A Prayer For All Those Beginning a New School Year

Today begins a new semester for many beginning or returning to college, and if seminary and graduate school has not begun for you it is just around the corner. Here is a prayer I want to offer to all of you as a new school year begins:

Almighty God, in whose hands are all the powers of man [sic]; who givest understanding, and takest it away; who, as it seemeth good unto Thee, enlightenest the thoughts of the simple, and darkenest the meditations of the wise, be present with me in my studies and inquiries.

Grant, O Lord, that I may not lavish away the life which Thou hast given me on useless trifles, nor waste it in vain searches after things which Thou hast hidden from me.

Enable me, by thy Holy Spirit, so to shun sloth and negligence, that every day may discharge part of the task which Thou hast allotted me; and so further with thy help that labour which, without thy help, must be ineffectual, that I may obtain in all my undertakings, such success as will most promote thy glory, and the salvation of my own soul, for the sake of Jesus. Amen.

From the Works of Samuel Johnson.

Thinking About A Vision for Theological Eduction

In class last week we discussed James Wm. McClendon‘s baptist theological vision. His small ‘b’ baptist vision has five characteristics of the church that standout as a good framework from which any theology should be done. These five points are:

  1. Biblicism – Acceptance of the Bible as authoritative in faith and practice, or faith and obedience. This doesn’t necessarily entail literalism or a tight, fundamentalist reading of the Bible. Instead, it points to the particular role the Bible plays in shaping the kinds of disciples the church makes.
  2. Mission – A focus on evangelism, every member is obligated to bear witness even if it brings persecution. For McClendon, who writes from the free church tradition, evangelism isn’t equated to a door-to-door style of converting, but rather a holistic approach to embodying the kingdom of God, which does include proclamation but isn’t limited to it.
  3. Liberty – The competancy of the believer to stand and face to face God, without the need of a priest, mediator or the state. This resonates deeply with Quaker sentiments about the immediacy of God’s Spirit.
  4. Discipleship – A life transformed by the formation of Christ and brought in line with the community of God. For McClendon Baptism marks the entrance into this community.
  5. Community – The church shares in a narrated life together, tied to the Biblical story and rooted in the historic testimonies of those who have gone before us. McClendon suggests that the Lord’s supper is the primary sign of this narrative unity.

Continue reading Thinking About A Vision for Theological Eduction

Three Tips For Students Writing Academic Papers

Jotting notes with a moleskine

I was just emailed by a friend (and fellow Fuller student) who asked me to name my top two or three writing mistakes I see while grading papers and what can be done about it. He’s doing a speech on the topic and wanted to get some feedback from other teacher’s assistants. Here are my three and I am wondering if anyone else has anything they’d like to add?

Continue reading Three Tips For Students Writing Academic Papers

Reading for Revolution – George Barna and the Emerging Church

Picture 1 Today I had the chance to lead Ryan’s class for the second time this week. On Tuesday we covered aspects from the book Emerging Churches, while today we covered questions and key insights concerning one of Barna’s more recent hit titles, “Revolution.” Here is some of what we discussed in class today (with slides attached at the bottom).

After reading the book I was a bit stumped as to how to present the material and lead a discussion on it that would be constructive, fair and cover the relevant material. Part of my big hang-up with Barna’s presentation is the way in which he presents his material, he’s a modern outsider trying to be a postmodern insider. I don’t fault him for this, I just think he doesn’t really get it. So because of his own starting point his standpoint shifts the way he understands what’s happening in the church and culture in ways that seem to me to be too reductionistic and individualistic. Continue reading Reading for Revolution – George Barna and the Emerging Church

B'ham or bust: Three Weeks and Counting

Life seems to be moving at increasing speeds lately, it’s all I can do to keep track of the things that still need done before I depart. I am leaving for England in under three weeks now, and still have tons of books that need read, articles that need to get finished, grading to do, and then of course all the normal (and really important) stuff like spending time with my wife, doing my house chores, working, and blogging!

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Find Theological Blogs: A Listing of Fuller Seminary Bloggers

I’ve begun to compile a listing of blogs by students who attend or have attended Fuller Theological Seminary. This is meant for any student no matter what you write about, or what your various positions are on theological matters. It’s just a page to help connect Fuller students with each other, share ideas and converse about what you’re learning and thinking about. Continue reading Find Theological Blogs: A Listing of Fuller Seminary Bloggers

Methods in History: Learning a Few New Tricks

I hate to apologize for not writing anything meaningful lately because then I have to admit that it’s true, but I am going to do it anyways. Sorry for all these short posts to the notepad but that’s about all I have time for lately.

I’ve got a backlog of articles I want to write, the problem isn’t having ideas for things to say (God helps us all if that day ever comes). No, quite simply the problem is too little time.

But anyways, before this turns into a sob story I am going to tell you what I am working on. I’ve begun a tutorial on Methods in Mission History with Jehu Hanciles, a Fuller professor who did his PhD at Edingburgh and studied under Andrew Walls. At first glance you may not think this sounds like a “fun” class but let me reassure you it’s been good so far. Continue reading Methods in History: Learning a Few New Tricks