Barrett, Marriage, and Barrett-isms

Last weekend couples from several Northeast Ohio churches gathered at a marriage conference hosted by Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio. (Thanks to the Scheiderers and the BCC family!) The speaker was Dr. Michael Barrett, President of Geneva Reformed Seminary. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Dr. Barrett’s influence on my delight in and understanding of the Scriptures has been significant. He was gospel-centered before gospel-centered was cool. I love the man.

Well, this weekend marked the first time he’d been asked to speak at a marriage conference, which makes me smile. He borrowed some marriage books from his son and my friend Chuck Barrett to help him prepare. Predictably, he was thoroughly unimpressed (though I do have in my possession a [staged] picture of him reading a certain Seattle pastor’s recent marriage book, which I’d be willing to part with for the right price). Anyway, it seems that he used as his main study resource the Bible itself. Fascinating. The sessions were as insightful as you’d expect, and probably more theological than any marriage series in history. I commend them to you. You can download them here.

Besides the profitable lessons, we enjoyed numerous conversations with Mike and Sandy and laughed with the Scheiderers over certain Barrett-isms and eccentricities.

  • The untucked backs of his ties, which made me want to interrupt his lectures and fix them
  • His cigar-like-handling of chalk holders
  • “Read your Bible!” and its second cousin “Don’t you people read your Bibles?”

Precious memories…

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19 Responses

  1. Barrett was the BEST Bible teacher at Bob Jones. One of my favorite “Barrett-isms” was his keen observation as a Teacher of God’s Word that prompted him to say with an ever so subtle smirk:

    “I am God’s gift to you people!”

    He is the only teacher I’ve had the privilege to be under where his exaltation of Christ in the book of Revelation brought students to tears, not out of guilt, but based on the sheer glory of Christ. I still have crisp memories of him exalting Christ.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed all classes I had with him; and enjoyed my time to work with Sandy as well. I will be sure to download those messages.

    Another Barrettism, “don’t misunderstand me…”

  3. Can’t wait to listen to these, Chris. Thanks for posting. The title of his last session is classic: Marriage: Read Your Bible and Get on with It.

    Other favorite Barrett-isms:
    “What’s your problem, Peterson?” (addressing Brian Peterson in class)
    “Teaching you people Greek is my summer job. Some guys work maintenance or security. I teach Greek.”

  4. This was on SermonAudio.com a few years back. Funny. https://mytwocents.files.wordpress.com/2006/03/Barrett.jpg

  5. I count it a privilege to have had Barrett as my teacher for 5 classes – 2 1/2 OT and 2 1/2 NT (the halves represent the class “Daniel and Revelation”). So thankful for his extreme patience with all of us lower life forms! He was my favorite teacher and continues to be one of my favorite preachers too! Really enjoyed reading through the various “Barrettisms” and the memories that they conjured up in my mind!

  6. Mike is very serious in class, but he metamorphosizes into a very funny guy when he’s in the woods. The same person who never held a piece of chalk in his fingers for fear of getting dust on his clothing, is the same person I once heard exclaim, “There’s nothing better than warming your hands on a cold morning by getting them into deer guts!”

    He never utters a serious word out hunting. You must keep this in mind if you ever hunt with him. I was out with him when I shot my first deer. As I was field dreesing the animal and holding the heart in my hand, He said with a perfectly straight face, “OK, Jaeggli, we have a hunt club rule: when it’s your first deer, you have to take a bite out of the heart.” I looked into his poker face for some hint of jesting but found none. As I stood there contemplating such a disgusting ritual, he couldn’t stand it anymore and burst out laughing. That’s Barrett. I have many fond memories of his classes and outside his class.

  7. he is serious in class (even more serious in the pulpit), but get him in a couples’ retreat… oh my! if you take the time to listen you will not be disappointed. at the humor or the Gospel-saturated marriage advice!

  8. Yep, classic Barrett. Thoroughly enjoy him & his teaching. One of 2 favorite professors I had. Many fond memories of his classes on both undergrad & grad levels. The Lord used him & his lecture on Eph. 1:6 to turn my life around as a junior. Major turning point; a liberating day. Was thankful to have him preach at my ordination.

  9. Many funny stories about him in class could be shared but the first one that popped into my mind was one particular occasion in Hebrew class. Dr. Barrett had scribbled some Hebrew on the chalkboard as he was lecturing and one of my classmates made the mistake of raising his hand and saying something to the effect that he couldn’t read what had been written on the board. Dr. Barrett paused, stepped away from the board, looked at what he had written, looked at the student, looked back at the board again and then put his hand with the chalk holder on his shoulder. As soon as he made that gesture, I remember thinking, “Uh oh. He (the student) is gong to get it!” Dr. Barrett said, “You can’t read my writing?” as he walked toward the student’s desk. By now there’s a certain tension building in the air as all eyes were now fixed on him and the student. The student said “No” as Dr. Barrett stood over him looking down upon him. He looked back at the board and said, “You sure you can’t read my writing? I can read it just fine!” He then walked back to the platform near the lectern and then turning to the student said something to the effect, “I am a teacher: teachers love to be understood.” He then read the writing to the student and made sure he understood it. Once the student acknowledged his understanding of what had been written, Dr. Barrett responded with “Wonderful.” Then pausing a few more moments as he looked at the board at what he had written, he turned to the student and with a serious face said, “I tell you what. I’ll make a deal with you. If you want to learn how to write Hebrew, take Rude (Dr. Rude had the most gorgeous looking square script–most impressive). If you want to learn Hebrew, take me.” The class erupted with laughter.

    (Did Dr. Barrett still part his hair down the middle when any of you had him for class in the 90’s? That’s the way he wore his hair in the 80’s.)

    I also remember him mentioning that Sandra would frequently get on to him for teasing his students. Great man; thankful for him. One of the best professors.

  10. I always thought that I was paying tuition to be taught, so if I had a question, I should ask it. I’ll never forget the day he looked at me and said, “WHERE do you GET these questions?” Wish I could remember which question it was that triggered that….

    The most valuable thing I ever heard from him was when he let our OTI class have it because he’d asked how many times we had read the Old Testament, and the answers were pathetic. “You want to be preachers and you haven’t even read your Bibles?” I suspect most of his students heard that….

  11. Great stuff, Chris. He was always one of my absolute favorite professors, even though he would make fun of me during class, then right after class ask me if I wanted to go play golf. Incredible.

    I remember in one of the OT classes that I had with him there was a know-it-all guy who would not shut up. One day, as this guy was bloviating, Dr. Barrett stopped him in mid sentence and asked him if he really believed what he was saying. When the guy answered, “yes,” Dr. Barrett told him then he was a heretic. Pretty sure the guy was silent for the rest of the semester.

    By the way, I heard Dr. Barrett speak at Clearwater a couple of weeks ago. Gave absolutely the best exposition of Ezekiel 1 that I have ever heard. If you get a change to listen to it, it is well worth your time.

  12. By the way, my memory is not so good now that I am over forty. If that bloviating know-it-all was you, Chris, I apologize for sharing that story.

  13. I’m obviously not the know-it-all, as I’m having to go look up “bloviating” right now. Yeah, I hated the “this-isn’t-really-a-question” questions. Hilarious.

  14. Speaking of exceptional messages, Barrett’s preaching from Zechariah 3 and Joshua’s filthy garments was a vital moment in my life that enhanced my appreciation of justification forever.

  15. Minor Prophets class – Habakkuk 3:16-19 – I vividly remember his summarizing this passage with “Though there are tears in my eyes, I joy in the God of my salvation.” I use that expression in my own heart to this day when He allows the hurts.

    I think I took every single undergrad bible class he taught.

  16. those verses from habakkuk are the most memorable Scripture memory assignment from college! oh to have such faith that God is more precious than my salvation…

  17. I also remember when he would talk about is wife. Every single time he did some weird dance where he wiggled his fingers by his heart and moved his shoulders and legs like a nervous ninth grader standing by the girl he’s had a crush on since the 1st grade!

  18. Few things have had greater influence on me than Barrettology, as my friends and I affectionately referred to his teaching.

    Once a student sitting in the back row asked if Barrett thought repentance was necessary for conversion/salvation. Barrett exploded, flipping his tie(s) with one hand, smoking his chalk with the other, and kicking his legs up almost waste-high as he paced down the aisle to the student and back up again hardly saying anything for a full minute.

    My favorite Barrettism, which I thoroughly enjoy repeating to my children (at least for the time being): “I’ve forgotten more than you people have ever learned.”

    I was also always jealous of Dan Schwieder–the only student I ever heard Barrett tell, “I’m impressed”–because Dan, a farmer, was able to explain what kind of horses Zech 1 was referring to.

  19. […] MTC posts on Michael Barrett here, here, and here.) Share this:FacebookEmailTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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