Big changes are happening in my professional life. I’ve recently resigned my position at Bethel Seminary because I have accepted a position at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities to be Associate Professor of Public and Missional Theology, beginning there this fall. This was a pretty recent and quite unexpected development for me, but I couldn’t be more excited to join this community and to do theological education in that context. The plan is to develop an MA concentration there in Missional Theology, which will provide an experience for students to think about theology as a response to the gospel as the holistic message of Jesus Christ and as a reflection on the nature of God as a God who acts and who invites us to witness to that action by our lives and speech-acts. Missional theology must be not only theo-logical, but anthro-pological as well: it must be integrative and must attend not only to Scripture as source document and to the gospel as kerygma and driving force, but to culture and to the needs of the social world in which live.
United is a school that is on the rise because they are thinking creatively, are connecting the dots between theology and social action, and are imagining theological education in ways that transcend the usual rigid boundaries and categories. As younger Christians enter seminary, they have already transcended those boundaries themselves (even if only intuitively). So they need a seminary and a theological education that creates the intellectual and spiritual space to explore their faith and to connect their faith with real world issues.
Two of my most exciting public events in the past eight years took place at United Seminary. Both were “Liberal / Evangelical Dialogues” on topics of Christology and salvation (and gospel and evangelism). My first dialogue there was with Dr. Sharon Tan (who, as the current Dean of the seminary, will now be my boss). My second dialogue was with Eleazar Fernandez, a constructive theologian who will now be my colleague. In both conversations, I sensed a great deal of synergy and shared understanding of the nature of the kingdom, the inclusive love and grace of God in Christ, and the need of the gospel for a hurting world. In a sense, “liberal” and “evangelical” was more, in our cases, like “post-liberal” and “post-evangelical.” Thus the transcending of the boundaries! Now these “dialogues” will become an integrated part of my everyday work, conversation, and classroom teaching.
My eight years at Bethel Seminary have been incredibly fruitful and filled with personal and theological growth and development. But I am looking forward to this new chapter. For anyone out there who might be interested in doing theological education and ministry formation at an exciting, dynamic seminary, don’t hesitate to contact me.