Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Theology Joke

He he… there is no theological depth to this at all but its sort of funny

Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich are taking a break together, fishing on Lake Geneva. They are having a lovely time, smoking their pipes, chatting idly. It's hot and they are getting thirsty. So Karl Barth gets up, steps out of the boat, and walks across the water to the shore, grabs some pepsi and returns. It's quite hot so the drinks doesn't last long. Barth tells Tillich: "your turn, Paul". Tillich gets up, steps outside the boat, walks across the water, and fetches some fresh water. It is getting really hot now, and the water is finished once again. Bultmann is beginning to sweat particularly profusely... and finally Barth asks him too: "Come on, Rudolf, your turn now." With a slight tremor in his knees, Bultmann gets up, steps out of the boat, and sinks like a stone. Fortunately he is a good swimmer; he drags himself back into the boat and sulks at the far end. Tillich turns to Barth and says: "Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?" Barth looks at him in astonishment and replies: "What stones?"

PTS = Conservative?

Today an article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlight Dr. Sam Calian's retirement as the President of Pittsburgh Seminary.  The article, on the whole is well-written and does highlight Dr. Calian's role in the development of our present faculty (in the past praise of Dr. Calian has focused on the massive increase in our endowment).  

But one line in the article really stood out to me.  Arguing that PTS has taken a shift from the "left" to the "right" former theology professor George Kehm gives as evidence this statement:

"The student body has also changed. Even students from conservative schools such as Geneva College are represented there now," he said.

I laughed when I read this.  I laughed really hard actually.  Let's be honest – Mr. Kehm might have a point (in fact I would agree with him that PTS has shifted to the "right"), but I think some perspective is needed.

I am a graduate of Grove City College which I imagine Prof Kehm would include amongst the "conservative" schools now represented at Pittsburgh Seminary.  The problem is this: "conservatives" don't really think Pittsburgh is all that conservative.  Seriously.  No lie.  When I was looking at seminaries I talked to some of my professors at Grove City (who I respect a great deal to this day) and they recommended that I consider schools such as Trinity Evangelical, Gordon-Conwell, Westminster, or Reformed Seminary.  When I talked to people in my home Presbytery (who I also respect a great deal), they often recommended schools such as McCormick or Columbia Seminaries.  Seldom mentioned was Pittsburgh.  When I would suggest it the response was usually "Well yeah, Pittsburgh is okay too…"  It was never included as one of the good conservative schools, or one of the good liberal schools.  

Want some evidence that Pittsburgh isn't that conservative?  In "conservative" (not fundamentalist circles mind you) circles the ordination of women is a hot topic of debate.  At PTS?  The ordination of women is a foregone conclusion – it may be discussed occasionally, but there is at most one professor who would go on public record as opposing the ordination of women (in some form).  In fact, one of the "standard bearers of traditional Presbyterian theology" (to use Rodgers' phrase) Andrew Purves has gone as far as to call the non-ordination of women a great sin of the church. (It's in his most record book, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology.  I can't give the exact reference because I've loaned my copy to someone for the term).  If one of the more "conservative" faculty members is calling the non-ordination of women as a "great sin" I don't think that PTS is now considered a "conservative" institution.

What's actually funnier is that there is a decent population of people who wouldn't consider Grove City and Geneva all that conservative, honestly.  I remember talked to students at Grove City who were a little uncomfortable coming to Grove City because it wasn't conservative enough.  Why?  1) We only had to go to chapel 16 times per semester 2) We didn't have to sign a code of conduct or statement of faith 3) We could consume alcohol off campus 4) We could dance on campus 5) Girls were allowed in the guys dorms and vice-versa at limited times 6) We could listen to whatever music we wanted to.  We even had students who transferred to Grove City from other schools such as Bob Jones, Liberty, and Cedarville because Grove City was "more liberal".  

Just some food for thought.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


So I was trying to find a comment that someone made on my blog (turns out it was from way back on September 4th) and I realized that I haven't posted in forever.  So here's some new thoughts…

Lately I've been focused heavily on school work, as the end of the term approaches.  I've also been "distracted" by this new thing called "searching for a call".  I should be formally "Certified Ready Pending Call" which is fancy Presbyterian language for "Is ready to be hired by a church for gainful employment."  It's getting quite interesting thus far and I'm intrigued to watch what opens up.  It's also a little unsettling because unlike industry, where it can be six weeks from initial interview to start date, in the Presbyterian church its more like six months from initial interview to start date, at a minimum.

I've got my course line up for next term and it looks pretty good.  I'm taking my last term of Hebrew (Hebrew Exegesis) where I think the languages finally become useful because you focus on utilizing your knowledge of Hebrew when it comes to understanding and interpreting the text, rather than just translating it.  In other words, the shift moves from words to their meaning really.  I'm also taking Church and Society: Local which is a study of theology from the African-American context, which also looks quite interesting.  I'll also be taking Theology/Pastoral Care with Dr. Purves (which is, no lie, my 5th full class with him, excluding three one-credit independent studies that I've been doing this year which would bring the grand total up to 18 credits, of the equivalent of six full classes, or a full term and a half).  In Theo/Pastoral Care we'll be reading his book, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology, and then examining the major influences on him, including Athanasius, Calvin, Milligan, McLoed Campbell, Torrance, and Moltmann.  I'll also be taking the last of my one-credit independent studies in Scientific Theology with Dr. Purves, Matt Bell, and Rev. Jim Mead.  Finally, I'll be auditing Doctrine of the Trinity with Dr. Cole-Turner, focusing on Moltmann's work in the Trinity and the Kingdom and The Crucified God.  All in all, I think it'll be  good final term.

Today we're off to go snow tubing with the Sr. High kids, which should be fun as always.  Then tonight I'm going to A) Finalize my sermon for tomorrow B) Make my PowerPoint for tomorrow night's service C) Finalize the guest list with Renee.  Fun times!

Monday Renee and I are meeting our parents in Grove City and we're doing the whole "picking out" the food for our reception.  

Off to tubing!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Racism isn’t pleasant, is that an understatement or what?  Two thoughts from this past weekend.

The first was seeing the movie, Glory Road.  First of all, this is a wonderful movie, even better than Remember the Titans (Glory Road was made by the same people).  The second thing is that anyone my age (and maybe older) should go see this movie because it helps bring to life a history, a shockingly recent history, that we need to know in order to understand our world today.  Racism as a cancer was/is too powerful of a force for those of us born in a post-1980’s world just to ignore.  So go see Glory Road, because it’s a great movie, but also very informative.

The second was a sermon I heard from De Niece Welch (Associate Pastor @ Shadyside Presbyterian Church and an African-American) discussing talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and where we are in society.  I won’t be able to get this quote right because I didn’t write it down but here’s the jist.

“So where are my people [The African-American people] today.  Well, the emancipation proclamation got us off the cotton fields.  And Martin King and his followers got us civil rights and equality.  So what now?  Well, the hardest battle is ahead, because it’s easy to change laws, but now we need to change hearts”

A couple things for me really rang true here.  From my side (Euro-American) I believe that racism is alive and well.  While laws, etc. have been changed to reduce racism, institutional racism still exists although not as widespread as it once was, but personal racism is all too alive and well.  While there might be segments of the population who hate solely on the basis of race but I think for a lot of people it’s out of ignorance.  As I reflect on my high school experience, the racism that I held (and still hold, although to a lesser degree now) was and is based on ignorance.  I didn’t grow up around African-Americans and my high school was only 10% African-American, 89% Euro-American, and 1% other (primarily Asian) and therefore my discomfort with them was out of unfamiliarity and a fear of the “violent city”.  When I came to seminary I moved into an area that is between two communities in Pittsburgh: affluent Highland Park, and East Liberty, which is predominantly African-American and violent.  From my side moving into this neighborhood has exposed some of my “ignorant racism” for me and I can see signs that I’ve moved past it.  For example, there is a Giant Eagle that I can get to in two minutes in the East Liberty area, but when I began seminary I didn’t like going there – it wasn’t in as nice of a part of town as the one across the river @ Waterworks.  Sometime last year I realized that was stupid and started going to the Giant Eagle closest to me when I needed something quick (I do my main grocery shopping in the North Hills because I go right past a Giant Eagle on the way to and from church).  In retrospect I realize how stupid I was being in not going someplace because I felt “uncomfortable”.  Seminary also gave me a chance to become friends with African-Americans which I had never really had before (or if I had had it, I didn’t take advantage of it).  Now, I can affirm unequivocally I regard African-Americans in every way equal to any other person, regardless of race.  But while I can affirm that at face value, I’ve learned that overcoming racism requires breaking through barriers into friendship.  

A second thing that has stood out to me is when I tell people where I live in the city.  I’ll often get responses, “Oh wow, you live down there?  Aren’t you worried about violence?”  People are right to ask this question, after all, on at least three occasions there have been shootings right near the seminary that I’ve heard.  And, last week one of my classmates was mugged by four young people right near the seminary.  But what really drives the question is a racism of ignorance, because people just don’t know what life is like in the city (not that I really do either, but I have a better idea).  They immediately associate the city with African-Americans and thus associate African-Americans with violence.  It’s not that they think African-Americans are less human or of lesser worth, but those perceptions drive them.  I can’t fault them though; I had those same perceptions prior to living here.

While it is nearly certain that I will end up pastoring in a predominantly Euro-American context what these events have underscored for me is two things.
  1. The importance of education: The church has a responsibility to teach our history, one that is sadly marked with racism, in order to help today’s youth understand why things are the way they are

  2. The importance of partnership: I will make it a point to ensure that the church that I work with partners with a church that is comprised of predominantly of people of another race.  This can include many things (pulpit exchanges, joint mission trips, joint service projects, etc.).

God and Pronouns

God and Pronouns

Last night during an online conversation, the discussion of pronouns and God came up once again.  While I fully affirm that the Trinitarian language, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I do understand well that the use of male pronouns, he, he, he, he, he, him, himself, he, he, he… can be misleading.  I affirm two things

  1. God is not male or female – God is not gendered.  (The only exception to this rule is that if we understand Jesus as living and reigning in ascended body, then one aspect of God, that of the human side of Jesus is male.  But, generally speaking, God has no gender)

  2. God however is not an “it” – Never in the bible does God come across as merely an impersonal force.  Hence why I believe that the formula “Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer” falls well short of the acceptable, because it turns God into a force, not a person.  

So, what is one to do?  What about the use of the pronouns “they” and “them” and “themselves”?

Traditionally the Western tradition has affirmed articulations such as “One God in three persons”.  Our Eastern sisters and brothers critique this because they see the Western tradition as elevated one God over the three.  One Eastern Theologian has even charged the western tradition with making God four.  The Eastern tradition has favored articulations of the Trinity such as “Three persons of the same substance” which emphasizes the three-personhood of the Trinity while maintaining the unity through the “one substance”.

What makes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God is the relationships between the three persons of the trinity.  If the Father were not in relation to the Son and the Holy Spirit, he would not be good (note the bad pronoun use).  The same goes for the Son and the Holy Spirit, they are not God apart from their relationship with the other two members of the trinity.  So to truly speak of the Christian God we must speak of God as plural.

So is it fair to use plural pronouns?  Are the following sentences acceptable?

“I asked God to show me where they wanted me to serve…”
In the person of Jesus Christ God revealed themselves to the world…”

Where I see the strength of using plural pronouns is that it is faithful to God’s Trinitarian nature and avoids gendered statements.  The downside is that can come across as polytheistic.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Stillers

For those of you outside of Pittsburgh, if you don't believe me how seriously people here take their football, here's some proof.

But here's a story to illustrate what I'm talking about.  On Sunday afternoon the Steelers (excuse me, Stillers) played the Colt.  Because neither Renee or I particularly care about the Steelers I got us tickets for the afternoon show of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the church where I work.  Afterward I pointed out to Renee that for a Sunday afternoon, the streets of Pittsburgh were deserted.  We made record time getting home because there simply was no traffic whatsoever.  Then we went for a walk and sure enough, few cars and even fewer people.  But, as soon as the game was over, East Liberty came back to life…

One thing I can say, "yinz guyz" take their football seriously.

Friday, January 13, 2006

An e-mail exchange

So email exchanges are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes just weird.  I'm not sure which the following falls under:

It all began with this email from Dr. Scott Sunquist, our Missiology Professor:

I ran across this atheist's web site and found this page helpful.  What do you think?  I don't do much in this area, so I was looking for some quick resources to help my students when I do a brief section on interpretation in the postmodern context.

Which prompted this reply from my friend Matt Bell:

This page strikes me as a highly usuable summary, although I suspect that the last three paragraphs (which actually interest me the most) may be too abstract for some students (probably only the anti-intellectual ones, actually, but that number is considerable).  Many people are not used to thinking about thinking and find the exercise painful or even silly, yet this is the critical move that leads to the demise of foundationalism and the rise of various post-critical approaches such as postmodern radical deconstruction and its still post-critical opponents including critical realism.  (BTW, I've found McGrath very helpful in clarifying realistic approaches, and suspect he may be slightly more accessible, although considerably more verbose, than the webpage below)
"Give the devil an inch..." Since I've been invited to provide input, and since the last three (immensely interesting) paragraphs are precisely at the point of an extended and friendly debate between Wallace and myself, I'll go ahead and say more just about those three.  The following is likely only of interest to him, so SWS -- don't worry about following the thread below.  I include this as part of my reply to you only for your entertainment.
Brian, it strikes me that your allergy to the phrase "objective truth" and love of postmodern communication strategies qua Franke and McLaren, is precisely an example of confusion of ontological truth and meaning.  Contra this, and to respond to your critiques of my insistence upon using the phrase "objective truth", I actually do reject on a certain level all subject-object distinctions.  On a certain level, though not the radical one embraced by eastern monisms, I do accept as valid the statement, "I am the wall" or, rather, "I and the wall and all reality are integrated."  There is a necessary degree of correspondance between thought and reality, inasmuch as human thought is contingent on the merciful presence of the divine Logos upholding all reality including the reality which is me myself and my conscious existence.
We are consistent at this difference: Your saying yesterday, "Julian of Norwich is wierd" contra my finding her not wierd is a case in point.  Julian's core mystic insight is her the-en-pan-sim, her turning on its head pan-en-the-isms yet simulteneously rejecting all deism.  God is in everything, though not everything is yet in God as that awaits the eschaton when God will be all-in-all through the submission of all things to Christ who is himself subject to God the Father.  The Logos is the presence upholding all reality, including the supposedly inner, hidden world of my own subjectivity (c.f. Psalm 139).  With respect to knowledge, thsi means that knowledge of the wall is mediated to me by the Logos:
Wall <-------> Logos <-------> Me
The same Logos that upholds (and therefore constrains) the existence of the wall also uphold and therefore sets bounds upon my existence in all its particulars, including my awareness of self and other.  Thus, a logocentric final reality serves as ontological grounds for a radical realism in which certainty may be an ontologically grounded mental state and not an arbitrary and hubristic human dream.  Put in the terms we used in lab: No, I can't get at anything apart from my subjectivity.  It does not follow however that I cannot know and speak of the objective truth of something.  My statements of reality are partially subjective and therefore subjective, but per the subject-object union grounded in the Logos, they may also truly reflect my object and therefore referential to objective truth or truths.  I would argue that this is Torrance's mystical view of knowing present behind his onto-relational ontology of reality, and his absolute demand for rejection of all dualism, even the basic one subscribed to by the author of the webpage regarding the dualism of subject and object.
Per eschatological realism and sin, however, you have a strong point.  Athanasius points out that the incarnation of the Logos was due precisely the falling away of creation from God.  Sin is the disintegration of being (c.f. 2 Pet. 1, esp. in the Greek where participation in the divine nature stands opposite the disintegration of the cosmic reality).  Since this is what sin is ontologically, objects may become distanced from their mutual point of unity and unification in the Logos.  Subjective knowers such as ourselves experience this as confusion, frustration, the inability to know or be certain.  We cannot know autonomously: When we try to do so, that is to know apart from the Logos in which knowledge is grounded, we discover only that we cannot know.  We are like the heretics of Dante's city Dis, ever knowing less and less until the eschaton.  Opposite this, those who are being redeemed receive the knowledge of Him who called them (again, c.f. 2 Pet. 1) and so discover a reintegration with themselves and the whole of reality.  In the Logos we should expect all things to snap back into place.  It is vital in this picture, of course, to point out with Panenburg that the kingdom is not yet: We know in part and prophesy in part.  The Christian as such is called to truly but not absolutely know.  We can be certain, but we must leave room for uncertainty as well.
Enough drivel from me!
Your mutual admirer in Christ,

To which I replied:

Greetings,I will respond in brief to the article and then to my dear friend.I think the article is well-done.  Some students will find it incoherent and difficult to understand, but it's brief enough and straight-forward enough to be well used.As to my dear friend:1) I am not a deconstructionist to the extent that Derrida was, but I think Derrida does have a point in what he says.  Writing does take on a life of its own, apart from the intent of the author.  I blogged about a recent event that illustrated this to me http://wallybarthman.blogspot.com/2005/12/derrida-was-right.html  In this case, the issue was independent of the author's intent, did one reading of the text offer a platform that would justify a woman staying in an abuse relationship.  From my read - of course not.  From another persons' read, yes, very much so.  So rather than some deconstructionists who say that all interpretations are just as valid as the next (though I've never met one who actually believes and practices this) I find myself in agreement with the author of this piece who argues that there is a reality which governs interpretations.  Here's the case of the governance at work.  One cannot say that Barth instructs pastors to tell women who are being abused to remain in the abusive relationship.  However, one could say that a certain reading of Barth gives just this impression, and that is problematic in my view.  Barth probably did not intend to do that (I would hope) but it happened none the less, regardless of his intent.2) As to the non-existence of objective-truth.  I do not deny the objective existence of the world, the world is not that which I want it to be.  I can't merely pretend that there aren't walls and thereby walk through them.  However, and this is where perhaps you and I differ (and perhaps I fall victim to individualism) but I can't make an objective statement (this statement was in no way objective) about anything - behind everything I say or do there is some motive. (I think we're in agreement here, I'm just trying to fill poor Sunquist in on the drivel that has preceded this).  However, I cannot for the life of me get my head around your arguments about becoming one with the wall.  That aside, I am somewhat convinced by the arguments of social constructionists, especially when it comes to the concepts of "culture", that we live in a world of our own creation.  The culture in which we live is a product of human creation and we do not stand outside our culture, we stand very much apart of it.  After reading both of Franke's books I think he pushed the social constructionist agenda further than I want to (this is partially because my science background reminds me that rocks fall the same regardless of who is dropping or measuring them) but I see fundamental differences between the "objects" of scientific inquiry and the "objects" of theological inquiry.  As I wrote in an email last week, the problem with McGrath's approach to scientific theology is the nature of the object of inquiry aren't the same.  While his statement "that which is embedded in the universe is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ" is beautiful and almost poetic here's the problem.  I can, right now, drop a rock and measure it, touch it, feel it, etc.  In science we can recreate the experiments which produce the evidence we examine.  In theology this isn't so.  We cannot go back and watch creation, we cannot go back and live in the worlds that produced the biblical texts, or sit at the church councils.  Our "icons" by which we seek to understand God in a theological sense are of a different nature than those by which we can understand God's creation.  This all circles back to deconstructionism.  It is far easier for me to examine the authorial intent of Dr. Sunquist because I can go ask him questions.  This doesn't work in biblical studies however, we can't ask the authors (in the same manner in which I can ask Dr. Sunquist) what their intent was.  Rather, we must ask the author to guide our understanding and interpretation.  So what happens when the community's appropriation of a text doesn't match what we understand the author's intent to be?  (See blog post http://wallybarthman.blogspot.com/2005/11/tonight-at-northmont.html).  Am I then to disregard the interpretation of the community because it contradicts what the majority of commentators have said the author's intent was?  Can the Holy Spirit appropriate texts in new ways that go beyond the author's intent?  I would hope so!  But, there we've begun to slide down the deconstructionist slide because we are allowing the text to take on a life of its own.  Okay, that's enough drivel from me.- Brian

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Character of Theology: Preface

[In preparation for Dr. John Franke's visit to Pittsburgh Seminary as part of the Emerging Church Conversation on February 9th, I will be doing a series of blog posts over the coming weeks on the book.  There won't be any structure per say (chapter by chapter) but rather as I read a section I'll blog on it]


In his preface John Franke seeks to give the reader insight into his personal background, with the hope that an understand of his background will help the reader better understand his work.  As he writes "It is better to be latent than blatant… assumes that the long-standing notions of academic neutrality and objectivity are both overrated and unattainable"

Franke identifies three perspectives that have had a significant impact on him: evangelical Protestantism, the Reformed tradition, and ecumenical orthodoxy.  From evangelical Protestantism, which he has interacted with through his entire life, he has been shaped by those communities' emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the sharing of the faith through personal witness and evangelism, and the centrality of the Bible for Christian faith and life.  He notes that even where he dissents from North American Evangelicalism he does so for reason that he believes to be very evangelical.  

Franke says that by the time he graduated from college identified himself as a Calvinist and through graduate study this developed into a "full-bodied commitment to the ecclesial and confessional tradition of Reformed Protestantism" (8).  It was from the Reformed tradition that he learned about the church and the mission of God in the world.  

Finally, Franke notes that despite the diversity of interpretation from different Christian traditions he had come to appreciate that there did exist ecumenical consensus on central matters of faith that provided common ground in this otherwise diverse setting.    From this Franke says that he regards ecumenical orthodoxy should inform the work of biblical interpretation and theological reflection as on on-going conversation partner.

Franke then identifies himself as postmodern.  Here I will quote from him directly:

"By this [identifying himself as postmodern] I do not mean that I endorse everything that claims to be postmodern, much of which I regard as incompatible with Christian faith.  What I do mean is that insofar as a set of general philosophical beliefs, attitudes, and intellectual tendencies relates to such matters as epistemology, language, and the nature of reality can be identified as postmodern rather than modern, I find much more affinity with the postmodern perspective and believe that in comports far better with the Christian faith than does the modern" (Pg. 8)

Franke asserts that while some would claim to take a "biblical" outlook, rather than a modern or postmodern outlook, such a view is "untenable" as it leave assumptions and presuppositions unexamined.  

He then describes the book as an attempt to understand the task of theology in a way that is non-foundationalist and contextual and promotes an "open and flexible" theology that is "self-critical" and "reforming".  Again quoting Franke:

"In light of my history and social location in conservative churches and institutions and to the extent that the approach offered here constitutes a genuine alternative to accepted and established norms for conservative theology, this work may be regarded as postconservative.  As such it seeks to make common ground with postliberal thinkers in the pursuit of the "generous orthodoxy" envisioned by late Yale theologian Hans Frei, who coined the term to describe an understanding of Christianity that contains elements of both liberal and conservative thought while seeking to move beyond the views of knowledge and certainity that liberals and conservatives hold in common" (Pg. 9)

Finally, Franke notes that it is from two particular contexts that the book has arisen, that of teaching at Biblical Seminary which has shaped every part of the book, as well as an attempt to disseminate more widely the ideas that where coming out of his teaching.  Of particular importance to that is the writing of Beyond Foundationalism which he co-write with Stanley Grenz.  In relation to Beyond Foundationalism he writes, "… is a sort of prequel to Beyond Foundationalism that introduces, recapitualates, refines, and anticipates its major themes by providing an exposition of the nature, task, and purpose of theology that gives rise to the methodological proposal developed in the earlier work.  

Franke closes the preface with thanks to the various publications, institutions, and people who have assisted him in his work.  Of note, is his final paragraph dedicated to Stanley Grenz who passed away in March of 2005.  

Comments: Rereading this preface I was struck by how helpful this was in retrospect.  By clearing identifying his "hermeneutical trajectory" early in the book, it enabled to better understand what was intended by certain phrases as well as what he was contrasting his work to.  

[I know this post was extremely long for a short five page preface, but I believe it's important to get an understand of where Franke is coming from in order to understand his book]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The Union Project (a community development, faith and arts non-profit) and The Open Door (a Presbyterian New Church Development) invite you to an evening of celebrating and honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Please join us on Monday, January 16 from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Union Project at 801 N. Negley Ave. for a time of celebrating the life and ministry of Dr. King.  There will be free food, 3 Gospel choirs, a step show and Rev. Dr. "Jimmy Joe" Robinson speaking to us about the meaning and message of Dr. King.

For more information please contact BJ Woodworth or visit www.unionproject.org

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Return to Running...

Rule #1: If you don't run for a few months, then get inspired for the 40 degree weather, prepare for a bad time.  

So, I was inspired by a number of things this week that convinced me to take up running again.  1) The scale was beginning to give me news I didn't like to hear 2) I've been feeling very "blah" lately, which is typically symptomatic of being not getting enough exercise 3) I bought myself a new, lightweight windbreak r that will be great for running in the snow since it'll keep my sweatshirts from getting soaked.  

However, as per usual, it was a painful experience for me.  I am also fighting off the very tail end effects of a cold which would also explain why it was especially painful today.  But, as per usual once I'm done running I'm glad I went.  

An evening of reading and Hebrew awaits me.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Robertson is at it again

Headlines say: Robertson Links Sharon Stroke, God's Wrath

He's at it again… and for the record, I do not believe that Ariel Sharon's stroke was God's divine punishment because he "divided God's land".  I regard Pat Robertson as a brother in Christ, but believe that he is often in grave error when he attempts to use the prophet Joel to say when Ariel Sharon had a stroke.

Emerging @ PTS

Emerging Church @ PTS Schedule (February 9th)

Noon - Dr. John Franke speaks at Evangelical Student Fellowship (Dining Room #1 - Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

3:15 pm - Dr. John Franke, The Many and the One: Toward a Theology of Christian Pluralism (Room #4 - Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

4:30 pm - A Conversation about the Emerging Church with Dr. John Franke and Emergent leaders from Pittsburgh (Room #4 - Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

6 pm - Dr. John Franke visits with Emergent Pittsburgh Cohort (Contact BJ Woodworth(bj@pghopendoor.org) for more information)

More information is available at http://www.ptsstudents.org/ECC    

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Postmodern Seminary Vocabulary

Saw this on Scott Collins-Jones' blog today… pretty accurate assessment of seminary.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Character of Theology

On February 9th John Franke will be visiting Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  That's a little more than a month away and I was thinking it might be helpful if a few people undertook a reading of his newest book, "The Character of Theology".  I've read it once and am now reading a book that he wrote before that with Stanley Grenz, Beyond Foundationalism.  While both books are good (so far I prefer Beyond Foundationalism actually) The Character of Theology is more recent and is shorter.  (I should add, I think I like Beyond Foundationalism better because I've read The Character of Theology and simply have a better understanding of what Franke and Grenz are talking about).

Anyway, what I am wondering is two fold 1) Is anyone interesting in reading The Character of Theology before the 9th?  Its only 200 pages and it’s a fast read: I read about 100 pages in two days without much effort.  2) Would anyone be interested in having me write a series of blog entries that summarize Franke's arguments from The Character of Theology?

Back to Reality...

So today ended the great Christmas adventure as I returned to Pittsburgh after dropping Renee off at the airport.  This afternoon I managed to kill the entire afternoon doing random stuff, but did manage to get back into getting work done tonight by finishing off some reading for tomorrow, and doing my outline.  

Ahead in a next few weeks includes the much-dreaded Hebrew midterm exam as well as making preparations to go to Mississippi during our two week break, trying to keep up with reading plus doing the extra reading assigned for missiology (I'm reading Leslie Newbigin).  We also have the Emerging Church "day" here at PTS on the 9th and I'm trying to finalize plans for that.  I'll also be keeping up the PTS Audio project, as well as beginning my search for a call (I'm excited about that).  

Last year I complained about my life being so busy, this year I committed to not doing that, because the truth is that I love being busy and with all my little projects, I still enjoy what I do here at the seminary and what I do at church.

Missiology awaits tomorrow morning!