Mark D. Roberts

Part 13 of series: Sharing Laity Lodge
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Recently Gordon Fee came to speak at Laity Lodge. He is now a Professor Emeritus of Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. Before retiring, he taught New Testament courses at Regent, and before that at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Gordon Fee is a highly regarded New Testament scholar, and an expert in the field of textual criticism. He has written several books, among them How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (with Doug Stuart). (Photo to right: Dr. Gordon Fee holding forth in the Great Hall of Laity Lodge.)
Gordon Fee spoke for a retreat of people from the First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio. He focused on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, doing, as one might expect, an excellent job of interpreting the biblical text. (By the way, Gordon has written the best seminary-level guide to the interepretation of the New Testament: New Testament Exegesis.)
I won’t summarize Gordon Fee’s teaching here. But I do want to mention something he said almost as an aside. He was dealing with Philippians 3:1, which says, “Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.” Gordon explained that this is not a command to feel happy feelings. Paul is not saying, “Rev yourself up and be joyful.” Rather, this is a command to praise the Lord, to worship God. It may well be that when we do this, we will feel joy. But that’s not the main point. Paul is repeating in Philippians what can be found throughout the Psalms: calls to praise God through joyful expression.
Gordon Fee has nothing against feeling happy, I’m quite sure. But his take on Philippians is a helpful one. Perhaps you have wondered how you’re supposed to make yourself feel joyful when your down in the dumps. It can almost seem as if Paul is telling us to do the impossible. But when we understand that he is calling us to praise God, then we’re released from the task of having to make ourselves feel a certain way, a task that often leads to denial and pretending.

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