Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Quick Personal Update

Whew!

What a week. I had a paper due for History of Christianity Yesterday, a project due in Art of Ministry Yesterday, and my final exam in Old Testament was today. Needless to say, I am a little tired, actually, I am a lot tired.

But, I got a couple of grades back on papers recently, and they were both A's! Which is awesome! 1 paper was in Art of Ministry and the other was in Congregational Health. The paper was our final assignment in Congregational Health, so I was able to find out that I got an A in that class. Its only a 1 hour class, but its still great to get an "A."

My research paper for the History of Christianity was on the Gospel of Thomas, which was found in Egypt in the late 40's. Its composed entirely of sayings of Jesus, there is no narrative in it at all. If you want a copy, send me an e-mail and I will be happy to send it to you. You can see an e-mail address at Gmail in the column on the right. I don't want to post it here, because it will just get spammed. I do plan to do a page with my writing on it, but that won't be up until sometime during our break.

I signed up for my classes next semester. I will be taking History of Christianity 2, Old Testament 2, Intro. to the Spiritual Life, and God and the New York Times. The last class is taught by Bill Leonard and James Dunn, and could be thought of a current events and Christianity course. Can you guess what the text is for the course??? The New York Times! Anyway, I think we have to write something everyday, so it is going to provide a lot of material for the blog.

I think I am going to survive my first semester at Divinity School! I appreciate everyone who has been praying for me, and would ask that you keep doing it!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Article on the "Godless Public Schools"

I found a great article on the "Godless Public Schools" by Charles Haynes, one of the speakers at our Washington seminar earlier this year. I would like to hear some of your comments on it. You can read it by clicking here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Comment on torture Post

The following comment was posted on "Who Would Jesus Torture?"

I like your post and the article you referenced from Ethics Daily.

I have only one comment and that is this: We do not live in a Christian nation. We live in a pagan nation that is attempting at every turn to remove anything perceived as Christian from its midst. As a nation, is it wise to pretend that we still cling to the concepts the Bible offers (as sighted in your reference to IPeter 3:9)? If you are not a practicing Christian--and I suppose that no practicing Christian would allow themselves to be trained in any sort of torture techniques--then what good does it do to follow the precepts of the Bible? Why wouldn't this person engage in whatever means necessary to "fight the War on Terror", as the Commander in Cheif has directed?

The bottom line is that we need to decide if we are indeed a Christian nation before we make policy on such issues.

Here is my response:
I don't think we are a Christian nation, and many of the founding fathers would agree with me. In either case, it is irrelevant to my point. I believe the church is called to be prophetic on these issues, but many (if not a majority) of Christians will simply not criticize the republicans. Many do exactly what you appear to be doing, which is try to blame the "liberals" for taking "God" out of a country he was never in. (Which is a whole other discussion on its own.)
This response may be a little harsh, and if so, I apologize for that. This poster was probably not intentionally changing the subject or shifting the blame, but there are those who are very skilled at this and do it on a regular basis. I am completely willing to discuss whether or not the US is a Christian nation, but that argument is not the one I was making.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pat Robertson is at it again!

I know this happened last week, but I thought I had to at least mention it here. Pat Robertson had this to say to the citizens of Dover, PA who last week replaced school board members who had voted to require biology teachers to mention intelligent design in their discussion of evolution:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city, and don'’t wonder why he hasn'’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that'’s the case, don'’t ask for his help because he might not be there."

He later clarified his response by adding the following:
"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."
Those of who know me that I put my science and my faith in two different categories. In my opinion, science studies the laws God established for the way the world works. Evolution could be the method God chose to create the universe. I don't have the answer to that, and neither does anyone else. What I do have is the faith that God did create the universe in whatever way he saw fit. This faith cannot be proven by science, but it is also not weakened by the lack of proof.

We discussed this very issue and this very case with Dr. Charles Haynes, directory of the First Amendment Center, at the Freedom Forum on my recent trip to Washington. In my response paper, which I still plan to post here soon, I had this to say on the issue:

Dr. Haynes saved one of his most profound statements for the end of the discussion. He said, "“If religion has to be proven in a scientific way, then there is no place for faith in religion." As a Christian, I believe that faith has to take precedence over science. Only faith can explain the existence of miracles; science cannot. Only faith can explain the power of prayer; science cannot. And, only faith can prove the existence of God; science cannot. As most Christians know, faith can be more powerful than any scientific theory, and that should be enough.

You can read an Associated Baptist Press article about Pat Robertson's comments by clicking here.

BJC Article on Hillsborough County Schools Controversy

The BJC (Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty) recently posted an article about the debate currently going on in the Hillsborough County (where I'm from, the county that Tampa is in) School Board concerning religious holidays. I know a lot of my blog readers are from Tampa, so I thought you would find this interesting. You can read it by clicking here.

My personal response would be to eliminate the religious holidays for all religions, and allow the students a reasonable number of "floating holidays" they could use to observe the days of their choice. A solution like that would eliminate the sense that the government was favoring one or two religions over others (and therefore satisfy the establishment clause of the first amendment) and also protect the religious liberty of students to observe whatever religious holidays they choose (and therefore satisfy the free exercise clause of the constitution.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who would Jesus Torture?

There was a great article on Ethics Daily last week about the anti-torture bill that is making its way through congress. The president has threatened a veto if the anti-torture language remains in the bill.

This is one of the issues the church should be prophetic about. So, I went from Ethics Daily (website of the Baptist Center for Ethics which is independent but a partner of the CBF) to the Southern Baptist Convention website, the Baptist Press website, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty commission's website (the latter two are SBC organizations) and found nothing about this issue. There was plenty to read about homosexual marriage, human cloning, and other issues the religious right is fond of, but nothing about this issue. This is an obvious example of what happens when Christians align themselves no closely with one party that they become unwilling or unable to find any fault in it.

You can read the Ethics Daily article by clicking here.

1 Peter 3:9

9Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

Fall is in the air!

Fall has certainly arrived here in Winston-Salem, and the leaves are incredible. Gay and I are hoping to a take a day this weekend and drive to the mountains.

Everything is going well at school. I am finally starting to get the feel of being a student again. I haven't written much on the blog, because I have had a bunch of papers due lately. I am hoping to be able to finish some of them early, so that I don't have to worry about writing over the Thanksgiving break.

Two of my classes, Church and State in America and Congregational Health have now ended. That leaves me with Art of Ministry, Old Testament I, and, of course, History of Christianity.

So far, the experience is about what I expected. My favorite class (this is question I have been asked most often) is definitely Old Testament. When you take the time to really dive into the text, the stories are amazing. You couldn't make up better characters if you tried. This is not a theology class, that comes later. The purpose of this class is to read the text, study what contemporary scholarship has to say about the text, and interact with the text ourselves. The professor is excellent, and does a great job of bringing the text to life.

A lot of the ministers I talked to before I left expected divinity school to challenge some of my beliefs. I haven't really experienced that yet. As an example, my Old Testament professor said that some people might be shocked to find out there is little or no archaeological evidence for the conquest narratives in Joshua. The first two cities conquered, Jericho and Ai, were not even occupied at the time the conquest is believed to have occurred. The professor said that if we wanted to believe that the conquest of Jericho was a literal truth, that was fine, we just had to say that all the archaeologists were wrong. In my opinion, whether the stories are literally true is not the important things. The important thing is the lessons to be learned from the stories. Lessons like: if you want to get married, go to the village well, and sleeping with the king's concubines is the same thing as making a claim to the throne! These are the valuable lessons to be learned in divinity school.

Things are getting better on the home front. As some of you know, the furniture from the house really didn't fit right into the new condo. We had a sectional couch that would have worked great if either the sectional connected on the other side, or if we had an condo on the other side of the building. We ended up having to order some furniture, and we are very happy with it. We should now be able to finish up packing, and set-up the guest room so that we can have some visitors.

I will be posting an edited version of my church and state paper shortly. One of the speakers spoke on the condition that our conversations would be off the record, so I have to remove that portion.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers!