Monday, February 11, 2008

trip to charlotte

Took a trip this past weekend (well, if we can count Friday as being in the weekend, and since it was a day off, maybe I should say "past long weekend") to Charlotte, to visit the Southern Evanglical Seminary. Left very early on Friday so as to arrive there mid-afternoon, and after getting turned around a few times once I reached the city itself, the trip itself was fairly unexciting, which is quite fine.

The seminary was smaller then I thought it would be, but it is doing some expanding, a bit of building and remodelling on what looked to be their main building. It's for a good cause, though, as the already nice library is being almost doubled as well as the bookstore.

I was shown around by one of the dean's, had dinner (pizza) with some of the staff, and that evening I was allowed to sit in on a class, this one being Church History. The class went for only about 45 minutes, though, before another event began. Last week was a mission's week at the seminary, and that evening Voice of the Martyrs gave a very strong presentation.


In college, my minor was in philosophy, and it has been in interest of mine, on and off. After returning from Russia a bit over three years ago, it has become apparent that the things said by recent philosophers, particularly in Europe and the "Continental Philosophers", are finding a life of sorts, and in an unexpected place--the church.

For example, the word "deconstruction" is bandied about quite a bit in certain more-or-less Christian circles. What is it? What is its definitions? What are its methods? What are its protocols? How do we know if a 'deconstruction' is good or bad, proper or improper? What does it lead to?

It's about meaning, or words and phrases, but it's about more then that. It's about, for example, things like the last entry on this blog. It's about Rob Bell getting in front of his congregation and claiming Paul was thrown in prison for being a political activists. It's about McLaren trying to explain hell by saying all mentions of it refer to AD70. It's about Pagitt crying "dualism" in regards to the idea of a real Heaven and Hell separate from the material universe. It's about philosophers like Capute trying to redefine God to fit their own image. It's about such people saying, for example, that if God throws people into hell, he's getting his way by using force; or that the important things about the stories of Jesus' life is not whether any of it happened but what lessons we can learn from them; or that somehow what Paul wrote is unfaithful to what Jesus said.

For me, the visit to SES was about finding a way to get the truth needed to answer these false ideas. Two names associated with SES are Norman Geisler and Ravi Zacharias, two very good reasons to think the place has a good bit of credibility.

And even in the few minutes I had in the Church History class, I learned something. It must have been one of the first classes of the term, because what they were learning about was the church during the time of the apostles. In it, I learned that there was no persecution of the church by the Roman Empire before the burning of Rome and Nero's use of Christians as scapegoats for that event. Not that their wasn't persecution, but none by the Empire itself.

Of course, this puts paid to what Bell said in his sermon about Paul being put in prison because he ticked off Caesar with his politically volatile language.

I don't know whether I will go there or not, it's an idea, and one with it's attractions. There are things to consider, and maybe I'd like some more direction on it, whether it's something from God or my own mind. We shall see.

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