Monday, January 05, 2009

Teaching Humanity, Sin, and Salvation

I take my first crack at teaching a full college theology course this week. The course as it was assigned to me is called "Humanity, Sin, and Salvation"---which is fine with me.

As a teacher I look forward to those parts of the class where I get to try to make it personal. Little things like discussion starters, coffee break, songs and videos I hope to play (i.e. Sufjan Steven's Abraham and Johnny Cash's Hurt), and excerpts of books I hope to read (i.e. Romeo Dallaire and Elie Weisel).

On a slightly deeper level I look forward to such potentially interesting moments as when I will read the following quote on Monday morning:

“In banishing all mediators between the Bible and ourselves, we have let the Scriptures be ensnared in a web of subjectivism. Having rejected the aid of the community of interpreters throughout the history of Christendom, we have not succeeded in returning to the primitive gospel; we have simply managed to plunge ourselves back to the biases of our own individual situations" (Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology, 92).

Though I am no scholar of Church history, I do hope for the lectures to find their talking points from direct quotations of Christian thinkers throughout the centuries. I look forward to being caught up in that cloud of witnesses along with my class of 15 and having the story of Christ enfold us and make us think.

At the deepest and most motivational level, I look forward to that worship activity of loving God with our minds.

In that regard, though I find the entirety of the assigned subject matter interesting, I think I am most excited about teaching day two (on humanity from a Christological/Trinitarian perspective) and the afternoon of day four (on salvation as a group thing, even a cosmic thing---involving not simply the isolated salvation of individuals but the grand reconciliation of creation, and humanity, with God and itself, in Christ. Along those lines I look forward to reading such quotes as:

“For in times long past, it was said that man was created after the image of God, but it was not yet shown; for the Word was as yet invisible, after whose image man was created. Wherefore also he did easily lose the similtude [speaking of the Fall]. When, however, the Word of God became flesh, he confirmed both these; for he both showed forth the image truly, since he became himself what was his image; and he re-established the similtude after a sure manner, by assimilating man to the invisible Father through means of the visible Word” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.16.2).

“The contemporary acknowledgment of the relationality of personal identity suggests that the divine image is a shared, communal reality. It implies that the image of God is fully present only in relationships, that is, in ‘community.’. . . Only in commmunity can we truly show what God is like, for God is the community of love, the eternal relational dynamic enjoyed by the three persons of the Trinity. . . . God’s own character can only be mirrored by humans who love after the manner of the perfect love present within the heart of the triune God" (Stanley Grenz and John Franke, Beyond Foundationalism, 200-1).

Anyway, here's hoping the class goes well, and that all of you out there are starting off aught-nine with a bang.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jon! Have a blast of a week! Sounds like some exciting stuff you have there! When I think back to my first college theology class (now some 15 years ago--ouch!) it didn't sound nearly as interesting as yours will be! Enjoy the ride!

Anonymous said...

I hope you have some great students, who love a challenge - who love to challenge

Anonymous said...

I wish I could be there to see you in action. I know you will do a great job but will probably be misunderstood from time to time. Remember, to love your class and your objectors and let me know if anyone causes you any real problems. I will come up and take care of them for you.


jon said...