Monday, May 22, 2006

Rhetorical Criticism

Dr. Michael Bird , who always has interesting posts, discussed Paul and rhetorical criticism today. He makes a good argument in favor of a rhetorical methodology and its benefits. I needed no convincing; I had the chance to study socio-rhetorical interpretation with one of the top scholars in that field in my previous studies. Rhetoric is a great avenue to investigate, particularly in biblical studies. But not just for interpretating scripture. Whe I first began studying Rhetorical criticism several years ago, it also helped me look at my own preaching style and really helped me develop a methodology for sermon preperation. If the Paul and the writers of the Gospels used rhetorical devices as a means of persuasion, why shouldn't we also? After all, sermons are persuasive in nature; we are trying to persuade the listeners toward deeper levels of discipleship. Not to mention it also causes to really think about sermon form and flow. Hooray for rhetoric!

Biblical Studies and the Church

I remember one time having a converstation with an older minister after my first year serving as a pastor. After hearing about my previous degree in Biblical studies, he said in a very mocking tone, "So, do you do a lot of exegesis out in that church in the country where you're at?" (with a sneer). I kind of let the comment go. But the answer is, yes, as a matter of fact I do. Why else do seminaries require exegesis classes? The interpretation and proclamation of scripture is important. If we go back through the history of the church, we can see that some of the greatest theologians and scholars were in the service of the church while they were writing. This can be seen from Augustine to Barth to Wright. I would like to see the day that biblical scholarship comes from and in the context of the local church. Just something to think about.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Witherington on West Wing (writing that is....)

Ben Witherington has posted commentary on the last episode of the West Wing. I completely agree with him, although the Aaron Sorkin episodes were the best and there was a difference when writers changed. Also after Rob Lowe left the show. Still West Wing was the best thing to happen to network TV in years.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


In one sense, the UMC has lost its identity.

Not as followers of Jesus, but as Methodists. One of the defining characteristic of methodism has been the idea of connection and of conferencing. But I think that has changed; now connectionalism is about apportionments, appointments, health, care, and pensions. And those things aren't bad. But I think there should be more.
I had to write a paper for a con ed class with Tom Frank. In that paper, one of the things I talked about was the need for us to develop a theology of the connection, which I don't think has been done very well. Anyone else have some thoughts?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Time For Annual Conference

Being a United Methodist means that I am in connection with other ministers in my annual conference, as well as the general conference. But I have to ask, "what does that mean?" More on that later.

Reading the (W)Right Stuff

Now that the semester is officially over, maybe I can get back to blogging on a reguar basis. Since I now have time, I'm reading good atuff again. I'm rereading for the I don't know how many time N.T. Wright's The Challenge of Jesus. Wright asks (and answers) the question, is the quest for the hisorical Jesus really important. He says yes. I agree. And it's importance is for contemporary church life. Wright is the man for Jesus research in relation to the contemporary, particularly emergent, church, which I find quite strange. But it's good; the good Bishop is quite brilliant. And to think, a Bishop that is a New Testament scholar. How cool.