Every year I go to these conferences telling myself that this year I am going to get more sleep during the conference so that it is not so hard to stay awake during the papers. Every year I fail. This year was no exception. Nevertheless, I had a great time hanging with friends and meeting new people. I also got to chat with some publishers and develop a few ideas for new writing projects. Oh, and I did find time to attend some good papers, along with a few less-than-good-ones. Here are some highlights:
- Wednesday night I attended a discussion regarding whether ETS should adopt a longer statement of faith for membership (they didn’t want to call it a ‘statement of faith’, but that’s what it was). That was mostly intriguing as an exercise in seeing how people think and how they present what they think in public (not always pretty). Fortunately, the proposal was solidly rejected by the membership.
- The most interesting paper I attended on Thursday was on “The State of Preparation for Worship Leaders in North American Theological Seminaries” by Dan Aleshire. Specifically, I was intrigued to see that North American evangelical seminaries spend quite a bit of money training students in preaching and music, but very little on worship itself. There seems to be an assumption that producing quality musicians and quality preachers is sufficient. One wonders about the impact that this pragmatic orientation to worship preparation is having on an already anemic understanding of worship in the evangelical church.
- On Friday I attended a session dedicated to various models of providence. Interestingly, of the four papers presented, there were two from a basically reformed perspective and none offering a classically Arminian approach. More interestingly, it was fun to watch the two reformed guys pressed to explain why they were not willing to affirm that God causes people to sin or that God is the author of evil despite their strong affirmation of divine omnicausality.
- Saturday morning, the morning session of the Karl Barth Society, was an interesting discussion of Lewis Ayres’ Nicaea and Its Legacy. Papers by Katherine Sonderegger and Paul Molnar pressed Ayres’ to his criticisms of modern Trinitarian theology and, particularly, his apparent lack of regard for figures like Karl Barth and T. F. Torrance. Ayres had ready replies for most of the questions, though, and actually made me want to spring for the book despite its $44 (on sale) price tag (alas, in the end I was too cheap).
I also learned that it can get really cold in Boston in November (with wind chill it was 11 degrees one morning) and that I don’t like it. And I seem to have come home with a bit of a cold. All in all, though, both conferences were a lot of fun and well worth attending.