Pledging Allegiance

One day while at the University of Aberdeen, Prof. Phil Ziegler invited Kent to look over his shoulder at some new-fangled thing on his computer screen. It was 2006 and he was pointing at a theology blog. “Take a look at this,” Ziegler said, “there is some really thoughtful stuff here.” It was Kent’s first glance at a theology blog, and it just so happened to be Faith and Theology by Prof. Ben Myers. Eventually Kent and some pals decided to give theology blogging their own twist, and Theology Forum was born.

Picture of Book2
I discovered Faith and Theology nearly a decade later, through Theology Forum. I latched onto it because of Kim Fabricius’s doodlings. “Doodlings” are joyfully incomplete thoughts, like someone hastily doodles an idea for a picture or project. How does someone provoke such thought and such laughter at the same time? Through the blog, I discovered Myers’s thoughtful writing.

Now I am reading Myers’s in print form. His new book The Apostle’s Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism is fresh off Lexham Press’s printers. (This is, to my knowledge, the first Lexham Press review on Theology Forum!) The print edition is aesthetically pleasing, hardbound, and small enough to carry with you. Grayscale images throughout keep the copy interesting. Continue reading

Advertisements

What kind of theologian is a pastor?

For about a month this spring we (Kent and Zen) got together over lunch and wrestled with that question by discussing the book, The Pastor-Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Heistand and Wilson (Zondervan 2015). We come at the topic from slightly different angles, a college professor and a pastor respectively, but we both long for pastoral ministry that is theologically rich and pastorally wise. I (Kent) help train young theologians to envision their ministry along those lines, and Zen is trying to live it out in his congregation. So, wPastor Theologianhat kind of theologian is a pastor?

Our conversations were rich and the book was rewarding, though it left us with some questions and a few critiques. We’re going to interact with the book in the form of a dialogue.

Zen: I remember reading Stanley Hauerwas’s essay “The How of Theology and Ministry” for the first time during my years at Duke. In that essay, Hauerwas gives a brief history of the fragmentation of theology from ministry. I was neck deep in academia and maintained a snooty disinterest in working in a parish. Hauerwas’s essay forced me to reconsider what I thought theology was and, more importantly, for whom it was practiced.

Now I’m a pastor. (God’s ways are higher than our ways!) Reading The Pastor Theologian gave me an opportunity to think about the fracture of theology from ministry again. This time, however, I read it with a deep interest in finding some way to help heal the fracture.

So what can I, as pastor for one hundred people in Huntington, Indiana, do to work toward healing? Continue reading

A Radically Different Imaginative Landscape

Through the mouth of Jeremiah, God urges exiles to plant gardens, build homes, and pray for the prosperity of the cities to which they’ve been dispersed. A brief review of church history reveals that we foreigners in the many strange lands on earth have prioritized that command but often in unhealthy ways. What might this command mean for the church today? How do we “pray for the prosperity of our land” without conforming to the models and definitions of prosperity exemplified by people in the land? (After all, Hosea warns us not to consecrate ourselves to idols, for we will “become detestable like the things we loved,” Hos. 9:10.) The church, suggests Rowan Williams, needs to offer the world “a radically different imaginative landscape, in which people can discover possibilities of change — and perhaps of ‘conversion’ in the most importance sense, a ‘turning around’ of values and priorities that grows from trust in God” (p. 73). 

9781472946119Williams’s book, Holy Living: The Christian Tradition for Today,* is a collection of thought-provoking essays (even if certain essays seem better fitted for a different volume). Drawing from the deep wells of Christian tradition (from early church writers to contemporary theologians, preachers to professors), each essay reflects upon Christian disciplines in contemporary Christianity. The chapter “Urban Spirituality” helps respond to the questions I’ve raised above. Continue reading

Prayer for Ascension Day

Alpha and Omega:

You descended into hell,
lower still,
in the shadow of Sheol.
We wept.
You are the end.

Three days later you rose
from the dead. With your body
still scarred, but without a wound.
We hoped.
You are the beginning.

By the sea, you promised.
You ascended into heaven,
farther still,
into the encompassing mystery.
You are…

Ten days later you poured
out the Holy Spirit. With your fire
still burning, but within our woundedness.
We spoke.
You are the beginning.

All these years, and all our failures,
you priest us still. Call us to
worship. We will eat and drink,
in remembrance of you, until
you come again. You are
the end.

Amen.

GIVEAWAY: Nearly Every N. T. Wright Book

I’m not sure how else to put this. YOU NEED TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY. Kurt Willems, the self-proclaimed “theology curator,” is outdoing himself with this one. Click here to sign up.

If you’re still reading, I’ve obviously not convinced you. Here’s the list of the more than 50 books included in the giveaway (valued at nearly $1,100):

  • New Testament for Everyone (entire 18 vol. devotional-commentary set!)
  • The Day Revolution Began
  • Simply Jesus
  • After You Believe
  • Surprised by Hope
  • Scripture and the Authority of God
  • How God Became King
  • The Case for the Psalms
  • Surprised by Scripture
  • Simply Good News
  • Paul: A Biography
  • The Kingdom New Testament
  • Simply Christian
  • Climax of the Covenant
  • The New Test and People of God
  • Jesus and the Victory of God
  • The Resurrection of the Son of God
  • Paul and the Faithfulness of God
  • Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections
  • The Lord and his Prayer
  • What Saint Paul Really Said
  • For All God’s Worth
  • The Meaning of Jesus
  • The Challenge of Jesus
  • The Resurrection of Jesus
  • Paul in Fresh Perspective
  • The Meal Jesus Gave Us
  • For All the Saints?
  • Judas and the Gospel of Jesus
  • The Scriptures, the Cross, and the Power of God
  • Evil & Justice of God
  • Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision
  • Small Faith, Great God
  • Pauline Perspectives: Collected Essays
  • Paul and his Recent Interpreters
  • The Paul Debate

Seriously? You’re still reading? Enter the giveaway now!

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition

In this thick volume, Kapic and Madueme have compiled a resource students of church history will find especially helpful. The editors recruited scholars from an array of traditions who confidently acquaint the reader to key figures and works from the church’s 2,000 years of theological reflection. While this volume does not include selections from the primary sources, it provides expert introduction and summary to the work of fifty-eight indispensable Christian theologians.

The book is split into five sections based on major periods (Early, Medieval, Reformation, 17th and 18th Centuries, and 19th and 20th Centuries). Each period is prefaced by an introduction that orients the reader to substantial theological developments and social movement during the era. Additionally, the editors have provided lists of other major works for each period that are not summarized in this volume. Finally, within each section, there are summary length treatments of what the editors discerned to be the essential books for making sense of Protestant theology today. Continue reading