Extracurricular Activities — January 4, 2014
Tommy Wasserman (Evangelical Textual Criticism) Pays Tribute to Swedish Exegete Birger Gerhardsson (1926-2013)
During the holidays, on 25 December, one of Sweden's finest exegetes ever, Prof. em. Birger Gerhardsson, passed away at the age of 87. Gerhardsson was born in 1926 in Vännäs. He studied in Uppsala and became ordained priest in the Church of Sweden in 1953. During 1953-58 and 1961-64 he was teacher at Fjellstedtska skolan in Uppsala and in 1961 he received his PhD and docentur at Uppsala University, after successfully defending his thesis Memory and Manuscript; Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity.
It has been quoted many times, and deservedly so: “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves” (Institutes. I.1.i). What a way to start your magnum opus. No wonder it is repeated frequently.
But the quotation must be taken in context. Often, the line is used as a justification for introspection or a psychologized self-awareness. It is suggested that Calvin (even Calvin!) wanted us to get in touch with our inner self and that Calvin (yes Calvin!) believed that we can’t understand God apart from our own experiences. Sounds good. Sounds relevant. Sounds like something we might say.
The only problem is, it’s not Calvin’s point at all.
Peter Enns Suggests a Parallel Between Intelligent Design and Conservative/Evangelical Views of the Bible
Here’s an observation I’ve been pondering for a few years but never thought to put it in writing until now. No big reason why. I just never got to it.
I’ve observed a revealing parallel between Intelligent Design and conservative/evangelical views of the Bible.
In a word, both tend to get nervous about what I will call, simply as a placeholder name, “natural processes,” where God doesn’t show up in a special, supernatural way.
So, humor me and let me unpack that a bit.
What follows has been adapted from a brief talk I delivered to the Oklahoma chapter of The Gospel Coalition on October 2. Here are 10 things I wish I'd known when I first started out as a pastor.
1. I wish I'd known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.
In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. (Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here). I remember the books; do you remember the games?
A few initial suggestions:
1. Maintain regular reading projects.
2. Work through major sections of Scripture.
3. Read all the titles written by some authors.
4. Get some big sets and read them through.
5. Allow yourself some fun reading, and learn how to enjoy reading by reading enjoyable books.
6. Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours.
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