I haven’t been blogging much because I’m focusing most of my extra energy towards some research and writing for a paper I’m going to submit and hopefully present at the Society of Vineyard Scholars’ annual meeting (April 26-28 in Minneapolis, MN). This year’s theme is on The Kingdom and Ecclesiology.
It’s been awhile since I had to write a serious paper, so I’m making sure to dot my T’s and cross my I’s… wait. Uh oh.
One of the fascinating differences from writing seminary papers to writing as a practitioner (pastor) is related to how I take more time for reflection. When I think back my undergrad and graduate training, I think of one word: deadlines. Those deadlines caused me to bang out readings and papers in order to pass grades. Less time was spent reflecting on what I was reading and really engaging it. That’s changed a lot in the last few years. The papers I’ve written and the presentations I’ve taken a part of were more fruitful for my mind than probably for those who suffered through the presentations.
I hope the same happens after this paper is completed.
For those interested, I’m exploring how a Vineyard Center-set approach to ecclesiology should understand the role of “boundaries,” specifically in relation to church membership and church discipline. Whether I’ll succeed past simply surveying the issue remains to be seen, as I have not gotten far enough into the paper to really engage that subject. Interestingly, I have nine pages completed, which means I’ll be doing some cutting before this is all said and done.
Having not attended this meeting before and unsure of the specific audience, I’m just “going for it.” I hear that the audience is a mixed group… biblical scholars, theologians, sociologists, anthropologists, pastors, etc. (Vineyard is diverse!). So exactly what “level” to write at is difficult to determine. Oh well… I pray it serves the church and glorifies God!
How important do you believe personal reflection should play a role in theological interaction? Do you agree or disagree that seminary (and culture) seems to rush the process?
I am going to be completely honest Luke, I am not sure the center-set approach is really workable. Even John Wimber said center-set movements eventually become bounded-set. Basically, I am of the persuasion that center-set is a nice thought, but not ultimately doable or healthy. Diversity is both the strength and the liability of the Vineyard movement.
As for myself, I am moving towards a soft bounded-set approach. I certainly want to avoid the crass confessionalism of many reformed or fundamentalist churches, but an “anything goes” approach to theology and practice doesn’t work in the long run. Think of all the New Testament admonitions to “agree” or “be of the same mind, and of the same judgment.”
To answer your actual question, culture and the seminary process do rush things, but having a deadline can be a help to motivate one to actually write and not be lazy. At least that was my experience.
What most of the “heavy hitters” suggest is just more definition of the middle. You might find Keller and Carson’s article on the subject helpful (found
Part of what I think I’m learning is that some people have hijacked the phrase “Center-set” to mean “Open-set” and it’s probably really similar to “Fuzzy-set” (this would probably be the liability that you speak of).
Back to writing…