Who Am I?
Well, my name is Derek Zaglul Rishmawy. I’m a new Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School attempting to study Systematic Theology. I’m the happy husband of the lovely McKenna. I’m also a former college pastor, which means I still think ministry thoughts and care too much about pop culture things. Beyond that I am an admitted cliche: glasses, too many books, coffee, craft beer, facial hair, and a blog that takes too much of my time. I’m a staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture, contributor for The Gospel Coalition, and sometimes sites like Mere Orthodoxy & Christianity Today let me say things. I also co-host a podcast called Mere Fidelity.
Most importantly, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I’ve been taught that since I was a kid. I think it’s going to take the rest of my life to figure out what that means.
The title is an indicator of both my spiritual reality and theological outlook. Also, of the fact that I add “ish” to the end of a lot of words–more than I should really. The spiritual reality is that, while I’ve been saved in Christ through that ridiculous Gospel of grace and am even now being indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God, I am still in serious need of reformation–I am a work in progress. Much grace has been given–more will be needed. This is evident in my writing.
Theologically I’ve become increasingly rooted in the Reformed tradition. I was drawn to this little patch of Christian thought by a few guys: Kevin Vanhoozer, Alvin Plantinga, Tim Keller, and N.T. Wright. They introduced me to their buddy, John Calvin. We’ve been friends ever since. This hasn’t always been the case, though, which means I’m still fairly new to this wing of things. I am not knee-jerk Reformed, nor an expert in the tradition. Consider me an increasingly avid novice. Still, I know that the Christian tradition is a broad and deep one so I try to read outside of what I’ve come to think of as my theological home.
C.S. Lewis has a wonderful passage in Mere Christianity about this. He talks about ‘Mere Christianity’ of the sort he is writing about as a hallway that leads into many doors, the doors of actual church communions and traditions. It’s in the rooms where real Christianity happens. I’ve recently found my room to be the Reformation tradition, and, for the time, a Presbyterian Church. I do so because I believe both in its adherence to central Orthodox tenets as well as a growing appreciation for its distinctives. Still, I hope to take the attitude Lewis speaks of when he writes:
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rooms common to the whole house.
In that spirit, (and hopefully in the Spirit), I’d like this blog to embody some of the best features of the tradition (commitment to the Scriptures, the Gospel, scholarship, and fidelity to historic orthodoxy), while avoiding some of the pitfalls (theological pride, over-fondness for polemics, stuffiness.) One of my Methodist buddies calls me his “friendly Calvinist” friend. I’ll try to live up that. Even though, for the record, I prefer ‘Reformed.’
Now, as for the blog itself, I don’t know what to say beyond the fact that it’s a blog. You will find bloggish things here. Beyond that it is my blog. This means it will primarily consist in my various explorations, meditations, proclamations, observations, and yes, at times, exhortations on myriad subjects. Given my interests, these might include things like: Jesus, cultural commentary, the Gospel, biblical studies, systematic theology, philosophy, music, books, other blogs, and so forth.
One particular conviction I have is that doctrine matters; the drama of everyday life is the stuff of doctrine. It is only in knowing that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, has humbled himself and died for my sins and the sins of my wife and (future) children that I am motivated to humble myself and “die” for their sakes in the way I treat them in my day-to-day life. It is only because I know that in Jesus Christ, God has, at far greater cost, forgiven me my sins that I can forgive my mother, my father, my husband or wife and not let bitterness poison our relationship. It is only because I know that God himself has come to dwell within me through the Holy Spirit, that I have the strength and confidence to go to my job and live a life of Christian witness before the watching world. Basically, it is only because of the great doctrines of the faith such as Trinity and Atonement that I can truly live in the midst of my “real life.” Given this, I hope that any explorations of Christian doctrine or scripture that I engage in here will not be purely academic, or speculative, but rather, have a spiritual and practical end-goal.
I am also somewhat of a natural resourcer. By that I mean that if I can get you to read or hear something that’s been of benefit to me, I will pass it on. So, I will often be linking other sites, books, and possibly sermons for you to enjoy.
Finally, Reformedish is my own personal blog. The views expressed here by me or by an affiliate do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the company I work for, my church, or the events and programs I’m involved in. Please don’t blame them for my silliness.
I was a political science major at UCI from 03-05. I also recall taking a course in epistemology with Dr. Barrett. Small world!
Haha! That’s awesome. Actually, I was a poli sci major when I started out there. So, we probably over-lapped.
That’s really crazy! Curious to hear your reasons for switching. (I switched to English Lit.)
I almost switched to English. The quick story is that I felt the call into ministry and got bored with poli sci. I was torn between philosophy and English, but I ended up going with philosophy because I felt like it would give me a better foundation for seminary. Plus, I liked it. How about you?
Augustine sums it up nicely for me: “My discipline as a student drew praise, and I thought I could excel as a litigator in the courts. The more my work was praised, the better I became at it. Such is human blindness… I swelled with arrogance.”
So yeah, switched to English in a university in Korea! Haha.
I’m in my second year in seminary now, working on an MA. Thinking about pursuing more academics.
Would love to hear about your academic interests (if you’re still pursuing a PhD). Maybe a brief email when you’re free?
Nice meeting you on the blogosphere!
Sweet! Yeah, I got my MA. I’d like to go get another or maybe go straight to the Ph.D. I think I should do church work for a while first, though. Being freshly-married is something I think about. Also, I always want to think out of a church-context. My favorite theologians always have. We’ll see what God has for us.
Glad I stumbled upon your blog. Looks like we have all the important things in common… 🙂
Glad you stumbled upon my blog as well. Always fun to find some fellow, Bearded-Gospel Men.
I came across your blog because of Connor. I liked the way you have your About Me section laid out here, so I used your format to create this for my blog and blog facebook page. Thanks 🙂
Absolulely! Borrow away. I’m pretty sure I borrowed it from someone else. 🙂
Well, I did not borrow much, but the outline seen here:
It was helpful to have an outline to lay out my blog’s page.
Do you pay for your blog? Did you do the $18 a year for the URL or the $100 package? i noticed yours is derekezrishmawy.com so i was curious.
Hey Derek! I came across a recent blog of yours that was featured on The Gospel Coalition’s website, and I absolutely love your post! Such a wonderful, concise, gracious exhortation for Christians in the states to love this particular neighbor. I thank God for your salvation, brother!
And hey, I’m newish to Reformed teachings, too! Don’t they just bless your soul? 🙂
I look forward to reading more of what you have to say!
Thanks for stopping by! I am glad fo hear you were blessed by that article. Yes, Reformed teachings are a blessing because usually they point to us Christ.
Great blog Derek, I have a son-in-law I think highly of with that name. Someone linked to your post about looking for single reformed men and I thought it was funny, but good, So I explored your blog. Great serious stuff here. Thanks.
Viola, thanks for the comments. I’m glad there’s another Derek out there wearing the name proudly. May his tribe increase.
Another political science major here. So random. Great blog you’ve got. You have a new follower. Blessings.
Thanks! Glad to have you!
Derek, I have awarded you the Liebster Award, for a great blog with less than 200 followers that I think people are missing out on. I enjoy your thought-provoking posts, since I also find myself moving toward a more Reformed theology. See http://atypicalamateur.com/2014/01/19/liebster-award/ for more information about the award.
Hello Derek, I have no idea how I came across your site unless it was something from Christianity Today article you might have submitted and I replied to one of your commenters. When I discovered that your BLOG was by someone of your name, my curiosity was piqued. Thinking it might be something Turkish or Iranian, I discovered it was only found in Greece and the United States. I am aware of how folk can have their names misspelled on their forms when passing through Ellis Island (or Bedlow Island ) in the good ol’ times of America, I considered that first but not what origin. As for Greek…I have never heard such a sound in that language or at least in the Koine I have come across. I am Cherokee/Irish and could NEVER give you what my Indian name would have been like though being a direct male lineage from a Cherokee orphan adopted by a HALE, I did discover the original name was Aker or Acre.
Now for grins, do you know the origins of your name? Was it a misspell or was it in some shape or form Greek?
It’s a lot simpler than that. It’s Palestinian. There are a ton of Rishmawys running around Bethlehem.
I pinned you. On Pinterest, that is. 🙂
Thank you for writing the blog “Jesus was not a Stoic’ I am still digesting it, but it’s like you were anticipating my questions. I came across Epictetus through James Stockdale work and it has helped me get through a debilitating upper cervical injury. I feel a bit ‘guilty’ in some ways reading stoicism and not bringing it back to Christ. It seems to me, like math and science in some ways, philosophy or stoicism is just discovering the truths that God has structurally established in the world. Which means Jesus would be the incarnation of the original stoic. I wanted to write a piece (for me really as it would not be blog worthy) titled “Jesus was the Original Stoic.” You can almost go verse by verse in the NT and see the obvious parallels. That said, you have made me really think about it and I appreciate that. GodSpeed to you.
Sorry about that. I was just gonna say, I really like your blog. Keep up the good work.
Hey man, I’m enjoying your blog! How far are you into your PhD now?
I came across your blog while searching for a Tim Keller sermon. You keep good company.
I have thoroughly enjoyed (poorly chosen word here) or, rather, deeply appreciated the dialogue posted here. Thank you, Derek, for your informed and discerning thoughts as well as your gracious responses. I have gained a greater sense of the issues both historically and practically. But the dialogue and the ability to dialogue has been most refreshing. In our present culture of political chaos and childishness all around, our society has spiraled downward in regard to civil dialogue. Partakers in this particular dialogue of theology and practice are models of those capable of leading our nation, indeed our world, to a greater degree of civility in speech, in civil manners, in good will, and on FaceBook! As always, may the Church of Jesus Christ lead the nations of the world toward right (orthodox!) thinking, right living, right dialogue … and toward Jesus Christ!
Hi, Derek. I learned about you from your excellent piece at CT on James K.A. Smith. You are spot on. I look forward to becoming more familiar with your work. SDG!
Subbed to your blog. Love the content and feel. Not sure how I stumbled upon you (something to do reformed forum/J.Oliphint?), glad I did.
Hi Derek, I came across a blog post searching for a few things and lost it and was wondering if you could help me! It was basically how to be patient and grace filled when walking with someone along their journey to becoming reformed. It really fits where I am and wanted to share it with my husband- I know it’s a long shot but could you try and point me to where it is/was??! Thank you for any help and I appreciate your honestly and relatability in all this.
Hello, Nicole. Thanks for the nice note. I think I’ve written on this a couple of times, but this article is probably the one you’re talking about:
Also, there was a follow-up on my blog, which you can look up. I hope this helps!
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I wonder if you could help me please. I am trying to get as clear and as accurate view as possible on the Atonement (I know it is ultimately an incomprehensible truth). I am aware of some of the things you have written and the fact that Ian Paul on psephizo.com has quoted some of what you have written to support his concerns about penal substitution, and I have debated with him on that site. I was struck recently by a phrase on page 212 of Stephen Wellum’s book ‘Christ Alone’: “He (i.e. Christ), along with the Father and the Spirit, is the offended party;”. This is one of the issues I am trying to grapple with because I presently incline to the view that we are faced from birth onwards with the wrath and condemnation of God, not just with the wrath and condemnation of the Father only. The other issue is integrating the doctrine of the two natures of Christ into the Atonement doctrine. I am inclined to think that these two issues are related and I know you have commented on the two natures on the article that Ian Paul mentioned in his website. I would be very grateful if you are aware of and could point me to any scholarly debate/disagreement on either or both of these two issues that I am trying to tackle: books, online discussions, articles debates etc.