I arrived home about 11:15pm after two full days of lectures on Biblical studies at the Pastorum Live Conference, sponsored by Logos Bible Software. Let me share a few reflections on this event.
- This was a return to seminary culture for me. The presenters were academics who mostly emphasized academic principles of properly handling the Biblical text. This, of course, fit with the sponsor’s goal of selling software designed to help people study the Bible with good tools. Honestly, after having been a pastor and chaplain for as long as I have, while I appreciate a concern for skill, precision, and accuracy in interpretation, I was reminded again of how easy it is to miss the forest for the trees. I went to the conference hoping it would live up to its advertised approach: “At Pastorum Live, you’ll approach the Bible as an organic whole. You’ll learn from 21 of the world’s leading Bible scholars as they examine the Scriptures in the context of God’s grand narrative. At Pastorum, you’ll explore how the story of the Bible enhances the study of the Bible.” In reality, only a few took that approach, while the rest focused on a specific area of Bible interpretation or application. It was not so much about Story as it was about the discipline of Bible study.
Scot McKnight and Peter Enns were the two presenters that I felt best gave a picture of the Bible’s Story and how to therefore read parts of the Bible in the context of that Story. McKnight introduced his talk on the Sermon on the Mount by summarizing the argument of his book, The King Jesus Gospel, which contends that the Story of Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s story and that the good news it represents is fuller and richer than the “soterian” gospel of individual salvation of today’s evangelical church. He then interpreted the Sermon on the Mount in that context. Enns showed how Ancient Near Eastern themes of cosmic conflict inform key narratives and texts throughout the Bible, including the creation story, the Exodus, and various passages in the Psalms and Prophets. Then he showed how these themes reach their climax in the story of Jesus and finally, how the book of Revelation records the end of the conflict. Both men represented a storied approach that, in my view, reflects the actual nature of the text itself and models ways that pastors and teachers can keep both the Big Picture and individual texts in view while maintaining a proper focus on Jesus and the Gospel.
I had a good chance to sit with some young guys who are in pastoral ministry, to learn about their backgrounds, churches, families, and goals. Tim Hallman, Tim Bordeaux, and Richard Strick are all serving in Indiana, and living the life of pastoral service in different evangelical churches, one in a small college town — at St. Peter’s First Community Church in Huntington, one doing youth ministry in a rural area — at North Manchester First Brethren Church, and one in the city of Ft. Wayne — at Anchor Community Church — where there is more of an urban feel. Interacting with them brought back many good memories of life “on the front lines” as a minister with a vocation in the church. When you see their faces here and read their names, please shoot up a prayer for them and ask that God’s will be done through them as it is in heaven.
All in all, I’m not a big “conference” guy. Most of the time, I find the hype irritating and it’s rare that a conference lives up to expectations. However, this one was pretty low key and laid back (except for the insane schedule of 21 speakers in two days) with plenty of time to interact with others. All in all, a good experience and worth it.