issues and limitations of biblical theological schemas.
This study concluded that there are three primary sources of the challenge outlined above: the nature of Old Testament narrative itself as sophisticated literature, the limitations inherent in biblical theological schemas when applied to sophisticated literature, and the subjugation of the text by the preacher. To successfully address this challenge in practice, this study identified several commitments necessary for the preacher to make.

Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12

In Galatians 3:12, Paul says “The law is not of faith, rather, the one who does them shall live by them” citing Leviticus 18:5. At first glance, Gal 3:12 seems to present Paul’s blunt statement rejecting the law and Lev 18:5 seems to be cited to prove that the law is in opposition to faith. This impression is enhanced by noticing that Lev 18:5 is put antithetically to Habakkuk 2:4, which is also cited in Gal 3:11. Because Hab 2:4 is promoting justification by faith, putting Lev 18:5 in opposition seems to suggest that Lev 18:5 advocates meritorious works-righteousness.
Because both Lev 18:5 and Hab 2:4 are from the OT, it seems odd for Paul to treat one OT passage as promoting a good theology and the other as promoting bad theology. These difficulties become more obvious when we notice that Lev 18:5 in its original context never promotes meritorious works-righteousness. Instead, Lev 18:5 encourages God’s people toward righteous living as a proper response for God’s chosen people. This verse is an encouragement for Israel to walk in the law instead of pagan teachings because only the Lord’s law would bring people to life. Why then in Gal 3:12 is Paul citing Lev 18:5 in such a seemingly negative way?
In this paper, I will study Lev 18:5 and Hab 2:4 in its original context, then study how Paul uses both text in Gal 3:10-12. As I do this, I will focus especially on how the prepositions B (in/by) is translated in LXX for Lev 18:5 and Hab 2:4. What I will show is that while “live by/in them” in Lev 18:5 and “live by/in faith” in Hab 2:4 both use the preposition B (in/by), in LXX they are translated differently. Lev 18:5 translates it as evn no,mw| “in the law,” and Hab 2:4 translates it as evk pi,stew,j “by/from faith.” While we usually treat evn and evk interchangeably, I point out the fundamental differences that evn is for ‘motions in’ with a consecutive sense more fitting, and evk is for ‘motions from’ with a causal sense more fitting. This sensitive difference that LXX makes suggests that Lev 18:5 should better be translated as “shall live in them (~h,B'),” which makes the relationship between life and law as consequential, rather than causal. While a causal relationship makes obedience to the law based on cause and merit in order to gain life, this consecutive relationship makes life a natural consequence of the obedience. Both could be said as “conditional,” but it is not a meritorious condition, rather, it is a consecutive condition.
I will also point out that Paul respects the non-meritorious significance of evn no,mw| “in the law” in Lev 18:5. Of all the occasions where Paul is against meritorious works-righteousness, he only condemns those who are evk no,mou “from the law,” not evn no,mw| “in the law.” Paul is not against the law by itself, rather he is against the misuse of the law, evk no,mou “from the law.” Instead, he is presenting the proper function of the law, the law is for one to live en no,mou “in the law.” Paul is citing Lev 18:5 to present the proper function of the law and to rebuke the improper use of the law. For Paul, the law is not to make someone “justified by it,” but it should be used to be “lived in it,” by the people of God.
The law is not a gate to enter into the righteous status, but a realm to live in after one has passed through.

Romans 13:1-7: An Historical and Exegetical Analysis

Romans 13:1-7 provides a general overview of the apostle Paul’s understanding of the role of government in society and the responsibilities of the members of society toward the government. The aim of this thesis is to analyze the history of interpretation on Romans 13:1-7, and then to provide a fresh interpretation of it, with interaction from modern commentaries.
Some key questions about Romans 13:1-7 have arisen over the centuries: (1) To whom does Paul refer when he talks about the “governing authorities”?; (2) Whose judgment does Paul reference in vs. 2? Is God the judge in view, or is it the governing authorities?; (3) Does Paul condone capital punishment in vs. 4, where he references the sword?; (4) Does “wrath” refer to eternal condemnation, or temporal punishment in vs. 4?; (5) What does Paul mean by referring to the governing authorities as “God’s servants” and “ministers of God”? Is he putting them on a par with ecclesiastical authorities?; (6) Is this passage supposed to be understood as a universal rule for the Church throughout history, or was it intended to be guidance for the Christians in Rome around A.D. 55?
After a concise introduction, there is a detailed annotated translation of Romans 13:1-7, which provides insight into the translational and interpretive decisions made by the author. After a general introduction in Chapter 1, then Chapters 2-4 present an analysis of some key figures in the history of interpretation from the Early Church to the Reformation. Specifically, we examine commentaries and sermons written by Origen, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Peter Abelard, William of St. Thierry, Nicholas of Lyra, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. Chapter 5 is devoted to a new examination of Romans 13:1-7 by the present author and modern commentaries are consulted throughout to provide an accurate interpretation of the passage.
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