Archive for August, 2006

“We See in a Mirror Dimly”: Thanking God for the Life of Dr. Geoff Adams

August 15th, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

Our dear brother and colleague, Dr. Geoffrey Allan Adams, the beloved husband of Betty, went to be with his Lord last week on Wednesday August 9, 2006. Dr. Adams had served during the Second World War in the Royal Navy aboard H.M.S. Indomitable during which time he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour.A funeral service was held for him at Jarvis Street Baptist Church, Toronto, today at 11:00 a.m. It was a time in which Christ was truly glorified.

Dr. Adams had requested that something be said about Toronto Baptist Seminary, to which he had devoted so much of his life. What follows are some words given at the funeral.

How applicable are the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:12—“we see in a mirror dimly”—to all things historical. Some of the most important aspects of the history of this world will only be known in the light of eternity.

When our dear brother, Dr. Adams, started teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary in 1954, the Korean War had just ended. Five years later he was appointed Principal, a position he faithfully exercised for thirty-five years, until 1994. How tumultuous those years were with such things as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the student revolts of the 1960s, the FLQ crisis, Watergate, the Iran crisis during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the horrors of civil war in the Balkans and of the massacres in Rwanda, and the first Gulf War. Yet, alongside all of these events that loom so large in the telling of the history of this period by earthly historians another history was being written. This one concerned the advance of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Penned in the annals of heaven, ultimately it will prove to be the far more important of the two histories. And in this latter history our brother had a part to play as the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary.

During his thirty-five years as Principal he faithfully led those who trained men and women for the Kingdom work of Christ. Many of the students who sat under his teaching and who are now scattered around this globe will never forget the rich vision of the history of redemption that Dr. Adams gave them in what were his favourite courses, namely those in biblical theology. From the Word of God itself Dr. Adams laid out for these students the essential unity of the Scriptures in their focus on the Messiah—in the Old Testament they saw the Messiah prefigured, foreshadowed, and whose coming was longed for; and in the New Testament they saw the refulgent glory of the Christ who is our Saviour, Jesus the Lord. A favourite image, the growth of the mighty oak tree from the tiny acorn, was frequently used by Dr. Adams to set forth the progressive and unified nature of God’s work as recorded in the Scriptures. Of course, like all seminary teachers, he taught other courses—in such things as English Literature and Baptist Distinctives—but his great delight was in teaching biblical theology and the Scriptures.

It needs to be noted that when he came to retire as Principal in 1994, he continued to be vitally involved in the life of the school, teaching, spending time with the students and alumni, sharing wisdom and giving advice at faculty meetings. For me, I count it a great privilege to have known him, to have had him as a fellow teacher, and especially for setting me a model of what faithful Christian leadership looks like.

Why did he invest the better part of fifty-two years in this school? It was because he knew from the Scriptures that leadership is vital to the local church and that in the providence of God this Seminary had come into being to provide such leadership. The days in which Dr. Adams led the school are past, but the need is still the same and still pressing.

Today our Canadian society and culture finds itself in sorry shape, hollow and empty. Men and women are spiritually hungry and we need churches that can fill their souls with the Bread of life, the Lord Jesus. Dominating the headlines is a resurgence of Islam, which offers a spiritual answer to the heart-needs of the West, Canada included. But it is not an answer founded on truth, for it misses the mark about the most important matter in this universe: God’s utter determination that his Son, Jesus the Christ, be glorified and worshipped and adored.

Where then will men and women be trained to share the riches of Christ with those outside of the Church? Where will men be trained to preach the Word in all of its fullness and riches? Where will they be taught to stand Daniel-like for biblical orthodoxy? Where will church-planters with the passion of Paul to see Christ exalted be nurtured and mentored? Where will potential pastors learn how to lead God’s people in all of the areas of church life? Where will they—and the women whom God calls to give leadership to other women—learn the disciplines of walking with God?

In God’s providence, in the heart of this province of Ontario, God has provided a school, Toronto Baptist Seminary. It would be sheer arrogance to think that TBS alone is doing these tasks. But we are seeking to build on the foundations laid by Dr. Adams and be found faithful as he. And if you would honour the memory of our dear brother, may I encourage you in three things:

1) To pray regularly for TBS.
2) To encourage those in your churches whom God has gifted for ministry and leadership to come to TBS.
3) To think about giving to a foundation that we are setting up: The G.A. Adams Foundation in Biblical Theology, that will provide the resources to fund a Chair in Biblical Theology.

Basil of Caesarea & Letter-Writing

August 14th, 2006 Posted in Church History

Following in the train of the New Testament authors, and early Christian writers from the second century to fourth centuries, Basil of Caesarea (c.330-379), according to P.J. Fedwick, was convinced that letter-writing was an important way of exercising leadership when one could not be present in person. [The Church and the Charisma of Leadership in Basil of Caesarea (Toronto: Pontifical Institute Of Mediaeval Studies, 1979), 169-173].

This is quite different from the classical Greek suspicion of the written word. Of course, Basil was aware of the problems of written words: they seem to lack life and warmth. Thus, he could write to a philosopher named Maximus: “why do you not visit us, my noble friend, so that we may speak with each other personally and not entrust subjects of such importance [how to discourse about the Trinity] to lifeless letters…?” [Letter 9.3, trans. Agnes Clare Way, Saint Basil: Letters (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1951), I, 43].

Nevertheless, Basil had a deep—and biblical—appreciation of the way that letters can overcome various barriers, such as those of space and time. Basil thus resorted to the ministry of letter-writing to overcome these, and other, hindrances to his wider ministry.

Moreover, Basil expected those to whom he wrote to return letters to him. Thus, he could say to one person to whom he had written: “Write me, at least in the future, with pen and ink and a short piece of paper, loving us who love you.” [Letter 330 (trans. Way, Saint Basil: Letters, II, 315-316)].

And to another who also failed to respond to Basil’s letters: “One indication of life is speech. How, then, could you be considered to be upon earth, since you never speak? But put aside your silence, writing to us and making it evident that you are living.” [Letter 332 (trans. Way, Saint Basil: Letters, II, 316)].

A New Template

August 14th, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

Last night I nearly switched from Blogger to another blog engine called Type Pad. What was attractive about Type Pad were some of the templates. One called Beckett particularly intrigued me. Imagine my surprise to see something almost identical to it at the blog by Nathan Finn. And he got his through a blogger template. I tracked it down and made the switch (hope that’s ok Nathan). I think it is a much better-looking blog. The light blue one I had before was too “sweety”—in the bad sense of that term!

Sweet–A Referral

August 7th, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

I have long been interested in the use of the adjective “sweet” and its derivatives by Christian authors. As a taster (!) of how this word was used, see this post by Nathan Eshelman: Living the Sweet Life!

Lady in the Water

August 2nd, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

My wife, daughter and I saw the movie Lady in the Water, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, last night. Briefly I thought it was brilliant. With respectful disagreement with Ian Clary’s views of the movie—“Water Not Too Deep”—I am not sure where he found each of the following in the movie: “Buddhism, existentialism, postmodernism, etc. I even caught of hint of Heidegger’s dasein.” Postmodernism, to be sure, with the fascination with spirituality—certainly vague and somewhat confused—but “Heidegger’s dasein”? And existentialism, which Ian mistakenly equates with the absurd, I am not sure was anywhere to be found. Unless the five smokers were existentialists—or were they simply comic relief?

I would agree with Ian that the acting was very good and the “directing was spot on and the camera angles were classic Shyamalan.” But when he complains that “the invented terminology was too cheesy,” I would hasten to note that it was, after all, a bedtime story—hence the names, “narf,” “scrunt,” etc. Ian was also critical of the “mediocre story line” that was all “too typical,” and complained about the high level of “suspension of disbelief.” The latter was no higher than in LOTR or Narnia—by the way LOTR is not an allegory. And as for the story line, I found it intriguing and kept waiting for some sort of “natural explanation” as in Shyamalan’s The Village. The story did draw me in and kept me on the edge of my seat at times. And it succeeded in evoking a sense of wonder and joy in the ending, which C.S. Lewis would have said qualified it for a good read (or in this case, a good view).

There were also some great lines—redolent of postmodern spirituality—such as Mr. Leeds’ “Does man deserve to be saved?” Shyamalan certainly believes he should be—hence Cleveland’s last line to Story, thanking her for saving him.

All in all, an excellent film.

Precision with Regard to the Small Things and Being an Historian

August 1st, 2006 Posted in Church History, Historians

How does one become an historian? Well, the path is not an easy one. But then the learning of no skill or art is easy. It does not come through merely much reading. Nor does it come through merely much writing. There have been all kinds of journal-writers—currently prolific bloggers—but neither much writing nor much reading in themselves doth an historian make. There must be reading and there must be writing, but being prolific in either or both does not guarantee good history.

There must be discernment. There must be reflection. But before anything else there must be an attitude that takes time to be careful and precise, an attitude that is revealed in the small things of the craft. In fact, how one tackles those small things reveals the ability to handle the larger. If, with regard to the small things, the seemingly unimportant things, there is simply the desire to get them out of the way as soon as possible to make way for the truly “significant things,” the faculty of a good historian is lacking. Such an attitude is not perfectionism—an impossibility in this life for fallible humanity—though it is the desire to make everything written the best and most precise it can be.

Without precision, the faculty of taking care to be exact and right, the interest in details, there can be no good history-writing. If such a faculty is naturally present, it must be honed. If it be not present, it must be learned.