Faith


Today is my day in the collaborative 40 Day (Blog) Fast, round 2. If you’ve been following the fast, thanks for stopping in. I’m touched by the nature of changing the world this way. What a small thing it is for me to fast and pray for a day, yet collaboratively God may be pleased to use this in sweeping change in the world for his renown.

The ministry that shares the Gospel and cares for physical needs that I’d like to draw your attention to is the Christian Veterinary Mission USA. Now I have never been on a trip with them, or even been to a seminar or conference. But my father in law is a veterinarian and has made me aware of their work.

The exciting piece is that sustainable healthy living in 3rd world communities can be brought about in part through the foundation of healthy and productive livestock. In fact, Jared Diamond in his popular Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that the technological and political primacy of Europe during the last several centuries is directly related to available crops and domesticatable livestock being available to that region for the last several thousand years.
A sustained shift out of crippling poverty and famine in the third world through healthier livestock, in Jesus name – that’s a group we need to support.

CVMUSA

“Progress is Providence without God. That is, it is a theory that everything has always perpetually gone right by accident. It is a sort of atheistic optimism, based on an everlasting coincidence far more miraculous than a miracle.” ~G.K. Chesterton

(HT: ACS)

(Can you tell I’m up past my bedtime?)

We’ve all heard it, something like: “doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity.” I’ve heard it from college profs, read it in magazines and blogs – it seems to be accepted in our culture. The problem is, that if we stopped and actually considered it, we’d realize either it’s an unsatisfactory definition, or we’re all insane.

Everybody goes to sleep each night and wakes up in the morning. Do we expect a different result after a night’s rest? Do we expect today to be different from yesterday? Yes. We’d be crazy not to.

The common joke goes something like that. But there is a grain of truth in it that motivates many commentators. In reading the introduction to D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd Edition, I found some commentary that is helpful in the quest to allow seminary to be a spiritual green house, rather than a mortuary.

Carson describes the shift away from devotionally minded Bible reading into critical biblical study as experienced by a fictitious seminary student. Most seminarians probably come from just such a situation – fluent in their tradition’s interpretation and eager for devotional insights, yet unacquainted with critical issues in the text and variant theological perspectives. The jarring process the exegete undergoes in studying a text Carson describes as “distanciation.” (Both my computer dictionary and my old red Webster’s failed me on that one!) If you look up distanciation on the web, in English, you should find that it describes the process of being confronted with views that differ from your own, after which you must evaluate critically and reestablish your own view. This process of alienation must happen when we come to the biblical text, otherwise we are just reading our own views or our preferred tradition into the text.

It is clear how this could contribute to some negative effects in the lives of seminarians! Three responses Carson identifies are “a defensive pietism that boisterously denounces the arid intellectualism… all around” or “the vortex of a kind of intellectual commitment that squeezes out worship, prayer, witness, and meditative reading of Scripture” or one “may stagger along until he is rescued by graduation and returns to the real world.”(pg. 23)

Carson does not leave us with these three common responses, but suggests that we can enjoy the best of both worlds – intellectual and devotional satisfaction. “Work hard at incorporating your entire Christian walk (practical/devotional) and commitment (intellectual), and the topic of this study (exegesis, specifically pitfalls therein) will prove beneficial.(pg 24)” [parenthesis added by me.]

So, this post has three encouragements: 1. Wrestle with the text and embrace the shifts in your worldview on account of interacting with Scripture, to be more conformed to it. 2. There is in fact good stuff in the introductions to books! 3. Seminary need not be Cemetery!

Ladies and Gents, as I prepare for a couple of talks I’m going to recruit your help.  Currently I’m going to base the talks off of Hebrews 3:12-14,

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

OK, now I want you to make some observations about this text.  Don’t be shy, give me at least 5 observations and feel free to bring in more context as well.  Different perspectives will be useful, but if no one participates, this may be the last time I ask for your help in my preparation. 😦

Over the course of the next couple weeks I’ll post parts of the talks so you can get a flavor for what I’m going to share.  And feel free to give your two cents worth as well.  Maybe this will bring the blog back to life… 🙂

Go watch this video now.  Then go here.

Urbana Theological Seminary‘s Annual Faith and Culture Lecture is this Saturday (11/04/06) at University Baptist Church, 1300 to 1600hrs.

Pursuing Methuselah: A Theological Response to Anti-Aging Science will be presented by Assistant Professor of Theology at UTS, Todd Daly.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion featuring:

George Pyle, Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church

Christine A Weaver, Phsician and Geneticist, Carle Clinic Association

David Delaney, Scholar at the Newman Institue of Catholic Thought

I hope you can come as it should be an interesting and stimulating lecture and discussion!

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