Speaker Panel with DeYoung, Parsons, Piper, and Tchividjian

Participants: Kevin DeYoung, Burk Parsons, John Piper, Tullian Tchividjian

Moderator: David Mathis

The following are notes taken during the panel discussion.

1. Can you give us your initial reflections on the message we just heard from Rick Warren?

Burk Parsons: I saw a man with character and with simple, childlike dependence on Christ.

John Piper: An unbelievable communicator with incredible application. Be encouraged and relax with who you are, and give it all to Jesus while learning all you can from Rick.

2. Talk to us about the life of the mind as it relates to pastoring a church full of college students.

Kevin DeYoung: Challenging the students to think is sometimes different than we might imagine. Many students can be apathetic and hedonistic (in the non-Piper kind of way). We want to help them to see what they want their life to look like in twenty years in seeking after Christ.

3. Do you see changes on the campus over the years?

DeYoung: One difference that I’ve noticed get worse is that the students are not seeing the need for a big God who is holy because of our deep depravity. There is no guilt that leads to seeing the need for him.

4. What effects does having a church-based seminary have on your church in terms of the life of the mind?

Tullian Tchividjian: It’s a great resource for our church. It makes a statement that theology is important and theological training is important. It helps our people to know that theology is not boring and dry. It has a thick practical element to it.

5. Would you be able to tell us briefly about the founding of the Ligonier Academy?

Parsons: It is not meant for us to be a seminary. It is an extension of something that started 40 years ago that is similar to L’Abri, where people would come to study and learn.

6. Could you tell us a little about what led up to the launch of Bethlehem College and Seminary?

Piper: What led up to it was God and my dad and Tom Steller. Especially Tom’s and my burden to bring young seminarians around for discipling. We then formalized it and extended it to be a college and seminary. It was progressive and didn’t necessarily have a plan behind it originally.  

7. What are some particular ways in which you seek to cultivate the life of the mind in your church? Or ways that you hope to do it in the future?

Piper: I believe that my main means of training people how to think is the way I preach. My main agenda is to think a certain way with my Bible and hope that people pick up on it.

Tchividjian: We don’t try to go over the top in impressing people. Authenticity goes a long way.

8. What would you say to our "non-thinkers" who are here tonight? Surely the conference isn’t made up completely of those who consider themselves "thinkers," right?

Tchividjian: I would say that everyone here is a thinker. Non-thinking is not possible. If they think they’re a non-thinker, then they’re a walking contradiction.

Piper: There are people in here who love to think and there are others who don’t like to think. This conference is a pain in the rear end to them. They’re just here to see Warren and Piper fight. Here’s how I would say the question: What do you have to say to people who don’t want to think?

Tchividjian: I really encourage people to read. Even if it’s just a paragraph a night. Start to read and exercise the muscle of your mind and it will get stronger and thirstier. I was a high school drop out and I eventually became a bookworm. Those who don’t enjoy thinking or don’t think that thinking is necessary should start reading.

DeYoung: God decided out of all the ways he could continue to speak to us, he did it with sentences, with words, with chapters, with pages. God intends for us to think.

Parsons: I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before, but I think one of the main issues is that we’re so alone. We’ve isolated ourselves. People used to talk and discuss things and engage in conversation. We need fraternity with each other. We need to find people around us who are thoughtful. But we’re kind of afraid to ask people to spend time with us to learn and discuss something together. People never end up getting together because the younger are afraid to ask the older and people don’t think they have anything to offer.

9. Would you connect this conference theme of the life of the mind with the person of Jesus?

Parsons: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Philippians 4 tells us to think about those things that are pure, true, lovely, just. We need to dwell on these things. It’s as if we begin to breathe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tchividjian: One of the effects of Christ’s finished work is a regenerate mind that thirsts to know, to read, to think, to study. It doesn’t mean you have to write books or preach sermons. But the Holy Spirit gives you a developing hunger and thirst to know God and to ponder the gospel. You are intended by God to think.

DeYoung: This invisible God speaks to us by the Word. It is connected to us by Christ because he is the Word. That Word can dwell in us because of his finished work on the Cross.

Piper: In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom in knowledge. God made Christ wisdom to us. Our minds see the glory of the gospel of Christ. They are mainly designed to do so.

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