Belmont University’s School of Religion is partnering with the Baptist Center Ethics to write Bible commentary for “The Agenda: 8 Lessons from Luke 4,” a free, online study to help prepare churches for next year’s New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta.

The commentary, along with sample lessons and other resource material, is available here.

Located in Nashville, Tenn., Belmont University is a fast-growing school with nearly 4,500 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries.

Commentary writers are:

–Mark McEntire, associate professor of religion. McEntire teaches introductory and advanced courses in Old Testament, as well as Hebrew language courses.

–Bob Byrd, professor of religion. Byrd teaches Greek, New Testament and preaching and holds the H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching.

–Darrell Gwaltney, dean of the School of Religion. Gwaltney teaches biblical studies, theology and church leadership classes.

–Andy Watts, assistant professor of Christian ethics.

–Judy Skeen, professor of religion. Skeen teaches classes in New Testament, wisdom literature, pastoral care and spiritual formation.

–Marty G. Bell, professor of religion. Bell teaches classes in the world religions.

–Todd L. Lake, vice president for spiritual development. Lake has taught classes in theology, education and business ethics on the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“The Agenda: 8 Lessons from Luke 4” enlists writers from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, race, ethnicity and nationality to examine the Bible chapter that includes the foundational text for the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 gathering to unite Baptists from North America around Jesus’ moral agenda as announced in his first sermon recorded in Scripture to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth.

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In the introduction to “The Agenda,” Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, said the study takes a “material” reading of the text, in contrast to other studies that tend to spiritualize or otherwise water down the message of justice for the poor and oppressed.

The study is offered free of charge by the Baptist Center for Ethics in partnership with other organizations.

“Our hope is that Baptists across North America will use these lessons in preparing their hearts, minds and hands to pursue Jesus’ mission statement,” Parham said. “We hope that we will be hearers and doers of the word (Jas 1:22), that our minds might be transformed (Rom 12:2) and that we might become known as those who do good for and with others (Mt 7:12).”

Other resources include excerpts from an upcoming “Baptists’ Bible Project” tracking how Baptists have read and interpreted the Bible over four centuries.

The supplemental resource, offered in collaboration with Mikael Parsons of Baylor University and Bill Leonard of Wake Forest Divinity School, offers a sneak preview of The Baptists’ Bible, a work in progress due to be completed and published in time for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first Baptist church in Amsterdam in 2009.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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