Second Fellowship Posts
September 23, 2012 by Gerald Hiestand
Philip is the Director of Student Ministries (read, “youth pastor”) at Christ United Methodist Church, in Memphis, TN. He is also Affiliate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary. He got his masters in theology from Asbury Seminary and his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. His Ph.D. thesis was published as The Poetics of Evil: Toward an Aesthetic Theodicy by Oxford University Press. He also recently co-edited The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes (University Press of Kentucky, 2012) with David Baggett. Most of his published work has focused on the intersection between theology and the arts. A key concern of Philip’s is helping to equip Christians to understand and critically interact with culture. Philip and his wife, Karen, have 3 daughters.
Welcome, Philip!2 Comments
April 7, 2012 by Gerald Hiestand
The SAET is pleased to welcome Dr. Christopher Bechtel into the SAET’s Second Fellowship.
Christopher Bechtel pastors Evergreen Church (PCA), a ten year old ministry to urban Salem, Oregon. Beginning at Evergreen in January 2012 was a return home for Christopher and his family after several years away from the Northwest, first for seminary at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and then for a PhD in Hebrew Bible at the University of Edinburgh. To date, Christopher has published in bioethics, both for the popular press and for academics, particularly in the forthcoming The Ethics of the New Eugenics (Berghahn), a coauthored volume cataloging and examining advances in beginning of life biotechnology. His future work, however, will focus on the theological interpretation of Scripture as well as the political theology of the Hebrew prophets.
Welcome, Christopher!0 Comments
October 13, 2011 by Jason Hood
Douglas Sean O’Donnell, The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job (Crossway, 2011). Reviewed by Ryan Patrick O’Dowd.
[[See the series introduction here.]]
In his introduction to this book, Sidney Greidanus admonishes the church for its failure to read and preach Old Testament wisdom literature. Greidanus shows that when the biblical sources churches use to equip God’s saints are inadequate, the health of the church suffers. Douglas O’Donnell’s book is a creative and engaging introduction to these lost texts and a much needed book for a church long deprived of biblical wisdom.
After a short introduction, O’Donnell provides six sermons on the first and last chapters of each wisdom book. These sermons are followed by a chapter on hermeneutics and homiletics and two appendices that help preachers to preach wisdom and poetry. O’Donnell’s aim is twofold: one, to inspire love for the wisdom literature, and two, to motivate and guide preachers towards preaching good sermons from these books. I have written two reviews in order to comment on both goals. In the next review I will point to elements in O’Donnell’s methodology which demonstrate that the church’s struggle to preach wisdom literature today goes beyond the genre or our theological method. This first review examines the content of O’Donnell’s sermons.
O’Donnell’s sermons on Proverbs emphasize moral application. He shows that wisdom is interested in giving us a particular guide for day-to-day life in the world, inspiring us to be grateful for the gift of wisdom. O’Donnell explains that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, meaning that true wisdom can only be had if we start in the right place and aim in the right direction – an obedient faith in the covenant God who is the source of all wisdom.
The argument is clear and persuasive in this chapter, though I would have taken the discussion a bit further. Because O’Donnell views wisdom almost entirely within the categories of salvation and morality, he does not address the way wisdom speaks to vocational and cultural issues like aesthetics, architecture, education and politics. Note, for example, the wisdom Bezalel had in building the tabernacle (Exod 31) – wisdom of skill that knows the material properties of God’s world. Joseph and Daniel are given wisdom to govern and to interpret dreams and Solomon’s wisdom applies to a range of tasks from administering justice to building the Temple.
When O’Donnell comes to his next sermon on the valiant woman in Proverbs 31, he again focuses on her moral and spiritual character. But Proverbs 31 also provides lengthy illustrations of her accomplishments in agriculture, commerce, parenting, textiles, and social justice. O’Donnell generically calls these her “industrious work,” referring briefly to Ruth and Boaz as people of character like the Valiant Woman and Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 8. But he doesn’t explore these connections. Had he done so, he might have opened up the way back to Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 8, who saw all the events of creation. Wisdom affirms the goodness of all the human vocations in this world, not just being a good wife.
O’Donnell preaches with an explicit indebtedness to the tradition of Reformed theology and so I was surprised that he did not make use of the excellent Proverbs scholarship by Raymond Van Leeuwen and Al Wolters. Not only do they share his Reformed heritage, but both show how Reformers like Luther, Calvin, Brenz and Melanchthon all saw the wisdom literature celebrating God’s whole creation, and with it, every dimension of human activity in the world.
O’Donnell’s two chapters on Ecclesiastes describe what he calls “the futility of our work in this world,” warning us that our work adds nothing new to this world unless it is “in the Lord.” In other words, work is futile but can be redeemed in Jesus the Messiah.
This raises important questions: how do Christians in a fallen world balance the message of the futility of work with the goodness of work imagined in Proverbs 31? And what does it mean for Jesus to redeem work? The sermons don’t tackle these questions and I suspect that all pastors struggle to connect the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body with its specific application to our life in this world today. In Colossians Paul tells us that Jesus’ resurrection begins the process of reconciling everything in the heavens and the earth. He then prays for God to give his church wisdom so that we can bring the power of his resurrection to the world (compare Phil 3). Simply put, wisdom is our guide to embody his renewing grace, peace, forgiveness and healing in all the broken places of the world: offices, schools, banks, hospitals, studios, and homes. But we must first link wisdom to creation for this wisdom message in Colossians to make sense.
In his sermons on Job, O’Donnell avoids the common error of moralizing Job’s story and concluding that Job suffers because he has sinned. Such a move is shortsighted, as O’Donnell notes, because the narrator and God both strain to reaffirm Job as an upright and righteous man. No, this book is about the mystery of a just God who introduces punishments into the life of a holy man.
I was a little surprised that O’Donnell did not place this mystery in the context of the created order, as Job does in his first complaint about his suffering (3:1-10). Here Job specifically reverses all the terms of light, life and goodness in the six day account of Genesis 1. Job’s friends immediately defend God and accuse Job of sin; but they are misguided. God’s response confirms that Job was on target from the beginning, answering Job’s complaint with a long series of questions that demonstrate the mysteries in the created world (chapters 38-42). The point is that justice and suffering in Job are not just abstract ideas detached from life on earth. They are visceral realities of the order of the universe that extend from human affairs to the sun, moon, clouds, rain, and soil.
Though O’Donnell’s approach does not place suffering in a theology of creation, his excellent sermon on Job 42 nevertheless fits with this interpretation. He argues that if Job is righteous, then there must be much about our human path in this world that remains a mystery to us: life exceeds our understanding and wisdom must know its limits! God does not give Job a rational explanation after all; instead he points to his power in the physical world as a reminder that his thoughts are not our thoughts. The story ends with Job repentant, but the mystery left open. O’Donnell shows that this mystery is only resolved in Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Indeed, the death of the righteous One and his rising again save us from our judgment and restore the whole world with a power that is beyond our imagining. But that does not always lessen the anguish of suffering in our long wait for his kingdom to come at last. Job is a long story that encourages a long wait.
O’Donnell’s book is easy and useful reading, despite what I think is sometimes too narrow a focus that does not address the connections between creation and wisdom. I am increasingly convinced that if wisdom sermons are going to have significant staying power, they will do best to delve into the roots of wisdom in the tangible, created world.0 Comments
June 9, 2011 by Jason Hood
Or did SAET do Vanhoozer? I’m not sure, but Vanhoozer was present while we all did Ecclesial Theology. The Second Fellowship of the SAET met this week in Chicago. It was everything one would want: encouraging, challenging, course-correcting, vision-casting.
Kevin Vanhoozer was our special guest; Doug Sweeney, our regular Second Fellowship advisor, was also in attendance, and both brought the wisdom for us. Several of us gave papers that attempted to make Pumpkin Pie out of The Great Pumpkin, Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine. KV interacted with our responses and spent time reflecting with us on what needs to happen in the theological-pastoral enterprise in which we are all engaged. A few soundbites faithfully (I hope) paraphrased:
“Theology is the study of reality. A theologian is a minister of reality.” Part of the theologian’s task is to challenge and cast down idolatrous counter-realities.
The task of the theologian is that of “public intellectual,” not necessarily in the global, CNN sense, but in the local sense. In a segmented world, pastor-theologians are the ones who can help make sense of the world as a whole. Local attempts to provide an answer to truly challenging questions, i.e., “What is a human being?” and thus make sense of the world cannot in fact do so.
The attempt to answer such questions can be made within the solar systems of economics, social media, medicine and science, politics, journalistic media, etc., and we can learn from such attempts. But wherever the attempt is made reductionism mars the end result. Theology alone gets to say, from a cosmic perspective, “God and reality are more than economics,” and theologians alone are the “Big Picture Specialists.”
“Theology and Christianity is not about getting God into my life, but about me getting into the life and story of God, who is restoring all things and renewing his image.“6 Comments
February 15, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
Chris is a research assistant to Pastor James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL and curriculum advisor for the Harvest Training Center. Chris is a graduate of Wheaton College (PhD), the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv) and Northland International University (BA). He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Evangelical Theological Society and has published articles in Tyndale Bulletin, Vetus Testamentum, Westminster Theological Journal, and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. His current research interests include the use of the Gospel traditions in Paul’s epistles, the use of the OT in the NT, and theological education paradigms in the local church. Chris and his wife Katie have three sons—Luke, Simon, and Elliot.
Welcome Chris!0 Comments
January 29, 2011 by Jason Hood
News this week of the SAET spring symposium with Kevin Vanzhoozer (Second Fellowship) reminded me of how nice smaller get-togethers and conferences can be. To be sure, you miss some of the more characteristic characteristics of bigger events, as spelled out by Michael Bérubé (HT: Alan Jacobs):
One of these days I want to put together an academic conference that addresses the phenomenon of academic conferences. It will be called “The Longer Version,” and will be distinguished by three features: one, every paper will have a respondent who, instead of waiting for the paper to end, will simply snort, harrumph, and blurt “I think not!” at random moments during the paper. Two, questioners will be required to begin all questions by saying, “this is really more of a comment than a question– I wonder if you could say more about X,” on the condition that X was either unmentioned in or tangential to the paper itself. (Questions must be at least three minutes long.) And three, every speaker will be required to answer these questions by saying, “I actually address this question in the longer version of this paper,” regardless of whether there is a longer version or not. (If the conference proceedings are published, they will consist only of sections of papers that were cut for time during the actual conference.)
January 28, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
The SAET is pleased to welcome Jeremy Treat into the SAET’s Second Fellowship.
Jeremy is currently doing a PhD at Wheaton College and writing his dissertation on the relationship between the kingdom of God and the cross of Christ. He was educated previously at Biola University, Seattle Pacific University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jeremy was a pastor in the Seattle area for seven years and sees his current theological training as a continuation of his calling to serve Christ’s church through preaching the gospel and teaching “sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel” (1 Tim 1:10-11). Jeremy and his wife Tiffany have a daughter (plus one on the way) and live in Chicago.
Welcome Jeremy!0 Comments
January 28, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
The SAET is pleased to welcome Pastor Douglas O’Donnell into the SAET’s Second Fellowship.
Doug is Senior Pastor of New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. A graduate from Wheaton College (BA), Wheaton Graduate School (MA), and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MA), Doug is ordained in the PCA, a member of the North American Patristics Society, Fellowship for Theological Training, Evangelical Theological Society, and U.S. Board of the Irish Bible Institute. He is also the author of God’s Lyrics: Rediscovering Worship through Old Testament Songs (P&R), The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job (Crossway), and three forthcoming commentaries—Ecclesiastes in the Reformed Expository Commentary series (P&R), The Song of Solomon, and The Gospel of Matthew in the Preaching the Word series. Doug is married to Emily, and they have five children—Sean, Lily, Evenly, Simeon, and Charlotte.
Welcome Doug!0 Comments
June 10, 2010 by Gerald Hiestand
The inaugural gathering of the SAET’s Second Fellowship has come and gone. A great time! It was just a short evening/morning event that gave the Fellows a chance to meet each other, meet us, and discuss the SAET vision. I was encouraged by the immediate sense of affinity and unity around the common cause of ecclesial theology. We spent Tuesday morning interacting with my taxonomy paper, and the feedback continues to sharpen my understanding of ecclesial theology and the pastor-theologian paradigm. I think I’m now at a place where I’ve talked about it enough–time to get on with it!
In the picture above, from left to right: Jonathan Cummings, Micky Klink, Jeff Hubing, Eric Bargerhuff, Gerald Hiestand, Doug Sweeney, Matt Kim, Todd Wilson, Matthew Mason, and Jason Hood. (Not pictured is Michael Lefebvre, who left before the group shot).
Thanks everyone for a great couple of days — look forward to our first real symposium in June, 2011!0 Comments
May 15, 2010 by Gerald Hiestand
The SAET is pleased to announced the admittance of Dr. Matt Kim into the SAET’s Second Fellowship.
Matt has served as the senior pastor of Logos Central Chapel in Denver, Colorado, since September 2006. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in the suburb of Palatine. He received his B.A. from Carleton College, his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his M.Th. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Edinburgh in practical theology and homiletics. He is the author of two books. His dissertation was published as Preaching to Second Generation Korean Americans: Towards a Possible Selves Contextual Homiletic (New York: Peter Lang, 2007). He has recently written My First Year in Ministry: 7 Lessons for New Pastors (St. Louis: Chalice Press, Spring 2011). In January 2008, he was invited to teach as the Sams Visiting Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell on the topic of Preaching in the Asian-American Context. Matt and his wife Sarah are the parents of two boys, Ryan and Evan. He is a member of the Academy of Homiletics and serves on the executive committee of the Evangelical Homiletics Society. His hobbies include working out, reading, writing, playing basketball, and watching various sports.
Welcome Matt!0 Comments