The Table Podcast

Church in the Information Age

In this episode, Dr. Darrell L. Bock and Gerry Breshears discuss Technology and the Faith, discussing applications, pitfalls, and benefits of the Church in the Information Age.

Timecodes
00:15
The historical progression of technology
05:33
How archiving information has changed?
08:47
The implications of information being more accessible than ever
12:34
What are some pitfalls to be aware of in using technology?
14:20
How has the faith world used social media?
21:24
How can the church handle public criticism better on internet?
26:45
Internet is like a megaphone
28:30
How should people engage and reflect to the issues on internet?
31:03
How can irresponsible sources twist information?
41:00
Inappropriate responses on internet effects the unity of the church
42:25
What are some positive aspects of technology for online education?
50:50
The accessibility of online resources.
54:20
The need for increased discernment in processing online sources.
59:10
Why come to Seminary of there are online resources.
61:25
Using the internet with discernment.
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture and our topic today is technology and how we use it and in some cases how we abuse it, particularly, in talking about fellow Christians. We wanna talk a little bit about social media and etiquette and the way in which we interact with each other and what that says to people who interact over media and look at how Christians interact with one another. My guest today is Gerry Breshears, who is professor of theology, that’s theology of all kinds, Systematic, Biblical, and any other category you can throw into theology, at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, so he’s with us by Skype with all the technological disadvantages that come with that. That’s, I guess, where we start. Sometimes technology is great, but sometimes it can kill us. Let me start off this way and I’m going to have a little bit of fun, just to launch in and that is, is technology in the Bible? How do we talk about it? Let’s talk about the, I guess, technically speaking, the hermeneutics of even addressing this topic from a Biblical angle.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Actually, technology is the Bible. In Genesis, Chapter 11, we see that the people of Babel have gotten some new technology, they’ve got the brick and they’ve got mortar of a different kind and they’re able to put together the Tower of Babel and that’s new technology. To update the story, all I have to do is put in an iPhone 6 or iPhone 7 and we’ve got it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That was an answer I wasn’t anticipating, so that’s good. That means you’re going to be a great conversationalist.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
I read the Bible, Darrell, I read the Bible.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s true, technology is about the way in which we put things together and the various ways we go about achieving that and, of course, part of the creation mandate is the idea that we are supposed to manage the creation that God has given us and to be creative about the means by which that comes about. I’ll accept your Biblical rootage there and hopefully what we have to say turns out better than just the Tower of Babel, but you never know. Of course, technology has really revolutionized the way in which people live. I can think about, and I suspect you have similar feelings, when I started teaching, and I’m in my thirty-third year at Dallas, I don’t know how long you’ve been at Western, but probably, about as long or longer.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Thirty-five.
Dr. Darrell Bock
When I started teaching, the idea of being able to look up resources on your computer, didn’t exist. We used telephones, which –
Dr. Gerry Breshears
With cords.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s with cords. That’s right. Everything was wired in and cordless telephones were still 15 years away. It’s amazing to think about the differences that have been introduced, really even in just the last ten years. I like to tell this story about the way technology works. When I did my first trip overseas to do doctoral studies, so we talking early ’80s. The way I kept up with American sports was by listening to Armed Forces Radio on a shortwave. That’s step one. Seven years later I went back to Germany for my first sabbatical and I could listen to it on the radio over the internet, just barely, but could do it, and the way I could do it is I could watch a scoreboard flip the score as the game was going on if I wanted to keep up with what was going on. It wasn’t even radio, it was just visual graphics. The next time I went back, I had radio over the internet, that was seven years later. Seven years later, I had audio and video, sometimes black and white, and the last time I went, of course, I had full color, in fact, even HD. I could have been in my living room as far – that is kind of the story of the progression of what we’re dealing with. I suspect you have similar experience in your own working with all this.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, it’s the same thing when I was teaching in the Ukraine the first time, I went downtown and bought an internet card that would get me 2.4 kilobyte connection and the last time I was there, like you, I had full HD and I could talk to my wife as easily as I could sitting next to her in the living room almost.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, it really is in many ways amazing how the whole technological scene has developed and how we do so much now through that. To the point now that a lot of people are able to work remotely from their work. My son does sports law from Manhattan, but he works for a firm in Munich and everything, just about, is done from a distance and without any problem and, of course, it’s impacted education. Online classes, et cetera, have changed the way we think and are changing the way we think about education. It literally is omnipresent and you think about this as a theologian and theology is supposed to deal with everyday live as we need it and so what do you have to say to people who, obviously participate in technology, but are trying to think about how do I think about this in terms of what the Bible has to say?
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Scripture, of course, doesn’t say anything specific about the internet and it doesn’t say a whole lot about libraries for that matter, although there were libraries in the ancient world and well known ones and they’re referred to occasionally in Scripture, but a big advantage of the internet has been the access to information on all kinds of different levels. I just routinely download podcasts from the best Christian preachers in the world.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We appreciate that promotion.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Exactly. I can cyber stalk my students and I do and let them know that that wasn’t very good or this is really outstanding. We have, through libraries, now we have full text access to much of the information of the world and I don’t even have to walk across campus to the library.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I literally had this conversation last week in our department, because we were informed that the Loeb Classical Library, which of course, is the great collection of Greco-Roman works and Latin works from the classics, is now available online to us and I’ve got 150 volumes in my library at home in my study and I’ve just recently have gone about gradually building it up to the point and I said to my wife, I’m done buying those, because I can look it up. I can write and travel and if I have to look something up, most anything that I need, I can now get access to without having to go to a library. It really has changed the way academics work.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The other thing that has not changed; however, is the ability of people to process information accurately and that’s been a downside. People cite as if they know what they’re doing when they don’t.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s true and the capability of misinformation to circulate through the internet is really a problem and it’s even more a problem when people just post what they have heard or said and there’s no attribution or anything put with it, so you don’t know where it’s coming from, what the sourcing is, whether it’s accurate, all kinds of things. Some people think if it’s on the net, it must be true, but that’s not true at all.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
One of the things that’s been really interesting for me to watch is how now in the day of internet access and archiving of everything, it’s virtually impossible to be forgiven or to change what you’re doing. You’ve always been – memory has always been there, but in the internet age, once you’re identified with a certain kind of personality, you can never change that it seems like, because somebody always goes back and looks at the old stuff and cites it as if it was done last year.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, it is a different way of existing and it also means that most conversations that, many of which used to private, are no longer private. You always have someone looking over your shoulder about what it is you’re saying and how you say it and what it means and I tell people when – there’s this message that I do, it’s the contrast between Romans 1 and Acts 17 and how Paul functions in a pluralistic world and I make the point, when he’s writing in Romans 1, it’s kind of insider talk. He’s talking to the Church from the inside and he’s telling you exactly what he thinks about the culture, because this letter is going to the Church and granted it ended up in the Bible, which means that it did have a very public sets of eyes looking at it, but basically in terms of Paul’s intention, he was trying to talk to the Church about the way the culture was around them. Whereas, when we come to Acts 17, he’s speaking publicly. He knows he’s speaking publicly. The audience is part of the culture that he’s talking about and his entire approach is different. Not that his theology is different, he still challenges them with what he believes, but the way he goes about it, is very different and the point I make when I talk about this passage today is that we can’t have oftentimes clean exchanges like that where we know what the audience is that is listening to us because our audience inevitably is broad once we go on to the net.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct. Yeah, e-mails and letters that are sent via the internet, none of that is ever erased from the internet any more. Ironically, when I want to do confidential conversations now, I always do it by voice over a telephone that’s much less likely to be mineable on the internet.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and you just hope the government isn’t listening.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Today’s government, what do they do with it anyway?
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right. I won’t go there. There really is a major problem in terms of how we interact with one another and that really is the gist of what we want to get to. Obviously, there are tons of benefits from being able to stay in communication with people, to stay connected over a distance in particular. I think the whole Facebook phenomena is an interesting way of interacting. I like to tell people who are my age, and when we talk about this particularly in relationship to education, that we grew up used to a certain way of relating and we had to adjust to the introduction of technology. My kids, who are now in their 30s, really grew up with technology from the very beginning. In fact, our household experimented, was picked out to be an experimentation, for the first games over the internet that you shared with a neighbor who wasn’t there in your house. We were hooked up and asked to do this and my two girls and our son were part of this growing up group that played games over the internet with their friends online, back in the ’80s, when it was first being developed, and they’ve grown up with this. This is how they’ve related all their life. There’s no adjustment. It’s the way they do it. They do it instinctively, again, just to share another story, I once was writing a book and was getting ready to look something up and I was – my son recognized I was getting up to go to my library to look up something and he said, “Dad, you don’t have to go out to your library.” He was aware of what I was doing and I said, “What?” He typed into his computer and lo and behold, boom, there it – and he instinctively knew that. It’s clear we have a lot of information that we have access to, but the flip side of that is, of course, the quality and nature of that information. How do we get ourselves into trouble on the net? I guess that’s kind of what I’m asking and you might share, if you will, some of your experience in this regard.
DR. GERRY BRESHEARS
I’ve been watching this for a long time and one of the things that happens is what I call the Pat Robertson syndrome. Those of us are a little older remember when Pat Robertson was a national figure, 700 Club and all that, but he got a reputation for being somebody who said outrageous things, so people would just watch him and of course, he spoke a lot, and inevitably, being a powerful, polarizing speaker, he would say something really, really stupid and then that would be picked out and played everywhere and there’s a, I don’t know what to call it exactly, a genre, really, on the internet that is that kind of a thing. It’s a celebrity gossip magazine that we see in the checkout stand at the grocery story.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s where you get yourself. There’s gotcha journalism. This is where you get yourself.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
There’s a group of that that does that around celebrity pastors and they just wait for ’em to say something and then they go outrage, ballistic, can you believe what’s being said and it’s all taken out of a context of a ministry and a life and it can be extremely, extremely damaging.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We’ve seen some examples of this recently and as we get into this, the point is not to say that some of the criticism that leaders get for how they handle the net and things that they say, may well be deserved. The question is whether the beating that they take in the process is deserved and what that means for us and in thinking about what you’re talking about, that there are people who stalk these kinds of opportunities, let me raise a scenario that I’m very aware of and that is there are bands of atheists out there whose goal is to undercut anything positive that happens in the Church. They oftentimes, you talk about cyber-stalking; they often keep their eyes out for any kind of opportunity like this that they can exploit and pass through the net. I know that goes on and sometimes you think that the conversation that you’re having with the person on the other edge of Facebook or on the other end of the blog that you’re writing, is another believer and you’re kinda having an inhouse conversation, when in fact, oftentimes you’re not.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct. The recent episode with Louie Giglio, when he was invited initially to do a pray at President Obama’s inauguration, some people went back and found this sermon that he’d done 15 years earlier, where he had spoken about homosexuality as a sin and that was trumpeted and ended up with his invitation being withdrawn because he was a person who could not be accepted in the public arena. It’s crazy.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and despite all the public ministry and service ministry that Louie had done and it was really the reason for the original invitation.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, that happened. Yeah. All torpedoed by one statement he had made way earlier in a total different context. That’s the evil of the internet and it can be done by anybody. I think what Christians did to Rick Warren after his son committed suicide in the depths of his depression, the hate speech that came back to him, the public blasting that came back on them, it was just – it’s an embarrassment and a shame to see what happened to that couple.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I think people have got to realize that they have – own some responsibility for handling their public discourse responsibly when these kinds of situations come up. The reason I wanted to discuss this topic is because I actually find it very, very disturbing in terms of where the Church is. Another incident, since we’re trotting out incidents right now, is my recollection of the way World Vision was handled when they went through their decision-making process. First, initially, to allow gay people to be hired and then when they changed their decision, and just the reaction that people had about that entire sequence of events as if, as you said earlier, it’s almost as if, I’ll say it this way albeit vividly, it’s almost as if repentance doesn’t count.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That a person comes out and says I made a mistake, this was the wrong move, I’ve listened to the feedback, I’ve corrected the way I think, but it doesn’t matter. The elephant with memory is in the room.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yep. Another example of that same thing was when Wycliffe was dragged out in the public for translation philosophy into a sub-Saharan African dialect that nobody in the world speaks, but it was rumored how they could translate the Son of God and drop the language Son of God and people went ballistic about that and very high quality organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators, was attacked viciously and some major groups dropped support for Wycliffe over something they really knew nothing about, but it’s easy to get outraged because they don’t care about the Son of God any more.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, because the thing that really makes this difficult is these kinds of moves get sound bitted, if I can coin a phrase, and in that process the one line Wycliffe isn’t using the Son of God any more, has taken Son of God out of the Bible, however you wanna spin that, ends up casting a huge shadow over any of the details as to why that is or the linguistic issues that were involved and that kind of – we actually did an entire podcast on the Son of God controversy, translation controversy, in part to try and get the issues out on the table so that people would actually understand what was going on here and not succumb to the easy one liner, when, in the context, the other thing that’s in the background here, is almost this, I don’t know, fear or paranoia, I’m not sure what the right word is, or anger or frustration, it’s probably a combination of all these things, come into play that drives the move to try and criticize in these kinds of ways.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct. A recent example, of course, is the whole thing with Mars Hill Church in Seattle and the controversy that raged up there for six, eight months very publicly. One of the things that I found just very distressing in that whole situation, of course, I’m close to it, I know many people up there and work closely with a number of them, were the public bloggers were accusing Mark Driscoll and top leadership there of bullying and mishandling funds and there was some legitimacy, of course, to their charges, but the way they were doing it, ironically, was bullying and if you look at the site ads on their blogs, they were making enormous amounts of money from groups that I would never be associated with, because of web traffic on their blog and somehow the self-criticism that says, I’m doing what I’m charging the person with and profiting from it, that’s just a real problem for me. That is a huge problem for me, because I look at the text of Scripture and it talks about slander and gossip as strongly as it talks about immorality and mishandling of power.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, because you’re dealing with people and their reputations and there’s supposed to be a respect, I would say, for someone made in the image of God that they’re handled fairly, justly, if you want to put it in a Biblical category and the way we interact with one another, the tone that we bring to the conversations that we have actually is very, very important and we have something going on tonally in our culture in which I’m afraid that sometimes the Church is mirroring what happens in the culture at large in terms of how people get treated and the Church is supposed to be different in terms of how we engage.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
When I look at Galatians, Chapter 5, and it talked about the acts of the flesh and we begin with pornea and impurity and debauchery, adultery, witchcraft, we get all that, but it goes on to talk about hatred and discord and jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions. Those things are in there just as much. Ephesians, Chapter 4, it says, “In your anger, do not sin, because you give the Devil a foothold.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
In Romans I, you got gossip right there on the list.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yep, absolutely. Ephesians 4, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, every form of malice, be kind and compassionate, forgiving one another.” Boy does that describe the blogosphere these days? I don’t think so.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah, it is a disturbing trend, I think, and it undercuts not just the benefits of technology in such a way, but it really injects a, I don’t know what other word to use, it’s just stuck in my head, a poison into the relationships that people have about the Church, the way they think about the Church, et cetera. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for legitimate criticism and engagement when the Church fails and it be a –

Dr. Gerry Breshears
Absolutely.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Be a complete misread of what we’re talking about to say, no, the Church gets a pass on all this. Absolutely not.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
There’s all kinds of stuff in Scripture about entertaining accusations against the elders in 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Chapter 5, one of the telling passages is 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, where it says, “Don’t take your disputes to the public court for judgment.” Now at that point, it’s talking about the law court, but today we take them to the court of the internet and the public arena and it becomes slander and gossip it seems many times, when those kinds of controversies should be dealt within the elders structures of the Church and perhaps within the denominational structures, instead of taking it out on the internet.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes, I think that what we see here is, and this is important, to distinguish between the right to criticize and the way to criticize and even the way to criticize well and appropriately and Biblically, if I can say it that way, and the way in which sometimes this gets done in which the right thing maybe challenged, but in a very wrong way and it’s a very, very dangerous kind of precedence when our goal is to absolutely try and pull someone down without the appropriate processes in place.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
It’s very true. When I look at what happened, for example, the Mars Hill thing, which is very recent, I see what the eventual resignation of Mark Driscoll and all that was involved there and now the dissolving of the entire corporation and handing everything off to individual churches. Ironically, the thing that accomplished that was not the blogosphere, was not the gossip out on the public arena, it was actually done by elders of the Church who did it according to Biblical standards, but the environment of the internet made that a very toxic environment and a very dishonoring environment, though there’s the opportunity there to show the Grace of God in what’s coming out of that. That toxic environment where anger was a virtue is a very un-Christian atmosphere it seems to me.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Interesting. Your premise would be that the way in which this eventually happened was through the appropriate elder oversight that took place. What would you say to the person who would say, yeah, but the only reason the elders really eventually took a hard look at that was because of the immense pressure that came on Mars Hill as a result of all the blogging and everything else that was going on?
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Being very close to many people involved in the Mars Hill episode, I’d say that’s a statement of ignorance. The public arena actually make it more difficult to do what was being done by the former and current elders, and by a couple of outside involved people, like Paul Tripp. It was actually done as an internal thing. The blogosphere actually made it more difficult, because people became very defensive relating to each other.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay, in other words, it so damaged the atmosphere that getting at actually what was going on became more difficult.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct and reconciliation was much more difficult because every statement was exported. There was actually an inside source that was intentionally and deliberately removing privacy statements and feeding it out into sources in the public arena.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Interesting. This raises a whole ‘nother issue and that is the way in which the internet can become a megaphone, if you will, for what’s going on internally and where things are being sorted out sensitively, et cetera. It’s not that different, if I can make an analogy, it’s not that different than the way governments try and work sometimes in particularly sensitive areas where they use what’s sometimes called back channels to try and get communication back and forth, so that they don’t have to deal with all the static that comes from being in a much more public setting and environment.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yep, one of the areas you’ve done some great work in, Darrell, is speech act theory and anytime somebody speaks in this kind of arrangement, whether it’s a government source or a church source, there’s always an intention behind that revelation and a lot of times that’s hidden. Statements are made for public effect or to put pressure on somebody else and that is all manipulative, it’s contrary to the let’s go straight to the person and talk with Grace with the Christian environment.
Dr. Darrell Bock
A lot of people end up expressing opinions and they’re engaging in what I would call speculation about what’s going on when they, in many cases, don’t actually know what’s going on. They’ve dealt with this snippet or that snippet, but they don’t have the whole picture.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, maybe 120 factors in a particular decision, 2 or 3 are brought out and then it seems so simple, because all you’re dealing with is those and there’s no responsibility that’s involved in that either. That picture of being a person who’s actually making a difference in the context of Grace, when you engage in what’s going on, I think is a Biblical picture. The disengaged person from a distance who is making these kind of statements about churches and then repeating them, I can see nothing other than gossip as a category for that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We’re doing a pretty good job of vandalizing the nature of the problem here and taking a look at how it can go awry and how the net is really in some ways perfectly configured for that kind of abuse and dissemination and I think abuse might be actually the right word in some cases for some of what’s going on. Let’s talk about it from the positive side and think through all right, so how should people, one, engage, one level, and secondly, reflect on what they see on the other. Let’s take them one at a time. Let’s assume that I have a legitimate concern about something that’s going on in the Church and may even want, for good reason, to rally people about the issue or to at least engage. What are some dos and don’ts in thinking through how to go about that?
Dr. Gerry Breshears
One of the things is the basic principles of Matthew 18. Go to the person involved first, take two or three wise, spirit-led people with you, then it says go to the whole church and that kind of a process I think is a good way to do that. I just was this morning consulted by the friend who’s in a church where it turned out the pastor is doing a couple of things, like he’s engaging prostitutes and misusing funds, got a slush fund to pay for his trips to the local parlors and such. They just discovered this about a week ago. What they did first was they tried to go to the pastor; he wouldn’t talk to them. No surprise. They took a couple of key leaders from the Church and then from the Church planning organization, nothing came there.

They sent a note out via Facebook, ironically, to the people of the Church and called them to a public meeting, invited the pastor to be there. He didn’t show up. They will end up dissolving the Church and starting a new church, a replant, but I think the way they went about this was a good way to do it. They tried to follow those patterns. The 1 Timothy 5 pattern, “Don’t entertain an accusation against an elder except on occasion of two or three witnesses.” They followed that. There’s absolutely a place to confront evil in the Church. The Church does not get a pass to say, “Well, let’s pray and just do nothing.” That is not Biblical either.

Dr. Darrell Bock
One the one hand, there’s an appropriate way to do criticism and then there’s a way that represents an abuse. Okay, you’re on the other end of this now. You’re not generating the response, but you’re seeing things and dealing with that, maybe the above, I suspect is a little easier, but how do you deal with what you’re picking up across the net and what should you remember about the net as you interact with this kind of stuff?
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The internet has some very responsible sources in it and what I wanna do is go to responsible sources. In the Mars Hill thing, for example, I absolutely refused to go to the blog sites, the sensationalistic blog sites, because the more I go to them, the more I increase their traffic and I end up actually making them money by going there. Instead, I went to responsible sources, whether just news service, Christianity Today, groups like that, who were covering the story, yes, but were doing with a charitable and trying to get both sides or all sides, as the case may be. I think that’s a key thing, is go to responsible sources. Don’t increase the web traffic for the most sensationalistic places.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Those sites, and I think you’ve mentioned Christianity Today, Religious News Service, and Christian Post, these sites are driven by people who are professional journalists, who generally speaking are trying to do their job very, very responsibly and you can see that even within the context of the stories, because what the stories will inevitably do, if they’re journalistically well done, is they will give you both sides. They will give you the conversation that’s actually taking place as opposed to only one side of the story.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yep. Like Christianity Today, which I really enjoy what they’re doing there, they were trying every possible way, as responsible journalists, to talk to key people first hand with attribution as the story developed. I think that’s the way it should be. Ironically, I knew we were gonna have this story, I saw a story in The New York Times on Sunday, November 9, that was characterizing WORLD Magazine as a muckraking Christian mag –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes, I saw the same piece this weekend.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
I thought, “My gosh”. I know Marv Olansky. I know some other people that work with WORLD and there is a piece where they’re trying to be the investigating journalist. Now they are not muckraking, but it’s interesting that The New York Times would characterize them as a muckraking organization. That says something about the danger of being involved in this sort of thing and how important it is to do it well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes, and it’s another indication of the way our culture is working with this. It’s hard for me to talk about this topic and not take a real step back, kind of get a bird’s eye view, on the cultural influence of what’s going on and the cultural influence of what’s going on, it seems to me is is that we have developed a culture of – it’s kind of a combination between the gotcha journalism that you sometimes see and the idealogical divides that tend to fuel our conversations where our goal is to defend a particular ideology or approach as opposed to working, if I could say this way more positively, towards some type of solutions or resolution of the tensions that we find. A person takes sides. They cherry pick evidence and in the process, they only hear one side. We have a joke in our office, there are the people who watch Fox News and there are the people who watch CSNBC and we’re not sure they’re living on the same planet.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
True.
Dr. Darrell Bock
If you look at the world through those lenses, you’re looking at two very different sets of lenses and two very different ways of seeing things, but when does the actual legitimate conversation, without polemics, take place between those kinds of points of view? I think that cultural, almost world wide federation of wrestling feel to the way we grapple with ideas today, doesn’t lead to healthy public discourse, nor does it lead to positive challenges when very legitimate issues are put out on the table.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct. I got accused in the public arena a while back of being a polytheist, which nobody who knows me would ever make that charge stick, but the irony was this discernment TV thing, put out the charge and if you go Google Gerry Breshears, it still appears on the front page and that was some time back. One of the things I would encourage people, as you’re looking at various internet sites, look and see is there something there where they have contacted the person that they’re charging stuff with, because, of course, that’s Matthew 18, is go to the person privately. One of the things that struck me with Mark Driscoll is when all the stuff was going around and he was being blasted in all the criticism on the net, he did not do the same thing back. He didn’t blog about the people.

When you have issues with people, you pick up the phone and call them and talk to them. I think that’s a much better way to do things.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes. I agree with you and I think to me it’s a disturbing way to interact, to just simply pump out the negative stuff and not talk directly to the people. Gerry, you’ll identify with this, this goes way back, but when we were going through all the conversations that were happening on dispensationalism on our campus and some of that has gone through the web, so I’ve been like you the target, if I can say it that way.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
I did good, Darrell.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I know, but the interesting thing is how people would inevitably comment on motive. Why you did what you did. What the circumstances were. They didn’t know. They didn’t have a clue and low and behold, the speculation was miles off in terms of what the actual dynamics were. In fact, in this last week, on Facebook, I actually had to respond to someone who issued a challenge, but they tried to protect themselves. They basically said on this very point, they said, if this doctoral statement was signed disingenuously, basically was the deal, and if the leadership knew about it, that says something about the way these things happen and the way in which the slippery slope happens. That was the gist of what was said. That isn’t quoting it, ’cause I’m trying to not make obvious where this was.

I’m a part of this exchange in this Facebook group and I wrote back and I said, I cannot let this one go. I have to respond and I said, you realize that when you say this, you not only are questioning the judgment of the person who you think has signed a doctoral statement without integrity, but you’re also questioning the integrity of the people who have oversight over that process and I came back and I said, this was part of a long series of conversations. Everyone was very aware of what was going on. There was a reflective process that was engaged in, et cetera. The person wrote me back and said, why did you let this get under your skin? I did say if. I didn’t say this was the case and I said, yeah, but your ifs leave an impression and the impression is left there and I said, if you take the ifs away, then the whole thing shouldn’t even have been mentioned.

That’s the kind of situation that you deal with, so I think that’s kind of a good specific example, if I can say it that way, of the way in which people manipulate the thought space, if I can describe it that way.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
It really is and to make that kind of suggestion is to come to the conclusion that there’s factual reason behind it and that just leaves the question and the Biblical word for that is slander. Such things should not happen.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I actually in my response said that basically that was what was being done. That’s why I felt like I had to respond and the thing is this person in the response admitted, I don’t know any of the details. I did say if. I wasn’t sure this was, but see that’s the impression. That’s the, if I can say it, that’s the aroma or maybe the stench that was left in the air, which then the person picked up upon and it’s allowed to pass on from place to place to place. This reminds me of a joke that I often say to students when I deal with this, when I talk about the rumor mill related to the seminary and the joke goes, the rumor mill at Dallas Seminary is as fast as the omniscience of God, it’s just not as accurate.

The point that I’m very much trying to make is that you hear a lot, it’s omnipresent, it’s all around you, but you need to filter out that a lot of what you’re hearing may not actually be true.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, and that’s hard to do from somebody’s who’s watching from a distance, because they have even less context than the person who’s making the charges.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly correct.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s why I think we should avoid that sort of stuff, because when we go and read that, we’re filling our minds with trash and I just don’t think that’s a good and Godly thing to do.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and of course, we haven’t even raised the larger theological question here of granted a person may think they’re well motivated, granted they may think they’re protecting the Church, granted they may think they’re doing something positive, but the problem is that actually they are undercutting the integrity and unity of the Church by the way they’re going about it. Not that they’re raising questions, again I wanna make that distinction, but the way they’re going about it undercuts the unity of the Church and that’s one of the things Ephesians 4 tells us we’re supposed to work hard to protect.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
That’s correct and the thing that I’ve used as a guide in my own life, is I try not to invest energy in anything that I can’t make a difference in. I don’t need to know all the details that’s happening in such and such a church or such and such an organization, if I don’t have any connection with that organization. The need to follow that is just to indulge in gossip on the recipient side if not on the giver’s side and again, scripture tells us not to do that. I need to use my energy well to do good and Godly things, which does include criticizing sin. I’m absolutely called to do that, but how we do it is critically important.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I think we’ve walked our way through this in a significant kind of way. Let’s kinda turn the discussion a little bit and let’s talk positively about what technology is able to do for us and let me start by tackling what I know that you work with a lot of online stuff, so do I and I wanna talk about an online experience that really changed the way I viewed online education. I was asked to teach a class in Perth, Australia. Now granted if you know your geography, Dallas, Texas, is some distance from Perth, Australia. They’re not exactly in the same neighborhood. Anyone who’s taken that Qantas flight knows what I’m talking about.

I was asked to teach this class for Perth, Australia, this was about three summers ago and the way they did it, it was a hybrid. It was designed to be a hybrid class, which is that you interact over the net with your students first and then you go for a week intensive class where you’re meeting with them face to face, ’cause of course, the criticism of online is is that you don’t get to interact with the students at a personal level because you’re not with them there physically. This is where I learned it’s more complicated than that. I’m interacting for six weeks before I show up. I’m asking a question a week to the students and I’m asking them to interact with them and I’m interacting with them individually. Fortunately the class was of the size that you can do this, it was 12 students, and there’s nothing Biblical in that number, by the way.

I’m interacting with 12 students, we’re in effect in a chat room in which they are both interacting with each other and they’re interacting with me. The thing that I tell people is, is that when I actually went to do that class, when I flew to Perth and walked into the room, I actually knew more about each student that I was interacting with, where they were coming from, what their strengths and skills and weaknesses were in dealing with the areas and what I needed to do as a teacher interacting with them in class, than I had ever had in any face-to-face class experience where the first day I walk in, I’ve got a new roll and I’m calling roll and I’m getting to know the students. It completely changed the way I thought about online and what technology’s able to do.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, the technology adds a different dimension of interaction and I don’t think there’s anything that’s gonna replace what happens in a classroom when you get a spontaneous immediate discussion going on with full person presence, I don’t think we’re gnostic. I don’t think we’re just minds and –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Absolutely agreed.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
But still, the sort of thing you’re talking about, there is a chance for reflection and an engagement that happens via the chat room or by video thread. Things happen there that will never happen in the classroom, even in an active classroom like yours or mine, half the students never engage unless we call them out and I do.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right and you’ve made a great point that sometimes the student who doesn’t say a word in class, because of the way the net is set up, they have to engage and step in. You do get to see them. Another thing that I sense you sometimes get in the net that you wouldn’t get in a classroom is because the net seems to be so personal, one to one, even though I’m in a chat room, it’s still one to one, I don’t feel the presence of the class around me as I’m typing at my keyboard. You actually get the person probably coming out and revealing more about where they are, than they would if they were in a classroom of 30 people and they’re wondering what are all my peers gonna think about. Even though the irony is, as soon as they type it and put it up on the net, everyone’s seeing what they’re saying, but they don’t think about it that way when they interact on the net it seems like.

They just say what they’re thinking and so you actually get, I would say, often times a more direct glimpse of the person than you tend to get in a classroom setting.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
The piece that happens in my classrooms is I get involved very personally with students and many of them end up showing up in my office later on for a discussion. They’ve become extremely personal, but that same thing happened online where there’s the chat room kind of thing, the discussion threads or the video threads, but then they’ll go offline and they’ll send me an e-mail or Facebook message, private message, where they can be very personal and very private. There a lot of dimension that can happen there with online kind of thing. The other thing that happens online to education that’s very helpful, is the student can go back and replay what I just said. When I say something that’s incredibly profound, which happens about every ten years –
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, they say could you say that again in their classroom. I say, I really couldn’t, but online, they can push replay and especially students who are slow processors or for whom English is not a first language, that can be extremely helpful for them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah and you make the point that one of the things that online processes allow for is the student to kinda progress at their own pace as opposed to being locked into whatever the progress is on the syllabus, even in areas like language, that’s very, very important, because when you teach languages, you’re compressing a year’s worth of instruction sometimes in a semester. You’re moving pretty fast and if a student gets behind, the further you get, the behinder they get and the worse it gets and so it can become a problem in that regard. What I like to say is is that you’ve got to appreciate the nature of the medium that you’re in. That each medium has certain strengths and weaknesses and you need to be aware of what they are. Certain ways of doing things are going to deliver certain things well and others things poorly.

That’s why I’ve always been a fan of the hybrid class, because I think a hybrid gives you a little bit of the best of both worlds. It allows the internet to do what it’s able to do somewhat uniquely, but they also get at least a dimension of personal interaction that allows you to recover what otherwise you wouldn’t get just being there and the distance and having an affective virtual class.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
Another thing that happens through the internet, I know several people who are refugees from countries where they cannot go back because of political oppression and that sort of a thing, with today’s technology, I know some people who are having extremely affective ministry in closed countries via some creative technology involvement that could never happen otherwise and I am just so impressed with what technology’s allowing to happen in closed countries. That something like YouVersion, for example, which has who knows how many translations on it these days, people on cellphones in countries where there’s absolutely no other gospel witness, can open up their Bibles and read it and people tell me, they’re doing it in large numbers. Amazing results with technology.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I think this is one of the great benefits of what technology gives to us, because you can minister to people from a long way away who would never be able to actually darken the door of your own school. They never would have a change to come to Portland. They never have a chance to come to Dallas and yet they can get at least snippets of feedback and input that are made available to them and then the irony is is the person ends up getting arrested in North Korea for leaving a Bible behind, doesn’t need to do it, because the other amazing thing is that in most of these countries most people do have cellphones and do know how to access these kinds of sites if they’re interested in doing so and are able to do so and are even able to do so with some awareness about how to protect themselves as they do it in case the government is nervous about that access.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, and it can be done through chips that can be put in cellphone. There’s so many creative ways to deliver sermons or instruction. It’s just amazing. But the hybrid still, I think is the best way to do things, where there’s the online connection, but then a living presence as well. That gives kind of the best of all the worlds.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I think so, too. I think what all this, of course, means is that the value of the specific local campus, we already alluded to this in talking about the way in which libraries function today. The idea of physical – a confined physical space being the place where this kind of thing happens, is becoming less important as we think about the dissemination of education and information.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
I look at the algorithms that are involved in say a Google search or something like that, I can get some really good information on most any topic simply by Google search and we used to laugh at Wikipedia, but it’s become a very good resource. I think it’s as good quality as Encyclopedia Britannica in many cases, because of public accountability for what’s put on there.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I think that’s basically correct and the amazing thing to me now is the amount of resources that you get access to. I used to do a class, or I still do the class, but I used to do a class on Second Temple Jewish Backgrounds. That means I was taking students through Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, Mishnah, Talmud, all the first century, before and after resources that inform the way we think about Judaism so we understand the context of the New Testament. I used to have to walk into class with this huge stack of books that I would pass around to students when I – here’s the Apocrypha, here’s the pseudepigraphal, two volumes of pseudepigrapha, here’s the one volume of the Mishnah.

Couldn’t bring the Talmud in, that would have had to have brought the cart to bring in all the volumes of that, but the point is is that – and the goal of the exercise was to have the student handle the book, see what it looked like, look inside, see what the structure of these books were, and give them some familiarity because I figured familiarity would breed usage, that if it wasn’t a foreign object to them, then they might actually go and pull it off the shelf. This last year that I taught was the first year I had taught the course in which I didn’t have to bring in a single volume. Everything was available on the computer. I could post it up on the screen. They could see it electronically. The beauty of it is, we could all access the same text at the same time, read it, and process it together. The advantage of that from a teaching standpoint is immense and it shows the way things have very much changed.

Dr. Gerry Breshears
Something as obscure as the Dead Sea Scrolls just went on the internet just recently and anybody can go back and look at pictures of the original Dead Sea Scrolls. Of course, that means you have to have the scholarly skills to read and then to analyze what’s going on, but the original sources are available and it’s just great. Now we just got to do the work in educating so we can use them.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right and it does change very much the dynamics of the way things work and the possibilities that exist and you can kind of read this in the way we’re interacting with each other. To the naysayers who sometimes say that the introduction of technology takes us out of the classroom, removes the personal dimension, that kind of thing, that I think is an oversimplified, negative analysis of what actually is going on.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, we have a Portland mythology of a guy sitting in the basement of his mother’s house, blogging around, and those people exist for sure, but the other reality is the competent church leader who now have access to incredible resources to take up the work of the Church to a whole different level, if they have the education and ability to use that material wisely and well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s funny how this works, I was doing an Historical Jesus class this weekend that meets at my house on Friday evenings from 7:00 to 10:00 and we’re all gathered around the table, it’s 18 students in the class, and I had a Latin-American student who is obviously here working in a second language, has made the effort to come, and he was sharing with the class his fear of having come here, having learned what he’s learned, having had the access to the resources that he has, et cetera, and going back and plunging into ministry and being separated from the library, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and he says, and I feel this responsibility now of what I know I need to do in order to study a passage and I’m not confident I’m gonna be able to do it. I looked at him and I said, if you think about this in terms of what you have access to technologically, because our students get the Logos package as part of their coming here, what you’re able to do technologically, what you have access to, you don’t have to be next to the library any more.
I said, the way things have changed is, what used to take me two or three days to do in terms of research, because I had to go to the library, pulls books down the shelf, actually access it by hand, read my way through it, et cetera. I said, what used to take me two or three days to do, and in some cases, took me hours to just get organized to do, figuring out what it is I had to look up and where it was in the library and where it was on the shelf, et cetera. I said, now can take me only two or three hours and so you have access to all this material because of what technology is able to do for us. I said, don’t despair. You’re really in a much better place than the person – the person who graduated two or three generations ago, should have had your fear, but you don’t need to have it.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yeah, the technological stuff, when I travel internationally to teach, even to fairly remote occasions, I got my little laptop computer here and with Logos and other things I have available on it and Bible Works, I’ve just got amazing resources –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Should mention Accordance as well. Okay, everybody got equal time. Go ahead.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Absolutely.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
There’s a lot of these things that are just phenomenal packages, each with their strengths, and many of us are multilingual in that sense, too. They’re affordable for many people, not all, and just the resources that are available, but again, the responsibility to not just cite information, but to process and integrate it for wisdom. The temptation of people just to dispense information they get off of their computer, is still a big temptation that has to be overcome.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s a great observation. Just because you have access to the information, doesn’t necessarily mean that the information that you have is good information. You still have to process what’s going on. I love to use the example of Jesus’ remark about being able to pass through the eye of a needle and the very well circulated tradition that this is some type of an illusion to a city gate that a camel actually can get through if the circumstances are right, to which I go, if you’ll just read the context in which the response of the disciples is, what you have just said is impossible. Then you will get the sense that a city gate can’t be in the background here and despite how well circulated that idea is, the idea probably comes from a medieval description of Jerusalem as opposed to a first century description of Jerusalem, that’s where probably arose.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You still have to process the background information that you get access to. Do these sources come from the time period involved or do they represent views that go back that far or are you citing a source that’s much, much later in time and does it – all those kinds of things still have to be done.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The responsibility again to preach and not just dispense information so that you’re working for transformation in your local community, that’s still there, and it’s still – in the date of downloading all kinds of sermons, the temptation is to use the intellectual resources of the web, and they’re there, but we still have to take it, not just abstract teaching, but we have to preach for life transformation and community enhancement.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and that’s, of course, one of the values of why a seminary exists is the seminary helps you to actually put those skills together. I sometimes get the question, and not that this is supposed to be an ad for seminaries, but why come to seminary? Why not let the Church train the people for ministry in their own locations? There is some contextualized training that is definitely beneficial from being able to work in your own environment and your own context. No one can challenge that idea, but the flip side of it is when you go to a seminary, when you pool the resources and the expertise that’s involved in the assembling of a faculty, some of whom have given their life to Old Testament, some of whom have given their life to New Testament, some have given their life to systematic, some have given their life to historical theology, some have given their life to talk about how preaching actually works, others to Christian ed, and you put that assemblage of faculty together, there is no church in the world, I don’t care how mega they are, that is able to put that kind of a combination of resources available to the student as they’re going through their education and reflection, helping them develop expertise in each one of those areas.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Yep. Another resource for students, for seminaries, is where good schools, like Dallas and Western, are amazing resources for current pastors to come back to and get help as well. It’s not just students who get resource help.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right and of course, the whole point of doing podcasts like this is to actually provide those kinds of resources for people, again, over the net, so that people can get updated. Part of what our philosophy in doing these is to actually help a local pastor who’s out of school and away from the resource center, if you will, keep up to date with what’s going on by getting access to conversations about books and resources and topics and that kind of thing, that are up to date that lets them know what’s happening at the thought levels in various areas.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
One of the things that I keep watch on for myself, is how much I’m getting caught up in the latest fad, because it’s instantaneous, 24 hour news cycle with the web, it’s the temptation of the sensational or the new thing is even more involved and I can get a lot of energy wasted on the greatest new thing or the greatest new book that comes out, and again, that’s where our wisdom to see, is this really gonna make a change or is this just the cool thing that’s coming down the pipe this week?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I’ve got a whole category in my browser toolbar that’s called emergent. It’s all the emergent websites. I don’t know the last time I actually went to look at some of those for that very kind of reason and, again, it isn’t because that movement didn’t have something to say or something to contribute, but it wasn’t the be all and end all that you sometimes had the impression it was going to supply for us at the time when it emerged.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
One of the things that has come out of the whole Mars Hill brouhaha that we were talking about earlier, I’ve heard some pretty responsible people say the day of the mega church is done and I think, what a stupid statement. God has always worked in different kinds of churches. There are ups and down sides to any kind of church and, again, that’s where the requirement that we have an educated discernment to assess what’s going on and not just caught up in the latest news cycle is so very important.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and this is a whole ‘nother podcast we’ll probably have to come back to, ’cause I know you do a lot of work in ecclesiology, but I get very disturbed at the sniping that takes place. This is actually very similar to the topic we were in in the middle of this podcast, takes place between the person who’s in the small church and the mega church pastor and the way they shoot at one another sometimes. That’s a very, very bad place to be. I do have a pastor friend who sends anything negative that comes across the net about a mega church, he sends my way to keep me up to date on what the latest complaints are about the mega church and my response often to him is to say, but how often are these mega churches reaching people and touching people and getting them to think about the gospel that your church is not touching and reaching? Don’t forget that.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The internet can be a temptation to get involved in this kind of criticism, because you can always find some friends who are actually just interested in muckraking kind of things, but they’re on the internet and you can certainly gather them around. You can form a Facebook group of mockers and, boy I don’t want to be involved with mockers. I want to be involved with builders. You can find those on the internet, as well, but choose who you search with and who you associate with on the internet just as much as you do in your local environment.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right and keep in mind that God works through different structures in different ways. They have different strengths. I’m reminded of an old story I like to tell of Campus Crusade doesn’t do what InterVarsity does, doesn’t do what Young Life does, but I’m sure glad they’re all there, ’cause they’re each reaching different groups of people, each of whom needs to hear what they’re about. Gerry, our time has disappeared and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us about technology. I probably will have you back one day to talk about mega church versus small church and I do another one of these that relates to that, because I do know that ecclesiology is a love of yours and you’ve given a lot of thought to these kinds of questions and issues, but we appreciate you being a part of The Table and helping us sort our way through the technological web that now surrounds us in our lives and I’m so glad you could be a part of our time today.
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Appreciate it, Darrell, a lot.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yep, and we thank you for being a part of The Table and look forward to having you back with us soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Gerry Breshears
Gerry E. Breshears   Gerry E. Breshears, Ph.D. Professor of Theology Western Seminary Portland, OR EDUCATION Doctor of Philosophy (Systematic Theology) - Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, 1984. Dissertation: "Faith and General Revelation in the Tradition and Theology of G. C. Berkouwer." Master of Divinity - Denver Seminary, Denver, CO, cum laude; 1975. Bachelor of Science (Mathematics and Education) - University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; 1968. TEACHING EXPERIENCE Professor of Theology; Chairman, Division of Biblical and Theological Studies, Western Seminary, Portland, OR; 1980 to present Part Time Faculty in Theology, Biola College, La Mirada, CA; 1979 to 1980 Mathematics Teacher, Faith Academy, Manila, Philippines; 1969 to 1972 Mathematics Teacher, Jefferson County Public Schools, CO; 1968 to 1969 OTHER EXPERIENCE Machinist, Meister Engineering, Pasadena, CA; 1978 to 1980 Machinist-Foreman, Lanmar Co., Pasadena, CA; 1975 to 1978 Bookkeeper-Machinist, C & C Manufacturing, Denver, CO; 1972 to 1975 Mission Associate, Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, Philippines, 1969 to 1972 VISITING FACULTY & LECTURESHIPS 2002 to 2009 Visiting Professor, Odessa Theological Seminary, Odessa, Ukraine 2002, 2004, 2006 Visiting Professor, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, Lebanon 2008 Visiting Professor, Biblical Leadership Training Center, Krasnodar, Russia 2000, 2007 Visiting Professor, International School of Theology, Quezon City, Philippines 1997, 2003, 2005 Visiting Professor, Biblical Theological Seminary, Wroclaw, Poland 1995, 1998, 2005 Visiting Professor, Montana Bible College 1999, 2002, 2004 Visiting Professor, Taiwan Baptist Seminary, Hsilo, Taiwan 1999, 2002 Visiting Professor, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1997 Visiting Professor, Chung Tai Seminary, Taiching, Taiwan 1987 Visiting Professor, Northwest Seminary, Vancouver, Canada 1986, 1988 Visiting Professor, Denver Seminary, Denver, CO 1984 to 2002 Faculty, Ecola Bible College, Cannon Beach, OR 1996 Staley Lectureship Cedarville College, Cedarville, OH 1984, 1990, 1993 Staley Lectureship, Multnomah School of the Bible, Portland, OR 1982, 1984 Lectureship, Western Evangelical Seminary, Portland, OR 1994, 1996 International Center for Biblical Counseling, Sioux City, IA SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Doctrine: What Every Christian Should Believe, with Mark Driscoll, Crossway, 2010 "Spiritual Abuse" in Shepherding a Woman's Heart, Edited Bev Hislop, Moody, 2010 Vintage Church, with Mark Driscoll, Crossway, 2009 Death by Love, with Mark Driscoll, Crossway, 2008 Vintage Jesus, with Mark Driscoll, Crossway, 2008 "Ecology," Evangelical Dictionary of Missions, Baker, 2000 "Learning to Distinguish Between Degrees of Certainty," in Lessons in Leadership, Kregel, 1999 "Friends Who Tell Me the Truth," Decision Magazine, August, 1996 "When It=s a Sin to Forgive," Grace Vine, May-June, 1995 "The Walk to Freedom," Interest, June 1994. "The Body of Christ: Prophet, Priest or King?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, January, 1994. "Truth Decay in the Church," Tabletalk Magazine, Spring, 1993 "The Healing Power of Prayer," Plumbline, Summer, 1990. "How Biblical Is Healing?" Multnomah Communicator, May, 1990. "Miraculous Church Growth: Assessing Power Theology," WCBS Communicator, Fall and Winter, 1987; Spring, 1988 "The Word as Spiritual Seed," in Celebrating the Word. Multnomah Press, 1987 "Human Freedom and Integration," in Christian Freedom: Essays in Honor of Vernon Grounds. University Press, 1986. Review of J. Moltmann, God in Creation in Journal of Psychology and Theology, 14:4 (1986) 340-341. Review of G. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine in Journal of Psychology & Theology, 13:2 (1985) 153. "Anthropological Integration: A Theological Response," Journal of Psychology & Theology, 11:2 (1983): 127-132. "Authority of Scripture and the Unity of Revelation," (with R. Larzelere), Journal of Psychology & Theology, 9:4 (1981): 312-317 ORGANIZATIONAL OFFICES Evangelical Theological Society, National President, 1993 Evangelical Theological Society, National Executive Committee, 1991- 2000, 2007 to present Northwest Evangelical Theological Society, Secretary-Treasurer, 1985 to present Board Member, Pregnancy Resource Centers of Portland, 2008-present Board Member, Interact Ministries, 2001-present Steering Committee, Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue, 2005-present Advisory Board, North Portland Bible College, Portland, 1990-2000 Contributing Editor, Journal of Psychology and Theology, 1986-2000 Board Member, Sunnyside Counseling Center, Portland, OR, 1991-1999 Dispensational Study Group, First Convener; Secretary-Treasurer, 1986-1991 PERSONAL INFORMATION Office Address: 5511 S.E. Hawthorne Portland, OR 97215-3399 (503) 517-1870 (503) 517-1859 (FAX) Electronic Mail Gerry@Breshears.net GBreshears@WesternSeminary.edu Home Address: 1345 NE 134th Ave Portland, OR 97230 (503) 234-4274 Ordained 1983, Conservative Baptist Association Marital & Family Status: Married to Sherry, 1968 2 Sons, 1 Daughter PERSONAL INFORMATION Gerry E. Breshears, Ph.D. Professor of Theology Western Seminary Portland, OR Gerry was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Christian parents. He spent his boyhood years on a farm in the Ozarks of Missouri. While there, he and his family attended the church his grandfather pastored for many years as a farmer-pastor. Gerry received Jesus Christ as his personal savior at age 8 and was baptized shortly after that. One of his first acts following that was to lead one of his friends to Jesus Christ. He moved back to Albuquerque to begin seventh grade and remained there through his bachelor's program in mathematics and education at the University of New Mexico. He married Sherry at the end of his senior year in university. During his high school and college years he had a four year period where he rejected Christianity for intellectual reasons. Through the ministry of a new pastor in his church, he reexamined Christianity and recommitted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. After teaching mathematics for a year in a suburb of Denver, he and his family went to the Philippines to teach at Faith Academy, the largest school for missionary children in the world. During the three years serving as a Mission Associate with Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society (now WorldVenture), he not only taught math to missionary kids, but also became deeply involved in helping start Calvary Baptist Church. He returned to the United States for formal training for ministry. He did his seminary work at Denver Seminary and his doctoral work at Fuller Seminary. He came to Western Seminary in 1980. Being a faculty member at Western takes him well beyond classroom teaching. He spends many hours each week meeting with students individually and in small groups to discuss theology as it impacts life as a Christian, to talk about career directions, family and church life, and a myriad of other topics. Gerry has also given time to several significant administrative roles at Western. He initiated the Master of Arts in Exegetical Theology program and chaired the seminary's Curriculum Revision Committee. He currently chairs the Division of Biblical and Theological Studies and the Academic Policies Committee. Beyond the campus Gerry is an elder and a member of the preaching team at Grace Community Church of Gresham. He served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1993 and continues to serve on the national and regional executive committees of that organization. He served as a founding member of the steering committee of a national study group on dispensational theology. In addition to teaching and lecturing at a number of colleges and seminaries around the world, he preaches or teaches in many churches and conferences and is a frequent guest on various radio and TV programs. His passion is to bring theology to life. That has led him to a lot of consulting with churches and pastors across the country and around the world. He has focused attention on helping individuals and churches wrestling with the how to think about ministry from a theological basis. He has long term interests in the relation of theology and science, creation vs. evolution. His wife, Sherry, is a computer network communications professional. They have two sons, Donn and David, and a daughter, Cyndee. They enjoy making their home a center of hospitality and ministry to all sorts of people. Gerry's hobbies include computers, travel, hiking and reading.
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