Friday, September 29, 2006

Give this guy a chance...

I am on a mission. I am always on a mission (those who know me can witness to that statement). I am currently in a theology of John Calvin class and one of my goals is to meet the real John Calvin. The term "Calvinist" evokes a wide range of responses from both those inside and outside the church, both those in the Presbyterian church(es) and those outside. Unfortunately for theologians, they are often branded with a short phrase or label that biases those who would otherwise learn from their writings, meditations, sermons, and lives of devotion to Jesus Christ. For Calvin, of course, he is associated with predestination.

I have the opportunity (yes, I view it that way) to hang out Calvin this semester. Darrell Guder encouraged me to view my class on the theology of Lesslie Newbigin last year as a time of mentoring by a theologian. I am taking the same approach to my time with Calvin (and Karl Barth in an independent study).

I was refreshed by Calvin's definition of piety. He said "I call 'piety' that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces." (1.2.1) What a great source for a prayer? "Lord, grant me the grace to have a reverence joined with a love for you."

I was also reminded of God's provision for me and my response when Calvin wrote "For until a person recognizes that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him - they will never yield him willing service." (1.2.1) (bold added by me)

I am a stubborn guy. What would it look like for me to "yield him willing service" every day? My prayer life will be marked by an admission that I owe everything to God and that I would like to seek nothing beyond him.

I invite you to consider hanging out with Calvin and meet this man of God who reflected on the things of God beyond one subject (predestination). I am looking forward to seeing how he points me to Jesus Christ in the coming months and beyond.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New semester, Final year

My final year at Princeton Theological Seminary is here. I feel like I am in the classic back-and-forth where I feel like I just got here AND I feel like I have been here forever. My faith has changed in the past 2 years in many ways. I have come to some new places through wrestling with ideas that I didn't even have on my radar a few years ago. At the same time, I have seen how wrestling with potentially faith-wrecking ideas has brought me back to the firm foundation that the Lord Jesus Christ has been building for the previous 28 years of my life. That is why I sensed the Lord leading me to Princeton Seminary. I can now see more clearly the theological spectrum and I have a better sense of how different individuals and groups emphasize different parts of the Christian faith. I now feel more confident (properly confident to quote Lesslie Newbigin) than ever with my starting point being Jesus Christ as the Word of God revealed and his work in and through his sent church into the world.

I enter this year expectantly. I am most looking forward to seeking out conversations with those with whom I may disagree. I need to learn how to disagree with respect and gentleness. I also know that I haven't had one conversation in my life that hasn't shown me how I tend to push others away from me when I perceive that they think differently than me. I have missed out on some great discussions and life stories.

Let's see what happens. God-willing, I will post some thoughts as I go this year again. I disappeared for the summer due my internship in a hospital. My classes this semester are:
1. The Social and Ethical Implications of the Synoptic Gospels
2. The Theology of John Calvin
3. Atonement
4. Introduction to Education (audit)
5. Independent Study on Karl Barth's volume IV / 3.2 on the vocation of humanity and the sending of the church by the Holy Spirit.

I'd love to hear from anyone via a comment if you happen to journey onto this blog in the coming months...