Author Archives: Benj

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, living and learning in Eastern Europe…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.

Guest Post: Is COVID Bringing the Church to a Screeching Halt?

Our governments are against in-person Church attendance because congregating undermines their attempts to contain and subdue the pandemic that has thrown our world into such chaos. The Church needs not to be brave enough to defy the authorities merely for the sake of rebelling against human authorities. Neither should the Church be asleep when battles of cosmic nature are raging. Each congregation and believer need to seek out God’s will. When we know God’s will, we should be willing to lose our lives for the realization of that will; if we must heed the command to honor authorities and obey them, fine. However, we can still meet in our homes. In these small group settings, every member is indeed known, discipled, and held accountable to walk according to the calling they have received from God. Relationships flourish in small groups. Each person gets ample opportunity to exercise their gifts to build up the body in small groups. If we cannot meet in our thousands like we are used to, maybe God is drawing us back to what has worked in the past: house churches. The Bible warns that persecution will break out. Continue reading

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Advent Sermon: “He Will Stand and Shepherd His Flock” (Micah 4:9-5:6)

The fact that Micah mentions “the land of Nimrod” is not just trying to be more specific—“Oh, you mean that Assyria, the one founded by Nimrod.” It’s reminding us of the rebellion and evil that Nimrod spread throughout the world. But this king from Bethlehem who would bring peace and lead Israel, will not just defend his people from outside attacks, although that is part of it. In the first part of verse 6, we see that he will lead the people to the gates of Assyria, the land of Nimrod, the heart of the land where evil dwells. In other words, he is going to lead an attack, to take the fight to the evil land—and he will win! Continue reading

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Seminar on Old Testament, in English and Lithuanian

This summer, I was honored with the invitation to speak at a retreat for one of our sister churches in Vilnius, 180º Bažnyčia (Church). This Saturday seminar was in two parts and is titled, “How Can Christians Make Sense of the Old Testament?” (“Kaip krikščionys supranta Senąjį Testamentą?”) Continue reading

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COVID, Tech, and Church: Some Links

I’ve accumulated quite a few readings that relate to the church’s response to the pandemic, which is something I’ve been writing about in the last year. I’m trying to stay away from scientific topics per se, because I’m not a scientist–I’m a biblical scholar, a pastor, and (dare I say it) a theologian. Nevertheless, the limits and proper place of science in society is an issue that I feel needs to be addressed by the church exercising its prophetic witness in society. Continue reading

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Performativity, Privacy, Scrutiny: More Concerns about “Online Church”

The concerns about performativity, privacy, and scrutiny are linked by this idea of maintaining proper boundaries between the church body and the rest of society. Just as the skin barrier that (imperfectly) protects a physical body is sometimes breached in a sterile, surgical theatre for the good of the body–so also the local church should reserve its space to be a hospital for human souls. Continue reading

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New Publications on Chronicles and International Biblical Scholarship

New articles on Chronicles, and a conversation between Eastern Europe and South Africa… Continue reading

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Write As Children of the Light

Our work as Christians within the academic system should be redemptive. For those of us at early stages of our career, perhaps this means that we should seek—never at the sacrifice of integrity, always resisting corruption and mediocrity—to obtain the credibility within the system that would allow us to make reforms. Those in middle or later stages of their careers may take more active steps to restructure systems of publishing, to lift up and reward others for talent and virtue, and perhaps even to create alternate structures where God’s truth can be drawn out into the light, where all can benefit. Continue reading

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Research as Foot-Washing

The knowledge of God and His world through revelation, reason, and experience should never be for our own sake alone. We are pedagogues, leading our students to the fount of knowledge and teaching them how to drink for themselves. The knowledge we seek for them (research) and to give them (instruction) is not just for our enjoyment (though we do enjoy it) or their entertainment (though occasionally they are entertained!), but to help them live fulfilled lives and to make good judgments. Continue reading

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A Wise and Understanding People

Under what terms of engagement should we as Christian researchers join the broader academy in this search for knowledge? In research, we stand on the shoulders of, and beside, other scholars in our fields. Besides the general imperative to conduct our research ethically—do the premises and aims of our research overlap with those of other convictions? Continue reading

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Love of Wisdom

This is the next in a series of pastoral reflections from 2020 about academic research: “Researching Christianly.” Read the first post, “It Must Not Be This Way Among You.” The terminal degree in most of our fields is doctor of … Continue reading

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