Friday, October 27, 2006

Work Rest and Play

This week has been pretty normal. Not much to report on any front.

Work is beginning to mount up. Although I didn't plan to sit any mid-term exams, I might do the mid-term exam in my history class. The alternative is to write a 4000 word paper. But, a 50 minute written exam is less intensive. I'd love to write a paper on W.G.T. Shedd's philosophy of history, but not sure the effort would be worth it.

My dissertation/thesis will now probably be on responses to premillenialism in the Presbyterian church in the late 1870s and 1880s. I don't think Shedd's thought really touches on this area at all - he doesn't contribute anything directly relevant. This is a shame, because Shedd does contribute to the Presbyterian confessional crisis in the early 1890s - I can't find a compelling link between these two topics, apart from the thesis that a common opposition to premillennialism is not a foundation for unity - in other words, although Christians divide over eschatology, a shared eschatology is not enough to unite brothers and sisters in Christ.

One book I've read this week is A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch. I found the following quote astonishing, if only because it is still applicable almost a century after it was written:

'Doctrinal theology is in less direct contact with facts than other theological studies. Exegesis and church history deal with historical material and their business is to discover facts. New facts and the pressure of secular scientific work compel them to revise their results and keep close to realities. Doctrinal theology deals with less substantial and ascertainable things. It perpetuates an esoteric stream of tradition. What every church demands of its systematic theologians is to formulate clearly and persuasively what that church has always held and taught. If they go beyond that they are performing a work of supererogation for which they do not always receive thanks.'

This quote is remarkable when compared with my reading of Mark Strom's Reframing Paul. Strom describes evangelical preaching as a tool which surrenders theological and exegetical method in order to validate an existing system of thought and practice. Strom quotes from a significant Reformed evangelical book, The Preacher and Preaching, to illustrate this characteristic: systematic theology is normative, the system of truth elucidates every text, the system of doctrine exercises control over the exposition of a particular passage.

Strom's most dramatic application of this principle is the evangelical view of preaching itself - a pattern is imposed on the New Testament texts, current conventions are assumed, and texts are found to support the conventions. Scary stuff.

Other applications include the ordination of women - why the huge debate over women, when the question of ordination is less than clear in the New Testament? Both sides in the argument perpetuate the same church system. I would vouch that this can be seen in many churches that ordain women - what has the ordination of women achieved in terms of progressing and improving church life. Women are now free to fill roles that stifle the kingdom of God rather than encourage it. Was the dream of women's ordination in Presbyterianism simply the perpetuation of the traditional roles of elder and minister? If so, the ordination of women has been a remarkable success. If not, then I hope and pray that some people are still dreaming dreams.

I'm finding other classes difficult - there is too much I want to read and think over. But, my background reading for papers usually reveals top quality papers and articles already saying exactly what I want to say. Sinclair B Ferguson, Carl Trueman, and Alan Spence have written on Owen's Spirit-Christology already - I'd just be summarising and covering their work if I wrote on it myself - still, it is a fascinating area. I can't wait to read Spence's dissertation on Owen's christology, due to be published next year.

Rest and play centre around life on 4th Alex. Carlson is a serious threat to the peace - this wanna-be eco-warrior is a major player in the Nerf wars engulfing our floor. My Nerf N-Strike Maverick is by my side as I write. Recourse to the NERF N-STRIKE LONGSHOT may yet prove unavoidable. A warrior poet never gives up on his freedom without a fight. After all, is not this very land the land of the free?

Other residents in Alex live in bemusement - note the reference to 'The Scotsman' on the Thurday reads of this blog. At least Jenny worked out I'm from Scotland. Iceland, Germany, Ireland, and Australia top the list of countries people guess I'm from - what's the German for 'Helllooooo!!' again?

4 comments:

The Shed's Sis said...

Bro, wot age r u?? and, u've turned all american college student wi yer wars in the rez thingy goin on wi yer guns n all the toys!! hav fun!!

The Shed's Sis said...

And, the answer is Guten Tag, or just Tag if u kno the person

Danny said...

Dave, you are quite scary on lots of levels, but suffice to say that when you start reading my mind I get really worried!!

Having the courage to dream dreams is an ongoing theme for me and I weave it into sermons and prayers and talks. It was part of my prayers of confession and in my sermon last Sunday; it will be the theme of the devotional time I am leading tonight...

Gender is irrelevant, the ordination issue old hat now (in Presbyterianism anyway). As you imply it is time to get over it, to move past this and all the similar irrelevant debates which occupy far too much of our time and energy!

God is calling people to serve him - just as he has for generations - and in this generation (maybe more than in ages past?) we have to have the courage to dream dreams and to demonstrate the reality of believing in and serving a God who is able to do far more that we can ever ask for or imagine. And...it is often the dreamers who find the courage to challenge and - more importantly -to discard the things/roles/doctrines/conventions etc... that stifle the Kingdom of God and the essential movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church...

I could go on (and on) but as this is your blog I will spare you the full rant (be very grateful!)

All power to your Nerf N-Strike Maverick(always make sure you get extra ammo and keep it hidden well, you never know when you might need it!)

Jenny said...

I may not understand you, but at least I understand where you're from. :)