Today was our first day of class time.
We started the morning with breakfast. May I just say that grits were a welcome addition to the culinary experience, and I should have guessed they'd be on the menu this morning. Hooray for grits!
After breakfast was a morning chapel service, followed by an entire day with our professor, Eric Bolger. The only time we broke was to head to the refectory for meals. Refectory is from the Latin reficere, which means "refresh or renew." And if you think that's what I'm learning here, you're mistaken. I got that from my MacBook dictionary.
Our class time is refreshing, challenging, engaging, discussion-based, enlightening, humbling, convicting, and tiring all at once. After just a day I feel energized and blessed with new ideas and concepts swimming around in my head, new perspectives that I feel are things I should have known all along. I'll try to put some of these things into a few sentences.
Scripture: Analysis versus Participation
When it comes to our view of Scripture, it's clear that one of the biggest problems we face today is the critical bias that comes with looking back into history. We have this view that, because we are more advanced technologically, because we can see the lessons learned by those that have gone before us, that we are above the people that have lived through ages past. We tend to think of this as being the greatest time in history, and we tend to think of ourselves as having the best perspective. This is a product of the Enlightenment and the modern age: it's all about analyzing and looking at the past with a critical eye.
But is it true? Are we in a better place than David was? Or the Israelites? Or Paul and the infant church? It depends on what you mean by "better." Is sin lessened today? Are we better off as a Church or as a culture than any past generation?
We forget that our task is not to take a critical view of the meta-narrative of God's story... our task is to be part of it. Christ lived, He died, He was resurrected, and He will come again. That's the big story. And we are part of that story, part of God's story. We are characters in God's overarching story of redemption, and we already know how it ends. Our purpose is to join God's movement toward that ending, to obey God, to worship Him, and to let His story play out in and around us.
This is one of the positive aspects of post-modernity, in my mind. The modern perspective is one that criticizes/analyzes the bigger story, as if we have an objective view of it; the post-modern perspective is one that strives to experience the bigger story.
Returning to Trinitarian Worship
Another thing that is blowing up in my mind today is the need for us to worship God as He has revealed Himself: as a Triune God. Too often we worship in a way that focuses on either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, but rarely do we recognize and praise all three. The ancient church explained the Trinity with the phrase "God is one substance in three persons." We believe this, but do we worship God in this way? The Father has perfect communion with the Son, and through the Son and by the Holy Spirit we are allowed to be part of that communion. But how often to we acknowledge this mystery of our faith and let it shape our worship?
When we worship in a Trinitarian way, we know that our worship is not our own. If it were, it would be from sinful man and unacceptable to God the Father. Fortunately, God, in His grace, provided a way for us to worship through Jesus. Jesus' worship is perfect and acceptable to God. And by the Holy Spirit we are allowed to participate in Jesus' worship of the Father. That's just one aspect of Trinitarian worship. Not only has Jesus paid the price for our sins, offering the perfect sacrifice, but He's also led the perfect life of worship. And through Him, and by the Holy Spirit, we can join in that worship, that perfect communion with the Father.
Today has been an enormous high for me. I'm still trying to fully articulate the above thoughts. But it has also had a low point. I so missed my family tonight that I wept on the way back to where I'm staying. As soon as I got back in my room I downloaded Skype. Thank God for Skype! I was able to see my wife and my boys, to see them smile and laugh and wave, to hear Jack and Cole give ridiculous recollections of their day. I miss them so much right now. It was huge to be able to see them and talk with them.
I can't wait for tomorrow.