Category : Seminary / Theological Education

(CC) Ryan Bonfiglio–It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens

It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens. Though much has changed since the Middle Ages, retrieving the cathedral model of learning has the potential not only to reinvigorate faith formation in congregations but to revitalize seminaries and divinity schools at this critical juncture of their evolution.

I see four benefits in making the church a viable site for seminary-level theological education. First, the cathedral model challenges us to rethink the very purpose of theological education. When we associate theological and biblical training with seminaries, it is hard not to think of theological education as a pathway to a professional degree. The M.Div. and related degrees are seen as the functional equivalent of a master’s of business administration degree or a master’s degree in nursing insofar as they prepare candidates, both in terms of skills and credentialing, to work in a particular profession. Prior to 1563, it would have been more natural to see theological education as an aspect of discipleship, not an act of professional credentialing.

This idea is hinted at in the final chapter of Luke’s Gospel in the story of two travelers meandering toward Emmaus on that first Easter afternoon. When Jesus approaches, they mistake him for a stranger and begin telling him about recent events in Jerusalem involving the crucifixion of a man from Nazareth and the rumor of an empty tomb. Eventually, Jesus interrupts. Then, in what must have been the greatest Sunday school lesson of all time, Jesus “interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

What is striking about this story is that instead of directing these two travelers to quit their jobs and enroll in a theology course in another city, Jesus brings the teaching to them….

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(Salt and Light) Paul Stevens–Theological studies: Not just for Clergy

Dualism is perhaps the most insidious and dangerous heresy of the Christian church today and it is globally widespread.

It has multiple sources. Dualism comes from transferring Old Testament concepts of leadership and ministry into the radical new world of New Testament life and work.

There is radical continuity between the Old Testament and New in peoplehood, in God’s grace and mercy, and in God’s purpose for the renewal of everything, but radical discontinuity in certain critical aspects.

For example, under the Old Testament, people had to learn to distinguish between the holy and the ordinary (Leviticus 10:10-11).

But under the New Covenant, in Jesus we are able to present our whole bodily life (working, relating, spending money, etc) to God as a living sacrifice, “which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1-2).

Further, dualism was fed to the infant church by the Greek surrounding culture, which treated the body as an evil shell for the sacred and immortal soul imprisoned in the body.

Biblically, the body is good and the soul is not an immortal organ planted in the evil temporary body, but the soul is the person with longings and hunger for God. We don’t have a soul; we are souls, just as we are bodies.

So, instead of saying that pastoral work is sacred and business (or any other kind of societal work) is secular, that pastoral work is eternal while business work is temporal, we can envision all kinds of work as holy towards God and having eternal consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CT) Remembering Lamin Sanneh, the World’s Leading Expert on Christianity and Islam in Africa

Dana L. Robert, director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University School of Theology:

Professor Lamin Sanneh was a giant in the field of World Christianity. His loss sends a tidal wave across multiple fields, institutions, and continents. He will be sorely missed by those of us who worked with him and called him friend, as well as by people who knew him only from his powerful writings.

As an African, a superb scholar, and a convert from Islam, Lamin Sanneh saw from the outside what those raised on the inside could not. His 1989 book Translating the Message showed how the gospel could become part of every culture, through being translated into the language and worldview of the people. He challenged the assumption that Christianity was merely a tool of western colonizers.

Through his founding of the annual Yale-Edinburgh conferences on mission history, his publications, his editorship of the Oxford University Press World Christianity Series, his leadership of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, and many other important projects, Lamin Sanneh collaborated with others to transform the study of mission history, African religions, and World Christianity.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Africa, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Globalization, Islam, Missions, Muslim-Christian relations, Seminary / Theological Education

Yale Divinity School’s obituary for Professor Lamin Sanneh, 1942-2019

Lamin was born on MacCarthy Island in the River Gambia. A descendent of an ancient African royal family, he grew up as a Muslim but converted to Christianity. He was educated and taught on four different continents. He earned graduate degrees from the University of Birmingham, England (M.A.), and the University of London (Ph.D.). He received honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University. His major faculty appointments were at the University of Ghana (1975-1978), the University of Aberdeen (1978-1981), Harvard University (1981-1989), and finally Yale (1989-2019). He had a lifetime appointment at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (1996-2019), and was an Honorary Professional Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1997-2019). He also had temporary appointments at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christianity, Ibadan, Nigeria (1969-1971); Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone, Freetown (1974-1975); San Francisco Theological Seminary (summer of 1987); and the Library of Congress, where he was the John W. Kluge Chair in the Countries and Cultures of the South (2004-2005). Lamin took a long and circuitous route from The Gambia to Yale University, but he traveled with international distinction.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

Lamen Sanneh RIP

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

(Local Paper Front Page) College requirement prepares many SC preachers for ministry but serves as barrier to some

The Rev. Rosa Young Singleton didn’t have college, but she had a calling.

Singleton started as a youth minister at a nondenominational church in 2000. But when she went back home to Georgetown’s St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2013, she was told that she would need a bachelor’s degree if she wanted to pursue a pastoral ministry.

Raising two children and working, Singleton enrolled at Allen University and commuted from the Lowcountry to Columbia for classes every week.

“I got weary,” she said. “I was like ’Lord, do I really need to go through all of this to preach your gospel?‴⁣

There are many in the faith community who contemplate whether a church has the authority to restrict a person from pursuing God’s calling based on their level of education.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Education, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(UMNS) Advice to Christians: Learn a little Hebrew

If seminary students and others want to dive into studying Hebrew, that’s wonderful, says the Rev. Matthew Richard Schlimm.

But he believes that just getting into the wading pool with that language leads to deeper understanding of the Old Testament.

Schlimm, a United Methodist elder and professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, is the author of the new book “70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.”

Even understanding that fraction of the Old Testament’s original language can make a big difference, Schlimm maintains. In his book, he sweetens the deal by providing lots of historical and cultural background, as well as theological commentary.

“My hope is that I’m giving students of the Bible a new tool so that they spot new things in the biblical texts,” Schlimm, 41, said by phone from Iowa. “Being able to access the depth that Hebrew brings is a huge gift.”

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Books, Methodist, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

(Et Cetera) In Memoriam: Remembering Eugene Peterson

We never met, but my life has been touched by Eugene Peterson’s at several points. About eight years ago, I was in a dark night of the soul. My relationship with God feeling dry and lifeless. I did not want to attend church or pray. I could barely read my Bible even once a week. Wandering around a used bookstore with a friend one day, I found a copy of the Psalms in the Message translation for ninety-eight cents. I deliberated, then bought it, took it home, cracked it open and still remember reading the preface. Eugene’s words opened up something new for me as he described people coming into his office wanting to know how to pray. He sent them to the Psalms. “The Psalms in Hebrew are earthy and rough,” he wrote. “They are not genteel. They are not the prayers of nice people, couched in cultured language.” They do not speak King James English, in other words, as beautiful as it is. Reading his translation of these “earthy and rough” prayers made them fresh for me, made me willing to come back to Scripture and find that God had given me language with which to be honest before him. It was an oasis in the spiritual and geographic desert I found myself in at the time.

Directly before coming to Regent, I read A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I found I encountered someone who was letting Scripture do its work on him as he carefully and lovingly attended to just a section of the Psalms. I also ate up the video with him and Bono discussing the Psalms.

While a student at Regent, I was introduced to a video showing him with the celebrated contemporary poet Christian Wiman. Eugene clearly was not one to fall prey to the dazzle of celebrity. He interacted with these distinguished men with the same care and ease it sounds like he would also offer to his students and congregants. His care for people was palpable in all these tastes I’d gotten of him. His care for language is also evident. He clearly loved poetry. Tell It Slant, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Reversed Thunder—those are all lifted straight from poems. He wrote it, read it, appreciated it, and brought that care for language into his work as a pastor and translator. I care deeply for words as well and am grateful to benefit from the work of someone whose love for God, for people, and for words coalesced in a beautiful, life-giving way.—Jolene Nolte

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Regent College Vancouver BC) Remembering Eugene Peterson

It is with great sadness that the Regent College Community mourns the loss of Eugene H. Peterson, a beloved faculty member, teacher, pastor, and friend. Eugene was the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent from 1992 to 1998.

He had received hospice care for the past week and died early this morning at his home near Flathead Lake, Montana. He was 85.

Eugene embodied the conviction that all of Scripture is a conversation, “God does not speak and then walk off. Listening goes on.” Of being a pastor, he went further, “The work of the Christian life is participating with people and the Spirit of God. You can’t live it without the Spirit or without people. A pastor has the task of making sure that people understand that as a possibility––and an attractive one.”

Through his lectures, sermons, and conversations at Regent, Eugene blessed countless students, pastors, and visitors. He taught classes entitled “Soulcraft: Spiritual Formation,” and “Tell it Slant: the Beatitudes.” He frequently preceded his lectures with the class singing St. Patrick’s hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” beloved for its refrain “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me.” More than once Eugene paused, explained to the students that they needed to stop, attend to the words, and sing it again.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

Eugene Peterson RIP

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

New research by Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research Shows the Lamentable state of Theological Education in Many Parishes

When it comes to Americans with “evangelical beliefs” [see below for LifeWay Research’s four-part definition], the survey found that a majority say:

  • Most people are basically good (52%)
  • God accepts the worship of all religions (51%)
  • Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father (78%)

“However, all these beliefs are contrary to the historic Christian faith,” stated Ligonier, citing Romans 3:10 on sin, John 14:6 on God, and John 1:1 on Jesus. For example, while an overwhelming 97 percent of evangelicals do believe that “there is one true God in three persons,” 3 out of 4 of them attempt to give Jesus first-place honors even though that belief “has been rejected by the church down through the centuries.”

Ligonier noted:

Strangely, while most evangelicals strongly believe in justification by faith alone, they are confused about the person of Jesus Christ. On one hand, virtually all evangelicals express support for Trinitarian doctrine. Yet at the same time, most agree that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, which was a view espoused by the ancient heretic Arius.

Arius was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and again at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Yet the number of American evangelicals who agree with his view has increased from 2016, when 71 percent agreed and 23 percent disagreed, to today when 78 percent agree and 18 percent disagree.

“These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology, especially as the outcome has gotten worse since 2016,” stated Ligonier. “There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard.”

 

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(BP) SWBTS: Paige Patterson terminated ‘effective immediately’

During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.

Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.

Under the leadership of Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, SWBTS remains committed to its calling to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.

Further, the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse. Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, Dr. Bingham called for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

All of the Teaching Resources for the Basic Christian Theology Class of the Diocese of South Carolina are online

For those interested, you may find the audio, outline and handout for the class there. There were seven classes in all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Albert Mohler–The Wrath of God Poured Out — The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention

The last few weeks have been excruciating for the Southern Baptist Convention and for the larger evangelical movement. It is as if bombs are dropping and God alone knows how many will fall and where they will land.

America’s largest evangelical denomination has been in the headlines day after day. The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.

At one of our seminaries, controversy has centered on a president (now former president) whose sermon illustration from years ago included advice that a battered wife remain in the home and the marriage in hope of the conversion of her abusive husband. Other comments represented the objectification of a teenage girl. The issues only grew more urgent with the sense that the dated statements represented ongoing advice and counsel.

But the issues are far deeper and wider.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Violence, Women

(LA Times) Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena, Calfironia and putting campus up for sale

Fuller Theological Seminary will move to Pomona by 2021, freeing its 13-acre campus in Pasadena’s central business district to be sold for new uses and development.

Fuller is acquiring downtown land in the eastern San Gabriel Valley city where it will build a more accessible campus with lower surrounding housing costs, acting provost Mari Clements said Tuesday….

Fuller has more than 3,000 students pursuing graduate degrees in theology, intercultural studies and psychology, with 1,200 students studying on the Pasadena campus.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

All of the Teaching Resources for the First Three basic Christian Theology Classes of the Diocese of South Carolina are online

For those interested, you may find the audio, outlines and handouts for each class there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Diocese of South Carolina) Kate Norris–Confessions of an Ordinand

Unlike so many, I have been well supported, as a woman and as a person called to ministry. I am grateful and realize what a rare gift that is. Though there are many women who have felt called to ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of North America; many whom the Episcopate has confirmed, I follow many pastors whose families rejected or misunderstood their call and many women who were refused fair discernment of their gifts whether because of theological belief or personal bias. To be honest, I wrestled with whether to join the Anglican Church of North America because of their disagreements over women’s ordination. However, those God surrounded me with encouraged me.

There is no perfect church. There is one form of opposition or another everywhere. I felt called to bloom where I was planted. Archbishop Duncan also encouraged me saying the fact that there is room for difference among orthodox Christians in the ACNA is a good sign. Usually denominational leadership kicks you out if you don’t agree with them. Not so here. I appreciate that. It seems to ring true with the way family goes this side of heaven: it’s messy. It took me a long time to own my call but now I feel settled assurance that God has in fact called me. I am willing to stand in this expression of the body of Christ for as long as it is possible.

The ordination began with my presenters surrounding me saying they affirmed my call. The Kate at the beginning of seminary (13 years ago!) would have been filled with self-doubt wondering if this was what she wanted or felt called to do. The Lord has been patient and thorough, leaving no stone unturned taking a self-doubting know-it-all into the depths of his death and rebirth and bringing the graciousness of his counselors, teachers, and pastors to come alongside. Knowing his forgiveness and love in my pain kept my feet from running out the door when time came for my vows. This is the God I want others to know. In the way he has made me to share, I will by his grace.

I spent the day before confessing. The Lord had pointed out areas of resentment by reminding me that his love “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and rejoices with the truth.” He opened my eyes to see that kind of long-suffering love throughout the ordination service. He had bigger things afoot. He was confirming the accord between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America, which had happened the week before. As I stood in the circle of presenters before my ordaining bishop, Bishop Hobby, I knew the Lord had been long-suffering with me, patient with me, enduring all things with me. He made me able to step into my small part of his big and growing family and his grace would sustain me. Only that.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(TLC) Nashotah House calls Regent College’s Hans Boersma to Endowed Professorship in Ascetical Theology

Before joining Regent College in 2005, Boersma taught for six years at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, after serving as a pastor. Along the way, Boersma has emerged as a leading voice among Protestant and evangelical theologians exploring and appropriating the riches of the Catholic tradition.

Boersma is the author, coauthor or editor of 13 academic books and numerous scholarly articles, focusing especially on the intersection of sacramental and ascetical theology. His recent titles include Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church (Baker, 2017), Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa: An Anagogical Approach (Oxford University Press, 2013), Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry (Eerdmans, 2011); Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery (Oxford University Press, 2009). His next book is a treatment of the beatific vision, the transforming joy of Christian hope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(CC) Heath Carter–The formation of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best known and least understood Americans of the 20th century. Fifty years after his assassination, the contrast between his life and memory could hardly be more stark. In the eyes of countless white Americans, King died a communist villain. He has been resurrected as a loveable mascot for an ever-improving American way.

On the January holiday that commemorates his life and legacy, we hear little about King’s strident opposition to racial and economic inequality at home, not to mention his vociferous denunciation of American imperialism abroad. Instead attention is directed to selective snippets from his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and especially this line: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Ripped out of context, this one sentence might seem to suggest that King was a cheerleader for colorblind liberalism, seeking only formal, not actual, equality.

But King was far more radical than that. He had democratic socialist sympathies and fought doggedly for a more egalitarian distribution of wealth. The fact that his ties to the progressive labor movement have been scrubbed from the typical story is all the more amazing given that the reason he was in Memphis when gunned down there in April 1968 was to stand with striking sanitation workers.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Post-Gazette) Lutheran seminary in Pennsylvania faces a leadership crisis over president’s past LGBTQ beliefs

A Lutheran seminary in eastern Pennsylvania is facing a leadership crisis due to a belated disclosure that the president of the LGBTQ-affirming school once directed an organization that said gay Christians should change or at least resist same-sex attractions as a temptation to sin.

The Rev. Theresa Latini, the first president of United Lutheran Seminary, which has campuses in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, now repudiates the philosophy of the group she worked for, saying it was “fear-based, controlling, and particularly marginalizing of LGBTQ+ persons.”

But many alumni and students are expressing dismay that she never disclosed this part of her work history — more than five years of work as director of the group OneByOne, beginning in 1996 — to the search committee that interviewed her.

Rev. Latini said in a Feb. 21 statement that she is committed to working with the seminary in “actively identifying and resisting homophobia and heteronormativity.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Lutheran, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(Takis Mag) Joe Bob Briggs–Making My Peace With Billy Graham

A few years back I was invited to a conference on Christian-Muslim relations, held at an old castle in Vienna, and one of the seminars was led by Anglican theologians from Oxford University, and another was led by faculty members from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. The Baptists listened politely to the Oxford divines droning on and on about the cultural demographics of Manchester, but when the Baptists chose to talk about “the living Christ” and His absence from the empty cathedrals of Europe, the Anglican divines became infuriated. They felt somehow personally attacked, even though nothing the Baptists said went very far beyond the simple message of Billy Graham that he had repeated millions of times in thousands of sermons. The fact that this simple altar-call message now seemed strange to men who had dedicated themselves to a life serving Christ struck me as odd then and still strikes me as odd. It’s as though they were saying, “We’re post-Christian.” Well, if you’re post-Christian, please remove the vestments and go run a hedge fund.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

Regent College Profiles David Robinson, a visiting scholar in theological ethics for the 2017-18 year

You were ordained in 2009 and have worked in both Anglican and Episcopal churches. Can you comment further on how you have tried to balance your pursuits in ministry with your academic pursuits?

I have to confess that I don’t think I do balance very well. That’s partly because my week is mainly spent caring for a rambunctious toddler. But I have also been trained to pursue something other than balance. I remember one mentor, in particular, talking about what it means as a theologian to, before all else, be responsive to the Word, the Word being God’s address to us in our forms of life across different seasons. Sometimes God’s call will provide you a feeling of equilibrium between academic work and other ministry opportunities.

But sometimes it can mean that you have an intense period where life feels a bit out of control—starting a new ministry, for instance, or that final period of “writing up” a thesis. The important thing for me is to be able to say that I’m responding to God at that moment, giving my all where I’m called to serve. Right now, I’m primarily an academic and dad; while I certainly take part in the church, I’m not that active in leadership. That’s the shape of my obedience for this season and I’m finding new clarity and joy here.

Maybe twenty years from now I’ll be able to give you a better answer. Maybe part of it is that I’ve had a period of four years in ministry, then four years in PhD work, now a combination of full-time parenting and writing. Certainly in both cases I sought the other community: as a pastor in Ottawa I was regularly involved on the neighbouring university campus, and as a doctoral student in Scotland, I was regularly involved in the local churches. Then there are times when the communities overlap: a big joy of my time in Scotland was working with Iain Provan and other Regent alum as they founded the Abbey Summer School, where they insist on integration.

Read it all and you can check out his website there.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(AI) Samford’s Beeson Divinity School to Host Anglican Theology Conference in September

The Institute of Anglican Studies at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School will host its first Anglican Theology Conference, Sept. 25-26. This year’s conference, “What is Anglicanism?,” will bring together top scholars and church leaders to probe what it means to be Anglican.

With a membership of approximately 85 million worldwide, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In recent years, its center of gravity has moved to the Global South, where new understandings of Anglicanism have emerged amidst spiritual vitality and dynamic church growth, according to Gerald McDermott, professor of divinity and director of the Institute of Anglican Studies. However, Anglican identity is still contested. The conference will address these issues and more, he added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(TLC Covenant) Simon Oliver–Episcopacy, Priesthood, and the Priesthood of the Church, the 2017 Michael Ramsey Lecture

The Gospel and the Catholic Church is a complex exploration of the nature of the Catholic Church as the living embodiment of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rowan Williams has summed up the core claim of that book very clearly: the Church is the “form” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.[3] Ramsey writes:

The Catholicism, therefore, which sprang from the Gospel of God is a faith wherein the visible and ordered Church fills an important place. But this Church is understood less as an institution founded upon the rules laid down by Christ and the Apostles than as an organism which grew inevitably through Christ’s death and resurrection. The Church, therefore, is defined not in terms of itself, but in terms of Christ, whose Gospel created it and whose life is its indwelling life.[4]

Ramsey is arguing against the view that Church order is secondary to the Gospel. In other words, the Church is not a group of people who come together to share their faith in Jesus Christ and then decide on a structure for the Church that offers the most promising way of spreading the message. Church order in not a matter of expedient strategy, a means of managing resources, the vehicle for the expression of a more original personal experience or — as it had become in the late Middle Ages as its catholicity was compromised — a mechanism for the salvation of souls, the means of establishing good relations with God, or a juridical body that supresses human freedom.[5] The Church is the form of the Gospel, the living mystical body of Christ into which we are incorporated by dying with Christ in our baptism and being reformed as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, to paraphrase the first letter of St. Peter. In other words, our relations as Christians do not rest on a common set of ideas about God and Jesus or an ideology, but something much more essential that is akin to racial solidarity. In St. Paul’s terms, we become a new creation, from top to bottom.[6]

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ecclesiology, Seminary / Theological Education

JI Packer: Serious Catechesis–One of the Most Urgent Needs in the Church Today

While many Christians are actively involved in devotional Bible study, he laments the lack of formal catechetical study, without which, he says, “Well-intentioned minds and hearts will repeatedly go off track.”

Like Scripture says, we all, like sheep, have gone astray. We need constant shepherding and guidance, and knowing and repeating a catechism can be a way to ground our hearts in unchanging truth. The tradition of repeating established statements of faith helps with that shepherding, and it has a long history. Many modern congregations, however, have allowed a lapse in the practice.

In Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know (Crossway, 2013) Packer says:

As the years go by, I am increasingly burdened by the sense that the more conservative church people in the West, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, are, if not starving, at least grievously undernourished for lack of a particular pastoral ministry that was a staple item in the church life of the first Christian centuries and also of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation era in Western Europe, but has largely fallen out of use in recent days.

That ministry is called catechesis. It consists of intentional, orderly instruction in the truths that Christians are called to live by, linked with equally intentional and orderly instruction on how they are to do this.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

William Witt–Eating and Idols: A Sermon About the Church in a Post-Christian Setting

How then might what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians provide guidance for us as we seem to be moving into a post-Christian culture? Should we listen to Rod Dreher or to Jamie Smith?

First, I would say that Paul does not give us clear-cut advice about whether we should do things like bake wedding cakes for gay weddings. He leaves it up to us to figure out how to sort out these kinds of disagreements. However, he does provide us with some basic principles.

Second, we need to be concerned about both Christian identity and Christian mission. In issues that are genuinely connected with basic Christian faith or practice, the church needs to remember who we are, and we cannot compromise. At the same time, we need to remember that the church does not exist for itself, but for those outside the church. If there can be no mission without identity, neither can there be identity without mission.

Third, we need to keep the main thing the main thing. Christianity is about Jesus Christ crucified, what Paul calls the “foolishness of the cross.” To follow Jesus does not mean that we will never have to suffer or experience pain or discomfort. We will. In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “The cross is laid on every Christian. . . . The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”6

However, because the cross is the main thing, we can relax a bit about things that are not the main thing. In times of confusion and strong disagreement, we in the church need to live with a certain humility. There is something more important even than being right, and that is to love our brother and sister for whom Jesus Christ died, even if that means that we might have to let someone have their way when we are certain that we are right and they are not.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Bruce Marshall–George Lindbeck was the best teacher I ever had

For me the impact of The Nature of Doctrine, and even more of years spent with Lindbeck, was to make real the possibility of being an intellectually responsible Christian in our own place and time. He showed me how the whole ecumenical Christian tradition was a world in which I could be at home. Each generation of Christians has to find its own way of doing that, and for many of my generation Lindbeck pointed the way.

Lindbeck was a person of great but understated learning and a quietly exacting teacher. He was remarkably free of the vanity that easily besets academics. As a teacher, he had no interest in being agreed with. If you thought you could get ahead by tipping your hat to him or to the Yale School, you were likely to find your hat blown off. His interest was that you think better about whatever you were talking about. That meant seeing the topic at hand from many different points of view, understanding the arguments for positions you didn’t like, and looking sympathetically for the underlying concerns of the people who made them. Only when you had done all that would he let you venture your own views on the matter. In my case it was a hard lesson. He might say I never did learn it as I should have, but to the extent that I did, I owe it to him.

Over the years George Lindbeck gave me a great deal of his time. Only gradually did I come to realize the sacrifice that involved for him, a sacrifice he made for a great many others besides me. He was an intellectual and an academic who evidently valued the good he could do for other people, as teacher and friend, above his own status and career. In the last conversation I had with him, I observed that I liked teaching doctoral students but hadn’t realized what a labor-intensive enterprise it is. “Oh,” he said. “I suppose that’s right. I never really thought of it that way.” He was, by a long shot, the best teacher I ever had.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

Professor of Christian History at Duke University Kate Bowler talks to Time Magazine About Her Cancer Diagnosis and Her Faith

You are an expert in the history of health, wealth and happiness in American religion. Why do Americans see tragedies as tests of character?

It is one of the oldest stories Americans tell themselves about determination and some supernatural bootstraps. The double edge to the American Dream is that those who can’t make it have lost the test or have failed. The prosperity gospel is just a Christian version of that.

Did Christianity fail you?

Sometimes it felt like that, in part because of the stuff people said using the Christian faith to be incredibly trite. Christianity also saved the day. You really want a brave faith, one that says, in the midst of the crushing brokenness, there is the something else there, the undeniable, overwhelming love of God.

You’ve said one of the hardest things about being sick is other people trying to explain your suffering. What would you prefer?

People who hug you and give you impressive compliments that don’t feel like a eulogy. People who give you non-cancer-thematic gifts. People who just want to delight you, not try to fix you, and make you realize that it is just another beautiful day and there is usually something fun to do.

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Seminary / Theological Education, Theodicy, Theology

(YDS) George Lindbeck, 1923-2018

As a scholar, George is remembered for two major contributions. In the broadest circles he is known for his work on Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue. Four of his books were devoted to this topic: Dialogue on the Way (edited volume, 1965), The Future of Roman Catholic Theology (1970), The Infallibility Debate (co-authored, 1971), and Infallibility (1972). He was a “Delegated Observer” from the Lutheran World Federation to the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1964.

The year that he did not serve on the YDS faculty (1962-1963) he was at the Second Vatican Council. He later served as a member of the international Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity (1968-1987) and was co-chairperson of the Lutheran delegation for more than ten years (1976-1987). He also served in the same capacity at the national level as a member of the official Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue in the U.S. (1965-1989). When Catholicism opened up to the larger world, George Lindbeck was there to welcome and embrace Catholics, not only for the Lutheran Church but for YDS. His work made YDS a place where Roman Catholics could come—and indeed did come—following the Second Vatican Council.

“Throughout his life he sustained profound relationships among Protestant congregations, but also between Lutherans and Roman Catholics,” remembers Margaret Farley, Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at YDS. “He was able to cross what were for some scholars (and Christian believers) too high barriers in thought and action. A very gentle person, and a searcher of truth, he respected and even reverenced the faith and hope in all of the major Christian traditions. And his teaching was reflected in his similar respect and care for his students.”

The second area of Lindbeck’s work was postliberal theology. Perhaps his best known book is The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (1984). He later published The Church in a Postliberal Age (2002). Harry Adams called the former “the most helpful of all the books we used to teach homiletics at YDS.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

(Church Times) Church of England strategy to increase ordinands takes its toll on dioceses

Dioceses may struggle to cope financially with the national target of adding 50 per cent to the number of ordinands by 2020, a Church Times survey suggests.

A questionnaire sent to diocesan secretaries and directors of ordinands discovered that, although all seemed to support the target, all but one of those who responded were concerned, or very concerned, about how this might be financed. One wrote: “The desire is there, but not the funding.” Some are undermining the strategy by capping the number of people recommended for training.

Financial anxiety is focused on the cost of training, but also what happens after training: many dioceses will struggle to support and house an increased number of assistant curates, and are warning ordinands that they will not be able to return. Other dioceses are looking for cheaper training pathways, or hoping for an influx of self-supporting (i.e. non-stipendiary) clergy.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship