The past two weeks have been very full. This is not unusual but it does mean that I find it difficult to post to this blog with any regularity. The last week of September was as I had mentioned the North Park Theological Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture. this years topic was "Christianity's Engagement with Culture". My parents and younger sister were in Chicago for my nephews first birthday. and were in town until last Wednesday. So between the Symposium and family stuff and Reconciler it has been very busy and I think today I am finally getting back what ever usual rhythms I have and thus have a moment to post.
So much is on my mind. The symposium left me with two general lines of thought: 1) how it was amazing to hear academic papers addressing and struggling with things I am doing and involved with both as pastor of Reconciler and someone who identifies as both Goth and Christians 2) I was struck by the absence of a concept of "church" as anything specific or clearly defined at the symposium. I wasn't surprised by this given that there could be not agreed upon ecclesiology by a group of ecumenical Protestant scholars.
As I said here attending the symposium as a pastor was a new and slightly disconcerting experience at first. But give 1) above it became a quite positive experience as my action experience and pastoral reflection fit right into the discussions and papers presented. So, I hope to reflect further on these papers and the discussions of them and write about some of it here, but also to reflect on the papers in light of Reconciler. So, I found out over the course of the three days of the symposium that at least in some areas I had not lost touch but was in my ministry and life addressing the same issues some in the academy were addressing through academic research and theology.
As for 2) I at times wondered if I could claim to any longer have a Protestant theology. No one seemed real concerned about getting a clear idea of what the Church is. Some would only speak (even after I would as for ecclesiological clarification)of Christianity and did not seem to find "church" to be a helpful category. Others used the term but without definition and almost as synonymous with "Christianity". I think this did leave a hole in the overall discussion of the symposium as part of what was missing was any clear language about continuity and what exactly was engaging culture. Of course the organizers by choosing "Christianity" as opposed to "Church" in the theme for the symposium weighted the discussion in this direction, but I don't recall anyone but myself asking the more specific ecclesiological question. I began to wonder if this was a Protestant tendency especially in an ecumenical setting.