Monday we had a great time at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and "Talking Points", on "What is the gospel?". It was definitely a highlight for me, in getting to see Scot McKnight again- and kind of meeting him again, since I really didn't stick around long enough to chat with him last time he was here.
My wife and I picked Scot up 7:25 in the morning, and we headed off to IHOP near Celebration Cinema. Had a great time with some Evangelical Covenant folks there, pastors and leaders. We were starting to get into theology when it was time to go. Scot remarked how he could have been there earlier for more time visiting.
Meanwhile I was struggling with personal anxiety over a health issue. I just didn't feel like myself. But in God allowing this, he is at work to help me trust him more. Don't ask about the issue. It's really not the point. But I hate it when I am under something like that. Just can't relax and be myself very well then. But learning some good things through it, and hopefully growing as well. Especially in seeking to better apply faith in God through thick and thin.
The sessions at Talking Points were tremendous. I'm sure glad we can download them (here), because I was having flashbacks to my seminary days there when I worked third shift, and all too often, was dozing off. Yes, if Jesus himself were speaking, I'm convinced- even while thoroughly enjoying it, I could nod off anytime. I got the hang of it better, into the afternoon; a Pepsi did help.
Each speaker was very good. I really enjoyed David Turner's fine Biblical theological talk on "The 'Gospel' According to Matthew: What is the gospel of the kingdom of God?" Good reflections on his background, similar to the backgrounds of many of us there, and Matthew's impact on his theology. I look forward to hearing that again. And Ruth Tucker's fine presentation on "The 'Gospel' in our world today: Contextualization or Confrontation?" She's one of a kind, and was very moving; her husband also had a nice part. I think what she spoke of is increasingly important for us, in our growing pluralistic society, and mission to the world.
Best of all, was Scot. His first talk, "The Individualistic 'Gospel': What are the weaknesses of an individualistic gospel?" was tremendous. Though I'd read something of it before from him, it was good to hear it anew, and get a little more light on it. This talk went excellently (ha) with his second speak (I was "high" on Pepsi by then): "The 'Gospel' of Embracing Grace: What are the implications of a gospel that embraces grace?" While echoing the heart of what he says in Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us, he added some additional significant stuff, we need to reflect further on. Really good and challenging for our call in Christ, in the world today.
Then last, but not least of all, was the question and answer time, moderated very well by Professor Peter Osborn. He ended it, while we were all wanting more. Better though than when we've had more than enough, though I think a few of us would have still been around hours afterwards. All three were good here. But Scot was the one mostly looked to. Maybe the questions written in advance by individuals in the audience, were mostly directed to him. But that was a great cap, to a great time together.
One thing I noticed about Scot was his high energy. During the sessions, but between them, as well. He got around, visiting people. He is a one who thoroughly enjoys people and life, you can tell. The love of God in Christ, I see as very evident in him.
All in all it was a great time. If you ever get the chance to hear Scot do so. The folks at GRTS did a great job for us. Dr. Doug Fagerstrom, their president, exemplified what I think GRTS is all about, a humble yearning to be a true servant of Christ.
So that is my reflection. An impression from it is coming soon....