Category Archives: Bible Lectureships

Freed-Hardeman Lectureship, Day Three

Overcast skies marked the beginning of the Tuesday session of the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship in Henderson, Tennessee. Although weather predictions have been favorable it was easy to glance at the gray skies and wonder if snow and ice would soon come. They did not. The clouds broke and a beautiful day reigned.

Winford Claiborne or the International Gospel Hour and former director of the lectures led off at 7:30. Claiborne has suffered muscular problems in recent years and is now confined to a wheelchair. However, he speaks with as much power as he did 25 years ago when I sat in his classes here. His topic was Fear the Lord from Joshua 4:19-24. As one might expect, Claiborne used the topic to drive home important, present day truths. He sounded alarms at the many people who do not fear the Lord any longer and live without concern for the Lord or His judgement.

At 8:30, Alan Highers spoke of Israelite Judge Deborah and demonstrated her great power as a leader of God’s people. Although never serving as a Priest in the Tabernacle, she was a Judge, a prophetess and was considered a mother of the Israelites.

Eric Lyons of Apologetics Press addressed an oft ask question: How could a truly righteous and good God ordered the destruction of an entire nation. His examples included God’s commands to destroy the Canaanite nations utterly. Lyons observed that the destruction of the people was based only upon their horrible disobedience before God. Their destruction at the hands of the Israelites was a divine judgement against them which had been coming for many years.

Ralph Gilmore moderated a pleasant Open Forum and addressed a variety of topics including ways to hold to our young people as they become adults, elders and problems arising from within elderships and the topic of homosexuality. Gilmore sought to encourage the use of the phrase “those who practice homosexuality” rather than simply calling people a “homosexual.” He notes that many are struggling with this issue and need all the love, encouragement and prayer the church can offer. There was broad general agreement with his thinking. Of course, the Open Forum is not a governing council or body of the churches of Christ, we have no such. Instead it is a way of promoting critical thinking for individual Christians.

The day concluded with a rousing sermon from Memphis, Tennessee preacher John DeBerry. DeBerry is also a Tennessee State legislator and a member of the Freed-Hardeman Board of Trustees. His topic, “Everyone Did what was Right in his Own Eyes” was taken from Judges 21:25. DeBerry observed the similarity with events today in our nation and wondered how long God would continue to bless us. His preaching was powerful and the truth was well proclaimed.

Freed-Hardeman Lectureship, Day Two

Monday was the first full day at the lectures and attendees continued to arrive. Weather forecasts were surprisingly good and no doubt some felt better about making the drive.

James Gardner, an FHU faculty member and graduate of both Harvard and Yale Law School offered the morning lecture which was an overview of Joshua from the appointment of Joshua as leader until his death at 110. Following his overview Alan Highers offered a similar presentation on Judges. It is a bit ironic that Highers, a Tennessee State Judge himself, was asked to speak on the Judges. Both men laid the groundwork for the remainder of the week.

Open Forum, believe it or not, spent a good deal of time on gun control and the 2nd Amendment. We’ll see where it goes to day but Christians ought use caution to avoid being distracted  by earthly political events. Moderator Ralph Gilmore seemed to think likewise.

In my judgement, the highlight of the day was the lecture by Jay Lockhart, minister of the church in Whitehouse, Texas. Jay also serves as a trustee of Freed-Hardeman. His 7:30 lecture was Be Strong and Courageous from Joshua 1:6-7. Jay is an experienced and powerful herald of the truth. His sermon was filled with Scripture and yet he seemed to have never glanced at a note. I would highly recommend obtaining the DVD of this session.

Kent Purser (one of our deacons at Eastern Shore) and I are staying at the Mid-South Youth Camp in a cabin. It’s very convenient and is not at all crowded. We are not doing much to help the Henderson/Jackson economy but I’ve done plenty of that in the past.

I do want to say that the students and staff on campus are exemplary in their kindness this week. It’s hard when your entire routine is upset for Lectureship week, I remember it well. But they have always smiled and so far I have not heard a single unkind word. Thank you all for your hospitality.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Freed-Hardeman Lectureship, Day One

The Freed-Hardeman Lectureship began last night in Henderson, Tennessee. The 77th annual event is centered on a study of Joshua and Judges which are histories of the first days of the Israelite venture into the promised land.

Keith Moser Jr. led the assembly in congregational singing which was superb. Moser has a powerful tenor voice and leads simply and without flair and flamboyancy. His selections were chosen across the breadth of singing styles and techniques and even led the congregation in singing O Lord Our Lord. The words are so simple yet the various parts are challenging . It was a joy to hear the pure blended voices unaccompanied by the noise of mechanical instruments.

Following the singing, John Dale, recently retired from the Glendale Road church of Christ in Murray, Kentucky, spoke on the topic of Joshua 24:14, We will serve the Lord…” Dale emphasized the importance of both fearing and serving the Lord in all we do. He placed special emphasis on the non-public works that are so important to the functioning of the body of Christ. If his lesson is any indicator of the quality of work to be delivered this week, I am sure this will be a wonderful Freed-Hardeman Lectureship.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Freed-Hardeman Lectures Begin Today

2013 Lectureship BrochureThe Freed-Hardeman Lectures begin today in Henderson, Tennessee. This is the 77th annual lectureship sponsored by the school. The theme for 2013 is We Will Serve the Lord:Conquest and Deliverance in Joshua to Ruth. Each year, for the past several years, the school focuses on one section of Scripture for the lectureship theme. Other topics are discussed as well but the keynote addresses focuses upon the theme. Next year the theme will be The patience of Hope: First and Last Things in Thessalonians.

As an alumnus of Freed-Hardeman I try to attend every year and have done so for the past 12 or 13 years. The reunions with old friends is always a highlight. As in recent years we will be posting from the lectureship. You can be a part yourself by visiting the lectureship website. Streaming video is offered of many sessions and of the afternoon Open Forum conducted by Dr. Ralph Gilmore. The forum tackles questions offered by the public and allows questions and comments from the audience and via email submission. Of course the forum is not an official church of Christ decision making body. The churches of Christ are all autonomous and have no earthly headquarters  Nevertheless, the forum serves to stimulate thinking and study for all who are present.

Jay Lockhart will be honored this year and the Lectureship is dedicated to him. Jay ministers will the Whitehouse church of Christ in texas and is currently on the school’s board of trustees.

  Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Freed-Hardeman Lectures 2011: Day Three

The snow won the day at Freed-Hardeman. The threat of snow evidently frightened many away as the numbers were probably halved by Open Forum time. Cold weather and snow are to be expected at the lectureship but perhaps some thought better of staying around.

Dr. James Gardner continued his discussion of God’s judgments in the present world. His assigned topic was: “Does the Secular Direction of America Invite God’s Judgment?” As he did Tuesday Gardner was careful in his definitions. He spent a great amount of time defining “secular” from its Latin roots to the present day usage. There is a great difference. The original meaning of the word reflected a good use while the present use is generally held to mean something anti-Christian. While not dogmatic Gardner suggests that some aspects of the present age are contemptible to God and will be judged at a point. But he further notes that as a nation the United States has been a greater force for good than any other nation.

Billy Smith did a great job with the topic “The Lord is in His Holy Temple.” The passage from Habakkuk comes at the end of a dialogue with God where the prophet asks God to explain why evil continues. The Lord replies that he is raising up the Chaldeans, a wicked nation, to attack and subdue Judah. Habakkuk does not understand but finally realizes that the Lord is in His Holy Temple. It is a picture of ultimate trust in spite of  horrible days ahead.

Because of the snow the Freed-Hardeman Open Forum for day three was lightly attended. The discussions were tame as they have been all week. Questions seem to center around whether a woman could administer baptism and whether an elder could continue to serve if his wife dies.

On the question of women baptizing Dr. Ralph Gilmore asserted that the person administering baptism was largely irrelevant (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).The issue is the person being baptized and not the one administering the baptism.

As to elders who are widowed Gilmore argues that there is no de facto disqualification. However the elder, and his fellow elders, should consider whether there is a perception in the congregation that such service is problematic. If so, the elder should step down. It seemed, and this is my judgment, most agreed. Of course the Open Forum is just that – a forum – and not a decision-making body. It serves to create discussion and serious Bible study only. Freed-Hardeman is not and eldership and does not make decisions for the brotherhood. Every congregation is fully autonomous.

The lectures at Freed-Hardeman continue Thursday. It is likely the numbers will be down although the content remains excellent.

Freed-Hardeman Lectures 2011: Day Two

The Freed-Hardeman Lectures entered their first full day Tuesday with sessions beginning as early as 7:30 AM. Attendance appeared roughly equal to that  of past years although there may be some slight decrease because of weather concerns.

A new lectureship track is offered this year on writing for religious publications. Three sessions were offered at mid-day. “Why I Write.” “What to Write” and “How to Write” were attended by more people at each session. “How to Write” enjoyed an overflow crowd as Neil Anderson, owner and publisher of Gospel Advocate offered his view of what publishers look for from prospective writers. Anderson’s session was especially helpful as he dealt with concrete, nuts-and-bolts answers to common questions writers pose.

The afternoon offered a non-eventful Open Forum session under the guidance of Dr. Ralph Gilmore. Discussions centered on baptism and the Holy Spirit. Gilmore defended the essential nature of baptism as the moment of salvation based upon faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. A questioner suggested that baptism was a sacramental rite and thus not necessarily required for salvation. While there are symbolic elements in baptism, Gilmore affirmed, it is far more than just a sacrament. Baptism is essential.

Another questioner asked if a person could “feel” the Holy Spirit inside of himself. Dr. Gilmore offered an answer with an important nuance. He said that in his judgment a person could feel the fruits of the Spirit or the results of the Spirit but not the Spirit himself. He affirms that the Spirit dwells within the Christian as does the Father and the Son. But he does not believe there is an objective feeling of the Spirit within the believer.

The Wednesday Lectureship offers more on the subject of the Minor Prophets as well as other topics not directly related to the theme.

Freed-Hardeman Lectures, 2011: Day Two, James Gardner

I just listened to James Gardner offer what I think is the best lecture so far at the Freed-Hardeman Lectureships. James Gardner, an associate professor of Philosophy and Bible and Freed-Hardeman, address the question, Do Current Calamities Indicate the Judgment of God?” The text comes from Haggai 2:6-7. Gardner’s presentation was well balanced and centered entirely on the Scriptures. His conclusion? “I don’t know.”

I am always impressed when a man of learning says “I don’t know.” It says that he feels no need to craft an answer when one is not evident.

Gardner notes that miracles, that is, divine intervention in our world, occur when God chooses to reveal his work. Many things may seem miraculous but unless God makes it clear that he has intervened it really is not a miracle in the Biblical sense. A review of all the Biblical miracles will bear out his teaching on this point. In close connection he reminds us that it is intolerable to speak where God has not spoken. We must declare God’s when God has not so labeled it. But it is also intolerable to ignore what God has said what warnings he has given.

Throughout the Minor Prophets God has repeatedly warned that those who do not follow him will be punished in some fashion. Indeed for the Christian, the goal must be eternity and not the present world. Nevertheless we should expect chastisement from God for he chastens those whom he loves.

It may be that God raises and destroys nations and peoples today. But since God has not clearly spoken we cannot know if individual events are from God or merely the common events of life.

Gardner also addresses whether all things that occur are truly God’s will.

Recordings of this lecture and all lectures are available at

Freed-Hardeman Lectures, 2011 – Day One

Freed-Hardeman seemed like home as the snow began to fall on the first day of the 75th annual Bible Lectureship. The first lesson in the main series track was from Justin Rogers. His topic was “The Minor Prophets: The Messengers.” It was a fine introduction to the Minor Prophets. It was followed by David Pharr’s companion lecture “The Minor Prophets: The Message.”

If the remainder of the lectures follow suit then we will hear the common formula of indictment – punishment – promise to Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations. It should be well worth the time to listen to these discussions.

One point that I had never considered was mentioned by Rogers and Pharr. The times of the prophetic work of the Minor Prophets might extend decades while for some a brief period as short as a few months seemed to limit their work. The written message is brief and easily read in a matter of minutes but their work among the nations extended far longer. For example, Hosea’s work extended across the tenure of four kings of Judah and one of the northern tribes. His work likely exceeded 40 years of preaching. These men were not generally “shooting stars” who arose quickly and vanished away. Instead they were hard working men who brought a powerful message. That message spans the ages.

The mid-day address was offered by Chris Coil. His assigned topic was Jonah 4:11 and was entitled “Compassion for All.” Coil reminded the listeners that the same issues faced by Jonah and the other prophets were similar to those today. A reading of the Minor Prophets will enlighten our understanding of the present world in which we live and engage the modern preacher in the same work as that of the ancients.

Freed-Hardeman Lectures Begin Today

The annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University begins today. As we have done in the past we will be blogging daily on the lessons and events on campus. Open Forum is typically the most curious event on campus. Dr. Ralph Gilmore will be at the podium again this year.

The lectureship focus this year will be on the Minor Prophets, those dozen books in the back of the Old Testament that almost no one studies anymore. Hopefully the lectures will bring a renewed sense of importance to the books which are far from being minor. I look forward to spending the week with my dear friend Clark Sims who preaches for the Cottondale Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Although we speak often on the phone its always good to be with him and enjoy his friendship and brotherhood.

And yes, it is supposed to snow.

Speaking in Muscatine, Iowa

I am blessed to be in Muscatine, Iowa this week to teach the adult class for their Vacation Bible School and then to preach for them on Sunday. I was with the brethren there some years ago and was warmly received by them. I look forward to seeing them again. I also have a string family connection in Muscatine. My cousin Clyde Evans and his family are all located in that area so I will get to see them soon.

Muscatine is a small city on the banks of the Mississippi River just opposite Illinois. There is a rich heritage in the area which I hope to sample while there.

I will return Sunday night to Birmingham, Alabama where I will rejoin my family for Indian Creek Youth Camp in Walker County, Alabama. I will be working with Clark Sims to run the camp for almost 250 campers, counselors and staff. This is our sixth year and I am sure it will be the best!

Later this summer I will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama speaking at the Cottondale church of Christ. I travel to Guyana to teach in the Guyana Christian University in late September, I speak on the Summer Series at the Robertsdale church of Christ in October and then I am scheduled in a lectureship in McMinnville, Tennessee. It’s a great deal of traveling but I look forward to every opportunity. Please keep me in your prayers.