About Me

I realized that my about page was empty. I updated it and included the text here šŸ™‚

Hey! I’m Nate Labadorf. I love God and my family and I also love theology and coffee (hence the name). I’m from Travelers Rest SC and I was homeschooled till college. My childhood can be described in three words: bare feet, Bluegrass and BB guns. Feeling the call to preach, I went to Bob Jones University where I got my BA in Bible and my MA Biblical Studies. I am now currently working on my Ph.D in Theological Studies with an Old Testament emphasis.

As for coffee, I enjoy roasting my own. My favorite beans are from Kenya but I also super-enjoy beans from other African countries. I typically shoot for a city+ roast, but I have been known to get distracted and end up with a French roast. My go to brew is a Makita pour over, though I’ll use an Aeropress from time to time. And the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life was a cabinet FULL of Folgers… like someone actually spent money on that!

Outside of school, I work as a journeyman electrician for Carolina Power. I’ve wired high-rise hotels, restaurants, schools, and a bunch of other buildings. I’ve also wired many of my church remodeling projects and a installed security POE security camera system. Of all the trades, I think electrical is the best.

Featured post

The Prophesied Millennial Kingdom

The prophets spoke a lot about that future kingdom, but we focused our attention on what the Old Testament says about the Millennial Kingdom. First, God promises to restore the nation Israel, that is, he promised to rebuild the old, and not give them something new. If God promises to restore the old kingdom, then he must restore it. Therefore, these passages cannot refer to the new earth because with everything new, it cannot be said that God restored the Old Kingdom. Also, there is no debate about where God plans to restore Israel. God states clearly where he will place Israel in the Millennium: it be in their own land, the land promised to their fathers. Therefore, it has to be this side of the new earth because that land will no longer exist in the new earth. Further, we know that there will be the chance of rebellion when Jesus reigns over earth. For, if a nation will not come to celebrate the Feast of Booths, they will receive no rain. Since rebellion is possible, this cannot be the new earth where all men have a new heart submissive to God. Therefore, this must be a time before the new earth, which indicates that there will be indeed a Millennial reign. Finally, the fact that Jesus will build the temple indicates a Millennial Kingdom. Since the temple cannot be built in the new earth, then, it must be rebuilt before that time: in the Millennial Kingdom.

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fresh-ground-theology/id1449094482?mt=2

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/episode4QFiuuv1jpjyxO8KjmlPUB?si=Jvxh4UTLRPKwbl-o1XOs4A

Review: The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

Marsden, George M. The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

The Author

George Marsden (b. 1939) is a Christian historian, writing works on American and Evangelical history. He received his BA from Haverford College, his BD from Westminster Theological Seminary, and his MA and PhD from Yale. He taught at multiple universities throughout his carrier, such as Calvin College, Duke University Divinity School, and University of Notre Dame. He is also a visiting professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Regent College. In 1981, he served as an expert witness against the “Creation-Science” law of Arkansas. Currently, he lives in Grand Rapids Michigan where he is a member of the Christian Reformed Church.

He wrote many works over his life time including Fundamentalism and American Culture, The Soul of American University, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, and C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity: A Biography. For his scholarly work on Jonathan Edwards, he won the Bancroft Prize from Columbia University, the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians, and the Grawemeyer Award from the University of Louisville.

Summary

Introduction. He introduces his book with the proposal that higher education should be open to discussion on the relationship of faith and learning (p. 3). He is not discussing the field of theology only but broadening it out to every academic discipline (p. 4). His point is to challenge the notion that academics and faith do not mix (p. 7). He addresses his work to both religious and non-religious people alike (p. 8).

Chapter One: Why Christian Perspectives Are Not Welcome. He begins this chapter tracing the removal of religion from higher education under the guise of tolerance (p. 13). Despite the effort for tolerance, the universities still pushed for homogeneity, but this time without religious sentiment (p. 19). The result was that all religious views were discriminated against, and non-religious views were promoted (p. 24).

Chapter Two: The Arguments for Silence. Academia has been inculcated the Enlightenment ideal of replacing religious authority with scientific authority. Any religious thought is viewed as intangible and therefore non-scientific (pp. 26-27). Therefore, a scholar must set his religious views aside to do scientific work (p. 28). Also, the ideal of multiculturalism restricts any religious views from the conversation (p. 36). Finally, academia silences Christians based on the ideal of the separation between church and state (p. 41).

Chapter Three: Christian Scholarship and the Rules of the Academic Game. He argues that non-religious scholars should view as legitimate the viewpoint of religious scholars, provided they submit to the same rules of academia (p. 45). A major rule is that religious scholars should not argue based on supernatural authorities (p. 48). Also, he points out that the academy operates on the basic presuppositions of Christianity anyway, so religious view points are not really changing much (p. 50-51). As for the Christian, he must remember that his interaction with academia is under their rules, not the rules of the church (p. 56).

Chapter Four: What Difference Could It Possibly Make. When dealing with details, Christians and non-Christians will be remarkably similar. But when dealing with the big-picture, they will differ considerably (p. 62). They will differ motivation for, application of , direction in, and implications of their scholarship (p. 63-64). Also, Christian Scholarship will challenge several biases of non-religious scholarship (p. 72). Finally, Christians will implement their moral judgments into their field (p. 82).

Chapter Five: The Positive Contributions of Theological Context. It is impossible to define every way Christianity will influence scholarship. But Marsden gives several examples on how Christian theology can affect scholarship (p. 84). The doctrine of creation affects human purpose, morals, and epistemology (p. 88). The incarnation affects the view on the relationship between the supernatural and the natural (p. 90). Pneumatology affects how the Christian views history as well as himself (p. 94).

Chapter Six. Building Academic Communities. He then encourages Christians to build academic communities for higher learning. He proposes that Christians should consider starting research universities (p. 102). Also, he encouraged the continual development of Christian Liberal Arts universities (p. 104). He noted that Christian universities often go secular. His solution is that universities should employ only believers and that they should continually develop in them Christian virtues.

Evaluation

As far as his intended goal, Marsden argued for his point very well. He remained focused on his theme and brought out many relevant details for his position. The one drawback, however, is his cluttered style. I found myself having to reread his sentences several times in order to make sense of them. They were grammatically correct, but cumbersome to read.

Marsden’s words are appropriate for 1997 and for today. While not what is was in the ’90s, Fundamentalism (my personal tradition) still needs to progress toward better academics. What would help Fundamentalism is not just the liberal arts schools, but also a research university or school. So much could be developed in the area of Old Testament studies from a conservative standpoint, but it is not done because there is just not an institution that can produce such findings. But if such an institution could be established, this work could be done by a team of scholars united under the authority of the Word of God.

Marsden’s work is similar in intent to Mark Noll’s Between Faith and Criticism. While the desire for Christian scholarship is the same, the tone between the books is very different. Noll is curt, cutting, and dismissive of any view that does not follow academic norms, especially Fundamentalism. Marsden, on the other hand, is gracious in his tone, attempting to value everyone, including Fundamentalism. Thus, between the two, Marsden is easier to digest.

Coffee Ordered!

So, as you might have guessed from the title, I love coffee! I also roast my own and enjoy a good pour over every morning. I usually order my green coffee from Sweet Maria’s because they have the most consistent quality in their beans. I do sell a little on the side, so let me know if you’d like some. Here are my picks for this time around:

https://www.sweetmarias.com/kenya-nyeri-ichamama-ab.html

Kenya

https://www.sweetmarias.com/ethiopia-agaro-kedamai-cooperative.html

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https://www.sweetmarias.com/congo-kivu-minova-cpu.html

congo.JPG

Notes on the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

Here are my notes on the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament. Some are manuscripts others are just outlines. I hope that you’ll enjoy šŸ™‚

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lesson-6a-teacher-outline-2.docx

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Songs of the Kingdom

Now, we move to the Psalms. The Psalms have a completely different feel to them. They present the truth of the Kingdom in poetical form, not in chronological form. The first psalm we considered was Psalm 2. This Psalm presents the king of the kingdom. People, nations, kings rebel against him now. But through the resurrection, God will use the Anointed oneā€”Jesusā€”to establish the kingdom. It will be a universal kingdom. Therefore, as the author of Psalm 2 enjoins, we are to kiss the son lest he be angry. We must submit to him now, or else die before him later. The next Psalm we considered is Psalm 18, which presented the international reach of the kingdom. The Kingdom includes all the nations of the world. Thus the 18th Psalm indicated the universal scope of the Anointedā€™s Reign. And this universal scope of the kingdom motivates Paul to preach the Gospel of the kingdom to the gentiles: The good news that they too can enter into the kingdom. Next, we came to Psalm 45 which is a Coronation Hymn. This Psalm describes the awesome wonder of that King and the joy of the new kingdom. The King, who is Jesus, is anointed by God himself. And God declares the truth Jesus is God. Then we came to Psalm 145 which looks at the eternal kingdom of God and its relationship to us. It is a jubilant Psalm, calling us to trust and praise the God who controls all things.

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fresh-ground-theology/id1449094482?mt=2

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/episode4QFiuuv1jpjyxO8KjmlPUB?si=Jvxh4UTLRPKwbl-o1XOs4A

The Virtue of Courage in KoĢˆstenbergerā€™s Book Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue

KoĢˆstenberger opens his book addressing young, Christian scholars entering the world of academia. Distraught over the bifurcation of scholarship from faith, he argues that the two can be united successfully by the Christian scholar. The Christian scholar, according to KoĢˆstenberger, should be both academically rigorous and committed to his Christian faith. Both objectives can be achieved through excellence. Excellence is a compilation of many different virtues, founded on the very character of God. And since God calls Christians to model his character, the Christian scholar must model these virtues in his academic work. One of these virtues is courage. In the academic world today, the scholar must pursue courage, drawing from the strength which God provides.

The Emphasis of Courage

KoĢˆstenberger emphasizes the need for courage throughout his chapter. While the scholarā€™s work does not require the same type of courage that one would need in the military or in the police force, it still takes a tremendous amount of courage to be a Christian scholar in secular academia. Often the temptation arises to choose topics which are non-confrontational in order to get a degree. Or to choose a topic that will not offend a publisher.

KoĢˆstenberger illustrated his own struggle with this pressure, describing the academic climate when he wrote his dissertation. While he was studying for his doctorate, academia was persuaded that the gospel of John was written by a Johannine community and not John himself. KoĢˆstenberger, however, did not believe that the evidence necessitated a community, but he held that John was the author of his gospel. And so, he wrote his dissertation accordingly, having the courage to stand against current academic trends.

He then develops a brief biblical theology of courage, focusing primarily on the life of Joshua. When Joshua was about to enter the promised land, God told him to be courageous and follow the Law. Only when he obeyed would he have success. KoĢˆstenberger concludes with three observations:

(1) Courage is based on the presence of God whom Godā€™s people can trust because of his actions on their behalf in the past and his promises of future action. (2) Courage is tied to obedience, because without obedience and faithfulness there can be no confidence that God will act favorably. (3) Courage is necessary to fulfill a particular mission or call from God.

With these three observations in mind, he then continues through the rest of Scripture developing the theme. In the New Testament, obedience is connected to the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world. And believers can proclaim the Gospel because God is nearby providing them courage to obey.

In his next major section, KoĢˆstenberger applies the Biblical theology to the life of the scholar. He focuses on how it takes courage for the scholar to please God, and not merely the publisher or professor. This Godward focus, then, would inevitably cause the scholar to oppose some dogmas of academia, especially in the integration of faith with scholarship. Academia holds faith in contempt, asserting that a confessional scholar cannot do objective scholarship. And so, KoĢˆstenberger encourages his readers to pursue excellent academic scholarship to over come the bias of academia. In his final exhortation, he reminds the reader that scholarship, just like the rest of the Christian life, is spiritual warfare. And in his words, ā€œthis takes courage.ā€

Excellent Points on Courage

Particularly helpful is his encouragement for the Christian scholar who enters the antagonistic world of Biblical scholarship. All the leading academic institutions, Harvard, Yale, etc., reject all supernatural events, concluding contrary to what the Scriptures claim. And so, these institutions put pressure on the Christian scholar to conform. As KoĢˆstenberger puts it, ā€œpressures abound to go with the flow of scholarly consensus, and the academy often marginalizes those who buck the system.ā€

This pressure enters even in Christian seminaries, which take a high view of Scripture. While the pressure may not come from the professors, the student will inevitably read and analyze the works of critical scholarship because he must be thorough in his research. While he might not be convinced of the critical position because of one work, continued exposure may weaken his resolve to hold a high view of Scripture. And after countless interactions with critical scholars, the student may not necessarily give in to their position, but he may not publish on the topic either.

This is where courage must come in. It will never be easy to stand up against the ā€œassured results of modern scholarship,ā€ but he must stand in order to maintain his calling from God. God has called certain men to maintain the faith through scholarship. And it will clash with unbelieving scholarship quiet often. In this fight, however, the Christian scholar is not alone, as KoĢˆstenberger points out, ā€œWe, as evangelical scholars, have a strong reservoir from which to draw courage. We can have confidence in Godā€™s favorable presence with us to help and sustain us on a daily basis.ā€ It is not sheer force of will or intellectual brilliance that will give the scholar courage, but courage comes through the presence of the Almighty God which lives in him.

One Small Critique

The one area in this chapter which could use some improvement is KoĢˆstenbergerā€™s example of how Israel drew on Godā€™s courage to fight Benjamin. He states: ā€œIn Judges 20:22, the people of Israel took courage in their fight against Benjamin, even in the face of incredible losses, because of Godā€™s command (Judg. 20:18, 23, 27ā€“28).ā€

While Israel did indeed need courage to fight the Benjamites, it does lack the clear moral context to which the Christian scholar can aspire. As many have observed, Judges traces the moral decline of the nation of Israel as they turn from God. This decline does not always follow a chronological emphasis, but rather a theological one. Case in point, this event recorded here happened soon after the entrance of Israel into the promise land, because the text says that Phineas was still the high priest (Judg. 10:27-28). But, this account appears at the end of the book of Judges and so it is out of chronological order. Thus, the author must have had a theological purpose in mind.

In the overall structure of Judges two themes come out. First, Israel was caught in an endless cycle of sin, judgment, repentance and restoration. And Second, during those days, there was no king in Israel. And as the author develops these themes, he shows the nation getting worse and worse. So, with this example appearing near the end of the book, the author is showing how utterly wicked the nation had become. So, while they did require courage, it is not necessarily an example for believers to follow.

Conclusion and Personal Takeaway

The biggest takeaway from the chapter was on the need to take courage from God to do the work which He has called Christian scholars to do. Often times, the task can be daunting. But as the Lord commanded Joshua to take courage to conquer Canaan (a task more formidable than scholarship), so to the Christian scholar can obey his call and campaign for the cause of Christ in academic circles. Whether the scholar is called to pastoring, writing, podcasting, or what have you, he can draw on courage in order to develop his materials to the best of his ability.

Courage, however, does not stand by itself. For, by itself, courage often ends up in brash ignorance or mean-spirited belligerence. Courage must be inseparably tied to the other virtues listed in the book. And as God grows the scholar in all of these virtues, the scholar can pursue more excellent academic work for the glory of God.

A Childā€™s Faith

For all the learning that we can achieve in the knowledge of God, it is not necessary for life. All that we need is a child’s faith, simple child’s faith that is merely content with trusting him. It is a heart dependent on his words without demanding that he explain it all to us. And an honesty that takes at face value his decrees about us.

In all the bustle of this life, I fail to hear you Lord.

My heart grows faint from the strife that keeps me from your word.

Yet paradox, within your word I study every hour.

But as a text, not as a friend, I analyze and scour.

Each verb I parse, each noun I know. I’ve read the parallels.

But this I miss, your loving voice that guides me through each peril.

Oh! help me see beyond the text the Word who died for me!

Lift up my eyes that I may spy your Love nailed on the tree!

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