Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Road Trip to Presbyterianism

I’ve been in Jackson, Mississippi all week tagging along with the CHBC intern trip. Mark Dever has been delivering lectures on preaching at RTS Jackson. Tomorrow, First Pres Church of Jackson, where Ligon Duncan is the senior minister, will host a 9Marks Workshop. I may have a short post on a couple parts of the trip later, but I’ll leave the blow-by-blow accounts to interns Noah (who’ll be far more thorough) and Graham (who’ll be far funnier).

For right now, I just want to share a really cool piece of info for anyone who desires more biblical/theological training but doesn’t see a seminary program as a viable option.

Last night after the service at First Pres, the CHBC crew had the opportunity to spend some time with the chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary. Ric Cannada oversees and coordinates the presidents of all five RTS campuses. RTS has pioneered the multiple campus approach to seminary that others are now wading into. But now they’ve found a new way to serve even more people by uploading hundreds of classroom lectures to iTunes, where’re they’re available for free.

Now, I’m a Baptist, and I’m certainly far from being a classical Covenant Theologian, and the content of RTS teaching is intended to be in line with the Westminster Confession of Faith. Nevertheless, I suspect there are very few seminaries in the world where you’ll find more consistently biblical teaching than at RTS. And I could be wrong, but I’m not aware of any comparable institutions that have put hundreds of lectures online for free. (I think Covenant Seminary in St. Louis may have done a good deal of this, but I’m simply not as familiar with Covenant.)

One more thing quickly. Seldom have I been a party to more fascinating conversations than those that take place between Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and the groups of younger guys preparing for ministry that often surround both of them. Whether they’re discussing the level of their agreement with a book like this one, the grounds for their staunch disagreement over matters of polity, or their common theology and application of the message of the gospel, I hope it’s impossible not to give thanks for the providence that brought them together.

For my part, it’s simply obvious to me that serious, theological, thoughtful Baptists who recognize the essential nature of contemporary threats to the biblical gospel ought to find far more in common with Presbyterians like Duncan and other friends at First Pres of Jackson than with the vast majority of Baptists, whether they be of the SBC or the IFB variety.


Frank Sansone said...


I noticed the classes available a couple of weeks ago and downloaded a couple, but have not had an opportunity to listen to them yet.

I also have downloaded a couple from Covenant. Most of Chapel's class on Sermon Preparation was very similar to my Pulpit Speech class at BJU. (He indicates that he based it on Broadus - which was our textbook back in the day.)

As far as secular institutions doing this, you can now find a number of classes from UC Berkeley for free via YouTube (such as Introduction to Nonviolence and Physics for Future Presidents).


Frank Sansone said...

Just to clarify, I was not being critical of Chapel's class. I actually thought he did a pretty good job with it and it was good for review.

Michael C. said...

MIT has 1700 courses online for free as well:

This site also offers free seminary classes:

The names on the speaker page are reputable.

I wish some of our colleges/seminaries would adapt "The Teaching Company" model and sell classic classes on CD/MP3. I'd love to have great classes like Principles of Christian Growth, History of Civ, or Reformation to refer back to. Most of these classes were recorded for correspondence courses, so it wouldn't take much to create a retail product.

Keith said...

Thoughtful Baptists ought to become presbyterians . . . Couldn't agree more. It's almost tautological.

Anonymous said...

Keith, it is because we ARE thoughtful baptists that we ARE NOT presbos.

When we stop using our brains on polity, ordinances, church / state relationships, made up covenants, and other glarings problems, then we will become presbos.

In the mean time, we will stick to the Bible as our rule and not the Westminster confession of faith.

Keith said...

Why do you need the adjective then?

Pearson said...

Hey Ben,
Curious what they had to say about Dr. McCune's book in their informal discussion? Any notes?

Ben said...

It was brief. No notes. LD had just started the book but was familiar with MD's characterizations.

Shoot me an e-mail if you want.