These posts are based on my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, available from Zondervan Publishing.
These posts are adaptations of my commentary on 1 Corinthians, based on my own study of the critical Greek text, the early church fathers and the best of contemporary scholarship. It is available from Logos, and downloadable free from this blog: FREE Commentary on 1 Corinthians! by Gary Shogren
Chapter Seven – I teach in seminary
I’ve now been a professor, teaching in English and then in Spanish, for 25 years.
The first seminary where I taught put us through a sort of Professor Boot Camp. Our academic dean stressed: “Your students will remember only a portion of the content you teach; they will always remember your attitudes and values.
That principle has been true as far as my memories: I can remember a few professors who came across as, well, self-satisfied, distant, or lethargic; I hope my impressions were mistaken.
Other professors seemed to be hard workers, careful students of the Word, loving individuals and encouraging. (more…)
From my ministry in Central America, I understand how names change from language to language: the English form of my name “Gary Shogren” is difficult for the Spanish-speaker – the “a” and the “e” don’t have exact counterparts in Spanish; nor does “sh”. I say my name one way if I’m speaking English and another way if Spanish. Not even my mother would recognize my name in the Spanish version! Nevertheless, when my students call me “GAH-ree CHOH-grain” with a foreign accent, I take no offense: I’m still me, the same identity and the same name, with a pronunciation adapted to the relevant language. (more…)
I just wrote a post in which I gave advice to a younger Christian, and I urged him to memorize Scripture. A reader questions the value of Bible memorization compared with other Bible activities.
He says: I would say focus on reading comprehension and understanding what you are reading and ask questions whenever possible – instead of memorizing Scripture (unless you are illiterate). I found that simply understanding is hard enough, and to place memorization on top of that when any of us here in the US can pull up our Bibles on our smartphones is not a good use of time. It is not evil in and of itself of course, just not a good use of time (if one is literate, that is). Otherwise if illiterate by all means get audio and memorize!
Dear Reader: Thanks for the stimulating comment, it made me think through whether my opinion was really self-evident.
As a professor I keep in mind the insights of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. The learning facilitator is supposed to push the learner higher and higher in the pyramid: that is, not just Applying but further toward Analyzing. This is why I have my students memorize certain facts (REMEMBERING dates of important biblical events) but push them further up the pyramid (an essay where the student is critically ANALYZING a certain view of historiography).
Nevertheless, Bloom’s point was not that the lower levels of cognition are inferior; in fact, they are the base upon which the higher thinking is built.
In the case of the Bible, we want to push people beyond merely memorizing verses; they must also learn to employ it to life situations, to discern what is Biblical thinking and what is not, etc. (more…)
In my first days as a Christian, they filled me in that the Soviet Union was predicted in Ezekiel 38-39 and that Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries would attack Israel at any time. Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth was the #1 bestseller; it had a chapter called “Russia is a Gog,” and said it was clear as could be that the Bible foretold a Soviet invasion more than 2500 years ago. Google Magog and Russia and you will see how many “prophecy experts” take the Lindsey/Russia view as gospel, without ever checking on the basic facts. 
Where did this idea come from? From an amateurish reading of certain Hebrew terms.
Rosh – probably not in your Bible at Ezek 38:2 (unless you read the NKJV or the NASB), but the Hebrew word that is rendered “chief” or “prince” is Rosh = head. But others said, “Hey, think about it! Rosh…uh?? Roshuh? Russia, you see?”
Meshech – why, that must be Moscow!
Magog – was a Scythian city, and the Scythians later migrated into Russia, so Magog is Russia! (they did no such thing, I later found out, but that was the rumor at the time)
Tubal – this would have to be Tobolsk which, some speculated, was the eastern capital of Russia.
Gomer was East Germany.
To cap it all off, these enemies come “from the north,” and Russia, at least its extreme western frontier, lies due north from Israel.
This meant, then, that Russia and its Warsaw Pact allies would attack Israel, immediately before or after the rapture
of the church, and that Israel’s enemies would be totally eliminated, perhaps by nuclear weapons. Imagine the chills this gave me in October 1973, when the United States and Russia very nearly intervened with A-bombs in the Yom Kippur war between Israel and Egypt. (more…)
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Last month, Zondervan published my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, a volume I’ve been working on since 2005 (click HERE). When I saw it on display at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I heaved a sigh of relief, and not just because finishing a book, any book, lightens the spirit. (My 1 Corinthians commentary is available for free download HERE).
I was pleased because the whole production seemed like a gamble from the outset. I had to figure out how to write a commentary without a library. I felt like the first person to invent the flourless cake.
I teach at a Bible college and seminary located in Costa Rica. Most Americans know it as a land of natural wonders, with beaches, rafting, rainforests, volcanoes and of course, gold-standard coffee. We are located in San José, a city of a million: not exactly the “bush,” but I might as well be when I sit down to do my writing. (more…)
Chapter Five – I start to teach others
For two years I had been taking in the Bible and growing in prayer and evangelism. I served a summer as a camp counselor at Camp Pine Ridge in Rumney, New Hampshire. The older counselors were students at Bible college, and they told me that the New American Standard Bible, published in 1971, was the most dependable; I used it for the next few years.
At some point, my church’s youth group added a Wednesday night Bible study to its weekly schedule. For a year or so I attended, and for some reason I was asked to be a regular teacher. I was keenly aware of the verse that said “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). How was I to teach other teenagers, most of whom were older than I, when I was just beginning to feel my way around the Scriptures? (more…)
Please read Part I before starting Part II; click HERE
Chapter Three – My Sojourn in Pentecostalism
Until I turned 14, the only charismatic person I knew anything about was JFK. Since then I have been charismatic (one year, give or take); then post-charismatic; anti-charismatic; teacher of charismatics; bridge-builder with charismatics; regular spokesman against neo-Pentecostals and Word of Faith teaching.
If you haven’t read Part I of my testimony, it might interest you to read Chapter One – I react against false teaching. While I was working through the life-and-death question of what it takes to be saved, in tandem for some months I was figuring out what it meant to be a charismatic believer. I am the only person I’ve ever met who was a practicing Adventist and a practicing charismatic at the same time; now Wikipedia tells me that there are thousands of people who have managed to combine the two.
After supper on September 15, it was warm enough to go to the local swimming hole for a dip. When I got back, I saw that someone had lent my mother a copy of Dennis Bennett’s The Holy Spirit and You: a guide to the Spirit filled life. This was 1972, and the charismatic movement had been moving outward from the Pentecostal churches and the Assemblies of God; people in many denominations began to pursue a more direct experience with the Spirit.
Days later and the news began to circulate around the Baptist church that “Gary got baptized in the Spirit!” My pastor said that I should read 1 Cor 12-14, a passage I devoured as being relevant to my life today. A few people from our church went to a Thursday night prayer meeting in a school across town, and they offered to take me. For about an hour and a half we would have choruses, Bible readings, and at some meetings someone would speak in tongues or give a “message” to the group. I learned later that it was a group of mainline charismatics, and in fact the Rocky Hill School was an Episcopalian prep school – so, no jumping around, no shouting or confusion, just a quiet and orderly time of worship. When someone spoke in tongues, they waited for someone to interpret.
It was there that someone gave me a pocket New Testament, which was a constant companion – I wore out a couple, and still have my last copy. (more…)