11 May 2009

That time of year again

by Phil Johnson

ong-time readers of the blog know that for several years I have spent a week each spring teaching theology at the Italian Theological Academy near Acireale, Sicily. That's at the base of Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. (The mountain is so high there's snow on it. Last year we visited the top and were treated to a blinding blizzard. Better a snowstorm than an eruption, I suppose.)

I teach systematic theology in a course that spans three years. We have one week in the classroom together each year—eight hours a day for five days straight (with a few hours off on Wednesday to break up the week.) It's grueling, especially with jet lag. (And if you think it's bad for me, imagine what my translator, David Standridge, goes through. He translates other courses on similar timetables throughout the year.)

But it's a great time, and I learn as much as I teach. Even the meal times are full of lively discussions and tough theological questions. It's my second-favorite week of the year, running a close second to Shepherds' Conference.

Darlene and I are leaving for this year's session first thing tomorrow, so I haven't got much else to blog about today. This year I'm starting at the beginning of the three-year course cycle, teaching theology proper and bibliology to an all-new group of students. I'll try to keep in touch somehow while on the road, but it's really hard to blog when you're jet-lagged and suffering classroom fatigue, so don't expect a lot of substance from me.

n an unrelated note, I've noticed a lot of Twitter-Chatter this morning about John Piper at Alistair Begg's Basics conference. (Challies is going to be live-blogging, too—evidently by time delay on West-Coast time.) In a brief Q&A session today, Piper was asked about John MacArthur's criticism of Mark Driscoll. Here's a Tweet from @PiperTravel: "JP on Driscoll and MacArthur: Watch for more to come on the Internet."

So that should be pretty interesting, huh?

Talk to you from Sicily, Lord willing.

Phil's signature


Frank Turk said...

Yeah, I'm already bored.

Who wants to bet real money that John Piper repudiates MD and calls him to public repentance in what amounts to a blog post?


So I'm bored already. Emjoy Italia and try not to unleash any prophetic acts of God while you are there.

Chris said...


Fred Butler said...

We can start a pool to see what catastrophe (natural or man-made) will befall Italy while Phil is there.

Solameanie said...

I've always wondered what it would be like to have Vesuvius, Mt. Etna and Stromboli all tune up at the same time. The last time Vesuvius blew was in 1944.

In an odd sort of way, having the pix of Etna fits. Potential eruptions in Sicily, and here in the United States, the twin peaks of Mt. St. Driscoll are unhaltering their fury. Maybe it's good you'll be out of the country for a while!

A safe and fruitful trip to you and Darlene, Phil!

Anonymous said...

Okay...you lost me at, "Even the meal times..." My trip to Italy was the spark that ignited my foodie passion.

Chris said...


Same experience with me! However, one thing that made nearly every restaurant experience in Rome frustrating was the under-handed way in which they sold us big, glass bottles of "special" Italian water which had caps on them that were not really sealed--just old tap water in special bottles! As soon as I took hold of the lid, they just twisted off with little or no effort. Very un-prego! (c:

Paul said...

the answer was cut from audio... what does that mean?

Sir Brass said...

I'm hoping Piper will say something along the lines of, "John MacArthur did what he discerned was the most biblical way to approach the situation." or some such.

Ebeth said...

Phil, Will be praying for health and safety for both you and Darlene.

DJP said...

...and everyone within the blast radius.

Daniel Calle said...

I listened to the audio of the Q & A, but that particular answer was cut. Why?

Greg said...

I just found what looks like a transcript from Piper's Q&A session where he fielded a question about Driscoll and MacArthur. This doesn't seem to agree with the Twitter comment from PiperTravel that Phil posted. Does anybody know if it is accurate?


Question: This is a big thing in churches today, the use of coarse language. I wanted to hear your opinion of those things.

Answer: I assume you are talking about John McArthur and Mark Driscoll. I would encourage nobody to become coarse, filthy, ugly in their language.

I don't think your mouth needs to be dirty in order to relate to twenty-somethings in Seattle.

I'm just not drawing the line that John is drawing on Mark's ministry. I'm going to Mark and getting in his face about his ministry. It's not just the language that I'm in his face about. I'm saying, "Come on. Let's clean this up."

He's accomplishing things in Seattle no one else is accomplishing. I'm cutting him a lot of slack. His doctrine is right on. I don't want to see either doctrine or holiness watered down.

Source: Ken's Zen Blog

William said...

If anyone's interested, this is the video that Mark Driscoll sent to Phil Johnson re: the shepherd's conference.

Not sure he answered every question Phil raised, but still grace-filled nevertheless.


DJP said...

Not sure he answered every question Phil raised....

In "Profile Not Available" land, is "every" a synonym for "any"?

William said...

DJP, didn't mean to provoke you, sorry.

But on the topic of John Piper, I am looking forward to a public response about Macarthur/Driscoll:


Picture of the Mt. looks great!