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EDUCATION BRIEFS: Psalms are focus of Southwestern preaching workshop

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Singing and preaching the Psalms was an integral part of worship in the early church, Craig Blaising said at the Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, used examples of patristic sermons on the Psalms to illuminate an exegetical foundation for handling the texts.

Blaising, who has a Ph.D. in patristic studies and recently co-edited “Psalms 1-50” in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series, said the early church incorporated the Psalms in their worship as they gathered for prayer, Scripture reading and preaching on the Lord’s Day.

At each meeting, the Psalms were interspersed between Old Testament and New Testament Scripture readings, and then someone would preach on one of the texts. The Psalms also were sung in the early church like they had been sung in Jewish services.

Reflecting on sermons by early church fathers such as Augustine and Basil of Caesarea, Blaising said, “When we talk about the exegetical foundation of the Psalms, we look at the Psalms, of course, at the micro level and then at the macro level.” He stated that while each psalm has rich exegetical material, it also is helpful to pull back and see what the entire book is saying.

Blaising cautioned against trusting critical approaches, such as historical reconstruction, to study the Psalms.

“Not only do you want to avoid the historical reconstructions of biblical criticism, but you also want to avoid the cultic reconstructions of form criticism,” Blaising said. “The commentaries that you pick up, that you’re using as tools, many of them are accessing critical information in the evaluation of the psalm. The formal analysis of form critics has been helpful sometimes … [but] this is basically reconstructed in the mind of the critic, and it doesn’t have any value in preaching.”

Blaising also encouraged workshop participants to allow the imagery in the text to drive one’s application.

“It oftentimes seems to me,” Blaising said, “that in preaching, we’re so concerned about the contemporary application and whether or not the hearer is staying with us that we go into the contemporary situation and we’re looking for imagery there to relate the content of the Scripture. The Psalms are full of imagery, and what you want to do is work the imagery of the psalm.”

In his conclusion, Blaising discussed the Psalms’ role in the overarching message of the Bible, particularly in pointing to Christ.

“You want to develop the preaching of the psalm in its canonical context, and that includes both its historical and theological context,” Blaising said. “The theological context of the psalm is the theological context, first, of the Old Testament. You work within that theology of the Old Testament, and you’ve got to bring it to the theology of the New [Testament].”

Other speakers at the Sept. 28 preaching workshop dedicated to preaching through the Psalms included Southwestern preaching professors Steven Smith, David Allen and Calvin Pearson. Smith taught on preaching Christ through the Psalms, anchoring his argument on Jesus’ claim in Luke 24:44 that the Psalms speak of Him, and he also gave 20 different approaches to preaching through the Psalms. Allen and Pearson concluded the workshop with expositions on Psalms 1 and 46, respectively.

Audio for the conference can be found at www.swbts.edu/mediaresources.

KOREAN STUDENTS HOST A MEAL — Students, faculty members and their families filled Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Naylor Student Center when the Korean Student Fellowship prepared a free lunch for the entire seminary.

Nearly six dozen Korean students and their wives prepared the lunch in honor of the seminary’s annual Korean Student Day on Oct. 1. With nearly 300 Korean students enrolled in classes at Southwestern, they and their families make up a substantial part of the seminary family.

Dongsun Cho, faculty sponsor for the Korean Student Fellowship, said nearly 850 Southwesterners attended the lunch, consisting of traditional Korean foods such as bulgogi, or barbeque, along with rice, Korean noodles and kimchi.

Cho, assistant professor of historical theology at the seminary, also preached a message from 1 Timothy 2 during a chapel service led by Southwestern’s Korean Student Fellowship.

As he began his message, Cho thanked those who made the event possible, including the North Texas Korean Baptist Association. The association of Korean churches sponsored the meal, underwriting all the expenses.

Turning to his passage in 1 Timothy, Cho urged students to be “loud” when it comes to their faith in Christ.

“If you do not share the Gospel … you have lost your voice,” Cho said. “If you do not share the Gospel with this community … you are losing your voice. But God appointed you and me as the public criers, the public readers, of the Gospel.”

During the chapel service, doctoral student Jae Woo Kim, who serves as president of the Korean Student Fellowship, read the Scripture passage for the day. Korean students and faculty members also contributed to the service by providing all the musicians for the chapel service, including a praise band and vocalists as well as a choir that gave a special performance.

The seminary community also prayed for Korea, asking that God might bring more Koreans to Himself and that He might strengthen the churches of Korea.
Based on reports by Keith Collier and Benjamin Hawkins of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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