For seminary graduates, summer is a period of changeover, whether as a layperson available on the market, a fledgling educational, or a minister of the cathedral. And you have discovered the true brands of so many things along the way. You know the difference between a Calvinist and an Arminian now, and you understand that the latter aren’t to be confused with the nice folks of Armenia, who live north of Iran just. You’ve got Perichoresis in your back pocket.
You’ve got the Great Schism on the end of your tongue. You’ve got the Rule of Faith in a single hand and a Rule of Life in the other. You’ve got mad exegesis capabilities and you understand that homiletics is just a really fancy phrase for the art of preaching. You also know that only Germans whose last name begins with the letter “B” get to be read in seminary: like Barth, Brunner, Bonhoeffer, and Bultmann.
You’ve not only learned the titles of so a lot of things, you’ve also obtained massive naming forces, which are a bit like Jedi power. Like Eve and Adam before you, you can name the details of the global world in a way that escapes the majority of us, and when you name things and folks, you exercise power over them.
This is exactly what God has in fact called and outfitted one to do by going to seminary: to mention the world faithfully so the world might know and love God truly. And because all of you belong to an area congregation of one type or another, God invites you to exercise your naming powers not simply faithfully but also graciously.
The local chapel, of course, is the one place where you might be tempted, like Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars, to misuse your Jedi capabilities. You may be enticed to trot out the names of Arius or Athanasius with a knowing look in your eyes. You may wish, like I did in my first sermon after seminary, drop all types of fancy Greek words into your sermons.
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- 93 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2015 Last revised: 1 Nov 2015
You may decide to ramble on about the historical-critical method in your Sunday School class in a way that makes it harder rather than easier for individuals to love the nice words of God’s Good Word. And because the people of God are over the place in their religious lives, you may even be tempted to call them theologically ignorant philistines.
You could find yourself becoming fed up with them as stiff-necked people who can’t keep theodicy or theocracy directly. You’ll look out over the congregation and think: There will go the progressive; there goes the fundamentalist. That’s the Bible fanatic; that’s the liberationist. She’s the semi-Pelagian; he’s the brain-on-a-stick. But you’re not alone in the naming business. God is within the naming business, too.