being a faithful pastor

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I am genuinely concerned by a phenomenon taking place in evangelical Christianity. No, its not some kind of insidious plot to overthrow orthodoxy. Nor is it a conspiracy to undermine missional efforts. Instead, it is the attitude that serving a local church is a means to an end. Far too many men who are “called” to ministry view the local church as the place to build their brand and establish a platform. It seems that many seminary students have dreams of becoming the next Matt Chandler, John Piper, or David Platt. Few desire to be Steve Lewis.

Who is Steve Lewis, you ask? Exactly! I didn’t know him either. However, the city in which I pastor is littered with people whom “Pastor Steve” impacted. Evidently he was a man who really believed the gospel, faithfully served his church, and then died. What’s my point? Well, “Pastor Steve” never wrote a book (to my knowledge), never spoke at a major conference, and he didn’t have a blog or his own personal logo. He was simply a faithful pastor whose gospel legacy has lived on well beyond his life.

My fear is that we have so many guys aiming to be the next David Platt (and sorry guys…99.9% of you will miss this target), that they will never become Steve Lewis. Genuine pastoral ministry isn’t flashy, it is faithful service. It isn’t about building a brand, it is about making much of Jesus. It isn’t about building a platform, it is about advancing the kingdom. 

If you serve Christ as a faithful pastor like Matt Chandler, John Piper, and David Platt have and in the midst of this service God gives you a platform, then use it well. However, Chandler, Piper, and Platt were not aiming to be the next Adrian Rodgers or Charles Spurgeon. They were aiming to be guys like Steve Lewis. Don’t aim for fame. Purpose to be faithful. Wait, don’t just purpose to be faithful. Instead, pray that God would keep you faithful. 

The Watchtower and the Word

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My friend Stephen Bedard has written a new book on engaging Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Check out the description from his website:

“Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? You have all the right intentions but the conversation quickly goes down a dozen rabbit trails. How can you have a productive conversation?

My new book, The Watchtower and the Word, is an attempt to provide the resources you need. Although it is a response to What Does the Bible Really Teach? it really is a guide to having a good conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses without getting sidetrack on the nonessential issues. The book is purposely short so that it is accessible to laypeople. And yet it is based on careful research. The Watchtower and the Word is written in a respectful way and it is one of my hopes that you will be able to get a Jehovah’s Witness to read it in exchange for you reading their material.

Make sure to get your copy now.” – Stephen J. Bedard

book released: Joseph Smith’s Tritheism

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My new book, Joseph Smith’s Tritheism, was just released. WIPFSTOCK_Template

It is freshly available through both Amazon and Wipf & Stock.

I am very thankful for the kind endorsements from the following academics:

“Hartman shows that a grasp of historic Trinitarian thought matters. In this context, it matters for Christians seeking to understand and evaluate the doctrine of God held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. By carefully articulating Joseph Smith’s classic tritheistic view against the historic Nicene Creed, Hartman offers the reader—whether Christian or Mormon—a framework for such a conversation. In this respect, this is a unique and timely work.”
—Ed Smither, Professor of Intercultural Studies, Columbia International University

“Dayton Hartman’s well-researched and well-reasoned book serves as a reminder that a proper understanding of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity—in its biblical and historical context—is necessary to accurately evaluate the theological claims of Mormonism, not to mention other departures from orthodoxy. Hartman ably shows that Mormonism’s view of deity is deficient and that creedal Christianity, which is a truthful distillation of the Scriptures, is not.”
—Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University

“In his excellent book, Dayton Hartman not only carefully explores the basis for the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity but he skillfully compares that Nicene orthodoxy with the tragic tritheistic theology of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Hartman provides a thoughtful explanation of the various theological, historical, and cultural influences that shaped Smith’s basic beliefs about God. This is an important and valuable theological-apologetics work.”
—Kenneth Samples, Senior Research Scholar, Reasons to Believe

“In the light of Mormonism’s recent claims to be a valid Christian denomination, Dayton Hartman provides a thorough critique of its tritheism. By displaying Joseph Smith’s beliefs and motivations, as well as contemporary efforts to conceal this heresy, he capably shows that it is incompatible with the Bible and early Christian doctrine. A solid treatment exemplifying careful academic interaction with aberrant theology.”
—Winfried Corduan, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion, Taylor University

“This book provides a starting point for discussions on Trinitarian doctrine and its heterodox expressions. This is a thought provoking work that offers a solid foundation for further research on these (and related) issues.”
—Leo Percer, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary

“Dayton Hartman’s Joseph Smith’s Tritheism offers readers significant insight into the cultural milieu out of which Smith’s doctrine of God emerged. No false doctrine ever arises out of thin air, and Hartman traces the religious influences that led Smith to a false understanding of the nature of the Godhead. . . . This is a must read for anyone interested in false religions and in the history of religions in America.”
—Fred Smith, Associate Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary

2013 IN REVIEW

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Sorry! Seriously, I’m sorry! This blog has become essentially dormant. I have big plans for 2014 and blogging, but for now until the end of 2013, I’m just trying to catch my breath. I have not given up on writing books reviews nor have I thrown in the proverbial towel when it comes to interviewing well-known authors. In fact, I’m just getting started. Yet, in light of how rarely I have posted in the last few months, I do want to thank those of you who have remained faithfully connected to this blog.

2013 has been a year dripping with evidences of God’s grace. So, rather than merely providing a glimpse of what is coming in 2014, allow me to recount what God has done over the past 12 months.

Family Life

Well, this is a big year for the Hartmans! We have officially entered min-van land. That’s right, baby Hartman #2 is on the way (2014). We are thrilled and thankful for God’s grace in giving us another child. Parenting our first son, Jude, has been a gospel-centered learning experience. Rebekah is a great mother and cares for him in a way that reflects the love of Christ. Me on the other hand, well, I’m still figuring things out. I constantly remind myself that I am the picture of God in Jude’s life, so I must be an accurate picture. Also, Mr. Waffles (our dog) is now the size of a small horse. Yay!

Hartman Family

Ministry Life

Last Christmas our family started the journey toward church planting. In April of this year we officially stepped down from our position in an established church to plant Redeemer Church in Rocky Mount, NC. God has blessed this new gospel work since its inception and we are thankful. Church planting demands much of both me and Rebekah, which is in part why my blogging has come to a grinding halt. Learn more about Redeemer Church by visiting our website or watching our intro video.

Academic Life

I finally finished my Ph.D. studies and was awarded a Ph.D. in Church and Dogma History from North-West University. Also, I began teaching classes for Judson College (online) and North Carolina Wesleyan College (on-campus). Throughout the year I have been enjoying writing various articles, but I am most excited that a re-worked version of my dissertation is being published by Wipf and Stock.

Next Year

By God’s grace I desire to continue to grow more into the image of Christ. I want to be a clearer picture of Christ as a husband, father, and pastor. I pray that by the leading of the Spirit I will be more intentional in my pursuit of the lost that God places in my life.

There is a lot coming up next year…

- My wife and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary
- Our second son will be born
- I will begin working on my next book
- Redeemer Church will be making a greater impact in Rocky Mount
- Our (Redeemer Church) newly forged partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will help us prepare young men for ministry

And there is much more I could list. However, if at the end of 2014 me, my family, and my church are no more like Christ than we are today…then no matter how busy our calendar has been or how many benchmarks have been met, 2014 will be a waste.

May Jesus be glorified in the days to come.

Stay-tuned!