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Highlights from ETS/AAR/SBL

The blogging has been a little light around here for the last week since I’ve been away for ETS/AAR/SBL 2013. And for the first time in many years, I decided not to do anything online while I was there, which was rather nice. But here are some thoughts on the conferences in general.

1. Lots of Talk about Inerrancy

Some of you may know that the theme of ETS this year was inerrancy. But I don’t have much to say about the discussion since I attended very few of the sessions dedicated to that theme. I would have attended the opening session on Zondervan’s new Five Views on Biblical Inerrancywith Pete Enns, Al Mohler, Mike Bird, and and John Franke–but I didn’t arrive until later that day. And my attendance at the plenary sessions was spotty to say the least. So you’ll have to look elsewhere to hear how that conversation went.

2. Growing Interest in Theological Anthropology

As usual, there weren’t many papers dedicated specifically to theological anthropology (assuming you eliminate any paper having to do with women in ministry and free will). But I had a startling number of individual conversations with people interested or actively researching in theological anthropology. And I had at least three conversations with people about whether it’s time to develop a study group specifically dedicated to that topic. That would give us a forum for addressing more deeply issues like human sexuality, race, disability, dignity/uniqueness, and embodiment, as well as the intersection between theological anthropology and other doctrines (Christology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, etc.). That’s sounds rather exciting to me, especially if we could make it intentionally interdisciplinary, so I’m going to look into that a bit more.

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/22)


Good Reads

  • Pastors and Vacations: Serving as a pastor is a joyful calling. Serving as pastor can be a stressful calling. Pastors desperately need time, extended time, to rest and recharge. Very few vocations have the emotional highs and lows as that of a pastor. (Thom Rainer)
  • Don’t Give Up on the Lecture: Especially since there is so much buzz around special merits of the undersung introvert, it is still surprising that the lecture format of learning is so commonly dismissed, and even disparaged. Is the teacher devoted to conveying serious concepts the best manager of a noisy, interactive classroom? Does it make sense to assume that a quiet student is always a disengaged student? There is no one method of education that fails across the board. (The Atlantic)
  • Is It Actually Hard to Be a Pastor? As a pastor who often hears other ministers teach and preach, I am disturbed by the number of times pastors allude to their jobs as being particularly difficult. Yes, we face many challenges—ministry may involve times of high emotional and spiritual duress—but I don’t think these difficulties merit special recognition with regard to other vocations. (Gospel Coalition)
  • MOOCs Are Reaching Only Privileged Learners, Survey Finds: The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

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The Most Popular Books of All Time (Infographic)

This otherwise interesting infographic makes the unfortunate mistake of only including the KJV translation of the Bible instead of the Bible itself. (Why do the other books get to include all their translations, but the Bible is limited to only one?) And it was a little depressing to see the DaVinci Code make the list at the end. But it was still worth checking out.

most popular books (550x3680)via

Noah, the Official Trailer

The official trailer for the forthcoming Hollywood adaptation of Noah is now out. I could be wrong, but I think they may have taken some liberties with the biblical storyline.

Flotsam and jetsam (11/18)


Good Reads

  • Seven Trends in Church New Member Classes: The number of churches requiring a membership class has increased 400 percent in 15 years! That is one of seven key trends we see today in new member classes. Let’s look at all seven. (Thom Rainer)
  • Batkid: A Heartwarming, Very 2013 Story: In everyday life—the life that can be all too nonfictional—the Batkid is named Miles. He is 5 years old. He lives, with his family, near San Francisco. He has been battling leukemia since he was nearly 2. He is, and hopefully will remain, in remission. (The Atlantic)
  • Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?: North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. (Washington Post)
  • Generous Leadership vs. Closed Leadership: As Christian leaders, we can easily fall into the trap of becoming fearfully overprotective of what God has entrusted to us. But rather than letting our leadership become closed and defensive, we need to strive for generous leadership that keeps us trusting Jesus. (Resurgence)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Jakob Boehme)

jakob boehmeA German mystic and theologian, Jakob Boehme was famous throughout Europe for his creative, and often speculative, theology and his mystical writings. But he is probably best known for his influence on later movements like Pietism and German Romanticism, both of which looked to Boehme as an early exponent of their ideas.

Jakob Boehme died on November 17, 1624. In honor of his life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

Bless me, O God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, thou only true God.  I thank thee through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, for thy preservation of me, and for all other benifits.

I now commend myself, both soul and body, and all that thou hast me to do in my employment or calling, into thy protection.

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Saturday Morning Fun…Your Personality Type According to Lord of the Rings

It’s gotten quite popular these days to match your Myers-Briggs personality type to characters in popular culture. You’ve probably seen already the Harry Potter Myers-Briggs Personality Types and the Star Wars MBTI chart. Now there’s one for fans of The Lord of the Rings.

And I have to say that I’m feeling pretty good about who I got matched up with: Hermione Granger, Yoda, and Gandalf. I can definitely live with that.

What about you?


Flotsam and jetsam (11/15)


Good Reads

  • American Indians balance native customs with Christianity: Some people assume Jason Thunderbird prays to eagles. Others are convinced he worships rocks. They seem disappointed, he said, when they learn he spends Sunday mornings reciting liturgical texts from a church pew. (Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Why is Calvinism so influential and not Lutheranism?  There are lots more Lutherans than Calvinists.  And Calvinism has all of those scary doctrines like double predestination and the limited atonement, whereas Lutheranism is, well, happier, with its emphasis on the certainty of grace, Christian freedom, and its affirmation of the secular realm as God’s hidden kingdom.  And yet it’s Calvinism that has been so influential in English and American Christianity and the culture as a whole. (Gene Veith)

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Should You Ask a Question?

This flowchart is primarily for those of us attending academic conferences. But most of the principles also apply to asking questions in class as well.

asking a questionHT Carmen Imes


Flotsam and jetsam (11/13)

happy whatever

Good Reads

  • Your Smartphone Has Officially Hijacked Your Life: We are all one-marshmallow OCD narcissists, granted by our devices the magic of comprehensive instant gratification, of self-reinforcing world views, of control over the daily minutia of our fates and fortunes. To not be irrevocably addicted to our smartphones would be senseless. (Slate)

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