Friday, January 6, 2012
Day 3 in Denver
The two pictures are of a beautiful sunset, Thursday night, just to the west of Littleton, CO, and of the main academic/classroom building at Denver Seminary. I'm discovering that while the Apple I-phone camera is great for close-ups, it has no zoom feature, so, I do not stand behind the quality of my photography (notice how I blamed the equipment?).
Thursday's class was quite extraordinary in a couple of areas, one being the intentional discussion and dialog between the professor and the class on the 'Sabbath.' Much of evangelical Christianity is discovering the blessing of, what they term, "a" Sabbath, and this was the focus of the class discussion. At one point, the teacher, knowing something about Adventists, asked me what role the Sabbath has in our faith. I replied that it is a central focus in our theology and practice and that I was pleased to observe that evangelical Christianity is discovering the blessings of Sabbath. I reflected further on what this blessing has meant to those who historically have observed it. I would of course, differ greatly on the topic of choosing "a" Sabbath - which is the professor's viewpoint - as opposed to the Biblical reality, which is "the" Sabbath, but I did not argue that point before the class. Perhaps another opportunity will arise to dialog further, now that there seems to be wide agreement that Sabbath is important, even necessary. This seems to be a positive dynamic and I'm seeing it often in evangelical print and discussion, but it includes a risk, and one that we are very familiar with. This agreement will lead, according to "Great Controversy," to the election, enforced by civil law, of "a day" of rest - "a" Sabbath - and this controversy will hinge on this point of "which day can be, should be, 'the' Sabbath. Identifying a specific day, and one that might be enforced by law, seems ludicrous to evangelical Christians; however, the discussion presently, which is "a" Sabbath, and may seem far removed from arguing "the" Sabbath, yet the leap from "a" to "the" is not a very big move.
The 1st day of class the professor asked three of us, who sit together, and asked us only, what single thing defines our denomination. The individual to my right, is a former Conservative Baptist, who has moved toward a more moderate church tradition. The individual to my left, is a Pentecostal pastor who I have developed a friendship with over the past two years as we've been in class together several times. My pentecostal friend replied that his church is defined by missiology/missions. The person to my right said his church was defined by 'grace' and that's what attracted him to it after leaving a rigid environment. When I was asked, I replied that while my church practices "grace," it is "fidelity to Scripture" which defines it best. There may be other answers to that question, but I like the one I gave . . I am aligned with my church by life and practice, because IT is aligned the closest to Scripture of any denomination I am aware of. In my church, grace is operative, and truth matters . . it's a good combination.
Am in my final day of class and today's discussion is much about living 'in community.' This presentation/discussion is about friendship and the obligation we have to each other to build one another up, and to engage with the need to understand, practice, and grow in receiving authentic love, as well as giving it. John 13:34 is the text which defined the discussion.
While much of what I've shared in this week's class seems diverse and disconnected, it is very much about being healthy, growing leaders. Being a good leader, covers a lot of ground!