Biblical Seminary

Sentralized Gathering – Another Conference?

When I first read about the Sentralized Conference in Kansas City in September, I did what most do. I checked to see who was speaking. Reading down the list my eyes spotted David Fitch. I took an online course with David and Geoff Hosclaw through Northern Seminary titled, Readings in Postmodern Philosophy and Theology. I still chew on the content of those readings and the interactions with others in the group.

Near the end of the course I remember David saying, “If you are ever in Chicago, let’s have coffee or something.” I made Chicago after that to attend the Wheaton Theology Conference where N.T. Wright was both speaker and subject. Time did not allow me to catch up with David.

That David will be within six hours, and that I might be able to sit down for a chat, is motivation enough for me to make the drive to Kansas City this September. But, there is more. I have interacted with Brad Brisco online. I met and have worked with Lance Ford. In fact, it was through Lance Ford that I facilitated an online course on The Forgotten Ways with Alan Hirsch for Biblical Seminary. Scot McKnight and I chatted while we were both at Biblical Seminary to honor my friend John Franke. Darrell Guder was there too. Biblical Seminary may have been the first Seminary to re-tool its vision around the term missional. Read More

Northern Seminary and Missional Leadership

“Go north young man, go north!” Dr. Soden counseled me and some friends nearing graduation from Oklahoma Baptist University. At the time, Dr. Soden was teaching at O.B.U. He was, and is, among my favorites. I did not listen. Wished I had.

I am not dissatisfied with my educational track. It is simply that Dr. Soden’s intent was to say I needed to “get out of the south” for a more rounded academic experience. Years later and opportunities to be stretched in places north of the Mason-Dixon line, I see the wisdom in his advice. So, if you are reading this or know someone who should be, “Go north young man or woman, go north.” That is, to Northern Seminary. And no, this is not a paid advertisement, though J.R. did sell me on the idea my web traffic would triple. Shout out to J.R. Rozko!

What lies north at Northern Seminary?¬†David Fitch will be launching a D.Min. cohort at Northern Seminary in Missional Leadership. The program will include learning with Alan Roxburgh and Craig Van Gelder. I have taken an online course with David (Readings in Postmodern Philosophy and Theology), enjoyed dinner with Alan in Philadelphia while we were both visiting at Biblical Seminary, and admired Craig for his interactions with Ed Stetzer. I have read David’s, The Great Giveaway and am pining for his forthcoming book. I have read Roxburgh’s The Missional Leader. And, I must now pick up one of Craig’s. (I am thinking he is in on an upcoming book with Stetzer.) Read More

(Not) Sponsor – John Franke

According to a recovering addict friend of mine, everyone has an addiction. He may well be right. Tim Keller suggests everyone suffers the possession of a “functional idol.” That is, everyone gives something a place in their life that would change everything were it removed. So religious and non-religious all share a “functional idol” that takes the place of the One God who should inhabit that space in our lives.

A number of years ago I met John Franke. In fact, I met John before I met John. My first introduction was in a co-authored book with the late Stan Grenz. The book? Beyond Foundationalism. For some the book signaled a fateful turn in Grenz’ theology and a warning to watch Franke carefully in the future. I discovered through reading this book that many share as a “functional idol” a particular way of holding truth. Some contend that John and Stan deny truth. These pejorative mis-characterizations do little for the common good and only serve to obscure potential healthy critique.

For example, in John’s newest book, Manifold Witness, we find,

I still remember the first time I was asked the question: “Do you believe in truth?”

The person posting the question looked at me with an expression of grave concern etched in his face. The tone of his voice made it clear that his statement was as much an accusation as it was a question: “You don’t believe in truth, do you?”

I was genuinely surprised and startled. I had never had such a question like this posed to me before. I had always been an advocate of truth, not one of its detractors. I thought to myself: Of course I believe in truth. I believe in God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (Manifold Witness,p.1)

I met John not long after reading he and Grenz’ book. Since that time we have shared a number of conversations. I am an adjunct at the Seminary where he is the The Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology. John gave me an interview for a writing project on the emerging church. I shared a stroll on Biblical’s campus the day he was “installed” at Biblical in October of 2008. We have shared meals and conversations. I appreciate John’s friendship. I am glad he did not mind me honoring him as a (Not) Sponsor here at The Edge of the Inside.

Thanks John.

PS – I am working on a review of John’s new book. We will see how it compares to that offered by Russ Moore. In the mean time, my friend David Phillips offered his thoughts here.

Manifold Anticipation for a Plurality of Reasons

Nearly one year ago I attended a one day conference on the missional church at Biblical Seminary. The event coincided with the installation of John Franke as the The Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology. Before the event I enjoyed chatting with John as we strolled the small campus in Hatfield, PA. He gave me an article he had written that would be something of a distillation of his soon to be published book, Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth.

After repeated emails from that the publication date had been pushed back, I received shipping confirmation late last week. Today my copy yesterday. There is little doubt I will set aside a number of books I am reading to get right into this one. Already I stole away some time to read much of the “pre-matter.”

Brian McLaren outlined a number of reasons this book may be valuable. Throw in Tony Jones introduction to the series and most will consider the book to have a plurality of reasons not to be read. Not so here. I am reminded of the scene in the movie Footloose where the Reverend Shaw put an end to burning books he had inadvertently influenced. Surely we are beyond those days of burning books too.

From my high school days right up through the present I have wrestled with the diversity of Christian denominations. Even when I would repeat my pastor’s mantra growing up that “Southern Baptists are the closest thing to the New Testament,” I felt uneasy. Friends would pigeon hole me asking, “So you think you are the only ones going to Heaven.” Surely I did not think so. But that was the climate then and with the push in our denomination for what it means to be Baptist now we head hunt those who are not Baptist “like we are.”

I look forward to reading how John works with the reality of the kaleidoscope of beauty when we consider the breadth of the Christian faith from its early days until now.

Stay tuned.

CPM’s, Church Planting Degree, Biblical Seminary

Intersecting praxis and theory. Recent trends point up the value and need for Church Planting Movements. Ed Stetzer regularly talks about the subject. Often young adults who would like to plant a church and pursue theological education must make a difficult decision. Delay the impulse to plant a church and go to seminary or delay the desire for theological education and quash the passion to plant?

Biblical Seminary is now offering an MA in Missional Church Planting. This unique degree offers students an opportunity to find a partner in the planting project. The curriculum will be facilitated by thought leaders and practitioners involved in church planting – movements, coaches, planters, etc. The registration for the first course is open through June 8. Also, if you would like to audit courses the option is available. Why not get in on this new opportunity to learn while doing?

Click through to hear Mick Noel talk about the degree.

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