Through the church, God commends his gospel to the world and his wisdom to its rulers and principalities (see, for example, Eph. 3:10). The gospel is the authoritative story about the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the declaration of his reign as Lord, which was accomplished through his death and resurrection (Mark 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:1–8). It conveys power for salvation for any person who believes it (see Mark 1:14; Rom. 1:16–17). Thus, it is the core conviction for evangelicals and the basis for their name.1 In the West, evangelicals and other orthodox Christians see the church and culture on the brink of epochal change. As Rusty Reno comments, “We all sense that the social context for Christian faith and practice is changing in America, and in the West more broadly, and we know we need to decide what it means to be the Church today.”2 As a partner in the formation of the church’s future leadership, evangelical seminaries should play a key role in deciding what it means for evangelicals to “be the Church today.” To do so, evangelical seminaries can and should follow biblical paradigms for Christian ministry.

As has always been the case, seminaries change as the Western church and culture change.3 Dan Aleshire observes that seminaries in America first functioned like abbeys tightly related to the church, places of “study, prayer, and preparation for ministry.”4 They later developed into academies as they raised the standards and monies for academic teaching and learning.5 These ecclesial and academic identities worked well for seminaries, as long as religion had social value in America.6 Over the past 50 years, however, religion in America “has shifted from being a societal value to a personal choice.”7 Steadily, American society has divorced anthropology from theology, the body from the transcendent. Romanticism, rationalism, and their child consumerism have created the new norm for society: the self. Thus, in higher education, identity politics, whether conservative or liberal, often replace charitable inquiry.8 The downgrade of religion and education in America, combined with acute economic pressures, has created “a mergers and acquisitions environment” for seminaries.9 Almost 25 years after Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, do these strong cultural forces mean the evangelical mind cannot flourish again? Will evangelical seminaries survive the next 25 years?

Though useful, by focusing solely on demographic changes and institutional survival these questions stress secondary matters. Seminary leaders, teachers, and supporters must ask a more fundamental question: Will our seminaries and churches commend the gospel to the world over the next 25 years? We must consider the verities of the gospel and Christian ministry to prepare God-called men and women who will proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and teach others how to do the same. As Aleshire suggests, in addition to their identity as abbeys and academies, seminaries of the twenty-first century will need to give increasing attention to their role as apostolates, centers for “Christianity’s mission to propagate the gospel.”10 By name and heritage at least, “evangelical” seminaries agree with the suggestion to place the gospel in the forefront of theological education. Even so, we may differ on how that education can or should be offered to reflect the gospel’s priority.

This essay therefore addresses the methods and goals, the how and the why, of theological education. I will argue that evangelical seminaries can and should follow biblical paradigms for Christian ministry. These paradigms embody the gospel’s verities in personal, formational, and cruciform theological education. This argument will be based on an explication of 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:3, where the apostle Paul offers a biblical paradigm for the personal, formational, and cruciform nature of the gospel and thus of Christian ministry. This paradigm is commended because seminary work is a Christian ministry and our students are, and always have been, our “letters of recommendation” that commend the gospel to the world.

A Pauline Paradigm for Christian Ministry and Evangelical Seminaries

Authentic Christian ministry passes down through people and paradigms. The seminary ought to follow biblical paradigms because it is a ministry of the church. As Paul House comments, “A seminary is a ministry of the body of Christ as believers use their spiritual gifts to minister to and with other believers. If it is not such an operation of the body of Christ, it should not be preparing pastors.”11 In 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:3, Paul explicates the origin, essence, purpose, and effects of his apostleship. He describes what is true of his ministry “always” and “in every place” (2:14)12 and defends its authenticity against the false claims of Corinthian “super-apostles.”13 Therefore, he offers a ministry paradigm for seminaries to follow.

Paul’s Theological, Cruciform, and Revelatory Apostleship in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14–17)

In 2 Corinthians 2:14–17, Paul explains the cruciform essence, theological origin, and revelatory effects of his ministry by using two metaphors. As for the first, borrowing from Roman culture, Paul writes, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2:14a).14 He refers to parades led by victorious Roman generals or emperors, who marched through Rome adorned with a red-painted face, royal clothing, and instruments that resembled the statue of Jupiter. The “triumphator,” as he was called, led a processional of freedmen as well as conquered prisoners of war, the most prominent of whom would later be sacrificed.15 Most New Testament scholars rightly view the triumph as “one of the most venerable and revered of all Roman customs” and interpret 2 Corinthians 2:14 in its light.16

New Testament scholarship, however, has less frequently observed the Roman triumph’s theatrical nature. In his study of theater in Imperial Rome, Richard Beacham suggests it was a carefully choreographed drama staged to induce emotional, political, and religious responses:

The triumph itself was in essence a particularly magnificent parade. … The primary expressive element of a parade is, of course, the ranks of marchers, who … are simultaneously the “performers” as well as a highly effective living scenic device. … An emotional response could be encouraged by juxtaposing, for example, captured and condemned enemy chieftains and the newly rescued Roman victims of their oppression, just as a selected sequence of images in television ads can strongly affect modern viewers. As a performance, the triumph approached a “total” work of art.17

In this “‘total’ work of art,” freed and captured marchers dramatically displayed the triumphator’s political and religious significance.18

In 2 Corinthians 2:14, the apostle Paul likens himself to one of these captured marchers in a cruciform procession under God’s commission and direction.19 He is the trophy of God, the triumphator, marching throughout the world. Because the procession is “always in Christ,” it leads to death, at least figuratively through death to self. Paul has been “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). As he is “led unto death,”20 God publicly spreads the knowledge of Christ “through us [Paul and other apostles] in every place” (δι᾽ἡμῶνἐνπαντὶτόπῳ).21 The gospel of the crucified and resurrected Christ governed Paul’s life, which dramatically displayed the gospel to the world. As he writes elsewhere to the Corinthians, “It seems God has put us apostles on display as condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle (θέατρον) to the world, to angels, and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9).22

Paul’s second metaphor comes from the Old Testament. In 2 Corinthians 2:14–16, he explains that he and his coworkers reveal the “fragrance” (ὀσμὴν) of the knowledge of Christ as “the aroma of Christ” (Χριστοῦεὐωδία). Therefore, they are the “fragrance” (ὀσμὴ) of life to some and death to others. In the Septuagint, the terms fragrance and aroma appear together with reference to particular sacrifices that produce a “pleasing aroma” (ὀσμὴεὐωδίας) for Yahweh.23 Paul uses the same technical expression in Ephesians 5:2 and Philippians 4:18.24 The two metaphors of 2 Corinthians 2:14–16, then, connote the cruciform essence and revelatory purpose of his ministry. The Christlike suffering he endures as an apostle confirms rather than denies the rights he could claim due to his apostleship.

Paul explicates his apostleship in this manner because, according to 2 Corinthians 2:17, his suffering evidences “the divine origin and nature of his apostolic ministry and gospel.”25 Unlike his opponents, the “super-apostles” who “peddle” (καπηλεύοντες)26 God’s word, Paul ministers with “pure motives” (εἰλικρινείας).27 This is because he and his coworkers “speak in Christ as from God and in God’s sight.”28 Christ’s authentic apostles display the theological origin and cruciform essence of their ministry. As a result, some hearers receive life while others incur death. The method and impact of authentic ministry is personal, as 2 Corinthians 3:1–3 shows.

Paul’s Sufficiency Shown in Embodied “Letters of Recommendation” (2 Cor. 3:1–3)

A primary question of 2 Corinthians is, “What commends an apostle to the Corinthians and, by implication, a Christian minister to God’s people?” Paul begins to answer when he writes, “Are we beginning to commend (συνιστάνειν) ourselves again? Or do we need as some do letters of recommendation (συστατικῶνἐπιστολῶν) to you or from you?” (3:1).29 The rhetorical question expects a “no” in reply (see, for example, 2:16). Paul answers surprisingly. Instead of providing recommendation letters or none at all, he supplies an altogether different commendation. He writes, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, being known and read by all people, making clear that you are a letter of Christ served by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of fleshly hearts” (3:2-3).

Recommendation letters provide substitute forms of authority and credibility. They were well known and used in the 1st century, just as they are today. Yet, as Scott Hafemann notes, “To need such letters is to admit that one lacks that evidential accreditation from one’s own life which is already evident or available to those whose acceptance is being sought.”30 The Corinthian “super-apostles” needed letters to substantiate and expand their ministry because it was greedy and competitive by nature (see 2:17; 10:12).31

Paul’s ministry, however, was sacrificial and personal. He explains the Corinthian Christians are his letter of recommendation (ἡἐπιστολὴἡμῶνὑμεῖςἐστε) because they are a letter of Christ (ἐστὲἐπιστολὴΧριστοῦ). They are personal, embodied proof of Paul’s apostleship because through his ministry they are new creations in Christ (see, for example, 2 Cor. 5:17).32 They are new creations because the Spirit of the living God, not Paul, inscribed these letters on human hearts, not on parchment. Paul’s apostolic ministry thus fulfills Old Testament promises of a new covenant in which God’s people will be known by the Spirit’s activity within them giving them new hearts of flesh to know and love him (see Ezek. 36:22–36; also Rom. 5:5).33 God’s covenant purposes in Christ, which establish and display his kinship bond with sinful humans, offer the method and impact of authentic Christian ministry and, thus, a paradigm for all believers and all ministries to follow.

Implications for Christian Ministry from 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:3

Christian ministry is an embodied, public, and suffering ministry (2 Cor. 2:14-17). It follows the person and the paradigm of Jesus Christ and his apostles (see, for example, 2 Cor. 4:10). The purpose of ministry is to proclaim the gospel of Christ to see new humans created by Word and Spirit, Christians who mature and endure in community and thereby commend the gospel to the world (2 Cor. 3:1-3). Proclamation of the gospel is fundamental because the Spirit alone applies the Word of God to people’s lives. The effects of such ministry provide embodied evidence: persons, families, and communities transformed into the image of Christ by Word and Spirit (such as in 2 Cor. 3:18). Like Paul, our seminaries will not need commendation from the world because our students will be our “letters of recommendation,” new humans in community in Christ, wrought and led by the Spirit (see 2 Cor. 6:14-18).34

Embodied Apostolates: Evangelical Seminaries Commending the Gospel to the World

How will the evangelical mind commend the gospel to the world in the twenty-first century? A trustee once remarked to a seminary president, “The seminary is where the future of the church is embodied.”35 This quote may overstate the seminary’s role. The future of the church is embodied in individuals, families, and communities where the gospel takes root. The quotation does, however, stress the point that the individuals, families, and communities that become the church will need faithful pastors to teach and serve them. Since seminaries are ministries of the church and serve the future of the church to propagate the gospel, they should follow Paul’s paradigm in 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:3 and embody the characteristics of Christian ministry in at least three ways.

First, seminaries must remain committed to the evangel in curricula and, most important, their people. This means we ought to take 2 Corinthians 2:17 as a baseline to evaluate faculty and students to discern if these men and women are sent from God and accountable to God. If they are not, they will not speak “in Christ” during or after seminary. Given acute financial and enrollment challenges, one wonders if we take the time to evaluate student applications along these lines. Open enrollment, or nearly open enrollment, will not achieve this aim. Furthermore, the full-fledged biblical gospel forms the core subject of seminary curricula. Faculties should teach theology derived (exegetically) from Holy Scripture, as well as the practices and affections through which loving brothers and sisters in Christ have handed down theology throughout church history. The temporal matters only in the context of the eternal. Thus, social justice and cultural awareness certainly should be taught and practiced in the seminary as necessary implications of the gospel, but not as independent subjects. The gospel must be the governing principle for seminary mission statements, faculties, curricula, and students, because it is the animating reality for Christian ministry.

Second, because Christian ministry is personal and embodied, evangelical seminaries should renew their focus on personal, embodied theological education for pastoral ministry. This is not to say that only pastors will ever graduate from our seminaries. Nor is it to claim that many seminaries do not already give significant attention to the gospel in their people and programs. Still, pastors are a strategic group of ministers tasked with equipping the church for ministry in the world unto maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11-14; also 1 Pet. 5:1-5). Pastors, Kevin Van hoozer argues, are the directors of the triune God’s drama enacted in the church, the theater of the gospel. They direct Christian churches in obedient performance of the drama’s authoritative script primarily by preaching the Scriptures, “to instill confidence that playing this script is the way to truth and the abundant life.” Faithful gospel proclamation necessitates personal obedience to the gospel. Thus “the pastor is also a player in the drama who directs as much by example as by precept.”36 Pastors, then, must also practice forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, suffering, and love.37 Players in the drama are on-stage, with the other players, not off-stage or on a screen.

Like other Christians, pastors learn from others (see 1 Cor. 11:1). Ministry students learn to minister the gospel authentically as they learn doctrine inextricably connected to life from professors, their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters in Christ. If the affections and habits of persons matter for Christian life and ministry,38 we ought to model Christlike affections and habits for students in face-to-face community. It is difficult to see how we can attend to these if we “meet” students only in a threaded discussion online. As long as evangelicals imbibe consumerist and rationalist assumptions underlying the American industrial-education complex, we will miss opportunities to embody the gospel for people that idolize, transform, or ignore the body. In this visceral romantic age, seminaries would do well to steward the gospel with personal, embodied, face-to-face ministry and, thus, theological education. Their boards and supporters will do well to take financial responsibility for making incarnational education possible, rather than expecting seminaries to work educational markets for survival.

Finally, if our seminaries carry out an embodied, apostolic mission, they will necessarily operate in a cruciform manner. For Paul, ministry in Christ was like marching in a Roman triumph to his death (2 Cor. 2:14; also 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 4:10-11). Seminaries, too, can learn the triumphal procession of Christian ministry and its dramatic implications for the watching world if faculty and students bear one another’s burdens in embodied community. As Joseph Ratzinger writes, “The capacity for loving corresponds to the capacity for suffering and for suffering together.”39

Students who practice this love with faculty and other students will become pastors and missionaries who continue learning and teaching the love of God.40 If we desire for our own pastors to bear our burdens and we theirs, we must ask, “Where will these pastors learn such affections and practices if not from their seminary pastor-teachers, the ones the church has set aside for this holy purpose?” The cruciform nature of Christian ministry calls for a cruciform theological education. To be properly cruciform, it must be embodied. Our graduates who minister with theological, personal, and cruciform convictions will then become our Spirit-formed letters of recommendation in the world.

In changing times, we must remember what is constant: Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, and his gospel is the power of salvation for humans alienated from the triune God and one another. Theological educators must be the pastors and teachers of the church’s future pastors and teachers who steward the gospel to persons in community. Such stewardship reveals the glory of God in Christ and still matters for life and death. Ratzinger writes hopefully,

Why has faith still any chance at all? I should say it is because it corresponds to the nature of man. … None of the attempted answers will do; only the God who himself became finite in order to tear open our finitude and lead us out into the wide open spaces of his infinity, only he corresponds to the question of our being. That is why, even today, Christian faith will come to man again. It is our task to serve this faith with humble courage, with all the strength of our heart and mind.41

The Christian faith requires Christian ministers taught and mentored by other ministers. Such work is challenging but hopeful work rooted in faith, hope, and love. Like Paul, then, we can persevere in personal, embodied, and cruciform seminary ministry with thankfulness: “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).

Cite this article
Grant Taylor, “Commending the Gospel: Evangelical Seminaries and Our “Letters of Recommendation””, Christian Scholar’s Review, 47:4 , 423-432

Footnotes

  1. On the gospel, see Martin Hengel, Studies in the Gospel of Mark (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 53–58. For the religious, theological sense of the term evangelical as I use it in this article, see Stephen Monsma, “What Is an Evangelical? And Does It Matter?” Christian Scholar’s Review 46.4 (2017): 323-340.
  2. R. R. Reno, “Benedict Option,” First Things (May 2017), https://www.firstthings.com/ article/2017/05/benedict-option.
  3. See Glenn T. Miller, Piety and Intellect: The Aims and Purposes of Antebellum Theological Education (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990); Glenn T. Miller, Piety and Profession: American Protestant Theological Education 1870–1970 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007); Glenn T. Miller, Piety and Plurality: Theological Education since 1960 (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014).
  4. Daniel O. Aleshire, Earthen Vessels: Hopeful Reflections on the Work and Future of Theological Schools (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 125, following the observations of David Tiede, former president of Luther Seminary.
  5. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) approved the first set of accreditation standards in 1936. Ibid., 125, 140.
  6. The birth of America’s universities, at a time when religion held great social value, followed the need for training colleges for Christian ministers in New England. See Roland Bainton, Yale and the Ministry (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957); Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994).
  7. Aleshire, Earthen Vessels, 136.
  8. See Mark Lilla, “How Colleges Are Strangling Liberalism” in The Chronicle Review 64.2 (August 10, 2017), http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Colleges-Are-Strangling/240909.
  9. Dan Aleshire, cited in Ian Lovett, “Seminaries Reflect Struggles of Mainline Churches,” Wall Street Journal (August 10, 2017), https://www.wsj.com/articles/seminaries-reflectstruggles- of-mainline-churches-1502357400. See also Lyman Stone, “‘Mainline’ Churches Are Emptying. The Political Effects Could Be Huge,” Vox (July 14, 2017), https://www. vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/7/14/15959682/evangelical-mainline-voting-patterns-trump.
  10. Aleshire, Earthen Vessels, 126. He commends the apostolate as the “third phase” of theological education.
  11. Paul R. House, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 186–187.
  12. The section on his ministry spans 2 Cor. 2:14–7:4. Unless otherwise noted, all translations of Scripture are my own.
  13. On the occasion and purpose of the letter, see Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 69–70.
  14. The interpretation of this metaphor has been debated extensively. See Christoph Heilig, Paul’s Triumph: Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context (Biblical Tools and Studies 27; Leuven: Peeters, 2017), 4–5; 74–116; Scott J. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit: Paul’s Defense of His Ministry in 2 Corinthians 2:14–3:3 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 18–19, listed no fewer than ten options in 1990.
  15. Richard C. Beacham, Spectacle Entertainments of Early Imperial Rome (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 19–22, note 34, p. 259, for the criteria for a triumph. Josephus, among others, describes the execution of captives as a climax in the triumph. See Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 22–31; Josephus, Jewish War 7, 153–155. Harris, Second Epistle (p. 243), notes the ceremony is attested more than 350 times in Greco-Roman literature.
  16. Ibid., 19. See also, for example, H. S. Versnel, Triumphus: An Inquiry into the Origin, Development and Meaning of the Roman Triumph (Leiden: Brill, 1970); Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).
  17. Beacham, Spectacle Entertainments, 40–41. My thanks to Frank Thielman for commending this book to me.
  18. Ibid. Versnel, Triumphus (p. 1), observes, “In no other Roman ceremony do god and man approach each other as closely as they do in the triumph. … It seems as if Iiupiter [sic] himself, incarnated in the triumphator, makes his solemn entry into Rome.” See, for example, Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 21; Beachem, Spectacle Entertainments, 51.
  19. The lexicography of the verb to triumph (θριαμβεύω) and the syntax of the verse supports such an interpretation. The only other use of the term in the NT is in Col. 2:15, but with a different connotation. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, writes (p. 31), “The use of ‘to lead in a triumphal procession’ with prepositional phrases to indicate its object or with a direct object alone, always refers to the one who has been conquered and is subsequently led in the procession, and never to the one who has conquered or to those who have shared in his victory (e.g., his army, fellow officers, etc.).” This makes sense of the grammar and syntax of the clause (ΤῷδὲθεῷχάριςτῷπάντοτεθριαμβεύοντιἡμᾶςἐντῷΧριστῷ): God is the subject of the dative participle “triumphing” θριαμβεύοντι, which takes a direct object. Paul provides that direct object with a prepositional phrase, us in Christ.
  20. See Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 16–34. Harris, Second Epistle, 245–246, questions this view.
  21. The verb φανερόω, “to manifest, to reveal” is a verb of sensation and cognition. BDAG, 1048, notes the verb has the connotation of sensory, not only cognitive, disclosure. It is used of the incarnation of Christ in the world (1 Tim. 3:16), his bodily appearance as resurrected Lord (John 21:1, 14), and his second advent (Col. 3:4a; 1 Pet. 5:4; 1 John 2:28; 3:2). It is also used of the Christian community (Col. 3:4b).
  22. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 55–59, shows the statements in 1 Cor. 4:9 and 2 Cor. 2:14 are parallel. See, for example, Victor Paul Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 2nd ed. (AB 32A; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984), 187.
  23. See Gen. 8:21; Exod. 29:18; Lev. 1:9, 13 (LXX). Note the different interpretations in George Guthrie, 2 Corinthians (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), 172–173, and Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 35–49.
  24. Paul refers in Eph. 5:2 to Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and in Phil. 4:18 to the Philippians’ sacrificial financial gift for him. Both sacrifices pleased God (ὀσμὴνεὐωδίας).
  25. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 170, italics in original.
  26. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Introduction & Domains, vol. 1 of Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1988), 581.
  27. Paul uses εἰλικρινείας, which refers to sincerity and purity of motives; see 1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor. 1:12; BDAG, 282.
  28. It is worth noting that Paul’s ministry of speaking as “from God” (ὡςἐκθεοῦκατέναντιθε- οῦἐνΧριστῷλαλοῦμεν) compares well with the OT prophets who, as Peter noted (2 Pet. 1:21), did not write Scripture by their own will, but “spoke from God” (ἐλάλησαν πὸθεου).
  29. Note the theme of commendation throughout 2 Corinthians: 4:2; 5:12; 6:4; 7:11; 10:12,18; 12:11; see, for example, Guthrie, 2 Corinthians, 181–87. Harris, Second Epistle (p. 259), notes a distinction between the phrase ἑαυτοὺςσυνιστάνειν, where the sense is pejorative (2 Cor. 3:1; also 5:12; 10:12, 18), and συνιστάνοντεςἑαυτοὺς, where the sense is positive (2 Cor. 4:2; 6:4; 7:11).
  30. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 184–185. Paul himself used this method, commending others in ink when he could not in person. For Paul’s use, see Philemon, Rom. 16:1–2; 1 Cor. 16:10–11; 2 Cor. 8:16–24; Col. 4:7–9; see also Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry, 184. On letters of recommendation, see W. R. Baird Jr., “Letters of Recommendation: A Study of 2 Cor. 3:1–3,” Journal of Biblical Literature 80 (1961): 166–172; C. W. Keys, “The Greek Letter of Introduction,” American Journal of Philology 56 (1935): 28–44.
  31. On the identity of these opponents, see Harris, Second Epistle, 67–77; Guthrie, 2 Corinthians, 38–46.
  32. As Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry (p. 205), explains, Paul’s logic is compelling: “1. You are our letter because you are a letter of Christ 2, which has been engraved in our hearts because it was ministered by us.”
  33. See Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; Jer. 31:33; also Prov. 3:3; 7:3; Jer. 17:1; Scott J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel: The Letter/Spirit Contrast and the Argument from Scripture in 2 Corinthians (WUNT 81; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995); Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 122–153.
  34. See, for example, 1 Cor. 9:2. Harris, Second Epistle (p. 261), states well, Paul “implies that for him to carry commendatory letters to Corinth would be completely superfluous.”
  35. Aleshire, Earthen Vessels, 133.
  36. Kevin Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005), 448.
  37. See ibid., 399–444, esp. 426–444.
  38. See esp. James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009).
  39. Pope Benedict XVI, introduction to A Reason Open to God: On Universities, Education, and Culture, ed. J. Steven Brown (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2013), 3.
  40. See Pope Benedict XVI, Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today, trans. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2017).
  41. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004), 137.

Grant Taylor

Beeson Divinity School
Grant Taylor is the associate dean for Academic Affairs and assistant professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He oversees the faculty, program directors, and the academic programs and operations of the school. He also teaches New Testament, with a special focus on biblical theology and John’s Gospel. Taylor has published articles in Southeastern Theological Review and Theological Education (forthcoming). He holds a Ph.D. in biblical theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He is married to Rebecca, and they have two children.