Monday, October 2, 2017

Part 2 of Participation in / Union with Christ: Papers from the 2017 Symposium on the Theological Reading of Scripture

Continuing from Part 1 of the 2017 Symposium for the Theological Reading of Scripture at North Park Theological Seminary, here I offer comments on, and video links to, Sessions 5-8. 
Ben Blackwell giving the 5th paper of the Symposium
   On Friday night (9/29), the 5th session of the Symposium featured the paper read by Ben Blackwell, Assistant Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University and author of Christosis, entitled: "You Become What You Worship: Theosis and Story of the Bible." In his paper, Blackwell worked through the model of imitation as theosis (theosis = participating in the divine nature and becoming changed by it somehow) as it is practiced in the worship of the church. The very content of worship in the Old Testament and the New highlights the distance between the creaturely and the Creator. The gap is emphasized. Yet, at the same time, the gap is traversed, in part, as believers worship because they become like the object of their worship. Blackwell illustrated this thesis taking one divine trait of God, His holiness, and explained how participating in the divine life/nature of God through worship makes believers holy. He also discussed how idolatry is the sinister dark side of worship. If we worship idols, we embody the system of idolatrous values that the idol represents. 
      To watch the video of Blackwell's paper presentation and subsequent response plus discussion, see the link below: 

The response, by the way, was given by Cynthia Peters Anderson, Senior Pastor at Batavia United Methodist Church and author of the book Reclaiming Participation. She asked a helpful question that drew out the pastoral implications of Blackwell's paper: what symptoms of false or true worship do we need to observe in our worship practices at church so that we become more like Christ and not the idols of our age? 

Brent Strawn giving the 6th paper of the Symposium
   The next morning (9/30), I moderated the 6th session which engaged the paper read by Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology. The paper was entitled: "Participation with God (and/in Christ?): (Re-)Reading the Life of Moses with Some Help from Gregory of Nyssa." It's hard to catalogue here all the nuggets of insight in this paper. For one thing, in his reading of Moses through the Exodus story, Strawn highlighted the unavailability of God and noticeable lack of divine participation. God is absent for much of Israel's history between the end of Genesis and beginning of Exodus. God's people cannot assume that they can participate in the life of God automatically, as if God is on call 24/7 at our beckoning. But when God does awaken to our cries and prayers, He himself first participates in the sufferings of His people (as He did with Israel's travail in Egypt) and then acts. 
    My favorite line in the paper was: God's people are called to "participate in God's verbs." God has a synergistic relationship with Israel where at times, it is unclear if God is doing the action or God's people are doing the action. God works by, through, and with Moses and all His people. 
    To watch a video of Stawn's paper presentation and subsequent response plus discussion, see the link below: 

The response was given by Nathan Clayton, Hebrew instructor at North Park and adjunct professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Moody Bible Institute. Among other helpful insights, Clayton asked Strawn to map out and describe in greater detail what "synergy" is: that is, how do divine and human agency work in a synergistic relationship with each other. 

     The 7th session featured the paper by Michael Gorman, The Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and former dean of the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary and University. His paper was entitled: "Cruciform or Resurrectiform? Paul's Paradoxical Practice of Participation in Christ." In this paper, Gorman sets out to answer some of recent criticisms of his work (see what he calls his "accidental trilogy": Cruciformity, Inhabiting the Cruciform God, and Becoming the Gospel) that there is overemphasis on the cruciform character of theosis at the expense of resurrection. Engaging a group who wants to emphasize the "resurrectiformity" or "anastiformity" of participation in Christ, Gorman argues that while participation in Christ does have a resurrection quality, something is lost if the interpreter does not emphasize the cruciform nature of our life and union with God. 
Michael Gorman giving the 7th paper of the Symposium
To watch a video of Gorman's argument for the priority of cruciformity and how our cross-shaped participation in Christ is simultaneously a participation in his resurrection (power), see the following link below:

The response was given by given by a North Park seminary alumnus Markus Nikkamen, who is currently a doctoral student of New Testament at the University of Aberdeen. The response was a robust engagement of Gorman's paper in its exegesis and theological assertions. One objection Nikkamen has is the language that "self-emptying" is part of Christ's nature. Perhaps love, but not self-emptying or kenosis. The response and discussion are both worth hearing.

    The last and 8th session of the Symposium ended with the paper presented by Ashish Varma, Assistant Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute. His paper was entitled: "Jews and Gentiles Together? Acts 15 and Racial Reconciliation in Christ." 
Ashish Varma giving the 8th paper of the Symposium
Engaging with the work of Brian Bantum's Redeeming Mulatto and Willie Jennings' The Christian Imagination, Varma posits that the Acts 15 Council is a model of mutual accomodation between Jews and Gentiles, and not the assimilation of Gentiles into Jewish Christianity. As such, the Acts 15 Council provides a model of mutual accomodation of different ethnicities today into the church of God, and this work of accomodation and mutual incorporation as one church is a form of participation in the life of God and the mystery of Christ unveiled. 
     The response paper was given by Hauna Ondrey, Assistant Professor of Church History at North Park Theological Seminary, who challenged the thesis of the paper that Acts 15 is an ideal model of mutual accomodations. In her opinion, Acts 15 represents a non-ideal compromise to the Gentile mission which still favors Jewish Christianity. If so, then it is actually quite dangerous to posit the Acts 15 Council as a model example of incorporation of diverse ethnicities into the church. The model could be used, for example, to favor white superiority where white Christianity is the new Jewish Christianity and all other ethnicities are the Gentiles. 
    To hear more, follow the link below to the video of the paper presentation, response, and subsequent Q&A.

     This concludes the Symposium and all eight sessions. It was a tremendous weekend, and not only did I learn much, but I'm still reflecting on the implications of the papers/responses for the work and ministry of the church. MJL

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Participation in / Union with Christ: Papers from the 2017 Symposium on the Theological Reading of Scripture at North Park (Part 1)

Every 4th weekend of the September month (Thurs evening to Sat afternoon), in conjunction with the Nils W. Lund Memorial Lectureship, North Park Theological Seminary holds its annual Symposium on the Theological Reading of Scripture. This year's theme is: Participation in / Union with Christ, a most fitting topic given that the year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 
Bruce Fields delivering the 1st paper of the Symposium
     On the opening Thurs evening (Sept 28, 2017), Bruce Fields, Professor of Faith and Culture at Trinity International University, gave a plenary paper for the 1st session entitled: "The Christology of Augustine's City of God: Participation in Christ That Compels the Pursuit of Justice in the Human City." Describing Augustine's understanding of two cities as two loves (i.e., a love of self [= contempt for God] that characterizes the earthly polis or city versus the love of God [= contempt of self] that characterizes the heavenly city), Fields provocatively explains how for Augustine justice is interchangeable with love (charitas). Participation in the life of Christ takes place in the church where members internalize love as justice, but participation also takes place out in the world where the church, acting on that internalization, practices love-justice in the earthly realm.

The paper response was given by George Kalantzis, Professor of Theology at Wheaton College and Director of the Wheaton Center of Early Christian Studies, whose main criticism was the use of Augustine in support of Field's (evangelical) reading of Paul's letters when Augustine, in the opinion of Kalantzis, should simply be read for his own sake. 

     The next morning (Sept. 29), the 2nd session featured a paper read by Grant Macaskill, The Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen, and entitled: "Union(s) with Christ: Colossians 1:15-20." Macaskill picked up where he left off in his Lund Lectures and further interpreted Col 1:15-20. 
Grant Macaskill giving the second paper of the Symposium
Here he argued that, building on the foundation that all things connect through the mediator Christ to God (see his Lund Lecture), we can now talk about unions (plural) with Christ. The level of participation is different depending on the type of union. God’s covenantal relationship with Israel is not just salvific. He cares about the way they farm, and the way they built houses, and under Isarel's covenant there are different levels of participation in the life of God. Covenant bears differently also concerning the alien or foreigner who lives in the midst of Israel. They are with Israel but not covenant members, and so a different kind of reciprocity is expected of them as they participate with Israel in the life of God. 
     It should be noted that Macaskill is careful, however, not to talk about unions as if it was a kind of flat universalism (a critique of Douglas Campbell's work in The Deliverance of God). Macaskill is not a universalist and does posit the unique union of believers with Chrsit but also recognizes it as a fullfillment of all previous types of unions established in the history of God with His people. The link to the video of the 2nd session of the Symposium is below: 

The paper response was given by Constantine Campbell, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, who has also written his own separate monograph on Paul and Union with Christ
     It was a lively response and engagement with Macaskill's paper. Con (not be confused with Doug) Campbell engaged Macaskill's reading of Col 1:15-20 from the minute details of whether the genitive's attached to the word "first-born" were partitive (Macaskill's view, which makes the phrase a temporal reading, i.e., "first-born of all creation") or subordinate (Campbell's view, which would then read "first-born over all creation") to addressing larger historical issues as: which covenant (Abraham, Mosaic, David, creational) does Paul refers to at specific points in the biblical text. 

    The following 3rd session featured a paper by Olli-Pekka Vainio, Lecturer of Systematic Theology at the University of Helsinki, entitled: “Why Bother with Participation? An Early Lutheran Perspective." Vainio has written a "few" books and articles (195+), the most important of which for the symposium's theme include: Justification and Participation in Christ and Engaging Luther. Vainio represents the new Finnish school of interpretation on the theology of Martin Luther. Vainio paper's focuses on a second-generation Lutheran reformer named Martin Chemnitz (1522-86) who expanded on Luther's teachings and used the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ as a way of framing the separate divine and human agencies of participation. 
Olli-Pekka Vainio giving the 3rd paper of the Symposium
The response was given by North Park's own Stephen Chester, Professor of New Testament at the seminary, who just published a phenomenal book (deserving of its own blog post review) with Eerdmans entitled: Reading Paul with the Reformers. Chester notes that the most helpful contribution of Vainio was providing a way forward through Christology for the Finnish school who has been accused in the past of collapsing Creator and creaturely categories, divine and human.
     The link to the video of the 3rd session of the Symposium is below: 

    The 4th session that afternoon was from Julie Canlis, Lecturer at Regent College and author of the book Theology of the Ordinary, who read a paper entitled: "The Geography of Participation: In Christ Is Location, Location, Location." 
Julie Canlis giving the 4th paper of the Symposium
Her paper focused on the theology of John Calvin, where she pointed out that location is very important for Calvin who had a particular trinitarian Christology where Christ sits at the right hand of the throne of the Father with the Holy Spirit sent from the throne to the ends of the earth. Calvin uses the metaphor of "upward" or "heavenly-ward" to describe how the Ascension of Christ provides a framework for participation. Our participation is oriented to, and our future is tied to, Christ's resurrrected body. At the same time, Christ has descended to meet humanity in the ordinary. Our human bodies, especially the collective Body of Christ, becomes the locus or place for participation with God. 
    If all of this sounds a little abstract, Julie and her husband, a pastor, have put together an adult curriculum with accompanying video that offers Bible study, commentary, and best spiritual practices for participation in the life of God through the daily details of the ordinary. 
     The paper response was given by Mary Patton Baker, Lecturer at North Park University and Pastor of Community Formation at All Soul's Anglican Church. The link to the video of the 4th session of the Symposium can be found below: 

      Coming soon: Part 2 of the 2017 Symposium on Participation in/Union with Christ with links to video and remarks on Sessions 5-8. MJL

Friday, September 29, 2017

The NT Lund Lectures 2017: Grant Macaskill on the Mystery and Sufferings of Christ

Prof. Grant Macaskill, the NT Lund Lecturer for 2017
Today (Sept 28, 2017), the New Testament series for the Nils W. Lund Memorial Lund Lectureship was given by Dr. Grant Macaskill, the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at King's College in the University of Aberdeen, who spoke on theme of participation in Christ. But unlike past tendencies in scholarship to frame Paul's participation language vis-à-vis justification, Macaskill framed Paul's participation language with God's providential working of history to its eschatological end, and under the category of Providence is the unique participation of the believer in the sufferings of Christ.
    But I'm actually getting ahead of the series. The 1st lecture, entitled: "The Mystery of Revealed: Christ and Cosmos," focused on the Christology of Colossians 1:15-20 as the starting point for reading all of Scripture as a whole. Using the movie The Unusual Suspects as an example (spoiler warning!), Macaskill explained that no one can watch the movie a second time without remembering the plot twist: that Kevin Spacey's character is actually Keyser Söze, the main villain of the story. Likewise, the Christian cannot read the Bible without remembering the mystery unveiled anticipated by both Wisdom and the Torah is Christ. Creation and the Law are not the last word on reality. Christ is. 
    The link to the 1st Lecture is below: 

     Building on the theoretical framework of set forth by the 1st lecture, Macaskill's 2nd lecture drew out the implications of the church's participation in the mystery of God unveiled in Christ. The 2nd lecture was entitled: "In the Likeness of the Image: Participating in Providence." This lecture started off slowly and methodically but ends on a pastoral crescendo. Wow! Probably the most powerful insight was the discussion of the believer's participation in the sufferings of Christ as part of participating in God's providence. 
     A believer's suffering is not like Jesus' suffering, nor is it analogous to the sufferings of Christ, but rather it is a participation in Christ's sufferings. Christ died a senseless death. When the Son needed the Father the most, it appears that God had abandoned him on the cross. When our experience of suffering lacks glory or purpose, when our suffering seems senseless, this lowest point of human experience can manifest Christ-likeness that no other experience can duplicate. Suffering does not have to be redemptive to be meaningful. There is a particular way that a person can suffer or even be martyred, and it resembles Christ. The person who suffers Parkinson's disease, the still-born baby, and any apparent senseless death can resemble Christ. God's providential care becomes evident only in retrospect, not at the moment of suffering, but only afterwards when ultimately He works out his purposeful end even in what, at the time, seems senseless.
     To hear more, follow the link to the 2nd Lecture below. MJL

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The OT Lund Lectures 2017: Brent Strawn on the Bible as Poetry, Not Narrative

Prof. Brent Strawn, the OT Lund Lecturer for 2017
This week we're right in the middle of North Park Theological Seminary's annual Lund Lectureship and Symposium on the Theological Reading of Scripture. Each year, for the Nils W. Lund Memorial Lectureship, the seminary invites one Old Testament scholar and one New Testament scholar to speak on cutting edge issues in biblical studies but to present their work in a way that theologically informs the mission and ministry of the church. The audience to which they present are ordained pastors, church leaders, seminary graduate students, undergrads, and the wider church body. Nevertheless, as a scholar, I myself always learn and benefit from our lecturers.
     Yesterday (Sept 27, 2017), we had the privilege of hearing from our OT Lund Lecturer Dr. Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at the Candler School of Theology in Emory University. His OT series was on the theme: The Difference between the Right Word and the Almost Right Word (of God): On the Nature of Holy Scripture. It was a very provocative series.
    In his 1st lecture, entitled: "The Greatest 'Story' Never Told: Rethinking the Bible's Macrogenre," Strawn argues against seeing the Bible as story. The Bible is not a narrative, and if it is presented as such, it is because the interpreter has constructed its contents in story form. The dangers of presenting the Bible as story is reductionism. Narrative is an imposition on Scripture. It imposes an orderliness and sequencing to Scripture leaving out, at times, important themes, messages, and experiences. The cost is too high. 
    As an alternative maco-genre, Stawn suggests that the Bible ought to be construed and read as poetry. One pastoral note worth making is the difference reading the Bible as story vs. reading the Bible as poetry makes. With the former, a person races through the narrative to get a sense of its plot and with much of Scripture's content slipping through the cracks in the reading experience. But with the Bible as poetry, the reader wrestles with every word, thinking about its meaning, slowing down to see the connections of the word with the rest of the sentence and with the entire poem as a whole. 
   The link to the 1st Lecture video is below: 

Note: the video of the lecture is done through Facebook. The tech crew is experimenting with FB's chat function for online participation

     In the 2nd lecture, entitled: "'I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes': The Poetics of Scriptural Contradiction," Strawn describes several reasons why the Bible's macro-genre as Poetry is a better way to understand the nature of Scripture and how to interpret it. One of the most striking observations he made was what he called the Bible's "re-utterability." Often when we think of the Bible as a story "back then" or as history, this model of reading creates significance distance between the text and the reader. The reader is tempted to dismiss the content of Scripture as something for the people of that time not ours. But poetry is re-utterable. It closes the gap between the text and interpreter. We are invited to experience poetry, and Scripture does the same. The rawness, candor, and perspective of the text is something the reader enters into; it is a sacred space from which we experience the text as God's word. It changes the reader. It transforms. To this, I say: "Amen!" 
     The link to the 2nd Lecture video is here: 

I hope you are challenged and blessed as much as I was by the series. Next up: the NT Lund Lectures by Prof. Grant Makaskill which was today. I'll post on this soon. MJL

Monday, May 22, 2017

Warning Sign to Greeks on the Temple Mount

It feels like a long time since my Turkey trip in March 2017. I took about 6500 photos from my study tour through Turkey. A big shout-out to Dr. Mark Wilson who was an amazing commentator for connecting the archaeology and landscape of the sites I visited with the history of early Christianity in Asia Minor. Many thanks also to Tuktu Tours who organized the trip (as safe as safe could be!) and Meltem Ciftci, our official tour guide. 
    This post is on the Istanbul National Museum because I was able to finally connect one archaeological find in the Israel Museum, of which I took photos back in April 2016, to another artefact housed in Istanbul. First is the inscription from the Israel National Museum which was found near the Lion's Gate of old Jerusalem: 
Greek Temple Mount Warning (Israel Museum)
Photo by Max Lee ©2016
This small inscription currently housed in Jerusalem is so fragmentary, it's hard to figure out what it might say. None of what you see is a full word except for a random article (τοῦ) or conjunction (καί). Here is the inscription again in transcribed form: 
Josephus writes about a series of stone slabs that give warnings to foreigners, some written in Greek, others Latin, that no foreigner was permitted to enter the Temple area (see Jewish Wars 5.194). Scholars rightly identify the above inscription as an example of this warning. 
     But the identification is only possible because we can compare it to a larger and more complete warning which was found north of the Temple Mount and is currently housed at the Istanbul National Museum (how a fragment unearthed at the Temple Mount finds its way to Istanbul is another story). 
     Surprisingly, unlike the smaller one above that was protected in a (fiber)glass casing in prominent display, this larger and arguably more important find was on the floor of the Istanbul Museum, sandwiched obscurely between two other displays, without any protection, and vulnerable to the goodwill of any observer who walks by it. It was a first for me to be so close to, and able to touch, an inscription of such importance. 
Companion and More Complete Inscription of the Greek Temple Warning
1st century C.E., located at the Istanbul National Museum
Photo by Max Lee ©2017
As you can see, the larger inscription is likely complete. For comparison, you can see where the lettering preserved in the 1st inscription (red font) is repeated in its 2nd companion copy: 
Put the inscription in cursive text with an English translation, and it reads: 

μηθένα ἀλλογενῆ εἰσπο|ρεύσθαι ἐντὸς τοῦ πε|ρὶ τὸ ἱερον τρυφάκτου καὶ | περιβόλου. ὅς δ' ἂν ληφθῇ ἑαυτῷ αἴτιος ἔσ|ται διὰ τὸ ἐξακολου|θεῖν θάνατον

No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and enclosed area surrounding the Temple. And whosoever is caught will himself be responsible for his resultant death

With this full inscription from the 2nd artefact, we can now reconstruct what the 1st smaller inscription must have looked like as a companion copy of the same warning. Below is an artists's reconstruction of the 1st inscription in its entirety as the script is extrapolated from the original piece (traced out below).
Diagram from Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae Palestinae (vol. 1, pt 1; p. 43)
As Josephus stated ("In this [balustrade] at regular intervals stood slabs giving warning, some in Greek, others in Latin characters, of the law of purification, to wit that no foreigner was permitted to enter the holy place, for so the second enclosure of the temple was called" J.W. 5.194; LCL, p. 61), there were several such warning signs all over the temple area. Luckily, we have at least two of them. 
     The signs give a historical context to several texts in the New Testament, including the scene in Acts where some pious Jews thought Paul had brought a Gentile, Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29), into the temple, and started a riot as a result. There is also Paul's reference to the temple's physical walls separating out the court of the men from foreigners in the Letter to the Ephesians. Here he uses it as a metaphor for how this "dividing wall of hostility" between Jews and Gentiles has been torn down by the work of Christ (e.g., Eph. 2:14). 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Will Start to Blog Again... I Think!

Illustration Credit: Gemma Correll (public domain)
Well, the photo says it all. As the Spring 2017 semester comes to a close:

When giving finals, I was the early bird (who schedules finals at 8am? especially Greek!)
When grading finals, I was the night owl (why do students upload papers after midnight?)
When submitting the final grades, I slouch over as the permanently exhausted pigeon (there is no rest for the faithful!) 

But PTL!, I'm done. Now I can start my research summer, put this crazy semester behind me (and it was nuts... can I retire before North Park does another 10-year ATS accreditation report?), and hopefully get back into blogging again. I will start off slow and find a regular rhythm later to talk about the most random things concerning Paul, early Christianity, and the church today. Glad summer is here! MJL

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Paul as Pastor

Last week, I was at the Evangelical Covenant Church's Midwinter 2017 Conference. With fear and trembling, I was asked to teach on the topic of leadership in the New Testament, and I ended up preparing a message entitled: "Paul as Pastor." It became a tougher topic to address than I thought because Paul does not really use the word “leader” in any of his letters. 
    The words for “leader” in Greek are ἄρχων (archōn) and ἡγούμενος (hēgoumenos), translated “rulers” and “leaders” in your Bibles, and refer to secular leadership but not church leaders, with the exception of Hebrews (13:7, 17, 24). Instead of the word “leader,” what Paul does is discuss various leadership roles or pastoral activities using other terms like: 

I’ve arranged these 12 terms for pastoral leadership into 4 semantic domains or umbrella categories. 

1) The Preacher
  minister / servant (Greek δικονος or diakonos)
  preacher (Greek κηρσσων or kēryssōn)
  evangelist (Greek εαγγελιστς or euangelistēs)
  teacher (Greek διδασκλος or didaskalos):
2) The Pastor
  overseer (Greek πσκοπος or episkopos)
  elder (Greek πρεσβτερος or presbyteros)
  mentor/imitation (Greek μιμητς or mimētēs) and spiritual father/mother (Greek πατρ or patēr; μητρ or mētēr)
  shepherd /pastor (Greek ποιμν or poimēn) where through the Vulgate/patristic writers we get the Latin word pastor
  slave/servant of God and the church (Greek δολος or doulos)
3) The Prophet
  prophet (Greek προφτης or prophētēs)
x apostle? (Greek πστολος or apostolos): But apostleship was a unique office to the 1st century church alone.
4) The Priest
  priest or priestly minister/servant (Greek λειτουργς or leitourgos)
  administrator (Greek οκονμος or oikonomos) of the mysteries/sacraments (Greek word μυστριον or mystērion). μυστριον is translated sacramentum in Latin

    But let’s call the semantic domains something like the 4 ministerial roles, offices, even ministerial “functions” or responsibilities of the Christian leader. I call them the 4P’s of church leadership. Leaders 1) preach, 2) they pastor or shepherd or care for the flock, 3) they prophetically challenge the church and discern what God is doing in our midst,  and 4) they do their priestly duties, administering the sacraments, standing in the gap between God and suffering, but much more. So 4P’s: preacher, pastor, prophet, and priest, but it is arguably the role of the pastor or shepherd which functions as the core and unites all the other roles and responsibilities of leadership.
    I'm thankful that so many pastors, Christian leaders, former students, colleagues and friends at Midwinter appreciated the morning session I taught. Paul sometimes gets a bad wrap among scholars as too authoritarian. But this is really a modern pet-peeve. The solution to bad authority in the secular world is not no-authority in the church but the right use of authority that edifies and redeems. In fact, the more I study Paul, the more I am convicted that he was a premier pastor of the church whose teachings and practices can inform and form our present-day ministerium to become faithful servants of Christ and His body. 
    I am thinking that eventually this session can evolve into a small book on Paul as Pastor. We shall see. I have to finish my other book projects first. In the meanwhile, one of the most helpful resources on a pastoral theology remains the one written by the late Thomas Oden. His Pastoral Theology (1983) is a classic and still the best on the topic: 

Still the best work on a pastoral theology
available for the scholars, pastors and leaders
RIP Thomas Oden
Postscript: It pains me to blog so little (probably 1X a month) but until the ATS Accreditation report for North Park is complete, I'm swamped with work. The seminary needs its 10 yr accreditation so we can't fumble the ball on this one. Likely I can blog much more regularly again when we reach the summer and end of the academic year. MJL

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year this 2017!

Photo Credit ©2016 Fengshui Beginner
Happy New Year! Goodbye to the year of the (fire) monkey, and hello to 2017, the year of the (fire) rooster! It's a Lee family clan tradition to begin the new year with prayer and to reflect not only on how we experienced God this past 2016 but also share how we hope to experience Him further in the next year. We all heard a good and challenging word from the evening New Year's Eve service and are considering three questions to pray through for 2017: 

    1) What has the Lord done in 2016 that I want to see continue in 2017?
    2) What do I want to change for 2017?
    3) What do I want to start for 2017? 

I found each question difficult to answer. In fact, I'm not sure how to answer these. But I will be on my knees praying through the questions tonight, today, and the next day. Probably the whole week. But I do know that seeking God's counsel is exactly how I want to spend my first hours of this new year.

May we all begin this 2017 seeking the Lord and His kingdom first with all our might and strength! Blessings!