How My Mind Has Changed — Part 2


I promised in the last post that I would be brief with these.  Here goes.

It probably sounds, based on my last post, like I do nothing but read.  In a lot of ways that’s true.  I read a lot for my job and for school and still read on the side.  When school is in session, it dominates my free reading time, though.

It turns out that I’m actually much closer to finishing my degree program than I realized.  After this semester, I’ll have five more classes.  A lot depends, of course, on how quickly all of these can be scheduled.  After that, who knows?  I’ve toyed around with the idea of a Ph.D. on and off over the years, and it may still happen.

The last year or so has probably been the best year of the M.Div. program thus far.  Not, mind you, that what came before was bad.  But a lot of things have come together for me intellectually in exciting ways.  The past year saw courses in ethics, homiletics, and systematic theology.  David Fleer (and Tom Long) restored my faith in preaching.  Lee Camp pushed me to read Alasdair MacIntyre and a lot of Stanley Hauerwas (in particular, A Community of Character and After Christendom).  John Mark Hicks pushed me think deeply about the Trinity and sacramental theology, and answered my questions about Alexander Campbell and Reformed theology along the way.

This semester, I’m enrolled in a Spiritual Formation course.  We’re only a few weeks in, so there’s really  not much to say so far (except, perhaps that Richard Foster’s Longing For God has been a real disappointment – in case anyone out there was thinking of shelling out the money for it).

More to come…


3 responses to “How My Mind Has Changed — Part 2

  1. I’ve always been underwhelmed with Foster. I’m supposed to be impressed because an evangelical stumbles into what the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans have known for centuries? That being said, the best single volume I’ve found for beginning to think about how — as a pastor — to spiritually form other is Margaret Guenther’s “Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction.” I will also confess to learning a lot from Eugene Peterson — in particular his “Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity.” Accordingly, I’m looking forward to his forthcoming memoir.

    • I’m really struggling with this class so far, for the precise reason you alluded to. It all gives me the feeling that we’re trying to fit into borrowed clothes that are a couple of sizes too large for us. One of our other textbooks is an edited collection from professors at Dallas Theological Seminary. The idea that the children of Darby and Scofield are involved in spiritual direction — I’m at a loss for how to even process that.

      Our professor is really nice and I really hate to confront her about this sort of thing. It seems really unfair — unsporting, somehow — so I’m trying to play along. But I keep asking myself: why not just assign primary sources (the Rule of St Benedict, some Merton, etc.)? Couldn’t we work as effectively (more effectively) from those?

      Well, thanks for stopping by.

  2. Good points. In a similar class in seminary we were assigned, among other texts, both “The Rule of St. Benedict” and Merton’s “New Seed of Contemplation.” Ultimately, my litmus test for spiritual formation books is whether they seem theoretical (based on 2nd-hand words about God) or grounded in the author’s direct, first-hand experience with God. If the latter isn’t the case, I’m not interested in what she or he has to say about spiritual formation/disciplines/direction, etc.

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