As I begin/continue my long term continuing pastoral education, I am focusing on three interrelated areas: the Bible/biblical theology, theology/Christian worldview, and ecclesiology/church life. I will move between these three areas of study freely. All of them have a practical focus for upbuilding Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd as a Christian community. Here is how I envision the perichoretic quest today.
First, the Bible and biblical theology is the foundation of Christian life and reflection. Scripture rightly understood and embodied is an essential element of this ongoing project of exploring a biblical worldview for praying, preaching, teaching, and leading. I now have a couple good current study Bibles, which are a pleasure and privilege to read. There are also some good recent books on biblical theology which I plan to read and reflect on as I read Scripture. For the summer and perhaps into the fall I am tentatively planning on preaching some of the primal stories of the Old Testament, plus I have focused more time and energy on the New Testament for several years; so an exploration of Old Testament theology is a good place to start. (Starting in Advent – December – I may begin a Year of John for Year B of the lectionary, so New Testament theology and Johannine studies will be good to pursue in the fall). There is no better guide to the Old Testament than Walter Brueggemann. I just finished Brueggemann’s Journey to the Common Good, so I’ll start with that book. Another of his more recent books is Old Testament Theology: An Introduction. Although I will refer to his earlier magisterial Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, I will focus on the later and more general work.
Second, theology and the continual (re)formation of a Christian worldview is an essential movement of the quest. Theology steps back from the Bible and more intentionally relates Scripture and our contemporary world. The goal is for one’s imagination and conversation to be shaped by God’s word and a relatively adequate perspective on the world. This movement encompasses philosophy, history, economics, sociology, and politics, just to begin. But the goal is not to be overwhelmed by too much information, but to glean the best in theological thinking in conversation with other areas of inquiry.
Third (but neither least nor last), the life of the local Christian community in the intersection between the Bible and the world is my special focus. A common name for the followers of Jesus in the book of Acts is not Christianity but The Way. More than a body of intellectual beliefs, the Christian faith is a way of being in the world, a way of life, a following after our Rabbi and Lord Jesus, a mission. This is the movement upon which I will especially focus, since as someone has said, it is more effective to act our way into a new way of thinking than to think our way into a new way of acting. In this movement of growing our life together as the body of Christ, I will focus on the Christian faith practices in our congregation for the love of God and our neighbors.