Almost one year ago I took a different direction with my podcast. Up to that point I had offered some reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary. Our congregation and other Baptists, even Southern Baptists, interested in the Christian Seasons and what that looks like in a Tradition where Advent Season only recent became in vogue was my audience.
Surprised . . .
Inspired by my young friend Tripp Fuller, I wanted to have conversations with authors, practitioners, and pastors on subjects that would fit the role of Pastor-Theologian. I recently learned that Bart Barber, a fellow Southern Baptist Pastor in Texas, presented at the recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on the theme, The Pastor-Theologian.
Even more recently I discovered the work of Todd Wilson and Gerald Hiestand. They co-edited, Becoming a Pastor Theologian: New Possibilities for Church Leadership, with contributions from Kevin Vanhoozer, James K.A. Smith, Peter Leithart and more. Their work is the outgrowth of a relatively new venture, The Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT). They hosted their first conference in 2015. (Incidentally I met Gerald’s brother Todd at Biblical Seminary more than ten years ago where I did some Adjunct work.)
From Where Did This Interest Come?
I am currently reading a number of books in hopes of interviewing the authors for the podcast. Here are just a few – David Fitch on Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission, Monica Coleman on Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith, Eric Hall on The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to God: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Almighty, Tad Delay on God Is Unconscious: Psychoanalysis and Theology, and Catherine Keller on On the Mystery: Discerning Divinity In Process. Maybe you notice among some of the titles that I am working to read outside of my Tradition.
I never fully understood what my Dad did as an Electrical Engineer who worked in Systems Studies with Oklahoma Gas and Electric. All I knew was that part of his work involved forecasting demand and recommending solutions. A number of years ago I went with Dad to a meeting at Oklahoma State University. He was one of the presenters. I sat through a number of presentations on a variety of subjects related to electricity and its sources. I learned quite a bit. So much did I learn that when I read Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism (Radical Theologies and Philosophies) where the future of energy sources was discussed, I was able to process that much better.
Why read widely? And, why not the more pragmatic stuff? After all, “You are just a pastor.”
From the time I can remember, I wanted to know how things work. Maybe it was my father’s influence. He seemed to know how everything worked. If he did not, he found out.
I tried giving my time to the exclusively pragmatic. It works. But, it was not me. I wanted to know for instance, what were the influences that kept some Christians trapped in racist categories who had been following Jesus for years. When I was introduced to some resources during a Scholar’s In Residence week at Seminary, I began peering beneath the more simplistic responses that seemed only able to name the issue not get at its roots. Of course, we could name that root “sin” but the catch all simply allowed us to lump things in a big basket and not address the ways of thinking that contribute to the lack of transformation.
Repentance, after all, is a change of mind.
The result was continuing to read widely but this time I added a conversation with those authors and thinkers to provide a resource and encouragement to keep learning. My friend Spencer once told me that when he wanted to learn from someone, he invited others. I liked that and found the podcast a way to do the same.
A good interview explores themes and asks questions. It does not necessarily mean explicit and complete agreement. Few of us agree with every thing in a given book we read.
So What Happened!
One of my interviewees, Thomas J. Oord, wrote, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence. I just learned that his book is finalist for a Readers’ Choice Award with IVP.
If you have read the book and/or listened to the interview, then click over and vote for Tom’s book. If you have not but are interested in views other than your own related to the subject of Divine Providence, check it out. No matter where you land on Tom’s spectrum, you will learn something along the way.
Thanks Tom for the conversation! Here’s to hoping you win.