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Francis | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Oct 31 2018 1:10 AM

So, I am entitled to free courses and I was going through the catalog to try to decide which would be most beneficial. I found the exercise frustrating for someone who is looking for more than popular theology:

1. The sample video clips do not give a real sense of the level of the course. The statements that are made clearly cater to what church goers might be looking for but are too general to be really revealing.

2. Many of the courses are too trendy. From Christ-centered preaching and hermeneutics in the OT to covenants of grace and other grace-based, calvinistic stuff, those of us who are just looking to learn and are not part of the fan club for these bandwagons are repelled by this. 

Again, I can see how this would appeal to large segments of Evangelicalism but not all Evangelicals are Calvinists or of Reformed stock or impressed by theologically-biased hermeneutics. As an example, I have heard good things about Jay Sklar's work on Leviticus. However, the video clips for his mobile ed course give the impression that the course spends more time introducing newbies to Leviticus than giving in-depth treatment on the key issues and concepts of the book. 

Anyway, in the first instance, I would suggest video clips that are more informative. The detailed outline are helpful but when one does the math, it becomes clear that many listed topics must necessarily only be treated very briefly. So, this again, does not really give a good sense of how solid the course content is. 

In the second instance, it may be worth pondering whether furthering the Church and the Kingdom of God need be equated to producing courses that are so theologically biased.

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Michael S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 2 2018 3:10 PM

Francis:
theologically biased

You used or alluded to this phrase many times.  I don't see how you can study any theology without coming away with some bias- one way or the other.  At each "fork" in the road, you make a choice... there is no neutrality.  

But I suppose you are requesting someone teach a subject as objectively as possible, so as not to "show their hand" as to which way they themselves lean on certain doctrinal stances?  I guess that is possible, to a point.  However, are you aware of any "well known" experts in the field that is neutral like that?  I think if anyone has studied and then teaches the text, they are going to form an argument about the text... so it will not come across as "wishy-washy" or "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine."

Have I mis-read your stance?  On the surface, it seems you are anti-reformed, therefore, any reformed leanings are picked up by you and cause disdain for it.  I have similar reactions to the opposite.  My "spidey" senses go off when a person is non-reformed.  And, as you probably know, we can tell the difference with a person's teachings because their entire Biblical lens is based on their position in this regards.  However, I believe we cant grow to maturity until we can wrestle with the arguments put forward by people we don't agree with theologically.  To know what we believe and why is vastly important- especially in the age of skepticism we now live.  I tend to find the vast number of presenters here on the Mobile Ed are from a large variety of theological positions... not just Reformed, or even majority so.

All that said, I do agree with you that the courses could be leveled differently.  Any of the 100's would be basic, 200's a step up on difficulty, and 300s' more like a 3rd year student, and then 400's graduating level.  Really, 300's and 400's could be graduate (seminary) level, and that would probably be about right.  So 100's and 200's bachelor level stuff.  

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Miles Custis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 2 2018 4:03 PM

Francis, I would love to help make sure you pick a course that will be very beneficial to you. We have over 230 courses taught by speakers who come from a variety of backgrounds. A number of our speakers do have a Reformed background, but many do not. Most of our New Testament and Old Testament courses are focused on interpreting the text in its original content. The speakers approach the text objectively and are among the most widely respected current biblical scholars.

If you are looking for a course that is specifically from someone who does not have a Reformed background you could check out Ben Witherington's Romans course (NT332) or one of Roger Olson's historical theology courses (CH151 or CH152). You could also wait until we ship TH351 Perspectives on Justification by Faith: Five Views on Its Meaning and Significance (likely late November). That course presents several different views on justification by faith (including Reformed). There are other examples, but those are a few that come quickly to mind.

Since you mentioned it, I will say that Jay Sklar's course is excellent. He does walk through the text of Leviticus and highlights the key issues and concepts in the book. We picked the sample clips for that course to (hopefully) peak people's interest in a course on a book they might not otherwise spend much time in. The sample titled "Holiness" for example is just the final minute of an 8-minute segment on Lev 19:9–37. 

If you have any questions about a specific course, feel free to ask here or in the General forum. Hopefully someone who has already taken it can tell you how they liked it.

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 2 2018 4:53 PM

Michael S.:
On the surface, it seems you are anti-reformed, therefore, any reformed leanings are picked up by you and cause disdain for it.  I have similar reactions to the opposite.  My "spidey" senses go off when a person is non-reformed.

And as a Catholic, I just sit back and watch.

Michael S.:
However, I believe we cant grow to maturity until we can wrestle with the arguments put forward by people we don't agree with theologically.  To know what we believe and why is vastly important- especially in the age of skepticism we now live. 

I strongly agree.

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 1:39 AM

Michael S.:
I suppose you are requesting someone teach a subject as objectively as possible, so as not to "show their hand" as to which way they themselves lean on certain doctrinal stances?  I guess that is possible, to a point.  However, are you aware of any "well known" experts in the field that is neutral like that?

Every scholar has opinions or beliefs, but good academics know that scholarship is not the place for confessional militantism. 

I suspect that the instructions given to the (very good) scholars who make the courses for mobile ed. are designed to appeal more to a church crowd and a larger cross-section of Logos' customers. 

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 1:45 AM

Miles Custis:
I will say that Jay Sklar's course is excellent. He does walk through the text of Leviticus and highlights the key issues and concepts in the book. We picked the sample clips for that course to (hopefully) peak people's interest in a course on a book they might not otherwise spend much time in. The sample titled "Holiness" for example is just the final minute of an 8-minute segment on Lev 19:9–37

I have watched the clips. I have been in explorations of the concepts of purity and atonement in which scholars like Sklar engage with Milgrom-level theories. So I know that Sklar is more than competent on this subject. However, the clips would seem to indicate that this course is a significant step down in level of engagement. But of course, it is clear after watching a number of clips from many courses that such clips are selected to appeal to a broader audience. So, one is not always sure if they are truly representative of the level of engagement of the course. 

What is the return policy on mobile ed. courses? Same as other resources?

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 2:12 AM

Francis:

Every scholar has opinions or beliefs, but good academics know that scholarship is not the place for confessional militantism. 

I suspect that the instructions given to the (very good) scholars who make the courses for mobile ed. are designed to appeal more to a church crowd and a larger cross-section of Logos' customers. 

As someone who owns dozens of Mobile Ed courses, I can say that you've got this wrong (understandably if you're relying on only the preview videos to make your judgement). I will say:

  • Mobile Ed is a Logos, not a Verbum product, and unashamedly reflects Protestant interests, and (in theological and practical matters) Protestant theology. Inline with Faithlife's commitment with its own publications, they're also broadly evangelical. But within that they reflect a wide-range of different views, and are often deliberately broad. Bryan Chappell's Christ Centered Preaching course would be suitable for any evangelical, regardless of which particular branch of evangelicalism he comes from. I have never seen any "confessional militantism" in these courses, although some courses are obviously confessional (e.g. "Dispensational Hermeneutic of the Bible" and "A Wesleyan View on the Sacraments"). That said, even those courses have been put together by one of the most sensible and reasonably advocates of dispensationalism and Weslyanism.
  • The courses work at different levels (1, 2, 3), identifiable by the first numeric digit of their code. There are sub-levels as well, so 100-149 courses are simpler than 150-199 ones (and likewise with levels 2 and 3). I think of these sub-levels as semesters. I'm not sure of the official designation of the levels, but I would guess roughly at:
    • 100-149: Pre-seminary beginner
    • 150-199: Pre-seminary more advanced
    • 200-249: First-year seminary, semester one
    • 250-299: First-year seminary, semester two
    • 300-349: Second-year seminary, semester one
    • 350-399: Second-year seminary, semester two
  • The course are also in many categories. You can see them at https://www.logos.com/mobile-ed/courses. If you want to avoid any theology (that's quite possible, by choosing courses on OT or NT).

From what you've described, I would suggest you look especially at courses with OT3* or NT3* codes. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 2:41 AM

Thanks, Mark. I agree that my perception is often from without. 

I am not against good Catholic scholarship. I own Sacra Pagina commentaries, and Raymond Brown (Anchor) and Moloney's narrative-critical work on John are both very helpful. It is nice indeed that these works are not out there to promote Catholicism but to do biblical studies. 

Examples that have alarmed me include:

Daniel Block's outline of the Deuteronomy course which starts with "The Gospel according to Moses" and continues with titles like "The Grace of Torah," "The Grace of Covenant," "The Grace of Salvation," "The Sheer Grace of Covenant Relationship," and "Grace and Covenant Relationship". Sounds way too Pauline and NOT Deuteronomistic!

Futato's "Preaching the Psalms" (which I actually went through) or a method for reading to a certain brand of NT theology back into the Psalms and use this to indoctrinate your audiences. This is not what you would expect from a less popular Evangelicalism type of approach to homiletics and the study of Psalms. I respect Futato's scholarship (and love his introduction to Hebrew) but was not impressed by this course (and I see that he otherwise teaches this trendy method in mobile ed.).  

Chester's Perspectives on Paul: Reformation and the New Perspective seems (from the outline and clips) to be out there to defend Reformed soteriology against NPP. 

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 3:20 AM

Francis:

Daniel Block's outline of the Deuteronomy course which starts with "The Gospel according to Moses" and continues with titles like "The Grace of Torah," "The Grace of Covenant," "The Grace of Salvation," "The Sheer Grace of Covenant Relationship," and "Grace and Covenant Relationship". Sounds way too Pauline and NOT Deuteronomistic!

Futato's "Preaching the Psalms" (which I actually went through) or a method for reading to a certain brand of NT theology back into the Psalms and use this to indoctrinate your audiences. This is not what you would expect from a less popular Evangelicalism type of approach to homiletics and the study of Psalms. I respect Futato's scholarship (and love his introduction to Hebrew) but was not impressed by this course (and I see that he otherwise teaches this trendy method in mobile ed.).  

Chester's Perspectives on Paul: Reformation and the New Perspective seems (from the outline and clips) to be out there to defend Reformed soteriology against NPP. 

Agreed to a certain extent on all counts (though I don't find it alarming, and I think you overstate it with words like "indoctrinate", and Chester is much more balanced than you're giving him credit for: read the reviews of his Reading Paul with the Reformers).

I'd enjoy the three courses you highlight. But equally there are other courses, where I would be uncomfortable (Moo on Romans, Galatians and Pauline Theology, for example, John Walton on Genesis 1-3, some of Mike Heiser's stuff, others will disagree with Instone-Brewer on divorce). The point is not whether there are some courses where you disagree with the approach. Of course there are. When you asking seminary professors to teach a course, they're likely to teach it from the perspective that best fits their own seminary. It would be very bland if all the courses were entirely neutral, even if that were possible. But overall there's a wide range of approaches from some of the best scholars — and you've got a free choice of nearly 300 to choose from!

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 3:46 AM

Mark Barnes:
But equally there are other courses, where I would be uncomfortable (Moo on Romans, Galatians and Pauline Theology,

Sorry to divert this thread from it's original intention.

I can understand concerns about Instone-Brewer, John Walton and Mike Heiser but not sure about Moo.

Is it because of some of his Lutheran perspective showing up in his exegesis or is there more to it? If you feel uncomfortable sharing in the forum, please message me privately.

Dell, studio XPS 7100, Ram 8GB, 64 - bit Operating System, AMD Phenom(mt) IIX6 1055T Processor 2.80 GHZ

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 3:52 AM

Points taken, Mark.

Mark Barnes:
When you asking seminary professors to teach a course, they're likely to teach it from the perspective that best fits their own seminary.

I think this may well nail it (whether or not all the instructors are actually seminary professors): the elements I have described befit more a confessional seminary than a presentation at SBL or a university course. 

Thanks for your input. I am happy to move on, knowing that this is an element of the subculture of Mobile Ed that is what it is. 

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 4:19 AM

Ted Hans:

I can understand concerns about Instone-Brewer, John Walton and Mike Heiser but not sure about Moo.

Is it because of some of his Lutheran perspective showing up in his exegesis or is there more to it?

I find Instone-Brewer, Moo and Heiser tremendously stimulating despite (and partly because) they make me uncomfortable at points. (I haven't read enough of Walton to comment on him.) My comments above should be taken in the light of that. But yes, Moo's Lutheran tendencies are the issue here, and of course they particularly come out in Romans, Galatians and Pauline Theology — all three of which I own and value.

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 3 2018 4:52 AM

Mark Barnes:
I find Instone-Brewer, Moo and Heiser tremendously stimulating despite (and partly because) they make me uncomfortable at points. (I haven't read enough of Walton to comment on him.) My comments above should be taken in the light of that. But yes, Moo's Lutheran tendencies are the issue here, and of course they particularly come out in Romans, Galatians and Pauline Theology — all three of which I own and value

Thank Mark, much appreciated.

Dell, studio XPS 7100, Ram 8GB, 64 - bit Operating System, AMD Phenom(mt) IIX6 1055T Processor 2.80 GHZ

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Dale Brueggemann | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 5 2018 9:28 AM

Mark Barnes: You object to words like "gospel," "grace," and "salvation" in an Old Testament course. I have a hard time seeing your difficulties with those ideas. Surely you don't mean that the OT has no good news, that Yahweh displays no grace, and that there is no deliverance in the OT. And I suppose you post indicates that you reject Christological interpretation of the Old Testament, and of the Psalms in particular. That makes me wonder what your take on Luke 24:24ff, 45ff is.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 5 2018 2:02 PM

Dale Brueggemann:

Mark Barnes: You object to words like "gospel," "grace," and "salvation" in an Old Testament course. I have a hard time seeing your difficulties with those ideas. Surely you don't mean that the OT has no good news, that Yahweh displays no grace, and that there is no deliverance in the OT. And I suppose you post indicates that you reject Christological interpretation of the Old Testament, and of the Psalms in particular. That makes me wonder what your take on Luke 24:24ff, 45ff is.

Not me! I believe that a true reading of the Old Testament must be Christological. It was Francis who was unhappy with the content of the Deuteronomy course, not me.

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 6 2018 12:33 AM

Dale Brueggemann:
Surely you don't mean that the OT has no good news, that Yahweh displays no grace, and that there is no deliverance in the OT. And I suppose you post indicates that you reject Christological interpretation of the Old Testament, and of the Psalms in particular. That makes me wonder what your take on Luke 24:24ff, 45ff is.

A few points:

1. You can be sure that what the Lord said in Luke 24:44-45 was not intended as a blank check for 21st century Western Evangelicals to read their theology back into the OT. 

2. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But large segments of Evangelicalism need to make their minds: on the one hand, they infuse OT passages with Pauline emphases in the Reformed tradition with the result of seeking to domesticate OT passages to make them preach a good Evangelical message. This results in the sort of "gospel" and "grace" emphases I pointed to earlier. The same people hold a very different discourse when it comes to their defensive reaction toward NPP. Here the OT (and the Law) is all about works, fat, and blood. One stance is common to both reactions: a theological tradition commitment that stands above Scriptures for all claims of the contrary.

3. There is no Christology in the OT per se. So to speak of either Christological or Christ-centered interpretation is non-sensical. There are messianic passages and progressive revelation that prepares the way for Christ and prophecies that yet await fulfilment. For the most part, Christians ought to apply not interpret the OT with reference to Christ and NT revelation. 

I wanted to take the time to answer you but strictly speaking, this is no longer in the province of the original post and diverges in theological discussion that goes beyond what the forums are dedicated to. 

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Dale Brueggemann | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 21 2019 12:14 PM

Interesting that you contrast "professional" with "confessional." That seems to me to be your root objection to the courses you cite.

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Dale Brueggemann | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 21 2019 12:21 PM

Might well turn all of that around and ask...

  1. What "all" means in Luke 24, and what is the scope of Christological fulfillment in the NT.
  2. Where do you think "good news" and "grace" came from; did they arise de novo in the NT against a darker OT background?
  3. I don't see how you can speak of "messianic passages and progressive revelation that prepares the way for Christ" and precede that with "There is no Christology in the OT per se."

I imagine there's a fair amount of pop theology "finding Jesus in the OT" in all sorts of interesting ways that won't bear up as a solid biblical-theological reading; however, it sounds like your real objects is to biblical theology itself.

I guess you wouldn't appreciate the approach of Gerhoh of Reichersberg (AD 1093-1169):

  • On Psalm 1--“Blessed is the one who doesn’t walk in the way of the ungodly, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord and he will be like a tree planted by the water.” He comments on the psalm then says, “Therefore glory be to the Father,” and He identifies the Father as the one who knoweth the way of the righteous. “Glory be to the Son who is the way of the righteous, the man who is blessed, the incarnate Son.” And prosperous in whatever he does, “Glory be to the Holy Ghost who is the wind that scattereth the ungodly as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.”
  • On Psalm 23--“The Lord is my shepherd” and then he praises God in these words, “Wherefore Glory be to the Father, who anoints our head with oil; and to the Son, the shepherd of His people; and to the Holy Ghost, who provides for us that inebriating chalice which is so excellent. As it was, in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.”
  • On Psalm 69: “Save me O God for the waters have come up to my soul.” He comments on that and has a lot to say about God as the deliverer and about the enemies that surround the psalmist and how that all applies. He has a strong messianic reading of it, but then when he gets to the Gloria Patri, he says, “Wherefore, Glory be to the Father, to whom the God-Man cried, save me, O God,” it’s referenced to the crucifixion, and to the Son, Jesus Christ, praying for Himself and His members to be saved and delivered from the floods.

______

From Fred Sanders in a forthcoming Mobile Ed course on the Trinity (CH261).

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 21 2019 12:44 PM

Dale Brueggemann:

Might well turn all of that around and ask...

  1. What "all" means in Luke 24, and what is the scope of Christological fulfillment in the NT.
  2. Where do you think "good news" and "grace" came from; did they arise de novo in the NT against a darker OT background?
  3. I don't see how you can speak of "messianic passages and progressive revelation that prepares the way for Christ" and precede that with "There is no Christology in the OT per se."

I imagine there's a fair amount of pop theology "finding Jesus in the OT" in all sorts of interesting ways that won't bear up as a solid biblical-theological reading; however, it sounds like your real objects is to biblical theology itself.

As I read Francis comments, I thought, yes, yes, yes. I'm not sure what's not so obvious. I thought Francis was being generous. I wouldn't touch most of them, and thoughly enjoy a large Logos library.


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Dale Brueggemann | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 21 2019 12:50 PM

Fred Sanders concludes that segment (#35) with this admonistion:


Gerhoch strikes a really great balance of reading the Old Testament on its own terms and also applying a full canonical Trinitarian understanding to what he’s just read. It’s a wonderful mutual Illumination that, I think, is especially helpful for us in our modern, historical, grammatical, and critical time period, where we’re so jealous to make sure we don’t foist the Trinity on the Old Testament in an illegitimate way but where if we’re Christian readers, we also know that the God we’re learning in the discrete witness of the Old Testament is, in fact, the same God who is Father Son and Holy Spirit.

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