Archive for April, 2007
Youâ€™re St. Jerome!
Youâ€™re a passionate Christian, fiercely devoted to Jesus Christ and his Church. You are willing to labor long hours in the Lordâ€™s vineyard, and you have little patience with those who are less willing or able to work as you do. Your passions often carry you into temptation zones of wrath, lust, and pride.
|You scored as Friedrich Schleiermacher. You seek to make inner feeling and awareness of God the centre of your theology, which is the foundation of liberalism. Unfortunately, atheists are quick to accuse you of simply projecting humanity onto ‘God’ and liberalism never really recovers.|
Via Rustin again.
|You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.|
[NB: For the most part I agree with this description of myself as Emergent/Postmodern, except for the second sentence. On every question in the quiz that asked about older forms of church practice, I answered in favor of these practices.]
Mark Goodacre has an excellent post comparing British and American PhD programs. Those contemplating PhDs should read it. Having completed my degree just about a year ago at an institution that is American with a strong British influence, I thought some reflections on the PhD program in Fuller’s School of Theology could add a third perspective to the comparison. [NB: I will be referring to some of Mark’s comments. My post will make better sense if you read his first.]
Fuller is a hybrid of the typical British and American systems. The first thing Mark notes about the two programs is the difference in course work. At Fuller we have course work but it is not as broad as what one might get another American program. Students enter with a declared major and minor. In the first stage, the student, in addition to meeting language requirements, takes five seminars, one of which is a methods seminar. This is typically a two-year stage. Three seminars per year is the maximum one can take. So, in this way the courses are fewer but more intensive and focused on the major (usually 3-4 of the 5 seminars) and minor (1-2 seminars) disciplines. The stage ends with four comprehensive examinations (3 in the major and 1 in the minor). Students with dissertation ideas already in mind can sometimes craft papers for the various seminars that will turn into dissertation chapters. This might keep them from publishing anything prior to publication of the thesis. Fuller has a pretty good record of publications by its graduates though. My dissertation should be out this year from T&T Clark.
The second stage requires the student to take 4 more seminars or directed readings. Most students take the latter. This stage is the dissertation research and writing stage. The first order of business is getting a dissertation proposal approved. Mark notes the presence of a “committee” in the American system and the primacy of the supervisor in the British system. Fuller is a combination. The adviser, in consultation with a secondary reader/adviser (kind of like the other internal examiner in the British system), approves the proposal. The adviser is also the one with whom the student will be working most closely. Sometimes the second reader does not enter the picture until examination of the dissertation. So in this way Fuller is very British: a primary adviser and an internal examiner. It is also British in that they recruit an external reader from outside the Fuller faculty to examine the dissertation.
Mark also notes the time and money differences. Fuller is more American time-wise and British money-wise. That is, it takes anywhere from 4 to 8 years to complete the degree like an American program. But, because it has very little money to give (it is a young institution without the endowments of the more prestigious schools), it can be costly like the British programs for Americans (and some Brits too!).
I’m not sure how the Fuller system positions it in the American landscape. Its graduates, by virtue of having a degree from an “evangelical” seminary, are up against long odds at any rate. Still, I was and am very impressed with the program at Fuller. I would put our graduates up against graduates of any other institution, American, British or otherwise. Many of them, myself included, have had to juggle a full workload in addition to the PhD work because of the lack of funds and the high cost of living in southern California. This is not an advert for Fuller graduates, however. I am more interested in the comparison of PhD programs. What do you think is the best structure for a PhD program? Why? I’d like to hear about other programs that are neither typically British or American. What are biblical/theological doctoral programs like in other countries?
The Most. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams recently delivered a Special Larkin-Stuart Lecture at Trinity College, University of Toronto (see full text here as well). I’ve always appreciated Williams’ style and much of his content. This lecture is no different. I believe his reflections echo the notions of theological interpretation put forward on this site. Williams recaps the lecture as follows:
So in sum: what I believe we need for a renewed theological grasp of Scripture is (i) the recognition that Scripture is something heard in the event where the community affirms its identity and seeks its renewal; (ii) the development of the skills needed to explore the analogy and continuity between the world â€˜in front ofâ€™ the text and the current context, so as at least to avoid the misuse of texts by abstracting them from the questions they actually put ;(iii) thus also, the discernment of where any given section of Scripture is moving â€“ what are the changes it sets out and proposes for the reader/hearer; (iv) an understanding that this last is decisively and authoritatively illuminated by the Eucharistic setting of biblical reading; (v) the consequent holding together of Eucharist and Scripture through a strong doctrine of the Spiritâ€™s work in constructing the community of Christâ€™s Body; and (vi) the recognition that neither Scripture nor Eucharist makes sense without commitment to the resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental condition of a Church whose identity is realised in listening and responding.
The language is no doubt very Anglican. I might want to re-shape some of it to reflect my own more anabaptist leanings. But, I cannot recall a better definition of theological interpretation with which to go forward.
[NB: Simon Barrow’s reflections on the unavoidability of disagreement is a good follow-up read. In fact, I would recommend that you get yourself over to Ekklesia right away and at the very least put its News Briefing and Comment in your RSS feeder of choice.]
As I contemplate my new career and how it will affect the way in which I blog and the content of the blog itself, I find the goings on at ‘Idle musings of a bookseller‘ interesting.
The Akismet spam filter has captured over 10,000 pieces of spam since I installed it; and I don’t even blog that often!
I’m having to rethink the whole blogging practice. I am finding it more and more difficult to maintain any sort of consistency. Without going into too much, life is a bit overwhelming at the moment. I need to prioritize, and blogging is not high on the priority list during this season. In addition to teaching a new class, for which I have an inadequate amount of time to prepare, I have a handful of book reviews to complete by the summer. But, bigger than either of those things is the new job I will be starting sometime this summer. Gail and I will be moving here for me to start work here. There’s more going on that I am not at liberty to share at the moment. Needless to say, blogging for the next few months will be sporadic and brief if anything at all.