Here’s a fabulous animated video portraying Google’s descent into evil as it invades privacy, conspires with Verizon (the Devil) to take over the internet, and basically carries out its plan for world domination.
- John Barber argues that evangelicalism is dying, but that there’s hope for revival.
- Kevin DeYoung offers some words from Dorothy Sayers on the importance of theology in her day (and ours).
- A new study confirms that poor people are more generous.
- A Methodist church in the UK has backed off from its plans to celebrate communion via Twitter.
- Denny Burk offers 6 reasons to try the Olive Tree Bible app.
- The BBC interview NT Wright on his impending retirement and move to St. Andrews. HT
- Apparently there’s a new FB scam targeting Justin Bieber fans. Of course, if you’re a Justin Bieber fan, you probably deserve it.
- And, some guy was such a big Ayn Rand fan that he drove across America, plotting his course with a GPS system, so that when he was done it would spell out “Read Ayn Rand.” I’m sure that was time well spent.
Thanks to Rod Decker for pointing out Moises Silva’s review of The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies edited by Michael Bird and Preston M. Sprinkle. As Decker notes, the most interesting part of the review is Silva’s own conclusion:
If some scholars are to be believed, Paul did not have enough sense to realize that the phrase pistis Christou is ambiguous. And to make matters worse, he unwittingly misled his readers by using the verb pisteuō with Christos as direct object again and again in the very same passages that have the ambiguous phrase! His bungling proved spectacularly successful, for in the course of nearly two millennia, virtually every reader—including ancient scholars for whom Greek was their native language—understood the phrase to mean “faith in Christ” and gave no hint that it might mean something else.
I haven’t been following this debate as closely as I should, but this sounds like a great, concise summary of the objective genitive view. If anyone knows of a similarly concise summary of the opposing view, let me know.
Yesterday, James McGrath asked about the impact of technology on the way that we are teaching our classes. And, he specifically wants to know what impact this does (or should) have on our testing methodology. As he puts it:
I have found myself considering phasing out exams of the traditional sort, in which I essentially test what they have been able to remember. Information is available with a few clicks of their thumbs, and so it seems better to instead test students’ ability to find reliable information online, rather than test their ability to remember it.
I’ve been wrestling with a similar question in my theology classes for a while now. What exactly is the purpose of an exam in a theology class? The theology exams I took as an undergrad focused primarily on simple recall. As long as I could memorize and retain the information from the notes, I was good to go. Seminary upped the ante by making better use of short-answer essay questions. Even here, though, the focus was on remembering the notes and discussions so I could answer the essay questions properly. But, as McGrath points out, in our technological age, recall simply isn’t as important as it used to be.
So, if recall isn’t the point of a theological test, what is?” What exactly should I be trying to assess? The conclusion that I’ve reached is that a theological exam (I think the purpose of an exam varies from one discipline to the next) should be about what students can do with the knowledge that they have, rather than just what they can recall. And here my emphasis has gone in a slightly different direction than what McGrath proposes. In his post, he focused on the skill of being able to find information. That’s an important skill that should be taught and assessed. But it seems more rightly assessed in papers and other assignments. Since I’m largely training people for ministry, I’ve chosen to focus my examinations more on the students’ ability to use their theological knowledge by applying it to new issues and situations. In other words, I’ve focused my exams on assessing whether students can “think theologically” when they encounter real-life situations in ministry.
For example, in an exam dealing with theological anthropology, I wanted a question on creation/evolution issues. I could simply have asked the students to write an essay explaining/defending their position. Instead, I went with the following:
You’re having a meeting with a youth leader who has been teaching students that God created humans through evolutionary processes (i.e. theistic evolution) and a parent who is upset because he believes that this contradicts the Bible. How will you handle this discussion? Will you side with one person or the other? Why? What would you like to see happen as the result of the conversation?
- The question itself continues to show students that theology is not an abstract discipline. It has direct bearing on life and ministry. I think a good exam should continue to teach by reinforcing what you think is important.
- It pushes beyond a mere statement of the students’ position, though it should still elicit that. It asks the student to apply their perspective to a real ministry situation.
- The final part of the question is there to see if students have made the connection between theological conversations like this and spiritual formation. I want to see if they’re just going to focusing on “winning” the argument, or if they’ll see this as a way of growing people through theological dialog. (We discuss this in class; so it’s not unexpected.)
I did learn some valuable lessons from this last year. First, exams like this take the students a lot longer to complete. I had to make mid-semester adjustments to keep the exams within reason. Second, writing questions like this is harder than I expected. I routinely received good answers from students that weren’t quite what I was looking for. The evolution question above, for example, often elicited responses that said almost nothing about the students own perspective. (They focused more on how to “handle” the situation.) Since I want that to be a part of the response, I’ll need to adjust the question next time. Third, the students liked the new approach (or they lied to me, one of the two). The exams became opportunities for lively discussion afterward and several students commented that they even shared the exam questions with people at their churches.
USA Today reported last week on a growing trend in US seminaries – younger students.
For years, churches across the USA have prayed that more young people would explore careers in ministry as a wave of Baby Boomer pastors prepares to retire. Now it seems their prayers are being answered.
For the past 10 years, the estimated median age of candidates for master of divinity degrees has fallen steadily, from 34.14 in 1999 to 32.19 in 2009, according to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Theological Education (CSTE) at Auburn Seminary. That marks a reversal: From 1989 to 1999, the estimated median age had climbed steadily from 31.4 to 34.14.
The article offers three possible explanations: (1) there are more twentysomethings in America today, (2) younger people are more inclined to pursue “altruistic” jobs than before, and (3) more financial resources are being targeted at younger students. Regardless, it seems that after several decades of rising ages at US seminaries, seminarians are now getting younger again.
In a recent Wired magazine article, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argued that the Web is dead, but the Internet is alive and well. To support their argument, they pointed to the growing popularity of self-contained “apps” as opposed to the more free-form web browser. Although these apps still access the internet, they do so in a more focused way. And, these authors argue that the rise of the apps is having a dramatic impact on our overall internet usage, supporting their point with the following graph.
Based on this graph, one would definitely get the impression that web traffic has decreased significantly over the last few years. However, Rob Beschizza points out (“Is the Web Really Dead?“) that since the graph focuses on the relative proportions of various kinds of traffic, it really doesn’t say anything about whether web browsing is on the decline. It only indicates that its “market share” is declining. If you like at actually usage, you get a very different graph.
To me, this was an excellent example of looking closely at the data to see what it’s really telling you. Graphs, pictures, statistics, and other kinds of data are great, but only when they’re interpreted carefully. I also thought the first graph was very interesting once I realized what it was saying. I knew internet video was growing rapidly, but I hadn’t realized what a large slice of the pie it had become.
Did you know that you have unlimited, untapped potential within you? Did you know that the power permeating everything that exists lies deep within you? And, did you know that you can find out how to tap into this mysterious well of semi-divine being for a mere $23.95 ($11.98 from Amazon)? That’s a pretty sweet deal.
Rhonda Byrne’s latest book The Power follows up on her earlier best-seller The Secret, and looks like it will be equally well-poised to tell people exactly what they want to hear. Check out the trailer. It’s quite well done. (If only my books had cool trailers like this. I’m sure that a book on the christological anthropology of Karl Barth as it relates to contemporary philosophy of mind could have been a bestseller if it just had a cool trailer.)