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Interview with Dr. Steve Gaines

This week, Dr. Leighton Flowers of Soteriology 101 released an interview with Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In the 56-minute podcast, they address issues such as unity in the SBC, the use of the sinner’s prayer, and the trustee system among SBC entities. The interview is available here on iTunes or at Soteriology 101, and I encourage you to invest the time to listen to their conversation.

Apologetics Conference (Jan. 2016)


JANUARY 4-8, 2016

DEFEND THE FAITH is a 5-day, 5-night conference for training in Christian Apologetics on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We seek to equip Christians with the answers to the the tough questions that the world is asking.

Speakers will include: Nik Ripken

Author, The Insanity of God

Paul Copan

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Gary Habermas

Liberty University

Sarah Ankenman

Online for Life

…Tim McGrew, Douglas Groothuis, Tom Gilson, Neil Shenvi, and many others.

Students can earn graduate credit in theology, ethics, and apologetics.

For more information on the conference, click here.

Soteriology 101 Interview

For those interested in theological podcasts, read on.

Recently, I spoke with Leighton Flowers by phone for an interview for his podcast, Soteriology 101. Leighton serves as youth evangelism director for Texas Baptists. (Among other duties, he coordinates Super Summer and Youth Evangelism Conferences in Texas.) Also, he serves as an adjunct professor of theology at Dallas Baptist University. Last fall, I began serving as Leighton’s faculty advisor for his Doctorate of Ministry research project at NOBTS. About the same time, he began podcasting to engage his students and others interested in discussions on issues surrounding the doctrine of salvation (Soteriology is the term for the study of salvation).

Our discussion primarily addressed original sin, drawing from my writings on the topic (this book, this booklet, this article, and this essay). We touched on issues such as: Romans 5:12-21, imputed righteousness, semi-Pelagianism, the “Traditional” Statement, and the possible dilemma caused by the existence of multiple confessions at Southern Baptist seminaries.

The interview was divided into two parts (Sept. 1, “Born Guilty?” and Sept. 8, “Born Guilty? [Part 2]”) and can be heard here.

My Two Days in Jurassic World

I teach theology at a seminary, but for two days last summer I played a scientist in the new movie Jurassic World. (That’s me on the right side of the screen at 1:23 in this trailer.)


Louisiana was recently named the film capital of the world. Because some of the children in our neighborhood have worked as extras in movies, my children also wanted to work as extras. So, last summer my family attended an open call for extras in Jurassic World. We arrived at a local high school to complete tax forms and have our pictures taken. Two months later, I received a call from the casting agency. Fortunately, there was an opening for extras. Unfortunately, they were not calling about my kids. Instead, they asked if I would be available to be a scientist in the background for scenes in the lab. Although my kids were sad that they were not invited, they were excited for their dad.

The movie set was located in a large hangar at the nearby NASA Michoud Assembly Facility. The hangar might have housed massive space shuttle boosters; I don’t know. I assume the movie studio rented the site from NASA; again, I don’t know. After completing pages of paperwork, I stood in line with dozens of extras on the first day to be issued a NASA badge (to be admitted to the facility). We were fitted in costumes, our hair was fixed, and makeup was applied. All of this occurred before filming was to begin at 8:00 AM.

My experience in Jurassic World left me with three thoughts.

First, I entered a world of fantasy. Characters and places were created which previously existed only in the mind of an author. Although I was a poor student in my high school and college science classes, for two days I was a scientist incubating dinosaur eggs. A career can be built by pretending to be someone you are not—portraying a character in a TV show or movie. An entire industry has emerged to enable this art of visual storytelling. Writers produce scripts, carpenters and electricians build sets, and artists work to make them look authentic. Another group sprinkles props throughout the sets to make them look convincing. A crew of camera operators mark spots and shoot film (literal film, not digital on this set) to capture the action. Hair and makeup artists walk through the set to primp and fluff and comb and dab. The crew follows the lead of the director. All to tell a story. In this case, a fantasy.

Second, telling a story through film is work. I was only on the set for two days and it was a thrill, but they were long days. I left my house at 5:30 AM, was on my feet most of the day, and returned home after dark (9:00 PM the first night, 7:30 PM the second night). I watched the primary actors recite their lines without cameras rolling then discuss the scene with the director then recite the same lines again, adjust their blocking, then run through the same scene  repeatedly with the cameras rolling. Everyone worked for perfect scenes. The extras were the first people to leave. I have no idea how much longer the primary actors and crew members continued to work. What I experienced for two days they experienced for several months. And when this movie “wrapped,” many of them began working immediately on their next movie project. But no complaints here; I was thankful to be on the set, only feet away from Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and B. D. Wong. It was an exciting experience, but it was work.

Third, movie production intersects with the human desire to participate in an epic story. John was a young man who flew in from California for the chance to be an extra in the film. He didn’t care that his expenses would exceed his paycheck. He wanted to be in this story. Andrew rode a bus for twelve hours and booked a hotel for the week hoping to work on the set. He made it to the set. Before one scene in the lab, Andrew whispered to me, “This is the greatest day of my life.” I was both excited for him and sad. Everyone is on a quest to play a part—even in the background—of an epic story. It’s universally true.

I am thankful for my two days on the set of Jurassic World and plan to watch the movie. And I have a greater appreciation for the effort required to create a story so compelling that people desire the chance to simply appear for a moment—even in the background.

New Book on Theological Method

June 1 is the release date for a new book by a friend and colleague at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Rhyne Putman. The book, published by Fortress Press, is titled In Defense of Doctrine: Evangelicalism, Theology, and Scripture. The description follows:

Questions surrounding the relationship of Scripture and doctrine are legion within the Protestant tradition. How can doctrine develop over time and maintain fidelity to the sacred text, especially for communities who cling to the Reformation principle of sola scriptura? Does not an appeal to contemporary, constructive theology belie commonly held Protestant and Evangelical convictions about the sufficiency of Scripture? Does admission and acceptance of doctrinal development result in a kind of reality-denying theological relativism? And in what way can a growing, postcanonical tradition maintain a sense of continuity with the faith of the New Testament?

This study is an apologetic for the ongoing, constructive theological task in Protestant and Evangelical traditions. It suggests that doctrinal development can be explained as a hermeneutical phenomenon and that insights from hermeneutical philosophy and the philosophy of language can aid theologians in constructing explanatory theses for particular theological problems associated with the facts of doctrinal development, namely, questions related to textual authority, reality depiction, and theological identity. Joining the recent call to theological interpretation of Scripture, Putman provides a constructive model that forwards a descriptive and normative pattern for reading Scripture and theological tradition together.

With endorsements by Kevin Vanhoozer, Michael Bird, Malcolm Yarnell, and Steve Lemke, the book will doubtless be an important contribution to the field of theological method.

Congratulations, Rhyne!

Church Planting Among Muslims in New Orleans


In recent days, conversations about Muslims have centered on ISIS terrorism and a reference to the crusades. As Christians, our primary concern should be introducing Muslims to Jesus Christ. A pastor and friend in New Orleans, Ryan Melson, has organized a conference with this aim. For information on the speakers, schedule, and to register for “Crescent City: Church Planting among Muslims in New Orleans and North America” on Feb. 20-21, click here.

Defend the Faith 2015

On January 4-9, 2015, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary will host one of the largest apologetic events in North America. “Defend the Faith” is an annual conference which features five days of instruction by leading apologists. The event website explains, “We seek to equip Christians with the answers to the tough questions that the world is asking.” This year’s speakers includes Gary Habermas, Paul Copan, and Douglas Groothuis.

I attended last year’s conference and was impressed at the depth and breadth of the content. There is still time to register, and it is possible to earn graduate credit for courses such as Christian Apologetics, Christian Ethics, and The Problem of Evil. College students can attend for free, and the evening presentations are free to the public. For details on the speakers, schedule, courses, and registration, click here. Some of the presentations will be available via live streaming here.