Gordon-Conwell Blog

Learning from Our Church Fathers: Part 11

October 24, 2013

Donald Fairbairn

This is Part 11 in a series about why evangelicals should care about the early church. If you are just now joining us, you can read Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here; Part 5 here; Part 6 here; Part 7 here; Part 8 here; Part 9 here; Part 10 here.

It is well known that for every person who is famously influential in history, there are many more who are influential without being well known at all. Nowhere is this truth more important than in the history of the Christian church, a history that is full of little-known stories of faithful believers who lived hidden lives that were of immense value to the progress of the Kingdom. One impressive example of such an unknown influencer is Macrina, a nun who lived in Cappadocia (central Turkey today) in the fourth century. I sometimes refer to Macrina as “the most influential Christian you’ve never heard of.”

Macrina was the oldest of 10 children born to wealthy, devoutly-Christian parents, Basil (a professor and attorney) and Emmelia. Her father betrothed Macrina at age 12 to a famed orator, but he died very suddenly before they were married. Macrina called the betrothal a marriage and resolved to spend the rest of her life alone and celibate, rather than marry someone else. In order to secure this resolution, she persuaded her mother (who was widowed by this time) to join her in establishing a nunnery that later became the pattern for all of female monasticism in the Greek Church. Macrina also founded a hospital and an organization to care for the poor, funding them with money inherited from her parents. She was so thorough in giving her wealth to the service of others that when she died at age 52, she owned nothing except the tattered garment she was wearing.

As impressive as Macrina’s life was, we might never have known about it except for one other detail. She also possessed an extraordinary combination of immense education and desire to use her knowledge for God’s glory. She dedicated herself to the education of her nine younger brothers and sisters, and two of those excelled so much under her tutelage that they were later sent abroad to obtain first-rate philosophical educations. But Macrina did not simply give her brothers their start. She also popped the bubble of pride that sprang up within them as their education progressed, and she convinced both of them to use their learning for the service of Christ.

Those two brothers are known to history as Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. Together with their best friend, Gregory the Theologian, they are styled “the great Cappadocians,” and the three were the Greek Church’s most brilliant Trinitarian theologians in the period after the death of Athanasius. They took the mantle of leadership during the tumultuous years at the end of the Trinitarian Controversy, and they were the most influential figures on the Council of Constantinople in 381, at which what we call the Nicene Creed was ratified.

Gregory of Nyssa wrote a moving biography of his sister, in which he described her life-long ambition to be the bride of Christ, to long for him, and to serve his people. Gregory’s account means that Macrina’s life is known to us, and the story reminds us of how important and influential a single life can be. At the same time, we are reminded that there are countless more lives of faithful, ordinary Christians of which recorded history has no trace, lives that are equally valuable in their obscurity, equally worthy of celebration by God’s people. We are also reminded that we never know what the Lord is going to do with our own (usually obscure) ministries. We never know whether that person we disciple will be a new Basil the Great. Perhaps this reminder can encourage us to continue to pursue our callings faithfully, just as Macrina did.

 

Dr. Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Donald Fairbairn , current students , faculty blogger , future students , thoughtfully evangelical

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Thank you for writing on the life of Macrina. I shared about her life last year at a youth camp in Germany at a workshop I gave. I was blessed to "get to know her" at a History of Christianity course with Professors Justo Gonzalez and his wife Ms Gonsalus. Leaders are said to be influencers, and Macrina certainly was one of them. It was also important for me to see how Christians in all phases of their history have found ways out of the status quo to be able to express their love toward God and their neighbor. Though previously I had looked down on monasteries, I learned that this was a way in which Macrina could fulfill her calling. Like the apostle Paul, celibacy and a life of service were complimentary. Thank you and God bless you.
Jude Enxuto 12:57PM 11/07/13

Trusting Jesus With Seminary | Seminary Guest Blogger

October 22, 2013

Josh Kluth

I used to think life transitions were moments that connected the different stages of life. These life stages include the different social statuses that define many: student, single, married, divorced, employee, enlisted, parent, grandparent, retiree, etc. Or life stages could be identified as emotional seasons of difficulty, joy, maturation or loneliness. However we define them, transitions are like bridges that connect the peninsula to the mainland. The point is to get over them and on to “real life.” The older I have gotten, the more difficult it has become to identify a period of transition from the main road. At times, I wonder if we can even identify the main road.

For some, life seems to be a never-ending connection of transitions that we trust are heading somewhere. However, I’m not so convinced there is a point of arrival at having “made it” this side of the New Heavens and New Earth. After all, what does “making it” look like? Retirement? House paid off? White picket fence and the 2.5 healthy (and perfectly polite) kids? Which of these are the main road and which are the isolated transition points? My wife and my journey to Gordon-Conwell has illustrated this for us.

I first heard of Gordon-Conwell as a junior in college from a mentor of mine who was an alumnus. Curious as to what seminary was all about, I sent off an inquiry and received a packet in the mail describing the different programs. Sheer curiosity. That was 10 years ago. I got a job after college, served in ministry, got married, tried to find better jobs, switched careers, etc. In fact, my wife remembers me telling her that I was determined not to pursue a life in full-time ministry. Seminary wasn’t a consideration. And yet, through a long process of being led by the Lord, encouraged by friends, miraculous provisions in finances, scholarship opportunities and Semlink distance classes, we came to Gordon-Conwell. We left our home in the Pacific Northwest and arrived in the dead of winter in January 2013 just in time to be greeted by Hurricane Nemo. And to be honest, the transition hasn’t been all that easy. Moreover, it hasn’t been altogether clear where God is taking us in the future. However, we feel confident that God’s orchestration has led us to this moment.

We aren’t confident of how to distinguish between a life transition and a life stage. But we are confident that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As pilgrims in this world, we are confident that life itself may continue to produce transitions. As people being conformed constantly to the image of Christ, we are determined to transition well until the day he takes us home to glory. But for the time being, we are here at Gordon-Conwell determined to lean on Jesus. He is the gate, but he is the way. He is not just the beginning point. He is not a life stage and he is not a transition. There is just no getting over him.

Josh and his wife, Tara, are from Washington State. Josh is pursuing an MAR and MATH while Tara works as a hairdresser in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Together, they are most captivated by the story in which God has placed them in this fascinatingly bizarre world that spins across this universe. In the midst of it all, they are stabilized by what Sally Lloyd-Jones describes as “God’s 'Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love' in Jesus" (Jesus Storybook Bible).

Tags: Author: Josh Kluth , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , guest post

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A Prayer to be Learning Ones | Seminary Student Blogger

October 10, 2013

Amy Gannett

We are the learning ones, by Your gracious calling.

Here, we open our minds to be filled with
knowledge and wisdom,
truth and theories,
facts and opinions.

Our ears have been open to the words of the studied, and quickly our tongues begin to turn out phrases, too:

We believe this and not that.
This is true, that is not.

More than that, we are among those who are called to the same task.
And in this community of the learning, we have come to stake the ground:

Calvinists and Armenians,
Baptists and Presbyterians,
Preachers and Professors.

But as we do,
as we read,
and then as we begin to write,

Would You grant us the grace of pause.

Would You keep us from hard lines in gray territory.
Would You keep us from hard hearts in teachable moments.
Would You keep us from dismissing truth by naming it crude, harsh or immodest.

Would You give us the grace to truly be the learning ones,
And to rightly fill out our name.

Even as You fill out Yours, good Teacher.
Let us learn to yield to Your Spirit.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , spiritually vital , student blogger

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An Actor’s Faith: What Are You Really Working Toward? | Seminary Student Blogger

October 03, 2013

Tim Norton

Dear Fellow Seminarian,

Why are you at seminary? What is your objective? Are you acting like it or do your actions suggest a different priority? Let me explain.

I was assigned a best friend during my first semester of the music theatre program at Florida State.

No joke. I was assigned a best friend.

Now this isn't like your mom putting together amazing goody bags so kids would come to your birthday party (although...you put together a nice goody bag and miracles do happen). After a few weeks of observation and analysis, my professors paired every student with another from class as "best friends." We were to build a relationship with said best friend over the course of the semester and complete all scene work together until Christmas. I realize now that my best friend was also a pillar of consistency in a class designed to make you feel like a complete failure by finals week, thereby enabling you to start from scratch, without any preconceived notions, in January. My best friend, of course, was Mike the hockey player. Our first task was an "open scene," or, as I like to call it, "actor psychological trench warfare."

The assignment is simple.

"Here's a sheet of paper with 10 lines of arbitrary dialogue,” our prof explained. "You have no back story, no character information. You may create the circumstances as you wish. We'll start scene showings next week."

Mike the hockey player and I began brainstorming immediately. Typical freshman, we were eager to show off and entirely ignorant of just how bad we really were. Our plan was beautiful in its simplicity. "You see most people in this situation panic and swing for the fence" we thought. "They come up with an elaborate story that's entirely too complex." The details of who came up with our golden idea are unclear. So, for the sake of fairness, let's give Mike the credit.

Mike: Dude, I've got it.
Tim: What?
Mike: I've got it.
Tim: What is it?
Mike: You have to pee.
Tim: Nah, I'm good man—what are you, my mother? What's your idea?
Mike: No. Dude, you have to pee.
Tim: I have to pee?
Mike: You have to--
Tim (catching on): I HAVE TO PEE!

I'm pretty sure Edison would've been jealous of our genius. I had to pee. It was perfect. Our scene would be set in a typical room, between two friends, one of them leaving to pee, the other preventing him from leaving. I would be the pee-er; Mike would be the preventer. Summon Her Majesty the Queen! Move over Bill Shakespeare! Tim and Mike the hockey player are creating the scene of a lifetime! We basked in our brilliance, imagining the glorious feedback we'd receive from our adoring yet ever so slightly jealous peers. Life was good.

Fast-forward one week, Mike and I are ready for action. I chug a little bit of water before the performance just to get my head in the game. I dazzle the audience with my best pee dance moves while Mike systematically blocks my exit to the bathroom. Everything runs exactly as we had rehearsed. Ready for applause, we walk back to our professor and peers for feedback.

The ever glamorous and even more brilliant professor Jean says, "Tim, what do you normally do when you have to pee?" I stand in silence, nodding slightly as if admiring the profoundness of the question. "Tim, what do you normally do when you have to pee?" Jean repeated. I skillfully reply, “Uh…well, I normally just walk to a bathroom and...ya know...pee." "Good," she said. "Do it again and show me. What do you do when you have to pee?"

We restart the scene. Suddenly, right as I was beginning my meticulously rehearsed pee dance, a voice cried out from the audience, almost reverberating off the black walls of the rehearsal space. "BS," Professor Jean delightedly exclaimed from the audience. She was smiling as she repeated herself, "BS."

...except she didn't use abbreviations.

"Tim, what do you normally do when you have to pee?"

This question again?? I thought we went through this before. I reply, “Well…"

Prof. Jean: "You just go pee, right?"
Me: "Right."
Prof. Jean: "So go. Right now. Show me what it looks like for you to walk to the bathroom."

I cautiously start walking away, unsure of what is going to happen next.

Prof. Jean: "Good Tim. Now why didn't you do that in the scene?"
Me: "I'm not sure what you..."
Prof. Jean: "Why didn't you walk like that in the scene?"
Me: "Oh, well, I wanted to show that I had to pee."
Prof. Jean: "Ah, you wanted to show me you had to pee."
Me: "Yeah."

And there was the problem. My over-rehearsed, overplayed and overacted bathroom dance looked absolutely ridiculous because it was dishonest. Rather than pulling the audience into the world we created, I slapped ‘em all with the reality of a novice actor who is desperate to do the assignment right. You know what the worst part is? I thought I was being honest. I convinced myself that I was truly fighting for my objective of "get to the bathroom at all costs." My actions, on the other hand, suggested that my actual objective was to "get my class and professor to see that I had to pee."

That's the thing with objectives. It's possible tell yourself that you are fighting for Objective A. But until someone comes along and calls BS, you have no clue that what you're actually doing is fighting for Objective B. In other words, instead of "fighting to pee," you are fighting to "make it look like your objective is to pee."

As a seminarian, I find myself fighting a similar battle. I find myself less focused on preparing for future ministry than about my academic success. I get so bogged down in the whirlpool of exegesis, reading logs and theological reflections that I forget this isn’t just graduate school. To be sure, it is school. It is tough! And, it should be. But my primary objective isn’t fulfilled in the classroom. The classroom is a preparation for my future ministry to this world. That changes my approach to learning. If my primary concern is future ministry preparation, it won’t be as difficult to put down the books and spend time with the Lord. If my primary concern is future ministry, healthy living habits (like sleep and exercise) become a priority. If my primary concern is future ministry, character formation will trump academic success in my list of objectives. I am the WORST at forgetting this. My objective at Gordon-Conwell, if I’m honest, has been academic success and it has infected my preaching, my prayer life and my relationships.

What is your objective at seminary? I dare you to take a minute and evaluate if your life implies that objective, or perhaps a different one.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , current students , future students , student blogger

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Learning from Our Church Fathers: Part 10

October 01, 2013

Donald Fairbairn

This is Part 10 in a series about why evangelicals should care about the early church. If you are just now joining us, you can read Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here; Part 5 here; Part 6 here; Part 7 here; Part 8 here; Part 9 here.

One of the things about the early church that troubles evangelicals the most is that the fathers seemed to advocate what we would call “works righteousness.” Why, we ask, did no one in the early church understand justification by faith correctly? One of the ways of answering this question is to say that they did understand justification by faith, or at least some of them did, but they did not express it the same way we do. Recently I’ve been studying the way the fifth-century Egyptian church father Cyril of Alexandria’s understood justification, and his way of articulating that great truth may have a lot to teach us today.

Justification is an ever-present theme in Cyril’s biblical commentaries (regardless of what book of the Bible he is commenting on), and there are two major differences between the way he describes justification and the way we often describe it in evangelicalism today. First, Cyril treats justification not in a forensic or legal framework, but in a participatory one. Think about how often we use either courtroom imagery or the idea of “exchanges” to describe justification. We imagine a situation in which a sinner is declared guilty but someone else—Christ—pays the penalty owed for the sin, or we talk about Christ taking our sin upon himself so that his righteousness could be given to us (“imputed,” we say, using the language of Romans 4) in exchange. And of course, these images are perfectly appropriate. But what Cyril focuses on that we often miss is the participatory framework that undergirds the legal imagery. Christ is the only one who is truly righteous, the only one who is righteous in and of himself. When we are united to him, then in him we receive his own righteousness. It is not just that God credits Christ’s righteousness to us, although that is also true. Even more fundamentally, Christ’s righteousness becomes our precisely because we are in him, we are united to him through the Holy Spirit.

The second way in which Cyril’s understanding of justification differs from ours is that he makes basically no distinction between justification and sanctification. We often argue that sanctification is the outworking of justification—once a believer has been declared righteous (justification), he or she becomes progressively more and more actually righteous and holy (sanctification). By distinguishing between these, we seek to combat the perceived mistake of Medieval Roman Catholicism by which it allegedly collapsed justification into sanctification. It may seem to us that Cyril is doing the same thing we think Medieval Roman Catholicism was doing, but he isn’t. Rather, the reason he makes no distinction between justification and sanctification is that he sees both of these as taking place at the beginning of faith and as being directly tied to the righteousness of Christ. Just as Christ is the only righteous one, so he is the only one who is holy in and of himself. When we are united to him, then in him we are holy (that is, sanctified), just as we are righteous in him.

It should be clear that Cyril’s understanding of justification is similar to ours, albeit expressed rather differently. More important, it should be apparent that his way of stating this central truth places even more emphasis on Christ than the way we express the truth of justification. The crucial point is not that faith alone justifies, as if any kind of faith in anyone or anything could justify a person. Rather, it is that Christ justifies us when we trust in him. Because he alone is righteous and holy, the only way we can be credited with righteousness is to be in him, to be united to him by the Holy Spirit.

We live in an age which places all of its emphasis on us, and in religion, that emphasis translates into the idea that if a person believes in something—in anything—then that person is “saved” or “fulfilled” or whatever. Our culture believes that the act of believing is what is important, not the content of what one believes. Christianity teaches otherwise: what ultimately matters is not so much whether one believes, but in whom one trusts. Perhaps Cyril’s way of describing justification can be useful to us as we try to explain this great truth of our faith to a society that thinks everything is about us. It isn’t. It’s all about Christ, the Son of God, the only holy and righteous one. Only in him can we become righteous before his Father.

Dr. Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Donald Fairbairn , current students , faculty blogger , future students , thoughtfully evangelical

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A Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

September 17, 2013

Amy Gannett

Our good and gracious Father,

Here we stand at the precipice of many good things:

Classes we have long awaited,
Community we have long anticipated,
And nothing but time for the two to sweetly mingle.

We are eager to delve into Your good things,
and fervently we stretch our hands open
towards You
to partake of Your abundant gifts.

We will sit in our classes with new notebooks
and freshly sharpened pencils.
We will open new books and make friends with their contents.
We will puzzle in the library over vocabulary and exegesis papers
and watch the leaves turn just outside our windows
with mystery and awe.

Yes, it feels we are at the door to Open Spaces
and You have opened it to us.

But before we rush through her frame,
before we adventure out into all the good You have for us,
we choose to pause here for a moment.

We dare not be a healed leper who does not think to thank.

Thank You, good and gracious Father.

Thank You, Giver of all gifts.

For all this is Your doing,
and nothing we have comes from any other hand.

Thank You, Teacher and Master.

Thank You, Companion and Friend.

Here at the beginning of good things
we turn our faces to You
with joy and gratitude.

Thank You.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , student blogger

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Dear First Years | Seminary Student Blogger

September 10, 2013

Tim Norton

Happy first week of classes! After a brief summer sabbatical, it is time to start blogging again. My name is Tim and I am a 3rd year M.Div. student, which essentially means that this blog is part of a carefully crafted scheme to avoid studying for my language competency exams coming later this week. Being a 3rd year also means that I am officially in my last year as an M.Div. student. Accordingly, I feel it is my obligation to start off this year with some thoughts that might serve the incoming first years well.

  1. Greek: At this point, most of you first year M.Div. kids have realized that Greek is graded on a 6-point scale. You may have THOUGHT that Spiritual Formation with Dr. Kang was going to be the most formative class for your prayer life. You thought wrong. That 6-point scale is going to come up more than a few times in your prayer time. I'm kidding; the 6-point scale seems intimidating at first, but you will be more than prepared to handle it. I promise! You are going to be fine! Take a breath and get down to business :)
  2. Hebrew: Hebrew is a direct result of the Fall. We can all collectively thank Alexander the Great for making sure that at least half of God's Word was written in a tolerable language.
  3. Hebrew revisited: ...fine. I'm kidding again. Hebrew isn't THAT bad. In fact, there is no feeling quite like translating Hebrew. You just feel like a boss when it starts to click. The languages can be particularly intimidating to those (like me) who didn’t major in anything remotely close to biblical studies in undergrad (music theatre for me). You will get them. Enjoy the privilege of learning the original languages of Scripture!
  4. The Bubble: You now reside on the "Holy Hill" of Gordon-Conwell. Be sure to get off campus and interact with normal people every now and again. After all, it is to just such people that you are called to minister. Just remember that the average person doesn't speak Seminarian. So if you can't have a conversation without dropping cool-kid phrases like "Actually, Matthew is leveraging a common hermeneutical principal by employing typological lenses with reference to prophetical literature, thereby creating multiple layers of interpretive fruit"...the average person will ignore you, or hate you, or both.
  5. Electives: Don't blow them on a "maybe this could be cool" kind of course. If you aren't positive that this is THE class for you and your future ministry, save that elective until you are sure. Worst-case scenario is having a ton of electives your last year and having the unfortunate *cough* need to fill them with independent studies (*hint*).
  6. Audits: Use them.
  7. Pass/Fails: Use these too. There are several philosophies of leveraging the pass/fail. Ask around. My thoughts are to wait until you have a particularly slammed semester to do so to loosen the workload on an assignment heavy course.
  8. Reading Weeks: I have dedicated an entire blog post to strategizing for these guys. Check it out here.
  9. Calling: Remember why you came to seminary. Chances are you feel an affinity if not an outright calling to a ministry of some type. When you get bogged down, just keep in mind why you are working so hard. Let your calling encourage you without burdening you.
  10. Rest: You are not a machine. Ministry is not about who can handle the most work. Remember your identity is first and foremost a beloved child of God. Take time to rest (Sabbath anyone?) in this. The habits you form here will be the habits you have after graduating.

I think that’ll get you started. I look forward to meeting all of you! I’m the loud one during lunch and dinner, so feel free to stop by.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , current students , future students , student blogger , student life

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The Past and Future of Gordon-Conwell | Seminary Student Blogger

April 09, 2013

Dimitri Alldridge 

During the Reformation, Martin Luther was warned that if he started one new church he would start a thousand.

Thankfully, Luther ignored the warning and the protestant Church was born, but sadly the rest of that prophesy also came true.

As Christians we have a nasty habit of dividing. The last figure I heard (from our very own Todd Johnson, no less) is that there are now around 58,000 Christian denominations around the world.

58,000!

Of course, as Luther demonstrated, there is a time for unity and a time for disunity.

The real difficulty comes in telling the time.

In class on Monday, I heard the history of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1969, Harold J. Ockenga, Billy Graham and some other Neo-Evangelicals set up a school that would provide a third way between the Liberals on one side who so absorbed the culture around them as to be indistinguishable, and the Fundamentalist on the other side who so feared culture that they withdrew altogether.

They divided, and they united.

The school, as I understand it, was set up to unite Evangelicals around the truth of the Bible and to prepare them to serve faithfully in churches whatever their denomination and to engage in the culture wherever they were sent.

To that end, Gordon-Conwell doesn’t really exist to serve any particular denomination or any particular church. Instead, it exists simply serve the Church and the Gospel.

Of course I say “simply,” but refusing to be denominational or to align itself with any group more specific than “evangelical” is anything but simple. There are and always will be enormous pressures upon Gordon-Conwell to go one way or another.

And so I fear for Gordon-Conwell and I’m also thankful for it.

In one month’s time (and after a lot of long nights!), I will graduate from Gordon-Conwell.

I will be sad to leave this wonderful and special place.

I only pray that by God’s grace it will remain firmly grounded on God’s Word, serving his Church and for his Glory.

If we do that then we will divide from some and unite with others, perhaps that’s just the way it has to be.
 

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , current students , future students , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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We have Already Forgotten: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

April 01, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here; day 7 here; day 8 here.

It's only been one day. And we have already forgotten.

We ate our feasts and found our eggs and wore our best pastels. But now there only remains the Easter candy we bought on sale and cold ham in the refrigerator. We've hung up our dresses and tucked our Bibles away again. We'll wear them each again, we're sure. Just when is still unknown.

We've forgotten.

And that reality makes Your works all the more shattering: "You are the light of the World."

Us?

Yes. Us.

This pitiful people, this sinful bunch of forgetful hearts and unfaithful hands. You said we were likened to a city on a hill. A city - great and immoveable, full of life and motion, giving light to the surrounding hills in the deadness of night. You say we cannot be hidden.

You say "cannot" where we say "inevitable" because we see our depravity and You see Your grace.

This, too, we have forgotten.

So be our Light, God of all. Illuminate the darkened crevices of our city; give light to every inner cavity we can name, and especially those we cannot.

Enlighten us in Your holy way and let us remember the light-life of our resurrection God in us.

We pray in the name of the Easter God.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Alive Indeed: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 31, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here; day 7 here.

Christ has risen!

Indeed, we cry routinely enough. Christ has risen indeed.

On this cold, pale blue morning we recite our affectionate gratitude

for Your plans beyond our expectations

for Your life beyond the grave

for Your promises beyond our hope.

The morning scene is serene enough to sentimentalize us, and for even this we are grateful.

But in the silence of this Easter morning, we hear the call of the resurrection:

the resurrection which calls to us from behind that illuminating horizon,

the resurrection which wearies our easy way of remember and startles with new anticipation,

the resurrection which grants us the holy fortitude to sing

Soon and very soon...

Yes, Your miracle life beyond the cave of death lends us the potent reminder this morning that we, too, await resurrection:

the resurrection which will call us to the sky,

the resurrection into rest for our weary souls,

the resurrection which will grant us the ending of the tune, retiring the language of "soon" and replacing it with the vernacular of the heavenlies.

Soon. Oh that it would be very soon.

That You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!

We have yet to see an act like that.

But we have heard tales of one.

And that Friday-Sunday act gives us hope.

Come and be Eastered among us until we are raised with You.

Until then, we will watch the horizon.

And we will hope better this time.

Indeed.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Alive Indeed: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 31, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here; day 7 here.

Christ has risen!

Indeed, we cry routinely enough. Christ has risen indeed.

On this cold, pale blue morning we recite our affectionate gratitude

for Your plans beyond our expectations

for Your life beyond the grave

for Your promises beyond our hope.

The morning scene is serene enough to sentimentalize us, and for even this we are grateful.

But in the silence of this Easter morning, we hear the call of the resurrection:

the resurrection which calls to us from behind that illuminating horizon,

the resurrection which wearies our easy way of remember and startles with new anticipation,

the resurrection which grants us the holy fortitude to sing

Soon and very soon...

Yes, Your miracle life beyond the cave of death lends us the potent reminder this morning that we, too, await resurrection:

the resurrection which will call us to the sky,

the resurrection into rest for our weary souls,

the resurrection which will grant us the ending of the tune, retiring the language of "soon" and replacing it with the vernacular of the heavenlies.

Soon. Oh that it would be very soon.

That You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!

We have yet to see an act like that.

But we have heard tales of one.

And that Friday-Sunday act gives us hope.

Come and be Eastered among us until we are raised with You.

Until then, we will watch the horizon.

And we will hope better this time.

Indeed.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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To Finish the Phrase: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 30, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here.

The words press off our lips with ready easy:

"I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell…"

And here, for now at least, we must cease our repetition. For this is the end of the story for a while. For now, we must sit in the darkness of these dying days.

and are they ever dark…

Here in the dark we sense the utter despair of that space outside the courts, the waiting and longing of those listening for the verdict, the evil of false witnesses, the shame of your naked beating. We, in these dark days, sense the suffering of that road; the trees You spoke into existence we reduced to lumber and forced You to carry it, we nailed You to it and mocked You for not employing that life-speaking voice. We looked at You and couldn't, so we turned our eyes and kept on mocking. Because we couldn't bear the sight of such a bloody lamb.

Yes, it is dark here.

And we confess, we need to finish the liturgy! We must complete the statement, our souls ache for the phrases that properly follow!

But for now, we know there is no newness yet. No newness yet.

And out of this darkness we implore You to be Your sentence-finishing self. To complete history with newness and life and light. Do Your Friday-Sunday act again. And in doing so, Easter us as well.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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