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I'm Done

I graduate tomorrow and today was spent finishing up the loose ends. Here are the first words of the last paper I wrote during my seminary career:

There have been many “F” words in the English language.Without going through specific examples, the thrusting of air between the lower curled lip in contact with the back of one’s upper teeth usually precedes the influx of air into the listener’s lungs. Perhaps no such word has caused as much damage in Christian circles as the following “f” word: Fundamentalist.

Now go read Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture.

The Beginning of the End

Today is the first day of my last semester of Seminary. It marks not only that end, but the, at least for a time, an end to my academic career which has spanned over the past 22 years of my life.

It was rather surreal sitting in class as I was thinking about this twice over Odyssey of mine. The end finally in sight, praying about what I'm going to be doing in the future. At the current moment I'm praying about moving to Kansas City in June to plant Redeemer Fellowship. A two year prospectus was sent to me about 2 weeks ago from Kevin Cawley and Kris McGee. It appears to be exactly what I want to do, but I'm trying to take my time making that decision-- something I'm not normally known for doing. I hope to have a decision in the next 2 weeks.

Until then I have the following classes to focus on during my last semester:

  • Christian Ethics and the Church
  • Living Responsibly in the Realm of God
  • Embodiment

The final requirement is my Chaplaincy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (CPE). It takes up around 30 hours a week altogether. It has been much better than what I thought it would be though. To best illustrate how I've enjoyed it, I thought I'd give a top ten.

Top 10 Things I've enjoyed about CPE so far:

10. Cute nurses
9. Commuting via the EL
8. Waking up very early (surprising I know)
7. Talking with patients
6. Cute nurses
5. Praying with patients
4. Moving my understanding of Scripture from an academic knowledge to a pastoral wisdom.
3. Practicing Dual Citizenship
2. Cute nurses
1. Being there for people in times of hurt and need

Dual Citizens: Living as Culturally-Engaged Christians in First Peter

It seems like it would be good for more than two or three people to read something that I worked so hard on. So over the next couple of days or weeks, I'm going to post my paper I wrote last week.


Since Abraham, the people of God have been wrestling with how to interact with the cultures around them. Abraham prayed for and interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, however eminent their destruction. Jacob deceived everyone with whom he came into contact. Joseph rose through the ranks of Egyptian royalty eventually using his authority to bring reconciliation to his brothers, who sold him into slavery. When Israel’s sanctuary in Egypt turned into slavery, Moses had to interact with Pharaoh for their freedom. When Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan, they had to fight with those who already lived there for the land that God had given them. Even when the kingdom of Israel was established, the Philistines, the Amalekites, the Ammonites, and the Syrians were constantly asserting their culture over that of the Israelites. Lucien Legrand, in his book The Bible on Culture, shows how, throughout the Scriptures, the people of God both rejected and embraced the cultures around them. In the history of Israel, God raised up persons to play the prophet, which warned against establishing themselves as a kingdom—like all the other nations—and at the same he selected for them a king to rule over them.[1] Moving into the New Testament, Legrand looks at both Jesus and Paul. Both lived and moved through different cultures. Jesus, embodying the culture around him, spoke Aramaic and obeyed the Torah, but he did not fit neatly into the subcultures of the day either.[2] Paul, on the other hand, fit himself into all categories. Legrand goes so far as to have three chapters on the man, which focus on his Jewish-ness, his Greek-ness, and the integration of the two.[3] Paul, himself, writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19 that though he is free from all, he has made himself a servant of all—to the Jew a Jew and to the Greek a Greek. To summarize, the interactions between the people of God and the cultures around them have found many different forms throughout the history of redemption. This paper seeks to show that the former conversations between Christ and Culture are no longer valid because they are based in Christendom. Instead we need a different cultural hermeneutic that is based on the concept of dual citizenship found in 1 Peter.

[1] Lucien Legrand, The Bible on Culture, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2004), 18.

[2] Ibid., 83-96.

[3] Ibid., 115-151.

Catching Up

I've been extremely busy with school the last week and a half. Papers are beginning to be thought of-- some close to being written. All the work that I had been working through slowly is needing a few extra efforts to get back on track. Books need to be read. Passages need to be translated.

Right now, I'm working mainly in Ephesians, doing the worksheet and eventually translating. It's the only real class that I have to attend each week. I'd never spent much time in Ephesians-- enough for it to really affect my life, at least, but it's beginning to sneak in-- in my prayers especially. It's giving me language to express my heart, my emotions. It teaches me what God has done for me, even though I deserve none of it. It's really quite amazing. Reading about how we were once dead in our sins, focused on the physical world around us and being oppressed by the spirit of the age, you feel the weight with which we need to be redeemed. And then Paul puts for three little words, transliterated ha de theos. In English, it comes across in two: But God. Think about that for a moment. But. God. With stark contrast to the preceding three verses, Paul lets us know that despite our situation, God has broken in and done something amazing, that while we were dead in our sins, he has made us alive in Christ.

Klyne made the point simply: "Never forget that the Gospel is theocentric." In other words, God is at the center of the Gospel, not us.

Sex and the Lies We Tell

One of the things that I truly enjoy about being at Seminary is the chance to hear some great speakers. A couple times a year North Park brings in Biblical scholars and theologians to speak on a variety of topics ranging from the Johannine literature to the Trinity. This time they brought in someone to talk about the Trinity, as well as the more interesting topic of sex--Lauren Winner.

Winner, a converted Jew, has written a few books, including one called Real Sex. I've only been able to read a couple chapters of Real Sex, but it's on the ever-extensive and constantly growing list of books to read. In her hour that she had today though, she spoke on the four lies the Church tells about extramarital sex, explicitly or implicitly.

  1. You'll feel bad afterwards. Youth pastors across America love to proclaim this, but in truth, there are many different emotions one may feel after sex ranging from elation to hung over. All sin promotes itself as being a pleasing and satisfying endeavor-- if the serpent had told Eve that she would feel bad after the apple, we would certainly be in a different place.
  2. While men are animals when it comes to sex, women have no sex drive. This is propagated with the purest of intentions of protecting our daughters against the sex-driven pubescent boy. The reality is that both men and women have sex drives. We need to educate accordingly.
  3. Premarital sex will leave you with scars and ghosts. While there are certainly consequences of having sex outside of the confines of marriage, we do not carry the ghosts of past sexual partners into our marriage beds.
  4. Marriage is the end all of sexual delinquency and final maturity into adulthood. All too often the Church promotes marriage as the final step into adulthood. Either through only choosing families to light the advent candles at Christmas or sitting the 28 year old single woman at the children's table, while the 24 year old married sibling is at the "adult" table, single Christians are left out of adulthood. Further, Winner spoke of marriage being another step in sexual formation with its own inherent struggles.

Winner pointed out that when the Church begins to talk about sex it always begins with the negative, when in fact God always declares sex to be good. And while the negatives are necessary to proclaim, the Church needs to extol the positive aspects of sex. Something else worth exploring that she touched only briefly on referred to people's thought that they govern their own bodies. She pointed out that in baptism we are joining our bodies to the body of Christ (also known as the Church) and we no longer, as if ever, have rights over what else to which we join our bodies. This seems to me a strong point of connection to begin to speak of chastity to post-moderns. The Church certainly should have a lot to say about the goodness with which God has created sex and we need to stop being drowned out by the culture around us.