Remembering the Gospel

My friend and fellow Bavinck scholar, Bruce, wrote a blog the other day that reminded me of a small text by John Calvin. It is a short booklet called The Necessity of Reforming the Church. In a nutshell, it is Calvin's defense of why the church needs reformation and what reformation will look like. Bruce's blog got me to pick the book up once more and look at it. The simplicity and straightforward nature of the book struck me. Yet, that simplicity does not betray its depth.

Looking to the Other

This week at New College, there was a conference. It was the inaugural conference for 'The Christian-Muslim Studies Network'. The topic was Reframing Christian-Muslim Encounters: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives. I didn't go to a lot of the conference. In fact, I only went to two sessions. In one, a friend of mine delivered a paper, and I wanted to hear it. Another was the English book release of conversations between a Christian scholar and Islamic scholar who live and work in Lebanon.

Immigration: Highs and Lows

For almost ten years now, I have either lived as an immigrant or with an immigrant (for the last seven years there have been times when it is both at the same time). There are many interesting aspects of being a foreigner in a foreign land. I love learning new cultures and trying to figure out just how everything works. I love discovering new food or new places. It is fun to meet new people and try to understand their stories or their lives. It is really interesting trying to explain to Taryn why we do what we do the way we do it. Over the course of the years, what I have found is that living internationally (or having a wife who has lived internationally) has changed who I am and has changed how my family interacts with each.

Anniversaries, Pains, Highs, and Lows

This year, August is a month of celebration in the Clausing house. At the beginning of this month we had the anniversary of our wedding. On Tuesday, the 22nd, we celebrated one year in Edinburgh (time flies). Tomorrow, the 25th, we celebrate the anniversary of my ordination as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. These moments are always good times to reflect.

Translation with Humility

I have spent a lot of time translating in various languages: Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, Dutch, etc. The more I translate the more I am convinced that there is a certain amount of humility that is needed in the process. The humility comes in that every translation needs to be open to critique, correction, and reworking. The communicating from one language to another is never one for one.

Problems to Principles

It is interesting to watch the way many debates go these days. Often, I notice when people are discussing a topic, they start with a principle and then attempt to solve problems that they see with their principled position. A system is built and the only thing left to do is apply it real world situations. You can see this in various discussions whether it be about religion, politics, or sports. Frequently, the assumption is that if you have the correct principle then you can solve all the problems. What has been intriguing for me is the difference Bavinck, the theologian whom I study, writes his dogmatics and many of essays.

Learning to Repent

It has been said that perfection is not the high water mark of the Christian life, repentance is. When confronted with our sin, we have two responses. The natural man will want to deny that there is anything wrong and look for excuses. However, the spiritual man should be convicted and brought to a place of repentance. But what does repentance before God look like? Let me suggest that it is coming before him in prayer.

Reading Hard Texts

So I am reading Hegel these days. It's dense. I am also reading about Hegel. That is not quite as dense, but it's still dense. The research that I am doing has lead me down a path that requires a lot of time in Hegel. When I realized that this was going to be a huge part of my project, I laughed and said, 'I thought I could make it my entire academic career without seriously engaging with Hegel.' It turns out I can't. The more intimidating part of this is whenever I talk to a fellow PhD student about this, their response is 'Good luck.'

Theology that Sings

The Psalms lay out all of life. They walk us through the ups and the downs. When I read Psalm 96, it is the ups of life that I see most clearly. The psalmist calls out for all of creation to praise the Lord. He does this on the basis of good theology. The Lord made heaven and earth. He is the true God. Therefore he is the only one that deserves our worship. It is this theology that causes him to sing a song of praise to the Lord.