PO Box 24560
Indianapolis, IN




Birgit Hallmann

by Wye Huxford

I keep reading the early chapters of Acts and find myself more convinced than ever that our over-the-top celebration of “independence” in much of western culture isn’t good for the cause of the kingdom of God. No offense to our recent celebration of July 4th – we grilled out, too! – but the goal of life for followers of Jesus is community, not independence. 

Luke says near the end of chapter two, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (2:44). He will spend the rest of chapter two and all of three and four describing this remarkable community which most likely defines what Paul meant when he spoke of “one mind,” “one spirit,” or “one love” in places like Philippians 2:1-4.

In his masterful work The Moral Vision of the New Testament, Richard Hays is talking about how we should use biblical texts, especially as they relate to ethics. Among other things, he reminds his readers “We are not starting from nowhere, reading the New Testament as though it had just been found sealed in a cave; we are the heirs of a community that has been reading and performing these texts for nineteen hundred years already” (page 305).  In that same section, he says “Until we see God’s power at work among us, we do not know what we are reading. Thus, the most crucial hermeneutical task is the formation of communities seeking to live under the Word” (page 306).

Translated into pretty normal southern lingo, the last part of Philippians 2:12 would sound something like “y’all work out y’all’s salvation with fear and trembling.” Our sometimes far too focused idea of “personal salvation” has caused us to miss the reality that God works in communities of faith where the Spirit of God Himself dwells and which are, according to Paul, the very body of Christ. 

Thus the title of this month’s devotion – It’s Not Mine. I have no idea how many Bible translations I own. More than I need for sure. However, the Bible doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the church – the body of Christ, a community of two or more gathered in the name of Jesus. I can’t pretend that nothing has happened in these communities since Pentecost that might help me better understand our mission to be God’s partners in His plan to renew and restore creation. 

But it is tempting to think “it’s mine.” I have a great office with hundreds of books on its shelves. So many books that many shelves have books stacked in front of books. I have electronic access to more resources than I could ever fully use. I love to study, think, experiment with ideas, and rework them. I can be happy and alone at the same time!

Yet – that sounds as though the Bible is mine and I get to study it, write about it, and come out and deliver a word about its meaning.

Real Bible study, however, is worked out in the trenches of life. While we can’t dismiss the role academics play in our understanding of Scripture, academics must find ways to stand in the same trenches of life of those we hope to influence. Stanley Hauerwas was right when he said, “The lives of the saints are the hermeneutical key to Scripture” (quoted in Hays, page 305).

My paternal grandfather was what some might describe as a “salty saint.” But I learned a lot from listening to his ideas about life, being a Christian, and just figuring things out.

One of his oft' repeated stories went something like this: "Mister, if I'm digging a ditch and you are down here digging with me, you can tell me where to throw the dirt.  But if you're standing on the bank watching me dig, I don't need your advice."

This is one of the things I love about the stories being created through the partnership of TCMII and EES. They are often stories of "getting down in the ditch" with others and figuring out together where to throw the dirt.

It is that kind of life that together we, as community, learn to "work out our salvation."


Reading and Praying

Birgit Hallmann

by Wye Huxford

Many, many years ago, as a senior in college I took a class that was being taught by Professor Eddie Groover, who would eventually become president of Atlanta Christian College for many years and a valued colleague of mine.  It was in that class that Eddie introduced us to Jim Dyer, who served for decades as minister of Southwest Christian Church in Atlanta.  

In that class, Jim Dyer introduced us to a plan for reading Psalms and Proverbs together in 31 days.  He didn't say he came up with the idea, just encouraged us to adopt the idea and start reading Psalms and Proverbs on a regular basis.  I don't know how many times I've used this plan at this point in my life, but every time I do I think about how grateful I am that Eddie Groover invited Jim Dyer to class that day!

The plan is pretty simple — read five Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs every day.  In 31 days, you will have completed both.  Of course many of you will know that Proverbs has 31 chapters and Psalms has only 150 individual Psalms — so the math isn't working.  But do not be afraid.  When you get to the day you should read Psalms 116-120 and Proverbs 24, skip Psalm 119 — the long, twenty-two stanza masterpiece.  On the next day, read Psalm 119 along with Proverbs 25 — and the math comes out perfectly!

N.T. Wright recently published a small book titled The Case for Psalms:  Why They are Essential.  It is well worth ordering and reading!  In the introduction, he says, "The regular praying and singing of the Psalms is transformative.  It changes the way we understand some of the deepest elements of who we are, or rather, who, where, when, and what we are:  we are creatures of space, time, and matter, and though we take our normal understanding of these for granted, it is my suggestion that the Psalms will gently but firmly transform our understandings of all of them" (page 7).  

If that's not convincing about the value of the Psalms, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who calls the Psalms "the prayer book of Jesus," says, "Who prays the Psalms?  David (Solomon, Asaph, etc.) prays, Christ prays, we pray. We — that is, first of all the entire community in which alone the vast richness of the Psalter can be prayed, but also finally every individual insofar as he participates in Christ and his community and prays their prayer. David, Christ, the church, I myself, and wherever we consider all of this together we recognize the wonderful way in which God teaches us to pray"  (page 21, Psalms:  The Prayer Book of the Bible).  

Last summer, while teaching an online class on how to use the Bible, one of the assignments was to interview five "seasoned believers" about how the Book of Psalms had been helpful to them in their Christian journeys. One of the students interviewed a very elderly gentleman whom she described as a "spiritual father" to her.

She asked him this basic question:  "What do the Psalms mean to you?"  He answered by telling her that he never learned to read until he was 49 years old, and that among the first words he ever read were the words of Psalm 23.  Then he said, "Those words leapt off the page as true as they had been all my life."

Most studies indicate that we Christians — even we who seriously take the Bible to be the "inspired Word of God" — don't read the Bible as we ought to.

If that's you, here's a plan.  Thirty-one days.  Five Psalms.  One chapter of Proverbs (with the 119 adjustment!).  Give it a try — you might find yourself in the habit of being blessed by the reading of Scripture.

Rescued and Transferred! (June 2016)


by Wye Huxford

I have no experience in the world of first responders – fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, and the like – but I've read enough to know that there is a difference between "rescue" and "recover" in that world.

Where there is hope, the word is "rescue." Where hope is lost, it's "recover." While "recover" is certainly an important task, "rescue" is a much more attractive one.

In Colossians 1:13 Paul seems to be aware of the idea of rescue over recovery when he says, "He has rescued us from the power of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his son, the beloved one.”

The verbs of this text, rescue and transfer, are about as missional as biblical language can be. The gospel not only "rescues" us from the penalties of our sin, but provides a means by which we can walk away from the power of darkness and live in God's kingdom – where, among other things, Jesus has declared himself to be "the light of the world."

If there is a rationale for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised and spent in the ministry of EES – and if there is a rationale for the continued ministry of research and education in the areas of early church and modern ministry – it has to be this: we are called to rescue and transfer. One without the other won't work. We aren't sent just to get people "saved from their sin," but to be transferred into the kingdom. We aren't sent to try and transfer people without addressing the rescue issue – you can't have one without the other.

Our generation likes to act as if it created the idea of "relationships." But truthfully, I think we might give God credit for that in the Garden of Eden! And Jesus might deserve a bit of a pat on the back as well. The very way God created us – "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) – speaks clearly about the idea of relationships.

But relationships, the kind that rescue and transfer, must have an agenda. Why invest in someone? Where are we headed in our relationships? Those are among the kinds of questions we must ask. If we can't give good answers to those questions, should we use the Lord's resources to create the relationships?

Like the world that letters like Colossians seem to be aware of, we stand in a very dualistic world that thinks body and spirit are two different realities – never together. That makes us think we can be rescued, but need not worry about the transfer.

And . . . this isn't just an EES staff issue. We all are called to be agents of rescue and transfer every day, in every place, in every time. Sometimes – most times actually – that means we take advantage of our daily contacts with the idea of rescue and transfer in mind – an agenda! But it also means there are times when we must invest our resources in people we trust to create relationships with agendas. I'm grateful that not only in my daily life do I have such opportunities, but I can also invest in EES/TCMII where I know I can trust people to create relationships with an agenda.


We praise the Lord for the progress made for EES during the past year.  Much work preceded the positive results that we now see.  Most recently on May 12, Institute Director Beth Langstaff and Office Manager Birgit Hallmann welcomed guests to the official opening of the new office space for the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins. EES President Tony Twist and EES Board Chair Bruce Shields welcomed the Dean of the Protestant Faculty of the University of Tübingen, Professor Jürgen Kampmann, and Professor Michael Tilly.  Professor Tilly has been named as the succesor of Dean Kampmann and will assume the role of Dean in October.  Other guests included EES Board Members Loren Stuckenbruck, David Wright, Richard Justice Jr., and Deborah Poer.

Listen! (May 2016)


by Wye Huxford

This semester I’ve been teaching a preaching seminar focused on the Gospel according to Mark. As a part of my own discipline for the class, I’ve read through Mark’s story of Jesus multiple times. Each time I’ve tried to make sure I think about the way that story still impacts life as we know it in these early decades of the twenty-first century.

This past week we have been talking about the transfiguration of Jesus, which for Mark occurs in 9:2-8. Matthew and Luke tell a very similar story (Matthew 17:1-3; Luke 9:28-36). All three accounts connect the transfiguration with the confession of Jesus as Christ and His subsequent word to the apostles that He would soon head to Jerusalem and things were going to get very difficult. Jesus will, in Mark’s gospel, retell that prediction of His future in Mark 9 and 10, and then the Triumphal Entry comes in chapter 11.

In chapter 8 where Jesus first makes the prediction of His passion, Peter is quick to object. In my imagination, it sounds something like this:

Peter: “Over my dead body.”
Jesus: “Peter, there is going to be a dead body, but it will be mine, not yours. Keep saying this kind of stuff and you are on Satan’s side, not mine.”

Before we jump too quickly to criticize Peter, we ought to at least acknowledge that nothing in Peter’s life as a Jewish man growing up in Palestine in the first century would have prepared him for what Jesus said. Yet, we can’t overlook just how direct Jesus is when it comes to responding to Peter’s rebuke of Him.

We talked about all the normal issues raised in the transfiguration story. The brightness of it all. The whiteness of Jesus’ garments – more white than any known bleach could produce. Moses and Elijah stopping by for a chat – and how in the world did Peter, James, and John know it was Moses and Elijah in front of them? It’s not as if the local funeral home calendars hanging up in their kitchens had pictures of Moses and Elijah on them.

Again, not quite getting what it was all about, Peter offers to build three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Tents. Tabernacles. Temple. Could there be some sense in which he is thinking of heaven overlapping earth, to use a great phrase from N.T. Wright?

Then the cloud. The mysterious nature of it all continues to explode around them when out of the cloud the voice of God declares, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.” This is the second time readers of Mark have heard God speak. The other time was at Jesus’ baptism, where God said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (1:11).

Jumping out of the story in ways that are startling, those words “Listen to Him” ring with a kind of certainty that gets our attention. Really. Why not listen to Moses, the great lawgiver and leader of the Exodus? Or Elijah, the fire branding prophet who at one time had plenty to say to Israel? No. “Listen to Him – Jesus. The Son of God. The one headed to Jerusalem. The one who would suffer and die.”  Listen to Him!

In the midst of what surely appeared to be strange words from Jesus, God says, “Listen to Him.”

Most of us walk in and out of places in life where it doesn’t always seem to make sense. There is that undertow in the Christian gospel that reminds me that no matter what might happen in life, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).  Yet sometimes I find it easy to forget that I should “Listen to him.”

Mark may very well have been written as an encouragement for believers in Rome who were beginning to experience the persecutions that the Roman Emperor Nero would bring upon the people of God. “Listen to Him.”

Mark may very well be the very Jesus story you need to read right now because of all that is going on in your life. Jesus speaks about life in the most real of ways.

Listen to Him!


Since the EES building had to be vacated in 2014, the ISCO offices have been in a temporary rented location.  With the sale of the building, the staff were able to move into a larger, more suitable rental facility.

The formal opening to introduce the new location to personnel at the University of Tübingen will be held next week.  Following is the official invitation to the opening.

Grand Opening 12 May 2016

Friends and supporters of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins,

You are very warmly invited to the official opening of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins on Thursday, 12 May 2016 at 8:15 p.m. at its new location at Neckargasse 7, Tübingen.

The Institute rooms will be open from 7:15 p.m. on. A reception will follow the official opening.

We look forward to seeing you at the opening,

Dr. Tony Twist, President of the European Evangelistic Society
Board of Directors of the European Evangelistic Society
Dr. Beth Langstaff, Director of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins

Anticipating That Day (April 2016)


by Wye Huxford

In his thoughtful and encouraging book, Simply Christian, N.T. Wright begins to summarize his reflections on what it means to be Christian by saying "Every Christian is called to work, at every level of life, for a world in which reconciliation and restoration are put into practice, and so to anticipate that day when God will indeed put everything to rights" (226).

In these days of Easter in the church calendar, it seems to me that is a great reminder to us.

One need only to think about Paul's instructions to the Corinthian church when he said, "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20, NRSV).

Paul's word for "ambassadors" is used only twice in the New Testament – here and in Ephesians 6:20 where he says "for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak" (NSRV). The word's basic meaning is "to send someone as a representative of someone." But it seems to me that implicit in the idea of "ambassador" is the need to communicate clearly and perhaps even the need to work toward reconciliation.

If modern believers have the responsibility to be ambassadors, then it seems reasonable that we too should be able to communicate "on behalf of someone" clearly and that we work toward reconciliation. That "someone" of course is God and the reconciliation we have to offer is peace with God through Jesus Christ.

A fair question for us to consider, however, is how can the ministry of reconciliation be descriptive of who we are, if we do so in a way that creates such negative impressions of the gospel. After all, Paul instructed the believers in Ephesus to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:5). Sometimes we Christians seem determined to speak the truth (as we see it), but not so determined to do so in a spirit of love.

Is it possible to work at every level of life for reconciliation and restoration if we do so with such a negative spirit that no one wants to listen? If the Facebook posts that many Christians add to the world of social media are indicative of our regular conversations, it's a wonder anyone listens to us! If you dare ask a question about such posts, it isn't unusual to hear "Well, Jesus was offensive to sinners and we should be also."

But the people most offended by Jesus were the very religious. Sinners typically found him very appealing. In our age, it seems that we are often too concerned about not offending the very religious and are comfortable with the idea that sinners don't find the church, the body of Christ on earth, very appealing. Gabe Lyons and David Kinnamon say in their new book, Good Faith, "When outward engagement is our sole aim, we become moralistic crusaders or proponents of a purely social gospel that has no power to save people from sin. On the other hand, if we focus solely on what happens inside the church, we become pious separatists who are so heavenly minded we are no earthly good for God's plan to renew the world."

Perhaps we need to work harder at the "ambassador thing."


From March 21 to March 24, the first of our Tübingen Institute International Lectureship series took place. The lectures were given by Dr. Bruce A. Little, who is a Senior Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he has been on the faculty since 2008.  He serves as the director of the Francis A. Schaeffer collection, and since 2008 he has been the Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern.  Since 1995 he has maintained an active apologetic ministry in Eastern Europe where he has been invited by various state universities and schools to present lectures on different subjects as understood within a Christian worldview. He has been a regular speaker at the European Leadership Forum as well as the Cambridge Scholars Network. Dr. Little is published in academic journals and is the author of several books. He also serves as an adjunct professor for TCM International Institute.

During the lectureship series, Dr. Little presented lectures at six universities in Ukraine on the following topics: Between Anarchy and Tyranny, The Plausibility of God and Scientific Naturalism, Life and Meaning, Questions that Matter, The Emergence of the Postmodern Mind, Personal Responsibility as the Guardian of Freedom, Conflict ot Worldviews, and The Foundation of Law and Social Justice.

In four days, Dr. Little traveled 800 miles, had two TV interviews, one newspaper interview, addressed a group of Christian elementary school teachers, and gave 11 lectures at six universities.  The lectures were well received and Dr. Little was invited back to every university at which he lectured and received invitations from other universities that heard he was conducting the lectureship tour. Each lecture was introduced as sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins at Tübingen.  This was certainly an excellent beginning for the lectureship series and opens doors for another lectureship tour.