Dear Friends and Family,
I had two potentially strategic meetings today, Friday. One was with our seminar coordinator about some potential doctrinal differences that could pose challenges as we move forward. The other was with the founder and Communications Director of West Africa Theological Seminary.
I went to possibly discuss the possibility of a partnership, combining their formal training with our non-formal training. But there were three issues in my mind. There is a question about theological focus, there is a question about some of their other partnerships, and they allow women into their pastoral training, we do not invite women to our pastors seminars.
Both went OK but more discussion needs to take place.
MEETING WITH SEMINAR ORGANIZER/COORDINATOR
Michael Omotosho does a great job organizing our seminars and taking care of me when I am here. A great job. He took the ITEM doctrinal exam last year and signed the ITEM team member agreement that deals with a number of doctrinal issues.
My concerns have been his leading an occasional Pentecostalish pray time during our seminars and, this week, the book he gave to me on spiritual warfare that he wrote, which sounds much different than our lecture on spiritual warfare. And the bibliography is filled with those from an extreme Pentecostal position.
My takeaway is that Michael has a good heart. He wants to be biblical. (I know, I am implying that the extreme Pentecostal position on spiritual warfare is not biblical. Yes, I am. Obviously, I could be wrong. I don’t think I am.) He looks for people to quote. He doesn’t even know who they are but finds a quote he can use. He also referred to the seminary he went to. It is my perception that he wasn’t taught theology with very much specificity.
I talked to him about some things in his book. I tried to be objective and instructive. He was receptive. I told him we could not offer that book at our seminars the way it is written and he understood. And he asked me if I would look over his future books before they were published. That is a big step and demonstrates teachability and a certain amount of humility.
Bottom line: No need to pull the plug at this point but need to keep working with him.
MEETING WITH FOUNDER AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
I have a strong desire to partner with formal trainers (i.e. Seminaries) in order to combine the two and have the two support one another. The West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) comes from a Wesleyan tradition. ITEM’s theology is more from the Reformed tradition (not exclusively, but mostly). WATS allows women into their pastoral classes (Michael told me) and we do not invite women to our pastors seminars. Thirdly, they have partnered with the founder of an extreme Pentecostal group (Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry) and a building on their campus is putting the name of that group’s founder on it. Apparently because he donate money to build it. Yet, the founder of the school disagrees with the founder of MFMM on some issues.
So, I am wondering if I can partner with a group that partners with others I would never partner with.
The meetings went well. With the Communications Director, I went through our history and convictions. His convictions are similar. I told him that just this week I realized that we need to provide Bible Study Methods training for pastors. He pointed to a stack of books on his desk on that very topic. He shares the same concern. He said he would like to look over our notes and I plan to send him the link tonight.
The time with the founder of the school, Dr. Gary Maxey, went OK also. He’s been in Nigeria over 30 years. He’s seen the Nigerian church at it’s spiritual peak and now at or near it’s spiritual low, due in large measure to the prosperity gospel takeover.
I did not mention any concerns. We just got to know each other. He gave me a chance to give an overview of our training, including its goals. At the end, he mentioned combining formal and non-formal. I didn’t even need to bring it up.
Gary and I agreed to keep the conversation going.
I plan to graciously “lay all of our cards on the table face up.” I am going to send them our curriculum. I am going to send them my paper on “Apostles and Prophets Today” which also covers signs, wonders and miracles. I plan on sending them my paper on spiritual warfare. And I want to let them know that we don’t invite women to come to our pastors seminars.
I will make it clear that we allow for varied opinions. We always try to be gracious and respectful of those who disagree. But we do not compromise although we may agree to disagree.
All in all it was a beneficial day.
As I was going back through all of the questions we received in writing, I realized we overlooked a few. That happens when there is so much going on and so many slips of paper being handed to you. I am sorry that I missed one in particular. I like to use these questions to teach and reinforce what the Bible teaches.
Q: Can an illiterate person who is full of the Holy Ghost be a pastor in a church today where there are educated men and women who attend? (Parenthetically, the question implies this person is not an ordinary-illiterate. He is full of the Holy Ghost. Second, the question demonstrates that the person asking is not thinking biblically, when it comes to qualifications of a pastor. A lot of Christians today, in all places of the world, don’t think biblically.) ANS: It is not significant that this person is filled with the Holy Ghost (Spirit). Eph 5:18 says we are all to be filled and anytime a person is yielding to the Holy Spirit, that person is “filled” with the Spirit. Regarding the persons literacy level. What is the primary role of the pastor? Preach and teach the Bible. One of the qualifications is that this man is “able to teach.” To be able to teach the Bible, the person needs to be able to read and study the Bible. Or if he cannot read it and study it in it’s written form, then maybe he needs to find a way to study it using an audio device. But if this man is called to be a pastor, he must be able to teach the church from the Bible, not his own words but God’s actual Word(s).
Q: Was Uriah destined to die prematurely the way he did? (Uriah was Bathsheba’s husband. David got her pregnant and had Uriah put into the front of an upcoming battle, had the army vacate him, leaving him to be killed so David could cover his sin by the now widowed, Bathsheba.) Was there anything he could have done to avert the tragedy? ANS: I asked Joel about this. It seemed like a strange question. Joel pointed that it included the words “destined” and “prematurely.” I let Joel answer it. Some believe that when you do something wrong, it is your destiny to die prematurely. Joel quoted Pslam 139:16b, “And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” If I had answered it, I would have asked the questioner, “How do you know it was premature?”
NEXT STOP, KENYA
Things have been wrapped up here in Lagos, Nigeria. We’ll be planning a Bible Study Methods seminar soon. Tomorrow I head back to Kenya. Sunday and Monday are off. I’ll have planning meetings. Then Tues to Thursday we’ll do this same conference there. My final weekend on this trip I’ll be heading to Mombasa, Kenya to meet with the leading Southern Baptist pastor in Kenya.
PRAY for good traffic going to the airport. Traffic here is terrible and can take hours to go blocks. It can be that bad. Hopefully, Saturday will not be that way.
I could have taken a hundred revealing pictures today. The “Marketing of the Church” was on full display with poster after poster, banner after banner trying to “one up” the one right next to it. Maybe I’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Only one new, not so flattering, picture of me (framed). They gave this to me today as a gift. A pic taken here last July.
By His grace,