This amazing video of the moon rising over New Zealand (sent via FB by friends at St Johns College, Nottingham, England) reminds me of Psalm 8–who are we that God is mindful of us?? (I wish I could get my WordPress to allow me to post the photo.)
Announcing an international Ecclesia (Church) and Ethics Conference/Webinar with NT Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, Shane Claiborne, yours truly, and others: May 18 and 25. Get more info now!
This unique conference costs only $10 in the form of a donation to a charity!
Ecclesia and Ethics: An Eco-friendly and Economically-feasible Online Biblical Studies and Theology Conference is an academic and ecclesial conference taking place on Saturday May 18th and Saturday May 25th 2013 in real-time via the high-tech Webinar site http://www.gotomeeting.com. No software will need to be purchased by presenters or attendees, and Webinar access is provided entirely for free due to a generous Capod Innovation Grant through the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Participants and attendees will be able to sign on, present, and listen to or watch presentations from anywhere in the world with reliable internet and a computer. Registration for the conference consists of a $10/£7 (minimum) donation to one of our Recommended Charities. We invite participants to give according to their means above the $10/£7 to one or more of our charities if they feel led and are able.
Main papers will be presented by our Main Speakers: N.T. Wright, Michael Gorman, Dennis Hollinger, Shane Claiborne, Stanley Hauerwas, Brian Rosner, Mariam Kamell, and Nijay Gupta. Additionally, we will have five Multiple Paper sessions throughout the conference, via five Virtual Rooms which will feature papers from a total of 20-25 selected papers. Interested parties are invited to submit an abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration from January 2013-March 2013.
All conference presenters (both Main Paper and Multiple Paper session presenters) will be allotted a 40 minute time slot with an additional 10 minutes designated for Q+A (50 minutes total). All presentations will be recorded as videos and available for viewing by registered conference attendees with a provided password through T&T Clark’s website. T&T Clark will also be publishing selected proceedings from the conference as a book.
And here is a Christmas message:
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The outline of my final presentation for the course “Pauline Spirituality for Church and Ministry.” Forgive the alliteration!
Paul as Pastor
The Seven Last Words
- Proclamation—of the gospel of God = the missio Dei
- Participation—cruciform embodiment of the gospel/interchange in Christ
- Parenting—like a mother and a father
- Partnership—with God and with others
- Prayer—praising God; interceding for others; requesting prayer support
- Purpose—individual and communal transformation into the image of God in Christ by the power of the Spirit = interchange in Christ = becoming the justice/righteousness of God = cruciform embodiment of the gospel = participation in the missio Dei
If you are anywhere in the Baltimore–DC–Wilimington–York, PA–Northern Virginia area and you appreciate the work of N.T. Wright, you may wish to consider my spring course at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. This is a graduate course, but there are no prerequisites other than having a bacherlor’s degree with a decent GPA. The course is available for credit or audit.
BS/ST509/709 The Writings of N.T. Wright
Thursday, 6-9 p.m., January 14-March 21 (3 graduate credits)
[This is a combination biblical and systematic theology course offered at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.]
An exploration of some of the biblical, theological, and pastoral writings of the contemporary British Anglican scholar N.T. Wright, with attention to the significance of his work for the life of the church.
Course Requirements for all students:
1. Regular attendance and prepared participation in class discussion.
2. Five 100-word reaction posts online (not due when doing discussion-starter paper).
3. Two one-page discussion-starter papers, with summary and discussion questions.
4. One book review of 2,000 words.
5. Class presentation and final, synthetic paper of 2,000 words on some aspect of N. T. Wright’s writings.
Additional Requirement for 700-level students (matriculated degree and certificate candidates):
Same as above plus one additional book review on an additional book by N.T. Wright.
For C.A.S. (Certificate of Advanced Studies) students, the additional book must be a major work approved by the instructor.
Kurt, Stephen. Tom Wright for Everyone: Putting the Theology of N.T. Wright into Practice in the Local Church. 978-0281063932.
Wright, N.T. (Tom). For All God’s Worth: The Worship and Calling of the Church. 978-0802843197.
Wright, N.T. (Tom). Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. 978-0061920622.
Wright, N.T. (Tom). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters. 978-0062084392.
Wright, N.T. (Tom). Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. 978-0061551826.
Wright, N.T. (Tom). What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? 978-0802844453.
Some additional online reading and video viewing.
Perrin, Nicholas and Richard B. Hays, eds. Jesus, Paul, and the People of God. 978-0830838974.
Applications for the Ecumenical Institute’s 2013 spring term are due by Monday, December 3, though late applications will be considered. For admission requirements, go to http://www.stmarys.edu/ei/ei_adm_overview.htm, or contact Zenaida Bench at email@example.com or 410/864-4202. Registration continues until spring-term classes begin. See the course brochure at http://www.stmarys.edu/ei/ei_semester.htm for an overview of all of next term’s course offerings.
We believe there is no better way to begin study at the Ecumenical Institute than walking and talking with a friend (see Luke 24:13-14). To encourage that, we offer a one-time tuition incentive for new students who begin together: a tuition remission of 50% for both of you on your first “E.I.” course.
If you and someone you know are considering theological study, this is your opportunity to encourage one another to explore and discern together. You can take the same class or try different courses and compare notes.
Your walk begins with just one course… and may lead to…
- more courses…
- or perhaps a certificate in Biblical Studies, Faith Community/Parish Nursing, Religious Education, Spirituality, Urban Ministry, or Youth and Family Ministry…
- or even a Master of Arts Degree in Theology or Church Ministries.
For more information, please contact the Ecumenical Institute office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410/864-4200.
Following is the outline of my final lecture on the Gospel of John for my seminary course on Johannine Literature:
- The best way to read and preach John is to enter its narrative, symbolic, and theological world, and to invite your hearers to do the same.
- The jury is still out, and perhaps always will be out, on certain so-called “introductory issues”—the author(s), the precise historical situation of the community (if there was one), etc. Do not build your preaching and teaching on these matters.
- There is an increasing scholarly acceptance of the historical basis in the life of Jesus of many of the events and sayings in John. Again, the jury is still out on many issues and details, but there are two mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t say, “This is a spiritual gospel that is not intended to depict the real, historical Jesus as the Synoptic Gospels do, but only the Christ of faith.”
- Don’t say, “This is an exact word-for-word account of precisely what Jesus said and did without interpretation.” This claim is not true of any canonical gospel because in antiquity oral transmission lent itself to both faithful transmission and appropriate interpretation.
- The main purposes of the Gospel of John are christological and soteriological: to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, Messiah/King of Israel, and Savior of the World who was sent by God the Father to give the world eternal life (life in intimate knowledge of Father, Son, and Paraclete/Spirit) now and forever.
- This joy-filled and peace-filled life is offered as a gift that must be believed and received; nurtured by word and sacrament; and embodied in such concrete practices as love, unity, forgiveness, evangelization, and pastoral care.
- The spirituality of John is rich, deep, and multifaceted; it may perhaps be summarized as the mutual indwelling (abiding) of believers and the Triune God that creates a community of disciples, the people of the new covenant, that worships God and participates in the divine mission of bringing abundant life to the world through witness in word and deed to the self-giving love of the crucified and glorified Jesus.
- The gospel of John is both an invitation to life in the Father/Son/Paraclete and a word of reassurance that, in the physical absence of Jesus, believers can rely on the Paraclete as their teacher, guide, inspiration, and aide, even in times of persecution. It is a gospel for non-believers, but also for new believers, doubting and fence-sitting believers, missional believers, persecuted believers—in other words, a gospel for all people.
Nov. 8: Raymond E. Brown Inaugural Lecture and
Nov. 9: A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends)
If you are anywhere near Baltimore, you are cordially invited!!
On Thursday, November 8 I will deliver my inaugural lecture as the first holder of the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. The topic will be “The Death of the Messiah: Theology, Spirituality, Politics.” A book sale and signing will precede the lecture at 7 p.m., and a period of dialogue will follow. This event, which is also this year’s Dunning Lecture, is free and open to the public.
Click for lecture information.
On the morning after the lecture, the conversation will continue as other biblical scholars and theologians (Richard Hays, Kathy Grieb, Fr. Tom Stegman, and Brent Laytham) will join me for “A Morning with the Apostle Paul (and Friends),” a discussion of some of the themes from my work on Paul and their significance both for understanding Paul and for the life and mission of the church today. Advance registration for this seminar is required, and space is limited.
Click for seminar details and registration form.
“War is surely the great, prototypical example of group sin. It is a massive, organized violation of all ethics and all laws, a purposive and sanctioned campaign of destructiveness. All behaviors normally regarded as criminal and/or sinful are suddenly sanctioned–murder, mayhem, arson, robbery, deceit, trespassing, sabotage, vandalism, and cruelty…. The whole war business is a horrible, irrational, despicable business, an archaic and traditional method of deciding a disputed point, whose survival is a disgrace to and refutation of civilization…. And the whole business is disguised in a cloak of romantic glory and sentiment which makes it palatable and even marketable, as fiction, drama, etc., and spoke of in terms of ‘pride’ and ‘glory.’… Why don’t we outlaw war just as we have long since outlawed cannibalism? How much more horrible it is than cannibalism, which so shocks our sensibilities.”
–Karl Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?, 101–103 (1973)
“Nationalism is the real religion today of a majority of people. [It] has been superseded only nominally by the higher religions, each of which aims at converting the whole of mankind to its own prescription for putting the individual in touch with ultimate reality. Almost all of us are nationalists under the skin.”
–Arnold Toynbee, 1971, quoted in Karl Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?
Here is part of the handout for my forum presentation at church Sunday. It will be preceded by an excerpt from the second-century letter to Diognetus and followed by Miroslav Volf’s values for voters.
Some Reflections on Christians and Politics
1. Christians are first of all citizens of God’s kingdom, subjects of the Lord Jesus. Our first and ultimate loyalty is to that kingdom and to its politics and fellow-citizens. All other loyalties, allegiances, politics, political affiliations, etc. are subordinate and secondary to our citizenship in God’s kingdom. See Matt 6:33; Phil 3:20.
2. Before we start thinking about politics as state-crafting, we should think of politics as the public expression of our participation in the kingdom of God. Therefore, before we choose or construct a politics within a given country, we are given a politics—the politics (public life) of Jesus.
3. No human kingdom (i.e., state: republic, democracy, monarchy, socialist state, etc.) is or ever will be the kingdom of God.
4. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of humans will normally be in conflict.
5. As Christians we should therefore think of ourselves as people of another culture living in a host culture as a contrast-society and therefore, in a real sense, as exiles or resident aliens. See 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11.
6. Our primary political activity is to be the church: to worship God truly and to live out the demands of the kingdom of God and the lordship of Jesus.
7. Our political activity in the host culture/country/city should be an expression of our most basic Christian commitments such as (1) love of God, neighbor, and enemy; (2) prophetic concern for justice and shalom; (3) the call to be peacemakers. The basic purpose is to seek the common good, the welfare of the city, not to gain control or power. See Jer 29:7.
8. Religion and politics often use each other for what each perceives as gain, usually meaning either protection or power. Jesus said, it shall not be so among you! See Mark 10:43-45.
9. The bottom line in domestic and especially international politics is often self-interest. For many reasons, Christians must look beyond national self-interest.
10. Christians need to be especially wary about the use of God-talk by states and politicians, always asking, “What do they mean when they say ‘God’?” Which god do they mean? Most political God-talk, even in countries with some form of Christian heritage or presence, is not Christian faith but civil religion (nationalism in religious garb).
11. There is a variety of legitimately Christian ways to understand Christian political involvement in general and in particulars. This diversity ranges from being very active to withdrawing from some or even all aspects.
12. Christians should probably be suspicious of politics and politicians in general, because there is so much seeking, use, and abuse of power, so much lying, and so much death associated with politics.
Some Particulars in our Context
1. The United States is not a Christian country. It was founded by Deists on deist and Enlightenment principles. It is now a secular state with a religiously pluralist populace.
2. The United States is not God’s chosen people, the light of the world, the city on a hill, or the world’s last hope.
3. The dominant religion in the U.S. may well be “Americanism.” See Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics and Peter Leithart, Between Babel and Beast: America and Empire in Biblical Perspective.
4. Christians need to recognize the inherent realities and dangers of the country/culture in which we are located: the world’s lone “superpower” (empire?) with military bases in scores of countries; rampant consumerism; the deification of freedom and choice; and a sense of being specially blessed by God/god because of this military and economic might and this freedom.
5. Christians cannot escape being influenced by their host country/culture. But for Christians, some American values are not only wrong, they are idolatrous. Therefore the values we bring to politics and voting need to be examined and re-examined again and again.
For further reading: Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation. Michael Budde, The Borders of Baptism: Identities, Allegiances, and the Church. Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. David Gushee, Christians and Politics Beyond the Culture Wars. Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Resident Aliens. Ted Lewis, ed. Electing Not to Vote. Ron Sider, Just Politics. Jim Wallis, God’s Politics. J. Philipp Wogaman, Christians and Politics. John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus.