Studying Romans with Dr. Moo
Dr. Douglas Moo, leading evangelical Romans scholar, teaching for a week on Romans? Really? Seems too good to be true! But indeed, there we sat, a class full of Sovereign Grace Pastors and Pastors College students, soaking in the details from Dr. Moo's vast knowledge of this magnificent letter. The class contained more details than we could absorb in a week's time, but it did provide some benefits, worth restating.
1. The value of detailed exegesis. Dr. Moo spent the whole week modeling how exegesis should look. He diagrammed, analyzed, considered, and reconsidered verse after verse before our eyes, showing us not only the way to know Romans, but the way to get to the kernel and argument of any Scripture. Though it was a class on Romans, it was equally a class on sound exegetical disciplines.
2. The value of understanding opposing positions. Throughout the week, Dr. Moo revealed the depth of his awareness of interpretive and theological positions he does not hold, even on individual verses. The depth of his consideration of opposing interpretations was a provocation for thorough scholarship, indeed for a thorough study of any kind! In the end, when he stated his position on a particular passage of Romans, one felt quite sure his decision is based on a detailed examination of the options. The confidence derived from this kind of survey was enviable, indeed, provoking and inspiring, as was his grace and kindness toward those scholars with whom he disagrees.
3. The value of the magnificent gospel. From the first day to the last, we were treated to an explanation of why the gospel of Jesus Christ is our greatest treasure. From its revelation of the righteousness of God, to the provision of our justification, to the certainty of our death to sin in Christ, to our freedom from the law as our salvation, to our calling to live out the gospel in our community through servanthood and sacrifice for one another--the gospel is indeed the power of God, for everyone who believes.
4. The value of a gospel heritage. This wasn't an essential part of his teaching on the text of Romans, but I can't help but celebrate it as a point of value for every Sovereign Grace Pastor and student. Though the depth of Dr. Moo's teaching was overwhelming, the topics and the priorities of the gospel that he explained were not new to us. There was richness this week, but, in the essentials, there was not a novelty. This fact made me grateful for our family of churches, and the leaders who have taught us from beginning and continue to teach us in the Pastor's College and other venues year after year. We are a gospel family, a family that loves justification by faith. A family determined to see the gospel applied. Romans provides a call that we will never fulfill perfectly, a letter that our teaching will never exhaust. But these themes are near, dear, and historic for us. A week on Romans, more than anything else, reinvigorated us to keep on valuing what we have always valued, the gospel of Jesus Christ. I thank God that the true meaning of this letter is an affirmation and not a correction to our course. Praise God for that heritage, and may we remain faithful to it for the generation still to come.
Jon Payne is the senior pastor of Redemption Hill Church in Round Rock, TX. Jon also serves Sovereign Grace Churches on the Executive Committee.