It seems to me and this is just a generalisation that theologians have some amazing insights into the Bible their work is so wordy and unreadable or widely unavailable that it’s only read by other academics. Its also seems that half the time of a theologian is spent taking small and not so small pot shots at other theologians.A large part of the problem, Ryan, is that the academic systems in which we operate either do not give us credit for writing "popular" works, or only give us small credit. So, the recent "Performance Based Research Funding" exercise in NZ which grades lecturers seems to give more credit for the more esoteric publications, and little or no credit for writing aimed at ordinary readers. Such writing does not count as research, but there is no other grading system in which such work does gain brownie points!
Before I started this course I had never heard of any of the people we now study, and I would say it would be the same for most of you in the class. Unless you actively seek to know more, as we have done by studying theology, you never come across all this insightful work which brings me to my point.
What is the goal of a theology and theologians?
Is it to win the battle of popularity and bragging rights by publishing more books, however unreadable by the average person, and proving more of your pears ideas wrong then they can prove of yours?
Or is it to disseminate their insights to the church community as a whole so that we can benefit from their work. I know which one it should be but since I have never seen or heard of them in the 20 years I have spent at various churches I would have to say it’s the former which is a shame.
Is theological dissemination going to be left to people like us who take what we learn from the masters and spread it ourselves to those in our churches?
People, I think usually just end up in denominations, and then often work backwards and try to justify (to themselves as much as anyone else) why they belong there.So first, as a Baptist (not quite, but nearly, life-long) I'll be - I hope - endearingly honest about this, I am (still) a Baptist precisely because of the congregational and Christ-centeredness of Baptist life. The picture of "voting on everything" simply misunderstands. In an ideal church meeting (which does not exist, see Genesis 3) we would vote on nothing. The Church (the local gathered community of Jesus followers) would pray, discuss, argue, debate, and finally recognise, which way the Spirit is blowing and follow.
Baptists, endearingly, seem to be quite honest about this. There is no major over-arching vision statement or document of beliefs. On most theological issues they give a pretty wide berth. As I have said before, it's a great ecumenical approach.
Having said that, I find the whole congregational governance thing a bit hard to stomach. It's just a bit reactionary for my tastes. But perhaps that's because I was once involved in a Baptist church where we voted on everything down to the copy machine budget.
4. Faith teaching: My seminary students asked mostly exegetical and interpretive questions — my college students wonder if Christianity is true, why it doesn’t seem to make more of an impact, why their life is so thin and shallow and not joyous and fulfilling. They ask bigger questions in class than I was accustomed to in seminary — did the resurrection happen? Which texts in the NT show that Jesus was God? How can a God of love take out a whole city in Joshua? Not that my seminary students didn’t ask these questions, but that my college students seem to live with these questions more existentially.The difference is not so strongly marked for me, but since the University students come from a much wider range of backgrounds:
Now, why didn't I choose the post-exilic prophets for a major focus!
How can I be sure?
Malachi and a mirror
Imagine you are your favourite action hero. Not sure what is round the corner she edges towards the corner of the corridor she clutches the butt of her pistol, ready herself and pounces round the corner ready to blast the living daylights out of anything that exists. Not being sure of something changes the way we act. During a time of major change in the way people lived their lives Malachi looks on and can see them asking how can I be sure?
This five week series will give us the opportunity to hold Malachi up like a mirror. As we ask our Questions Malachi reflects them back through 2500 years of history:
- Can I be sure if God exists he loves me? Aren’t all vicars are pedophiles?
- Why do the good die young and evil people last forever?
- Jesus was a good bloke, do I have to believe he was God’s messenger or son?
- Does any good come out of giving your life to God?
- I enjoyed watching “War of the Worlds” but I don’t believe it. Why should I believe in Christian Apocalypse?
Words on the printed page appear clearly and distinctly. The handwritten manuscript however which the author prepares is, as a rule, rather convoluted. If one adds to this that authors tend to experience feelings of intimacy and elation at the sight of their handwriting, the conclusion is difficult to avoid that the writer thinks in a medium less clear than the one in which his readers will think.Then, remember that I am currently experimenting with a new medium for thinking, the podcast 5 minute Bible, for which I prepare oral text, with only (at most) notes written on PC or the back of an envelope, and edit the text orally in Audacity... This medium for thinking combines elements of the oral world (the thoughts are after all spoken), the written world (notes whether electronic or on scraps of paper) and the edited world of the Word Processor (since Audacity is a sort of Spoken Word Processor).
I feel uneasy if I have to scroll down to see the entire contents of my inboxwhen this happens (often!) I don't just feel "uneasy" I feel pressured and over-worked! But look at the cause. It is not the emails that need a quick simple answer - unless I am very busy they get it. It is not the emails that require deep thought - if they are interesting and stimulating they get it. It is the 50 or so emails every day that I have to move across to storage - unread, or delete. They come from colleagues, often from "authorities". They fall into several recognisable and preventable classes. Such as:
I’ll say that I did not receive any nominations this month. Danny Zacharias is slated to host Biblical Studies Carnival XVIII at Deinde in the first week of June 2007; please make Danny’s life a little easier by sending your nominations (see the carnival home page for details).So, please take note everyone ... (I'm editing it later this year, and if you blog about biblical studies you'll no doubt take a turn too, so we all have a vested interest in a good supply of nominations ;-)
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