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Christian Theology

Christian Theology

I have been a Christian since October 1996. Since that time, God has taken me on an exhilarating and sometimes bumpy ride. Part of that ride was spent at Asbury Seminary, where God honed what I believe. He used that experience to bring me to where I am today.

Jesus saved me through the friendship of a few Christians, who were active members of the evangelistic group Intervarsity Christian Fellowship when I was a freshman at Michigan Tech. I have mostly attended United Methodist churches, but I have tremendous respect for many varying Christian traditions, and when I get the chance to visit my parents I enjoy visiting a small charismatic-leaning non-denominational church called Tabernacle of Hope.

I say this simply to indicate that I have no desire to parrot the doctrine of any one denomination, nor any particular theology, just because it is my pet theology. Any theology is good and useful so far as it speaks of Truth. I simply am interested in loving the Truth, and in speaking words of truth that lead to Him. Rich Mullins once said:

I'm not sure that Truth is quite the way we understand it. I'm not sure that Truth has so much to do with statements of belief, as it has to do with: Truth is alive, and Truth is a Person, and that Person is Jesus.

By no means am I perfect, and by no means do I feel like I have the perfect theology. But if there is good that can be gained, and faith that can be sparked in the hearts of people who read these theological thoughts, then I pray that God fan those flames.

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Biblical Studies

In the two semesters of Biblical Studies that I took, one was spent surveying the Old Testament and one was spent surveying the New Testament. I was introduced to the Inductive Biblical Study method, which counsels the biblical student to get a broad overview of the book of the Bible that you are studying, and perhaps learn briefly of the context in which the book was written, so that you can fit your specific passage into the context of the book. From there, it is easier to understand what is being conveyed. Then, one might look at repeated language and other literary constructs to allow the text to interpret itself. Offered here are some of my attempts at interpreting some biblical passages.

Old Testament

New Testament

History of Christian Sacraments

This class was rather formative for me. Much of it centered around the Church's varying stances about how to conceive of the Eucharist and Baptism, though there was leeway to study other events in the lives of believers which some traditions have conceived of sacramentally, such as Marriage or Holy Unction. I have a much deeper appreciation for liturgy since I took this class. Thank you, Dr. Steve O'Malley.

Ante-Nicene Church Fathers

Wow. There is such a wonderful wealth of understanding to be gleaned about Christian tradition from the post-biblical writings, from early 2nd century up through the 3rd century! These were Christians, Jewish and Gentile alike, who did not have a biblical canon, and could not appeal to the authority of the canon to justify their preaching and practice. Yet, they understood so much more of biblical thought because many of them understood the Jewish, Greek, and Roman cultures. Knowledge of the common practices of these cultures is taken much for granted in biblical writings. Therefore, in these writings, modern Christians can gain marvelous insight into how biblical writings, and especially New Testament writings, were interpreted then, and thereby can more accurately apply the timeless teachings of the Bible in today's world. I offer my research on two patristic fathers, Polycarp and Clement of Alexandria.

Method and Praxis in Theology

One of the first classes I took, this class was perhaps my closest experience to what many faithful fear about seminary. This fear might be summed up thusly:

Seminaries take pride in deconstructing what you believe, and after they have left your faith in shards, seminary professors will begin reconstructing your worldview according to their predefined biases.

It wasn't really that bad. However, Dr. Laurence Wood challenged his students to take philosophy seriously when thinking theologically, and further challenged them to not turn a blind eye to the challenges that science has placed on theologians. These were my attempts to respond to these challenges:

Philosophy

I took the Introduction to Philosophy class early on in my seminary experience. Dr. Jerry Walls teaches with a philosopher's critical mind, and a passionate shepherd's heart. Among his passions is the exploration of the problem of evil, on which he has written extensively. Below are some of the questions and topics that we explored in class. We were limited to but five pages on each topic; how many books could be filled if one expounded on them?

War and Peace in the Christian Tradition

What a thought-provoking class! During the course of the semester, Dr. Chuck Gutenson started class, threw the "firebrand topic of the day" out to us students, and we discussed the pros and cons of many Christian arguments about war— spanning the breadth of the Just War theory and many flavors of pacifist thought. If I learned anything in this class, it was that I was mostly confused on the subject. Perhaps that confusion is okay. There are many powerful arguments for and against just war; just as many arguments can be made for and against pacifism. If we are Christian, perhaps the most untenable position that we might hold is a Crusade ethic— it goes against grace to pronounce the crusader's judgment of "They started it, I will finish it." We only had two papers to write for the class: our best defense of pacifism, and our best defense of just war theory. The followings were my offerings to the ongoing debate.

United Methodist Theology

This class was not a stamp of approval on prevailing United Methodist thought today, especially as it is portrayed in the liberal media (and by heretical bishops!) Rather, our class was called to consider how the current UM situation might be renewed, and called back to historic Methodism by revisiting the teachings of John Wesley, and examining the strengths of the tradition that he founded. Dr. Steve Seamands, my professor for this class, has an incredible pastoral spirit and is a powerful force for renewal, within and without the UM church. His devotionals were stirring and extremely timely for me.

Asbury Comedy

Asbury showed this video at my orientation. I thought it was absolutely hilarious, and it finally found its way to Youtube. You can see it here:

Links of interest

  • BibleGateway.com— This is my favorite site for looking up biblical passages when I don't have my bible handy.
  • What's your theological worldview?— An interesting little quiz. Based on your answers it will attempt to identify the theological tradition you most identify with.