I dialogued with a fellow a couple of weeks ago about Vintage Jesus. He had very mixed response. After our dialogue he was much more positive, but still pretty dismayed with the "hipness" and such. I affirmed the legitimacy of his his opinion while noting that it was aimed at people for whom this was their native language.
This morning, I get this email from him (I’ve edited it slightly to remove some identifying details):
I had to share a quick story with you about VINTAGE JESUS. As you may recall, my major criticism of the book was its "hippness." My fiance is getting her MDiv from a liberal school. She is a smart girl and radiates the love of Christ to folks. She’ll make a great pastor, but she’s not theologically inclined at all. She’ll text me in the middle of class saying stuff like "My prof says Adam and Eve didn’t exist and Genesis is just a Sumerian story that was retold with different characters" or "The prof is saying that Jesus didn’t even exist as a person" or "Did you know that Paul was gay and that was his thorn in the flesh." She’ll then ask me what’s true. I really try and communicate good and sound biblical theology to her, but often times she doesn’t get it. I even started my blog with her in mind.
Well, I sent her my copy of VINTAGE JESUS. She read it over the weekend and loved it. What she loved the most was the hippness of the book. In her words: "It cracked me up and was entertaining." She learned lots of theological truths that I had tried to communicate to her in the past. She’s got a new Bible study starting this fall and just emailed all 12 ladies telling them that the pre-req is to read VINTAGE JESUS.
So, who knows if my criticism is even valid. You touched her and at least 12 other women with the book’s hipness. Keep up the great work!
I laughed aloud for joy. This story came from a very different direction than I’d expected. M.Div. students at liberal seminaries aren’t what I was thinking about, but I’m certainly glad for it~
One fun development is that after almost eight years of being a grandfather, I’m about to become a great grandfather. You can see the portrait of Gelayol, our very pregnant Persian granddaughter, and her husband, Brian. She’s due Sept. 20. We eagerly await the word if the next generation will be girl or boy.
The last couple weeks have been unexpectedly packed. We are doing our American Theological Schools accreditation report. I turned my section on the MAET program in on the due date, a Monday in mid-August, with great relief. On Wednesday Randy Roberts, the president, came by my office and asked me a strange question that left me wondering. So I went to his office to inquire further. It turned out I’d missed the small fact that a whole chapter had been assigned to me. There was an email that announced that and I totally missed it. So now, two days late, with no thought or research, I’m supposed to write a whole chapter. Panic!
I gathered data, looked at materials, tried to think in terms of teaching, learning and scholarship at Western (the chapter topics), and began to draft. Then I went to Fort Worth for the Evangelical Theological Society executive committee meeting and spent three days with my sister an brother in law in Dallas, a true vacation. . . . except that I spent three or four hours each morning doing the chapter! But I got it done and the whole report is finished.
This is a part of what has made this a challenging month emotionally. I’m working with two marriages that are going very badly and that troubles me deeply. I feel very helpless to make things go in the right direction. Similar helplessness around missing SF is super hard. There are leadership challenges in consultations with two churches I care a lot about that are taxing my energy. Driving Hood to Coast again was great though tiring. I stood in Dave Wenzel’s mother’s yard in the middle of the night wanting so much to make the impossible long distance phone call. Happily Sherry was a Race volunteer, monitoring a turn of the race in downtown Portland. It was super to hear her giggling with her friend at 3 am! Did I mention that book 4, Doctrine: What the Church Should Believe has to to into high writing gear immediately? Not fun anticipation. I get to teach my first class at Corban on Labor Day, a mixed blessing. And I preach on prayer this weekend at Grace.
Thanks, Jim. The job of discipling children, grand children, great grandchildren as well as students and “ordinary” people is challenging but so fulfilling when it works. Of course it can be heart breaking in the extreme when it doesn’t.
Keep praying for us at Western especially in our partnership with churches as we help prepare the next generation of leaders for His mission.
The picture of your son, and the shot in the previous post of you with your CPM system reminded me of your old office and the dining room in Milliken. I vaguely recall your bike parked at the foot of the stairs, and your boys doing math homework in that dining room in the afternoons.
I don’t remember what class it was, must have been eschatology or ecclesiology, and I don’t know what the topic of the day was, or what the connection was. But I do recall one day you announcing that one of your boys, perhaps the oldest, was now an adult of 12 (an evangelical bar mitzvah?) and how disgusted you were to have such old kids! Anyway, I thought it was neat you treated your kids as adults at that age. I think kids love it when we don’t talk down to them, etc.
It was neat to see so many students on the Portland campus last night! But it is a good reminder to pray for you and the rest of the faculty on Mondays, especially with those drives to Salem and back. (Suffered through a few of those myself a decade ago!). Once read a book for pastors called, “It only hurts on Mondays.” But plenty of us get some sabbath then. Anyway, your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Be blessed!
If everything were going like you (and Marianne) are, there would be nothing but smiles! Ya’ll coming for your one month check up?
I know life is hard for you with all the demands you put on yourself, just remember the results of all your hard work: people like me going from immaturity to (hopefully) maturity as christians. I’ll see you later this week.