We need to hear competing voices of information from the world around us, use our time in the digital world wisely, and learn to shut that world down when it becomes more important to get up in the morning and answer emails than it does to get up and read the Bible and pray. We may also learn much from church history, where we observe fellow believers in other times and cultures learning the shape of faithfulness. We begin to detect how easily the "world" may squeeze us into its mold. We soon learn that adequate response is more than mere mental resolve, mere disciplined observance of the principle "garbage in, garbage out" (after all, we are what we think), though it is not less than that. The gospel is the power of God issuing in salvation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in the shadow of the cross and resurrection, we find ourselves wanting to be conformed to the Lord Jesus, wanting to be as holy and as wise as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation.Do read the whole editorial (HTML or PDF), and since Themelios does not have a comment feature (how I wish the church, and especially Evangelical Christians, would recognise that openness and discussion are healthy and not persist in old authoritarian modes of discourse) you are welcome to post any short responses
There's glory for you!'There's what I think is a fine example of Humpty Dumpty theology quoted on Mary's blog - I can't comment there as to stop the dreaded spammers she has comments set so that only people with a login to her blog can comment :(
`I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
See Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass, "Humpty Dumpty" here
It comes from a wonderful small book called The Practice of Communicative Theology, by Matthias Scharer and Bernd Jochen Hilberath. On page 38 of that book they write:Whatever the Latin ad gradere meant - and although no Latin scholar I suspect that (or perhaps even more relevant what the range of meaning of agressus was the English "aggression" simply does not mean what these authors want to make it mean - no dictionary I have consulted permits it, and even the recent usage in phrases like "an aggressive advertising campaign" permit it either. Aggression means attack, whatever the Humpty Dumpty theologians wish. The etymological fallacy is still a fallacy, even as we near the half-centenary beyond the publication of Barr, James. The Semantics of Biblical Language. London: OUP, 1961.
The word “aggression,” from the Latin ad gradere
(”moving toward”) has a positive as well as a negative meaning. It includes no only the life-destroying forces of exclusion but also that force which can find expression in a living, loving relationship. All-encompassing peace and harmony among all creatures without doing away with their differences are ideals corresponding to the transformation of life that God promises for God’s future…
My big concern is not just that the world church should become more evangelical, but that world evangelicals should become more biblical.Then since he takes biblical prophecy seriously, he socks it to us:
For there are scandals and abuses in the world-wide evangelical community that are reminiscent of the worst features of the pre-reformation medieval church in Europe.Read it the full short article!
Will we have the courage to identify and renounce such scandals and to seek a reformation of heart, mind and practice?
- There are some mega leaders, like ancient prelates, wielding vast wealth, power and control – unaccountable, unattractive and unChristlike
- There are multitudes of ordinary Christians going to so-called evangelical churches, where they never hear the Bible preached or taught. They live in scandalous biblical ignorance.
- Instead they are offered, in the ‘prosperity gospel’ a form of 21st century indulgences, except that you pay your money not for release from pains after death, but for receipt of material ‘blessings’ here and now.
- And there are evangelicals parading ungodly alliances with secular power – political, economic and military – identifying themselves (and the gospel they claim to preach) with agendas and ideologies that reflect human empire not the kingdom of God in Christ.
The 16th Century Reformation was criticized because it lacked missionary awareness and energy until much later. They were so obsessed with tackling abuses in the church that they
neglected world mission. How ironic and tragic will it be if 21st Century evangelicals are so obsessed with world mission that we neglect abuses in the church, and remain wilfully blind to our own idolatries and syncretism?
The Lausanne Covenant, like the Bible itself, commits us to the integration of both.
- If reformation without mission was defective,
- then mission without reformation will be deluded, self-defeating and even dangerous.
May God grant us the will and humility to respond with equal commitment.
We honor both the discipline and our students by teaching them how to think likeWhich as Nichthus recognises raises, for teachers, the question: How do theologians think? I'm delighted that in seeking to answer this he returns to my favourite description of theology, Anselm's "Faith seeking understanding". In the light of this what theologians do is seek to understand (life, the universe and everything) as believers.
historians or biologists or literary critics rather than merely how to lip-sync the conclusions others have reached.
Clearly defined student outcomes that focus on the development of the learner rather than content coverage (already a standard feature of instructional design).The trick is that we need:
Assessment tasks that encourage process rather than outcome, and that are flexible enough to permit reference to a variety of real world contexts. Linking students in with their real worlds as the context for theological and exegetical engagement (yes, already an established theme in general educational literature).Here, many of us already agree in principle, so this task is easier. But again, since we were not taught this way, we need help. It is so much easier to set an essay from the list that old Dr Brown used.
Shifting the classroom and meeting experience from didactic teaching first, conversation and dialogue supplemental to conversation and dialogue first, didactic teaching supplemental (this could be achieved with a national resource-based approach).From where I sit the key here is the little term "resource-based". The conversation thing is common, dialogue is present (not as often as we'd like, because hierarchical structures oppose it, but it occurs), but no way is current practice resource-based! This depends (I think) on the conversion mentioned above - if theological teachers really accepted that they teach students not subjects, people not content, really really believed that, then resourced-based teaching would be easy to encourage.
Viewing church history and established dogma as a resource, not as the subject. The subject is now, the student context, the today world. We do not need to reinvent; rather, we need to discover how we can make relevant. We must enter the future looking forwards, but still with a sense of continuing the Christian story and writing its current chapters in the context of what has been written before. To ignore theological tradition makes us ignorant and impoverished. To focus solely on it without reference to the current context makes us irrelevant and impotent.And maybe this is the way into the whole conversion...
We must design with an appreciation of the gradual development of the learner. Yes, level 5 study ought to be more structured and foundational. Yes, levels 6 and 7 should be far more open-ended and conversational. Wisdom must guide our pedagogies. Faith in the Spirit’s work in developing the learner must be apparent.Though, of course, this is the real key...
In some fields, we expect practitioners to have mastered a field of vitally-important facts. I do not care how my civil engineer feels about cement, steel, and roadHe notes the lack of consistency and clarity among people about the goals of theological education, and then writes:
surfaces; I care urgently that the overpass stays up while I drive over (or under) it.
For my part, I take the consequences of “untrue” theological practice as much more grievous than of, let's say, a very unpalatable, vacuous performance routine.AKMA's position on this is strikingly similar to what Nichthus' writes from a different part odf the theo-ecclessial spectrum:
It’s great to embrace post-modernism and to engage in ‘free-field’ thinking. But we must remember that those participating in such discussion must first have a reliable framework and point of reference. Particularly in theological education, we need to take careful steps to create boundaries for participants. There are some things in evangelical Christianity that we simply must take for granted in a modernistic sense. The resurrection and Lordship of Jesus. The authority of Scripture. Salvation by faith, expressed through works. There is a core cluster of landmarks that we must have in place before embarking on theological dialogue. Novices can drown in an open sea of conversation.I tend both to agree, and to dissagree! God knows (to quote Oscar Wilde out of context) I am with them in some things. And Mark's list looks about right. And yet... I wonder if even here the passion for truth needs to be preceded by a passion for people... Does conversation and dialogue even here precede understanding of why these truths (whatever list you or I hold as basic) are the ones and not others like them but different. The "why" is perhaps at least as important as the "what"!
SEARCH Tim's sites