I’ve had a great time at this year’s annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. ETS is an academic society devoted to advancing precision in Christian theology. While often unseen to the average church goer, ETS gives a sneak peak into the world behind study Bibles, commentaries, etc. So what did I do and why was it beneficial? Here’s a rundown:
It’s not as boring as it sounds. At ETS scholars read papers on a boatload of topics related to the understanding and application of all things Bible and Christian. My paper was on the Hebrew grammar of Ezekiel’s first vision, and it was well received. Hopefully it will serve to help others understand this vision in the future. In the coming years I hope to do a complete set at least on Ezekiel’s visions, if not all of the apocalyptic visions of the OT.
In addition to presenting, I was able to attend many hours of papers on a variety of topics. One highlight was a presentation on the yet unpublished journals of William Wilberforce and what they say about his spiritual life. (Wilbe was responsible for abolishing the slave trade in the UK). In one spot Wilbe wrote,
My Sundays are so precious to me…
One very powerful paper was an examination of the letters of 5 college students arrested and executed in 16th century France. These letters (in French, not yet translated into English) were written from prison to Calvin and others, and show how his preaching of the Bible informed their view of their suffering. They believed suffering was a mark of the true church, that God’s providence was always at work even in suffering, and that it was “the school of Christ.” I was deeply impacted by the heart of these martyrs.
I enjoyed a 4 hour session where different scholars presented their interpretation of Genesis 15:6 and what relation it has to Jesus and the NT. This was a compare and contrast session with Christo-centric preaching (every text is about Jesus), Christo-telic preaching (every text is part of the story of Scripture), and Christo-promise preaching (Jesus is only to be found in passages he is explicitly referenced in). There was some great discussion, and I enjoyed connecting with former professors whom I am now privileged to call friends.
Evangelical scholars from Tyndale House in Cambridge have just this week published a new Greek New Testament. I enjoyed a 4 hour session where they thoroughly explained their philosophy, and engaged in some Q & A. Any edition of the OT or NT is important because they seek to make clear what the Word of God actually is. This edition is unique because the editors are firm believers in the inspiration of God’s Word, and they take seriously the earliest evidence we have in Greek manuscripts about the content of the NT. It is a very needed advance in textual study of the NT. Most importantly, they designed this NT to be read. I am so thankful for their 10 years of hard work, and pray that God would bless the continued preaching of his inspired Word. The editors stated clearly they want millions to read this new edition of the NT. Amen!
One blessing of my time in Providence was the ability to connect with friends from ages past. I had two particularly edifying conversations with brothers from Jackson, Mississippi and Houston. The fellowship was sweet, the counsel Christ honoring, and I left my time with them greatly encouraged.
Why not? Providence is home to the original baptist church in America, built in 1638. It was originally a church plant founded by Roger Williams. At first they met in homes, but they quickly realized the benefit of a space dedicated to ministries of the church in the advancement of the gospel in their community. The current building was constructed in 1774-75.
I am thankful for the opportunity to come to ETS this year, to be refined and challenged, and most of all to be encouraged in the scholarly side of the mission to glorify God by making and maturing disciples of Jesus.