Don’t Tell Dr. Rollston…

I did it.

And I felt a little guilty about it. In fact, when I bought it, I felt like the kids you see in those coming-of-age movies where he’s trying to buy beer or a dirty magazine for the first time. He’s really not trying to call attention to himself, but all of his actions are doing nothing but drawing attention.

I did it two days ago and I still feel dirty.

Yes, I finally bought a copy of Biblical Archeology Review. After sitting through class after class of Dr. Rollston reminding us that the publication is more about sensationalism than hard scholarship, I finally gave in to the temptation and bought the magazine.

I feel so ashamed.

Don’t tell Dr. Rollston, though. He might march over to the Registrar’s office and have my ‘A’ in OTI ‘posthumously’ changed to a ‘D’ – and we wouldn’t want that, now. Would we?

Some guys say they buy those girlie magazines because they like reading the articles. Maybe I could get away with saying that I bought this magazine for the pretty pictures?

Oh – and for the record – he’s right. It is pretty sensationalist.

Quote

“The polarity of ‘secular versus sacred’ is alien from the start to the categories of Hebrew wisdom. Rather, reflection on human experience without resort to the religious language of Israel’s traditional institutions of law, cult, and prophecy is characteristic of wisdom, and is by no means a sign of secular origin.” ~ Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, p. 574 (emphasis mine)

Never thought I’d quote Dr. Childs in an entry, but his observation about Song of Songs is something that we need to consider as Christians in the 21st century. All we do can be an act of worship to God – even washing the dishes or holding hands with a member of the opposite sex. We need to get rid of this dichotomy between holy and profane, secular and sacred. P.O.D. and Amy Grant have served as ministers to the Gospel, even if they didn’t lace every song with “Jesus” this and “Jesus” that, with an “Amen” thrown in for good measure. On the flip side, Chris Tomlin’s songs of worship and praise are a great contribution to the “playlist” of the church. There’s room for both. It doesn’t have to be “either, or”…it can’t be that way.

I guess this means I disagree with Dr. Jones. I still believe you are called into a ministry regardless of your profession. Maybe I’m trying to justify my experience here – I believe my time spent managing at Papa John’s and substituting in the high school allowed for ministry opportunities that I couldn’t have had during my youth ministry days – even if they weren’t “Christian” professions.

Rollston Theology

“If I were God, I would have let that one slide.” Dr. Rollston.

Fortunately, Rollston is not God! I’m quite happy that he is not God because conversations with Rollston as God would go something like this:

G:”Nice job on obeying the 10 Commandments today, Todd (yes, everyone still calls me by my last name…but it’s fine…I’m OK with that…really)
M:”Thank you, God. I pray you give me the strength to get through tomorrow, too.”
G:”Yes, you’re going to need it. Everyone else did really well obeying my commands today, so tomorrow, my will is going to be even tougher. You’re going to need to read my mind to discover what I’m thinking about. After all, I can only allow a certain amount of people be successful in following me. Study up on everything…you’re going to need it!”

The following day…
G:”Hey, so did you guys like how I made the 10 Commandments the 77 Commandments? It’s a good biblical number, after all.”
silence
G:chuckling, “I’ll take that as a no.”

Fortunately, my salvation does not rest on the whims of a professor, but on the mercy of a loving Father who willingly gave up His Son for my sins! Thanks be to God!

On a related note, the premise of the Old Testament Intro. is to expose us to the methodology of biblical scholarship. Theoretically, there is no room for theology in the class, even though the professor brings up theology on a daily basis, especially now that we’re at the end of the year. If you ask him a theology question in class that is either too difficult for him or he doesn’t want to deal with, he’ll deflect it by saying, “I’m not a theologian. I’m a biblical scholar.”

Isn’t biblical scholarship supposed to help us become better theologians? Isn’t the idea of the “higher criticisms” to expose the meaning of the text so we can bring that to bear in our lives and understanding of God? What is that if it isn’t theology? And if one cannot be both a theologian and a biblical scholar, why even bother with the scholarship? Why does there have to be a division between the two? I don’t think he really believes there is a division, because we discuss theology all the time. Is it systematic theology? No. But our understanding of Scripture and of the nature of God is influenced by this process. It influences our theology. There must be a better way to deal with the separate issues without saying, “I’m a scholar, not a theologian.”

I do appreciate, however, the continual efforts to show how we can use the things we’ve learned in the real world of ministering to people. I like the struggle and tension that is created – it shows that we cannot have all of the answers, and we need to find a way to be OK with that. There are great examples in the OT of people dealing with disasters and tragedy that can be applied to my life and the lives to those I minister. I think the realm of biblical scholarship helps flesh that out more. Scholarship, however, is not the end of the matter when it comes to the Christian life. It is only the beginning.

A funny thing happened on the way to my lecture…

Yesterday, Dr. Rollston told us about his adventures while preparing for his drive to Knoxville for a lecture* he was to deliver last night. His car needed a good vacuuming, for some reason. He was already dressed for the lecture with a coat and wearing his “Favorite Hopkins tie.” Yes, I believe you see where this is going.

As he was cleaning, his tie got sucked into the vacuum cleaner.

According to The Incredibles, superheroes cannot wear capes because it gets caught in stuff and could be deadly.

According to Rollston, Old Testament professors shouldn’t wear ties while vacuuming.

* You have to register with the Knoxville newspaper in order to read the article. It’s an interesting piece, though.

Study

Went to the race with Aiden today. After I finally got him to get his hands off his ears (he had earplugs in, after all), he was animated the entire race! A friend got them for us at a very good deal. I’ll post more on it later.

I’m glad Roy Williams finally got the monkey off his back. Of course, it wasn’t with “his” players, right? Does that make his championship any less sweet? I doubt it. Too bad that means Sean May had to win one, too.

I just wanted to post something so Joanie would stop complaining about her friends list.

Happy studying! Reading up on archaeological treasures at the British Museum for the grand-old Old Testament test tomorrow. Yes, the one he said was going to be more difficult than the last one because too many did too well on the last one. Too bad I know several people who failed the last one. Tonight can’t be too relaxing for them.

Star Wars Talk

“I use the King James Version because the New Revised Standard is flat by comparison, and sounds too much like Star Wars talk” ~ Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Any theology book that references Star Wars without being really cheesy (like equating Han Solo with the Gentiles or the Emperor as Rome), has got to be a good read!

Let’s not tell Rollston that we’re reading a book in Intro. to Christian Doctrine that values the King James over the NRSV. I think he’d have a book burning or something.

Grades

I got the lowest grade I’ve had so far in OTI. I guess I’m slipping.

It was still an A, though – so who’s complaining? It’s not good that Dr. Rollston said that everyone did really well on this exam – so the next test must be more difficult. What kind of logic is that? Maybe the test results were so high because some people now have the fear of God within them due to these tests.

I have to admit, though, this test did seem a little bit easier. I’m not complaining, though.

I also got back my papers for the church planting seminar. He said my group project grade was a B, but I thought some other people in our group got As. It’s really not that big of a deal, since I wound up with an A in the class, anyway. I think we were lucky to have gotten such high grades on our project. It was far from perfect.

Now I really do have the highest GPA I’ve ever had in my academic career – high school or college. I’m not sure what to do with myself. Maybe I should go study or something, as I break my arm patting myself on the back.

Names

“If you’re a minister’s kid and think you have scars, thank your lucky stars you didn’t grow up a prophet’s kid” ~ Dr. Rollston

We give celebrities a hard time for naming their kids “Apple,” or “Phineas.” That’s nothing compared to “Not pitied,” or “Not my people” or “A remnant shall return.” Did they use nicknames? I wonder if they had their own support group. Maybe they had a club and made fun of kids with “common” names.

“Hey, Remmy, what’s up with that new kid in class? What’s his name?”
Joseph! What kind of name is that?”
“You said it, Remmy. His parents must not love him as much as ours do. They didn’t put as much thought into his name as our dads did. How’s the prophecy thing going, by the way?”
“Oh, you know, Pity. Daddy’s still walking around naked. At least he’s not stuck in that pit like Mr. Jeremiah.”

The things we do to our children.

I think I’ve been studying for this test too much.

Struggle

“I want you to continue to struggle…that’s the enigma….We are better if we struggle. The people I fear the most are those who don’t struggle…who think they have all of the answers.” ~ Dr. Rollston

Every once in a while, Dr. Rollston goes on a tangent about how different issues brought up in class should stretch our faith, and that struggling with these issues is a good thing. While he usually says the same thing during each speech, I appreciate his honesty and input regarding these things. It’s becoming clear to me that struggling and wrestling with issues of faith is one of the ways that God refines us and strengthens us.

If God were small enough to fit within the confines of my tiny brain, then he’s not much of a God now, is He? If that’s the case, then He doesn’t deserve to be worshiped.

Fortunately, God is so vast and so huge that there is no way I could begin to comprehend His omnipresence! Because of that, there will be issues in everyday life, as well as in Scripture, that I will not be able to completely understand. At some point, I have to be willing to say, “I don’t understand this – God isn’t making sense. And that’s…OK. God doesn’t have to make sense for Him to still be God.”

Preaching Hezekiah

When I did my research for my OTI paper, I was amazed at how much extra-biblical evidence exists surrounding the biblical account of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem. In all of the sermons I’ve sat through, and all of the Sunday school lessons I’ve endured, I don’t even remember hearing about Hezekiah, let alone the siege. And there is so much about it. Not only that, but the whole account of Hezekiah and his reforms, sparking a revival in Judah, will definitely preach!

Then there’s the Siloam Tunnel, which is attributed to Hezekiah’s reign. Construction began with diggers starting on opposite sides, digging toward each other. When they followed the plan, they stayed on track, doing pretty well. When they got closer to each other, they could hear the pickaxes of the other group. Rather than follow the plan, they started following the voices – and began zig zagging. When they took their eyes off the instructions, they began to go astray.

If that won’t preach, I don’t know what will!

Why haven’t I heard of this before?