Monday, November 28, 2005

Why I Love Youth Ministry

So, Thanksgiving was a simply fabulous week with Renee's family. Today was sort of back to normal with church stuff but we had a mystery movie night tonight.

Because we're in Pennsylvania and tomorrow is the first day of deer season, our kids don't have school. So, Sean wisely planned an activity that not surprisingly, drew about 40 kids. Here's what I got paid to do tonight

1) Be the "DVD" Master for game of Disney Scene-It
2) Eat Pizza
3) Watch Finding Nemo
4) Hang out with a really great group of kids

You'll notice in the photos that I now have two tattoos, care of Mia. The one says "Newbie loves Mrs. Newbie". When I first started at Northmont, back in October of 2003 I was given the nickname of "Newbie" and to this day it has stuck. The other one says "Mother" since they decided I was an "English Biker" with two tattoos… but you know what? They pay me to do this job! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm Eastern Orthodoxy - Presbyterian - Anglican

So I took a quiz on Christian traditions tonight and not surprisingly, here are my results.

(100%) 1: Eastern Orthodox
(89%) 2: Presbyterian/Reformed
(87%) 3: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England
(80%) 4: Roman Catholic
(75%) 5: Lutheran
(68%) 6: Congregational/United Church of Christ
(49%) 7: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic)
(41%) 8: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene
(36%) 9: Seventh-Day Adventist
(24%) 10: Church of Christ/Campbellite
(22%) 11: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God
(20%) 12: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.)
(10%) 13: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist

It look my study of Athanasius and T.F. Torrance is rubbing off?

I'm actually not at all suprised by how the rankings came out.  The quiz was designed to peg the Presbyterian/Reformed view as unconditional election/limited atonement, where as with my more Athanasian view its not surprise I ended up being Easter Orthodox.

Take the quiz for yourself

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here they are...

So last spring I had about $215 left over on my Cokesbury account. Northmont paid me for preaching Sunday nights in Cokesbury gift cards (hey, I got all my books paid for, I wasn't complaining). At the time Cokesbury ran a sale on Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics @ 35% off. Given the fact that when the paperback editions came out they were 39.99, and less than a year later TandTClark had raised them to 49.99 I figured that I should finish off my collection while I could get the discount. So I did. Since September I've been putting contact paper on them to help them stay together and this morning I finished putting the contact paper on IV.4 and the Index. So there they are, all 13 volumes and the index.

I also figured out I've read a little over 16% of the church dogmatics. I've read all of IV.1 (779 pages), some of IV.2 (114 pages), some of 1.1 (74 pages), and some of III.4 (210 pages) for a grand total of 1177 pages out of the whole 7000 page work. Yes, I'm a dork and you can keep laughing at me...
 Posted by Picasa

Karl Barth and the Postmodern World

So this term I did a one-credit independent study with Dr. Burgess studying the work of Karl Barth.  I read sections of III.4, which is where Barth lays out his ethics based on his doctrine of creation.  The one section I was really taken with was what he called "The Active Life", so for my paper for this class I wrote on that section.  All told, its just a shade over 13 pages, not too bad for a one-credit class eh?  Well, the title should give you an ideas of what I was going for

Evangelism Through Service: Karl Barth's Theology of the Active Life as a Paradigm for Evangelism in the Postmodern/Post-Christendom Context.

Anyway, if you're bored during Thanksgiving, I've posted it on my website here

Tonight at Northmont

Tonight at Northmont I preached on a passage that I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking about.  Matthew 25:31-46 is an often-quoted passage where Jesus tells everyone that as they did to the "least of these" they did to him.  Their treatment of the least of these is then the criteria at the final judgment.  This passage was especially brought to my attention during the Generous Orthodoxy Conference when Jim Wallis mentioned that this was "conversation passage".  After he said John Franke and I had a discussion about that, because both of us were under the assumption that Jesus was specifically referring to Christian missionaries when he said "the least of these", not just anyone.  But John made an interesting comment, "Even if that wasn't the intent, I wonder if it's an appropriate use of the text".

So, I took a look at the passage.  I read five commentators on the passage, all of whom I respect: Donald Hagner, Craig Bloomberg, Craig Keener, Doug Hare, and Karl Barth (probably the biggest name missing from that list is Dale Allison, but I don't have his ICC Commentary in electronic format (yet!)).  Hagner, Bloomberg, and Keener all adopted the interpretation that Jesus was referring specifically to Christian missionaries when he said "the least of these", while Barth and Hare argued that Jesus was referring to anyone.  (Actually, Hare seemed to give arguments on both sides).  I honestly couldn't figure out which one was right so I decided to adopt neither and instead have the community take it up tonight.  So, I preached for about 12 minutes guiding them through the passage slowly and then I stopped, and asked them to turn to their neighbor and talk about the passage and who they thought "the least of these" is for our church community.  Then, after about a minute or two of discussion I shared with them quotes from Hare and Barth and let the discussion begin.  Not surprisingly, everyone agreed with Barth and Hare.  

What happened though was truly amazing, because what came out of that discussion was better than anything I could have preached.  People picked up on different things and took different angles on the text.  For some reason the part about visiting people in prison jumped out to a couple people, so we got going on that for a bit.  I never would have taken it in that direction if I had preached the whole way through.  

The biblical text isn't trapped in the 1st Century; the Spirit was speaking loud and clear tonight at Northmont.  Even if this wasn't the original intent of the author, the Spirit can still use it.  Now, part of the reason why I feel comfortable with this is this: the interpretation arrived at was grounded in the community.  This wasn't just me talking; this was the whole community talking.  Second, the interpretation we arrived at, that the Spirit is telling us today that we will be judged based on how we treated the naked, the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned is well within the (I'm struggling for the right word here) framework of the biblical message.  This isn't heresy, and it may not be a universal for all communities, but at least for Northmont, that was what the Spirit said to us tonight.  So to answer John Franke's question about whether Jim Wallis' use of the text is appropriate and suitable, I would say yes.

I think part of what I'm learning this year especially is that the role of the preacher should be to facilitate interpretation amongst the community.  It was important that I do the exegetical work of reading commentaries, doing the word studies, etc.  But ultimately those became tools which enabled the community to seek to understand the Word of God's Command for our community tonight.  The other thing is that this method of preaching is more engaging for people because it involves them, the sermon isn't something they receive; they participate in its creation.

If you want to take a look at my outline I worked with you can go to or where you can get either the outline in PDF format, the PowerPoint slides in either PDF or PowerPoint format, or hear the audio of the sermon in mp3 format (yes, I'm a dork).  I've also posted my other three sermons from earlier in the year there.  

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Finished with Finals

So I am finished with finals for my seventh term of seminary.  I took my Hebrew final this morning to finish off three finals in three days.  I also finished drafts of both my papers that are due on Monday, and got a start on the liturgy for Sunday evening's service.  The only bad part, Syracuse lost to Florida in what was an otherwise awesome game (well, the first half was great)

So now it is a week off, which will really be nice.  Tuesday Renee is arriving and Wednesday we're headed over to her families' for Thanksgiving.  During the break I am going to try and get some sort of ministry resume put together until I'm clearer to circulate my PIF (Personal Information Form – fancy Presbyterian name for a long resume).  I have also started reading Beyond Foundationalism by Stanley Grenz and John Franke.  I've decided that I want to keep reading something academic besides my assigned readings for classes because it keeps me sharp and can often help me get ideas for papers.  I think there will be a lot of similarities between The Character of Theology and Beyond Foundationalism but I think Beyond Foundationalism will go deeper into the subject.  

My other project that I've been working on is an event in February with John Franke and some Emerging Church leaders from here in Pittsburgh.  February ninth is the day.  Dr. Franke is going to speak at ESF (Evangelical Student Fellowship), give a talk in the afternoon, and then take part in a conversation about the Emerging Church with some of the EC-types from here in Pittsburgh.  That evening he's going to meet with the Emergent Cohort in a small group to discuss some of his recent articles.  All in all, I think it's going to be a good day.  I hope to record most of the day and make it available in .mp3 format when all is done.  

But for now its off to enjoy my first stress-free sleep since Monday.  

Friday, November 18, 2005

Confessing the Faith

This term I took a course entitled "Confessing the Faith Today" which was a doctrinal survey of the Book of Confessions.  I took my final this week and we were given "ordination exam type questions".  They aren't exactly like ords, but they are similar.  I've posted my responses here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Other Reformed Relic

There are only two Reformed Relics in the world - John Calvin's Chair and the desk of Karl Barth. The desk of Karl Barth sits in the Library here at Pittsburgh Seminary and I have seen it many times. However - the other relic, John Calvin's chair, I have indeed seen in his church in Geneva. And there it is - in all its glory - the other Reformed relic! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Website

So Renee and I have moved into the 21st Century and are taking a big step: we're moving into cyberspace together.  That's right, we have our very own domain name.

If I'm being completely honest, Renee has worked a lot harder on what's there than I have.  But my website has been moved there (not that there's much of interest there either).  Eventually it'll have wedding information on it, which is its real purpose.

Confessional Theology

Today I compiled nine of my one page papers that I wrote for Dr. Burgess' Confessing the Faith Today course into one document and published it.  It's in draft format, at some point I'll add a lengthier introduction with some explanation as to method, use of Confessional Theology, etc. but for now it is what it is.  Most of you reading this will not want to look at it, but if you plan on taking the PC(USA) ordination exams, especially in theology, it might be helped.  It's located here

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Blog...

So I created a new blog today, not to replace this one but rather to be a place where I will post longer entries, etc.  The first up will be an introduction to ten aspects of confessional theology, from my work in Confessing the Faith Today.  The second will be my ordination exams.  Again, not the most exciting stuff so I won't post it on my main blog (this one) but it may be of interest to some people.

It'll be

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


So I'm basically a slacker who doesn’t like doing my Hebrew homework, and will do almost anything to avoid doing it, including doing work on a papers.

I'm writing a paper for my independent study with Dr. Burgess that was supposed to be entitled:

"Evangelism through Service Karl Barth’s Theology of the Active Life as a Paradigm for Evangelism in the Postmodern Context"

I realized tonight that that title isn't complete enough.  The new title is

Evangelism through Service: Karl Barth’s Theology of the Active Life as a Paradigm for Evangelism in the Postmodern/Post-Christendom Context.  

What I realized tonight is that part of the problem when it comes to evangelism, particularly that which is done by the church, is that it is not only the Postmodern world but also the Post-Christendom world that has made evangelism especially difficult.  No longer does the church occupy the space it once did, so the philosophy of "build it and they will come" or "open the doors and they will come" or "let them know when our services are through advertising and they will come" just won't work anymore.  Now, don't get me wrong, people do come to church by knowing when services are and us opening our doors, but at least in my experience that's becoming less and less effective.  And, it tends to attract the same type of people who are already part of the church.  We must adopt a missional approach to everything we do in the church.

With that in mind – can anyone point me to good resources on Post-Christendom ?  I was able to snag the first chapter of Stuart Murray's Book, "Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World"

Monday, November 07, 2005

What is Truth?

BJ Woodworth, fellow PTS seminary student, has posted his reflections on "What is Truth" which I found quite insightful.  He draws a contrast between a scientific method of knowing and how Christians know "Truth" since Truth is Jesus Christ.  Here are my comments…

"Scientific language seeks to remove ambiguity by using precise and absolute statements"

This is often a characterization of science (and something that people who are not scientists claim science can do but in reality, even science ends in ambiguity.  (This shouldn't be taken as a critique of BJ, what I'm saying is that even science actually ends in ambiguity also).  Back in my science days I would do experiment after experiment and on each and every one of them I had to record my percent error.  Even the best instruments a scientist uses has a limit to how precise it can be.  Even dear old mathematics can't escape ambiguity, as there are significant figures that control how precise a mathematical calculation can be.  To put it plainly, you can't keep 19 decimal places if your original data doesn't have 19 significant numbers.  You ultimately end up with some ambiguity no matter what you do.  When doing measurements we cannot have exhaustive knowledge because there are limits to how precise we can be.  

"Scientists seek to be objective and disengaged with the thing they are studying and that supposedly gives you pure and unbiased insight"

In certain elements of science being disengaged is quite easy.  For example, if I am studying how fast a rock drops off a building I can remain disengaged because there is nothing to be engaged in – a rock is not relational.  So for the physical sciences this is somewhat easy.  However, when scientists are dealing with fellow humans (or even animals), problems arise when people seek to collect data about people in an objective way, because people cannot be objectified (in fact, it’s a sin to objectify someone).  As BJ rightly points out, the problem with reducing "truth statements" about Jesus to objective propositional statements is that Jesus as a person, the incarnate Son of God who is of one substance with the Father, is a relational person.  Indeed, to objectify Jesus and turn him into an object is a great travesty.  

Okay, science junk aside – I think BJ did a great job with this sermon as far as what is Truth.  I was sitting there reading it and laughing at myself, because as I've been reading a number of things on Postmodern Theology, etc. I've been trying to wrap my mind around how we talk about truth in a Postmodern world, and yet the answer was staring me right in the face the whole time (and an answer I already knew).  Jesus Christ = Truth.  One need not worry about objective truth, absolute truth, etc, because Jesus is the Truth, and to know Jesus is to the know the truth.  

One thought – one of my most recent lines of thinking has been the concept of Critical Realism (I posted a lengthy but somewhat scatterbrained introduction to the concept over the weekend).  Critical realism eliminates a dualistic approach to know (which BJ appears to draw here – knowing scientifically vs. knowing relationally) by saying that one adopts a way of inquiry appropriate and dictated by the "object" that one seeks to learn about.  So for example, when I learn about rocks dropping I adopt an approach appropriate to that, when I want to learn about a person I adopt an approach appropriate to learning about a person.  But in both cases, the "object" of my inquiry sets the agenda so that if something I learn from my inquiry disagrees with one of my presuppositions or hypothesis I have to change my assumptions.  What you end up with is a dialectical approach, where we approach the object of study with a set of assumptions, then have our assumptions questioned and modified and then we go back to the object of study, and the cycle continues.  Specifically scripture we approach the text with our presuppositions and methods, and then have our methods and presuppositions modified by what we find, and then with those modified presuppositions and methods we return to the text, to have them further reshaped and refined.  Important in this dialectical process is that eventually we start being questioned by the text, or as BJ put it, the text starts to interpret us.  

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Participation in Worship Revised

Based on two comments that I’ve gotten I need to clarify what I meant by participating in worship.

In the majority of churches that I’ve been apart of worship has largely been led by the pastor, one (or maybe two lay leaders) and the choir.  The joke is that the choir is often the most important and influential group of people in the congregation, and I don’t really wonder why.  Those people actively participate (through Anthems, etc.) in worship each and every week.

Most people in worship are asked to sit there and occasionally stand and sing, and write checks and put them in the offering plate – that is the full extent of their participation.  We don’t ask people to engage in any other ways (again, I’m speaking of the churches that I’ve been apart of, so if that’s true for you then this won’t make sense)

If a worship service is supposed to model what life is supposed to be like in the Kingdom of God, why do we only have a few people who are truly actively engaged in worship, while the rest are left to passively listen and respond through their voices only.

Some models of doing church seek to really engage and involve people in the worship.  I have found that within our youth group the things that kids really get the most out of are the things where they are actively engaged in what’s going on: guided meditations, liturgical services where they are asked to respond, etc.

I believe we need to allow all people to active participate (beyond just singing and giving an offering) in the worship of God if we are going to convince them that God wants them to be apart of God’s active mission in the world.

Worship and Mission

Lately I've been thinking a lot about involving people in the mission of God in the world.  To be brief, we in the church shouldn't extol people to do good deeds because its the Chrisitan thing to do, or to make themselves feel good.  Rather, they should do good deeds to be apart of what God is doing in the world.  To use Calvin's language, we extol them to be "participation in Christ"So, how can we expect people to participate in the mission of God in the world if we don't allow them to participate in the worship of God?

Walter Brueggemann

So yesterday I drove to Maryland to see Renee for one night, and then drove back tonight.  Before I left I loaded up my iPod with all sorts of stuff, including material from the 2004 Emergent Conversation with Dr. Walter Brueggemann.  Now, my previous experiences with Brueggeman have not been good, namely his commentary on 1 Samuel in the Interpretation series and his book The Creative Word which we read for Christian Education last year.  But we did read an essay of his in The Other Side of Sin that I thought was absolutely fantastic.  So I figured I'd give it a shot… and I have to say I'm intrigued.  

I haven't finished listening to the whole thing (there are four full sessions online here) but maybe he's not as off his rocker as I had thought when I first encountered him.  I think what is frustrating about him is that he's pretty wishy washy when it comes to details, but I think he's a better speaker than he is a writer.  


One of the problems with evangelism as far as I see it is that too often it comes across (whether it is intended to so or not really matters for nothing) as "Join us, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because we've got it figured out".

What if we approached Evangelism like this, "Look, we're trying to follow Jesus and we admit we're not very good at it.  Do you think you could help us out?"  After all, Jesus didn't say "accept me into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior" he said, "follow me".      

Critical Realism

Critical Realism

So I was asked on Friday by one Mr. Tim Becker what exactly critical realism is and well, I fumbled, because its hard to explain how critical realism moves beyond the foundationalism that has caused the liberal/conservative divide.  While I fumbled along, my dear friend, Mr. Mall Bell came through with a short sentence that I thought was good.

"Critical Realism is an approach to knowing in which the "object" of inquiry dictates the hermeneutical approach".

Okay, breaking this one down… Basically, critical realism can be applied to anything, not just theology.  I put "object" in quotes only because this is object understood in the most general sense, whether you're trying to learn about rocks, toads, a human being, or a social situation.  "Hermeneutical approach" basically boils down to the way in which you learn about the object is dictated by the object itself.  Put a different way, the object determines how you learn about it.  

So for example, if you wanted to learn about toads you would adopt an approach to learning about toads that is appropriate to a toad.  You would not learn about toads and a person in the same way, it simply wouldn't work.

The other element of critical realism that is essential is that all presuppositions are on the table and must be disregarded if something that is discovered in the process of inquiry challenges a presupposition.  Critical realism does not in way, as some critics say, deny presuppositions.  No, everyone approaches everything with presuppositions, but they are subject to change if the results of the inquiry challenge them.

For example, in doing a science experiment I make a hypothesis, for example x = a * 2b.  Then, my data shows that the relationship is actually x = a * 3b I, in a critical realist model say, "okay, my hypothesis needs to be changed".  

In biblical scholarship this has become a major problem, because people have adopted a foundationalist approach that say, "If scripture challenges my presuppositions then it must be wrong (liberal), or I've interpreted it wrong (conservative)".  So… those who advocate a TULIP approach to theology read something like "… God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:3-4) and basically ignores that verse because it contradicts their understanding of limited atonement and unconditional election.  On the other end, the more liberal school has come across passages such as miracles and disregarded them as being impossible because it breaks their foundationalist presupposition of a naturalistic worldview.  The odd thing is that although conservative and liberals both passionately disagree with one another, they disagree for the same reasons: commitments to a priori philosophical assumptions.

Part of this actually comes from a foundationalist approach to the bible itself.  The conservatives will argue that scripture is "innerant in the originals."  It’s a great hypothesis because it can't be tested – one has to place their faith in it.  The problem is, we're never called to put our faith and trust in the bible, we're called to place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  The liberal approach says that the bible is a bunch of stories written by men (all of which is true) that can influence and shape our thinking.  Yet in both cases the two camps have made a priori decisions about the metaphysics of scripture, rather than letting scripture shape the metaphysics.  I refuse to say that scripture is inerrant, infallible, etc.  Paul says scripture is "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16).  But even in what I just did I did harm to the text, why?  I ripped it out of context.  Context helps shape the hermeneutical lens, so by simply proof texting that I've opened myself up to shaping the text to say exactly what I want it to say for my purposes.  While there is no way to make sure my interpretations are exactly right there are principles that can aid us.  My philosophical assumption is that scripture's authority is derived entirely from that which it bears witness to do: God revealed.  Until I find a text that challenges that assumption I can go with it, but when it becomes challenged I have to allow the totality of scripture to reshape my assumptions.  

What critical realism does is force us to do our theological reflections beyond the realm of scripture.  In other words a simple proof text of "well Paul says it’s a sin!" doesn't do it, because Paul says a lot of things are wrong that we still do. The other thing that critical realism does it makes things messy.  Critical realism refuses to let things be reduced down to a five point system that governs our interpretation of scripture.  Critical realism forces us to question the text and then be questioned by the text and then the cycle begins again.      

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mission and Preaching

While I'm linking to other blogs… here's another good one.  Michael Kruse quotes Will Willimon on the connection between preaching and mission.  (look at the whole post here)

The line that I thought was particularly good
"I suppose that we preachers ought to strive, in every sermon, to have some illustration or example whereby ordinary Christian people could sense God’s vocation."  


"Too many people in the church think of mission as something exotic, something that goes on somewhere else, something that cannot work here. In preaching, particularly when stories of mission activity and success are narrated, people are disarmed, they let down their defenses, they come to see themselves as part of God’s gracious activity in the world."

Mission often evokes images of people moving their whole family to some obscure place in Africa.  While that certainly is one valid form of mission work, if we are going to work toward a missional church mentality that sees ourselves as part of God's work in the world rather than a "open the doors and they will come so we can be a religious service provider" mentality we're going to have to work against this stigma about the word "mission" and provide "local, small, slow, seemingly insignificant" (Brian McLaren's words, not mine) opportunities for people see to themselves as part of God's mission.  

Postmodern Metanarrative?

One of the neat features of Google Blog search is that you can set up RSS feeds for the top 100 most relevant topics for searching.  So, I've been tracking "Karl Barth", "Andrew Purves", "John Franke", and "Emerging Church" and I've come across some pretty interesting stuff.  

Perhaps one of the most interesting was one I ran across this morning from a guy named "Bob Robinson".  He's come up with what he sees as a Postmodern Metanarrative, which for some people sounds like a contradiction.  

Take a look at what he says…

A Generous Orthodoxy (Emerging Church)

Last month I attended "A Generous Orthodoxy" Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by Off-The-Map.  They have posted five of the general sessions from that conference online that can be downloaded in the entirety (click here).  I would specifically recommend listening to Rose Madrid-Swetman's talk on "A Generous Community" and Brian McLaren's talk on "A Generous Orthodoxy".  I especially found Madrid-Swetman's talk especially enlightening and challenging.  


For some reason this week has been absolutely crazy, and I'm not sure why.  But there have been some definite highlights…

Many of you know the story of Elora, a seventh grader in our youth group who was diagnosed with Stage III Leukemia early in the fall.  Last night at youth group Elora made her triumphant return.  She's been in the hospital ever since her diagnosis this fall and she'll return shortly for her bone marrow transplant.  But while she's out, her parents brought her to youth group.  While she's not out of the woods yet, she was the same old Elora, happy to be there and as pleasant as ever.  Something seemed right with the world last night since she was there.  Keep praying for her!

In other news, I am making a short weekend trip to Maryland to see Renee tomorrow.  I need to be in church on Sunday to push our Small group campaign for Advent, but I wanted to see her and this is the last good weekend since after this final exams are only a week away.  

One of the more exciting projects I'm working on is for our Evangelical Student Fellowship.  We tend to have a lot of "discussion panels" on various topics.  Past topics have included language for God in worship, a discussion of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, etc.  Back in September someone asked about having a discussion panel on the Emerging Church and I took up the idea and volunteered to do some of the planning.  So far things are looking really good.  Its going to feature a few of the pastors from local emerging churches as well as Dr. John Franke who is one of the leading theologians in the Emerging conversation.  While details of the event are still sketchy, I think its going to be a great opportunity for PTS to be introduced to something that for the most part, has passed us by.  

We also have enough people signed up to take Theology and Ethics of Karl Barth next term, which has been quite excited.  Dr. Burgess generously offered the course after a few of us requested it so the one course that I've wanted to take since I first encountered Barth my first year of seminary I'll get to take.  I have also started working on my paper for my independent study on Karl Barth this coming term.  

Also, I've finished the first volume of Alister McGrath's "Scientific Theology" which I'm reading with Matt Bell and Dr. Andrew Purves (and Rev. Jim Mead of Pgh Presbytery when he can make it).  I have to say that this independent study is one of the most fun courses I've ever taken, because there is such a high level of mutual respect and trust that we can really engage the texts and ask serious questions without worrying about being attacked or having to be defensive.  What's even better is that McGrath is a jumping off point for us, we don't always agree with one another or with McGrath, but we can usually go for about an hour and a half straight without losing any steam.  Next term we're picking up volume 2, and third term volume 3 (doesn't that make sense).  

But tomorrow, I have a Hebrew quiz to take so I should probably do some last minute studying for that.  I hope at some point to start posting some more substantive material than these bland "here's what I've been doing" posts, but that may have to wait till after finals.  

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Funny Events at the Church Brew Works

So Saturday night three of us went over to the Church Brew Works in Bloomfield (which is about five minutes from the seminary).

If you have been to Pittsburgh and have not been to the Church Brew Works you have missed out on a golden opportunity.  While some might find the concept of an old Roman Catholic Church turned into a brewery appalling, I actually rejoice that although the Christian community that built this church is no longer, the church and the restaurant provide a lasting witness of their faith.  In addition, when they remodeled the church to make it into a brewery they were extremely tasteful in how they did things in my opinion.  So the next time you are anywhere close to Pittsburgh, make it a priority to visit the Church Brew Works

While we were there I starting hearing this noise from behind me and as I turned I saw about 40 people walking into the Church Brew Works dressed as nuns chanting.  Then upon closer look one could tell that it was actually about 40 men (with a few women interspersed) dressed as nuns.  And then once they opened their mouths you could tell that indeed it was 40 men, of which at least a few of them were unabashedly homosexual.  (Before you kill me for stereotyping I will also add that there was no disagreement at our table as to their sexual orientation).

So basically, 40 men, many of them homosexual came walking to the Church Brew Works dressed as nuns.  It had to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  As they came walking up the isle the manager went over to head them off, and I think with good reason.  First of all, if 40 people had walked into the Church Brew Works signing and not planning on buying anything, they would have been asked to leave.  Second, such actions could be understood as being sacrilegious, which is precisely what the Church Brew Works has attempted to avoid.  However, when it was clear that they planned on buying a drink, the manager (wisely) relented, and they proceeded into the bar area.  

They left as they came in, in line singing and crossing everyone they saw and blessing them in Christ's name.

Any thoughts on this as a form of evangelism? (Okay, something like this?)