The theme of our Theology Preconference is “Soteriological Essentials and the ‘Significance of Silence': Arminianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism and the EFCA.”

You can “join us” for our Preconference on Wednesday, January 28 from 1:00-5:30 PM CST. The event will be live-streamed on Users will see the event listed and will need to click on it. No passwords are necessary.

Tom McCall, Associate Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, will address the Arminian/Wesleyan view. D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, will represent the Calvinist/Reformed (Baptist) view. David Luy, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, will speak to the Lutheran view. These three lectures will be followed by a panel discussion in which David Dockery, President, will join them. All of these men serve at TEDS, our EFCA school.

This is an opportunity not only to present the various views of the doctrine of salvation, but to model how this “unity in essentials and dialogue in differences” can/ought to be done by those who share ministry in the same place. We will, Lord willing, give an example of how we affirm in principle and live in practice this commitment.

You can also link to our Theology Conference Notebook that has notes for lectures and bibliographies of each of the Preconference speakers (pp. 7-27).

The Conference on The Doctrine of the Scriptures will follow, although TIU is not planning to live-stream it. We will make recordings available after the Conference. You can see the rest of the Notebook contains material related to it.

Alex Malarkey was six years old when he and his father, Kevin, experienced a car accident. Alex was in a coma for two months and is permanently disabled. Six years later Kevin, his father, wrote the book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2010).

Alex is now 16 and retracts the story: “An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.” 

An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.” 

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. 

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. 

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible. 

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough. 

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey

Tyndale publishing responded to this retraction and no longer sells the book.

Here are a number of reports and responses to this retraction.

Christianity Today summarizes the retraction made by Alex: The ‘Boy Who Came Back from Heaven’ Retracts Story

Beth, Alex’s mom, made statements that this account was not true in 2012 and again last April. The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven…not quite

Phil Johnson wrote about this two years ago in The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine and he has a follow up post with this recent retraction as well: Setting the Record Straight 

The Guardian presents an overview of the history of this story of the Malarkey family: The boy who didn’t come back from heaven: inside a bestseller’s ‘deception’

Michael Wittmer gives good biblical counsel about how to respond to this and other personal accounts of heaven: 4 Reasons to Stop Obsessing About Heaven

Sadly, this sort of genre has become commonplace. Amazingly, or maybe not, they sell! Consider the following (and this does not include the books about those who have died and gone to hell):

Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2004).

Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006).

Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die (Chicago: Moody 2007).

Don Piper, Daily Devotions Inspired by 90 Minutes in Heaven: 90 Readings for Hope and Healing (Berkley Trade, 2009).

Dale Black, Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash…A Lone Survivor…A Journey to Heaven–and Back (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2010).

Todd Burpo, Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010).

Kevin Malarkey, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2010).

Dennis Prince, Nine Days in Heaven: A True Story (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma, 2011).

Marvin J. Besteman, My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2011).

Mary C. Neal, To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2012).

Why the interest? Why the fascination?

Tomorrow I will give a brief response I shared with those who asked about the Burpo and Malarkey books that were published in 2010, and then when the Burpo book was released as a movie last year.

Our Theology Conference on The Doctrine of the Scriptures is next week. Daniel Doriani, one of our speakers, will address the important topic/theme, Scripture in the Life of the Pastor.

I am both encouraged and grateful he will be joining us. His keen insight into the Bible and his unique understanding in applying its truth to the life of the Christian is exemplary.

In order to whet your spiritual appetite for the feast we will receive from Doriani, here is a few excerpts from something he wrote, which reflects his thinking and preparation for our Theology Conference: How Preachers Read the Bible for Themselves

Doriani raises the question about how we approach the Scriptures. Do we approach the text in a removed manner, only seeking to discern through our exegetical studies what the text meant? Or do we approach the text in a manner that seeks to discern through our exegetical studies what the text meant so that we can move to understand what the text means for the purposes of application in the lives of the people of God today?

In a prior day, the goal was the former, and the approach was referred to as the historical-critical approach to the Scriptures. Although one can approach the Scriptures in this way, something profound and life-giving is missing: personal application. Our study of the Scriptures has a goal. This is the Christian Scriptures. The former approach can be followed by one not even a Christian. The latter requires one to be a Christian in order to discern and apply, since both require the Holy Spirit.

Although most Evangelicals are no longer following the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, the unique temptation to Evangelical preachers is to equate biblical knowledge with spiritual maturity. By default, in practice it becomes similar with a common end result. The Scriptures are for preaching to others, not to oneself.

Doriani does not address the two disciplines of biblical interpretation and application separately but rather as two aspects of our approach to the Scriptures. He writes, “Proper reading of Scripture always seeks faithful practice. We understand Scripture when we know how to use it. . . . the faithful believer should never study Scripture in a detached way. . . . leaders ought to read the Bible with an eye to apply it both for the church and also for themselves.” It is critical to remember this Book, the Bible, is the Christian Scriptures, so we approach is as such, and we are Christians, so we respond to it as such.

The question is then asked: How do or should we approach the Scriptures? Why is it that we need regular reminders and exhortations to read the Scriptures, with the right focus of interpretation and application? In response, Doriani traces the various mile-markers of a believer’s approach to Scripture that sheds keen insight into the answer. I include excerpts of this five-fold progression.

  • As a new Christian, the future pastor’s reading is naïve and devotional. He devours Scripture, underlining virtually every word in his new Bible. He feels that God speaks directly to him.
  • After a few years, the budding leader’s reading becomes sophisticated and devotional. He still feels that God speaks to him in Scripture, but he has learned to read texts in their contexts, to attend to genre and more.
  • The future pastor decides to go to seminary, where he becomes a technical reader. He studies Greek, Hebrew, and scholarly sources. He respects the distance between his world and Scripture’s. But as technical skill grows, edification declines. The Bible used to read him, now he reads it, even dissects it, grammatically and linguistically.
  • Eventually, the future pastor remembers that he aims to edify the church. He continues to read technically, but now shares his findings with believers. He becomes a technical and functional His reading may be rather detached personally, but he treasures and organizes his discoveries so he can teach others.
  • A wise pastor wants to become a technical, devotional Every technical skill remains, but he reads like a child, letting the Word speak directly to him again.

Where are you in this progression?

I trust many of you will be in attendance at our Theology Conference. You will hear the rest of Doriani’s thoughts on this important topic, along with many others addressing additional topics related to the Scriptures.

Justin Taylor interviewed David Dockery, President of Trinity International University, about Christian higher education. Dockery has been in this realm for most of his years of ministry, either as a professor or a president. The interview is about 20 minutes long and it is worthwhile to hear Dockery’s assessment of Christian higher education, his explanation of the importance of the Christian Intellectual Tradition and the series he edits, and his counsel to leaders. Taylor included a breakdown of the interview:

  • 00:18 – How long have you been involved with Christian higher education?
  • 01:56 – How have you seen Christian higher education change over the years?
  • 05:01 – What is the current state of Christian higher education?
  • 09:51 – What is the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series?
  • 12:07 – How do you envision the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series being used?
  • 14:46 – What advice would you give to potential leaders?

If anyone is interested to hear what Trinity International University is about these days, listen to this interview.


Truth, Time, Trend and Transformation

Greg Strand – January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Truth: God is truth and all truth is God’s truth. We believe God has revealed this truth in the Bible, the Word of God (Ps. 119:160; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). This is our foundational base for understanding, knowing and discerning truth. From this truth we understand a frame of the world or a worldview by which we seek to assess and evaluate all we do and experience.

Time: Truth is true everywhere and always and is to be believed and lived by all. But truth must be applied in time at a specific place by a specific people. We are exhorted to use our time wisely since the days are evil (Eph. 5:18; cf. 1 Chron. 12:32; Acts 13:36).

Trend: A trend is something that is occurring in the present that has a certain mass following. It gives one a certain sense of being in or in the right crowd or an elite. Here is one definition: “A general direction in which something is developing or changing; fashion.” The Urban Dictionary defines it in this way: “A trend is the latest style of popular culture including but not limited to: clothing, music, vernacular (common speech), and the latest tv shows. This form of culture is usually expressed by preps and other kids trying desperately to be accepted by peers despite obvious outcastment.” Someone who is then trendy is “very fashionable or up to date in style or influence.” Social media tracks that which is trending.

Transformation: This refers to a change in one’s outlook, character, commitments, and habits. This can be true for believers and unbelievers alike. The difference is that it becomes reflective of the believer, i.e. it will happen (2 Cor. 5:16-17). It is what regeneration means (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18). The key here, however, is to remember that we become what we worship.

Discern and Critically Engage

To continue reading, go to the reachstudents blog.