About Me

Fort Worth / Burleson, Texas
I am happily married and the proud father of two sons. I serve as professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I previously served for 13 years as a professor of New Testament and Greek at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and three years as academic acquisitions editor for B&H Academic in Nashville, Tennessee.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Center of a Christian Worldview

Tawa Anderson has basically defined a worldview as “the conceptual lens through which we view our world.” A worldview is a comprehensive and integrated grid or framework through which we see things. For one who follows Christ, a thoroughgoing view of the world must operate from a biblical standpoint.

The Christian worldview stands in contradistinction with other worldviews present in the lives of people—philosophies like naturalism, spiritism, pantheism, and postmodernism, to name a few. Steeped in sin and outside of Christ we typically follow whatever system or combination of beliefs are trendy, meet our needs, or satisfy our desires, and often they are those which hold us the least accountable for our actions and decisions. Even those people outside of Christ who are earnestly moralistic fall short of God's standards. Such is the nature of humanity.

The magnitude and horrific nature of sin is not a pretty picture! Outside of Christ we are dead in sin and indeed enslaved to it. We are separated and estranged from a holy God who cannot tolerate our sin. We stand in need of salvation, redemption, and deliverance from sin and its effects. However, the problem is that God judges and exacts payment for sin, but we can neither save ourselves nor do anything to satisfy the demands of this holy God. “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Through his death on the cross, Christ appeases or satisfies the wrath of God toward sin and makes payment for it (cf. 1 John 2:2). We appropriate the salvific grace of God through Christ’s death on the cross into our lives through faith (Eph 2:8). “For God loved the world in this way: he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus “died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for the one who died and was raised on their behalf” (2 Cor 5:15).

So, given the above, what is it that leads or changes us so that we view the world through a biblical, Christian “conceptual lens”? I would maintain it is the person of Jesus Christ and what he has done on the cross that leads us to see the world from a Christian perspective. Though it may seem like a blatantly obvious deduction, this tenet is arguably the center of a Christian worldview. The Lord Jesus has secured salvation for us through his cross-death on our behalf, and now we want to see the world as he does. We learn about his life and teachings as revealed in the word of God. Outside of Christ we have no real reason to care about the Christian worldview, but when we believe in Jesus and follow him our way of life and thinking transforms (2 Cor 5:17); our way of seeing things changes. Such a change is the work of the Spirit through salvation.

Part of this new way of thinking is the realization and acknowledgment that Christ “owns” or possesses us. The church at Corinth, a group of believers who in essence had gotten away from a Christian worldview, were chided by Paul into acknowledging the Lord’s “ownership” of them and the implications of that ownership in the different areas of their lives. First Corinthians 6:19c–20 reads, “You are not your own. For you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” Though the apostle wrote these words in the immediate context of warning his readers against sexual immorality, the larger context is one in which he instructed the Corinthians with the principle that they “belong to Christ” and not to so-and so (cf. 1 Cor 1:12).

We too belong to Christ, and because God has “bought us,” we want to please him, not only out of duty, but also out of gratitude. Indeed, followers of Jesus who stand in a right relationship with God want their way of thinking and viewing of the world to be Christ’s. They want to do his will. But how do believers in Jesus know the will of God? Where is it to be found? The will of God is grounded in and upon the written revelation of the Bible. We know God and come to understand his way of thinking and viewing the world through his authoritative word.

As mentioned earlier, the Christian worldview stands in stark contrast to other worldviews. What is it about the person of Christ that separates the truth claims of the Christian worldview from those of all other philosophies? Easy—it is his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4; cf. 1 Cor 15:3–4). He is God. No other founder or advocate of another worldview can genuinely claim that for himself. Preach!

(A slight variation of this article first appeared in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, May 22, 2012.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"The Church, Academy and Calling: Interview"

I was interviewed last year by Joshua Mann, a former student of mine at Midwestern Seminary, who is now studying for the PhD at Edinburgh University. The interview was on the subject of "The Church, Academy and Calling" and originally appeared at http://www.joshualmann.com/the-church-academy-and-calling-interview-with-terry-wilder/. Below are the questions that were asked of me along with my answers. I am asked such questions from time to time by students so I thought it prudent to run the interview again here. For Josh's full blog post (and others like it), please visit the Web site mentioned above.

1. How would you describe the relationship between your “scholarly” endeavors and your involvement in the ministry of the local church?

First of all, let me say that I do not think that scholarship should be divorced from local church ministry. I teach New Testament, so most of my involvement in ministry is in teaching or preaching. I also visit people to share the gospel and try to be an encourager and help for my pastor. Further, since much of my academic work is on pseudonymity, the NT, and ancient authorship, I have spoken in ministry venues on ethical issues and the trustworthiness of Scripture.

2. What led you to decide on the vocation (of pastor, scholar, or scholar/pastor) you now find yourself in?

I think God decided for me. After he called me into ministry, I went to university first planning on becoming a vocational evangelist, and then a pastor, but as time went on realized that my spiritual giftedness was in teaching. So, following the Lord’s leading, I began preparing for that vocation.

3. How would you describe any sense of “calling” you feel to do what you do?

Any sense of calling I have stems from Christ’s Great Commission to “go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19-20). I am concerned that the word of God be properly interpreted and faithfully taught to future generations (cf. 2 Tim 2:2). So, given that, I am particularly burdened for the training of pastors and others, especially in the biblical languages and in hermeneutics.

4. How might the chasm often present between the church and academy be more effectively bridged?

Academicians need to make it a point to get involved in the ministry of the local church, perhaps teaching Sunday School or something. Also, they should never forget their roots and learn to communicate difficult concepts in simpler terms. On the flip side, pastors and churches need to realize that eventually academic trends and challenges filter down to the churches, and thus it is important to take advantage of any help the academy may have to offer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Regulative principle of worship or normative?

Does your church practice in worship only those things found in Scripture, or whatever is not prohibited in the Bible as long as the church agrees? In other words, does your church exercise the regulative principle of worship or carefully hold to the normative one? Why? Thoughts?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Brief Response to the Idea That Life is Not Fair

Recently, a Christian teenager very dear to me posted on his Facebook "Sometimes life is so unfair that it deserves a pause button." Of course, I will make it a point to talk with him in person, but the following is my response to him.

I understand what you mean. From a biblical perspective, we are never promised success or that life will be fair. To the contrary, we will undergo suffering in this life because of the fall when sin entered the world. However, Jesus promised us peace to deal with anything that may come our way. Plus, believers in Jesus have eternal life; this life is not all there is. Please feel free to talk with me if you need to do so.

More on this deep subject . . . And though life doesn't always seem fair, our Lord is more than fair. As difficult as it is, we need to view the things that come our way in life as "Father-filtered." In other words, he allows those things/events that come into our life. God is "sovereign"; he is in control of all things; he is not surprised or unaware of our circumstances. Now, that doesn't mean that all things that come our way are good (and God is definitely not the author of evil), or that we will even like them, but God uses them for his purposes and for our good, to make us more like Christ (Rom 8:28). Sorry for the long comment! I hope that it is helpful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura?

On April 14-15, 2011, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will host the conference, Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura? Reasserting the Biblical Paradigm for the Great Commission in the 21st Century http://www.swbts.edu/index.cfm?pageid=1836.

If humans are fallen, how does that impact human cultures? What are the legitimate roles of culture, the biblical text, and contexts? What challenges, limits, and constructive guidelines should determine practices that result in biblically critical contextualization? This conference will address these questions and more as we seek to proclaim the Gospel in changing cultures.

Early registration for the conference is $25 for students and $50 for non-students through March 31, 2011. After March 31, registration fees increase to $50 for students and $75 for non-students.

For overnight accommodations, contact Guest Housing at the Riley Center at 817.921.8800 or guests@swbts.edu

You can register for the conference online.

Speakers

* Norman Geisler
* Paige Patterson
* John Massey
* Malcolm Yarnell
* Keith Eitel
* Terry Wilder

Top 10 Religion Stories of 2010

Copy and paste this link to what the Tulsa World considers the top 10 religion stories of 2010: http://bit.ly/gnwmfD .

What do you think? Comments?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nashville Billboards Proclaim Jesus Will Return on May 21, 2011

Recently, some billboards have been seen in Nashville, TN, that proclaim the message that Jesus Christ will return on May 21, 2011. Similar billboards also appear in eight other US cities. http://bit.ly/haPJKV

Reports say that supporters of Family Radio, a national Christian network, paid for the billboards, and that Harold Camping, the network's founder, predicted May 21, 2011, as the date for the rapture.

These billboards remind me of a similar claim made in the 1980s by Edgar C. Whisenant in his booklet: "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988." Then, when the predicted rapture failed to occur, he indicated that he had miscalculated and it was really 1989, then 1993, then 1994. Wrong again and again. Now, of course he has no credibility whatsoever.

I am glad that Camping acknowledges that Jesus is coming again, for indeed the Bible teaches that is true. But, if Camping is wrong about the date he predicts, he will, of course, likewise lose any credibility he may have had. (BTW, purported prophets in the OT whose predictions didn't come true were killed!)

The truth of the matter is no one knows when Christ will come, but only the Father (Matt 24:36-44). But, we should be ready and live as though Christ might return at any moment.

What are your thoughts?