From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George




Page 4 of 176

The Dean Recommends: No More Excuses

By Brent McDougal
July 8, 2016

When I did my doctoral studies on Rwanda, the driving question I wanted to answer was, “How could a group of people do this to one another?” I wanted to know how there could be so much violence, even neighbor killing neighbor.

I was hoping to discover one key factor that would perhaps rise above the others. If that could be learned, perhaps future genocides in Africa and around the world could be prevented.

But the more I studied, the more I saw the way that a variety of factors came together to spark the genocide: historical tension, institutional support for the categorization and identification of citizens based on vague tribal differences, divisive ideologies and practices, economic hardship, and incendiary language, just to name a few.

As I have reflected on the tragedy in Dallas Thursday evening, I couldn’t help but think of Rwanda. 

While we are not approaching the atrocity of genocide, many people are wondering, “How could this have happened?” and “How have we come to this?” 

Five police officers in Dallas are now deceased, killed during an otherwise peaceful protest rally over the shooting deaths of two African-American males by police in Minnesota and Louisiana.

As in Rwanda, what got us here is the confluence of many factors. Read the rest at Cliff Temple Baptist Church.


Brent McDougal is an M.Div. graduate of Beeson Divinity School and is senior pastor of Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, August 5, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Violinists, Samaritans, and Love

By Francis J. Beckwith
July 21, 2016

Perhaps the most well known argument in contemporary philosophy defending the right to abortion is the one offered by Judith Jarvis Thomson, published in 1971 in the journal Philosophy & Public Affairs. Thomson argues that even if the unborn human being is a person, it does not follow that abortion is morally wrong. Because most everyone believes that the morality of abortion rests on the nature of the unborn – whether or not he or she is a moral subject. Thomson’s argument is significant because she denies that this premise is self-evidently true.

Thomson offers several illustrations to make her case, the most famous of which is her argument about the “unconscious violinist.” Imagine that the Society of Music Lovers researched the world’s medical records and discovered that only you have the right blood type that would help save the life of a world-class violinist suffering from a fatal kidney ailment. The Society kidnaps you, renders you unconscious, and subsequently hooks you up to the violinist so that he may use your kidneys.

When you awake and realize your predicament you are told by the attending physician that you only have to stay hooked up for nine months whereupon the violinist can be safely removed and return to normal life. He will die, however, if you unplug yourself from him at any time short of the nine months. Do you have a right to detach yourself from the violinist? Read the rest at The Catholic Thing.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Thursday, August 4, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Why ‘No Creed But the Bible’ Is Misguided

By JT English
July 29, 2016

Last fall our church went through a sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed. Given our evangelical theological confession, Baptist heritage, and cultural context, it’s safe to say a series on a creed was a change of pace for many in our congregation. Some members wondered why we would do this—creedalism reminded them of a cold, dead orthodoxy. Others, coming from a more secular background, had no context for the usefulness of creeds in instruction and discipleship. 

We had to devote a significant portion of our energy and resources to making a case for the use of creeds in the life of the church. We were able to point people to many important resources, but I wish Michael Bird’s What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles’ Creed would’ve been available then.

Need for Creeds

In this new book, Bird attempts to show the value of creeds, particularly the Apostles’ Creed, for Christian faith and practice. The Australian theologian, New Testament scholar, and lecturer at Ridley College maintains that creeds are an essential element to the Christian faith—and that we neglect them to our peril:

The creeds constitute an attempt to guide our reading of Scripture by setting out in advance the contents and concerns of Scripture itself. The creeds provide a kind of “Idiots Guide to Christianity” by briefly laying out the story, unity, coherence, and major themes of the Christian faith. In that sense, a creedal faith is crucial for a biblical faith and vice versa. (23)

Have you ever felt the great drama of redemption revealed in Scripture is complex? Have you had difficulty distinguishing real Christianity from impostors? For Bird, creeds help Christians distinguish authentic Christianity; indeed, “learning the creeds helps us to grow in a truly biblical faith” (37). Read the rest at The Gospel Coalition.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Monday, August 1, 2016
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