Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's the content?

I am in my third week of classes at Reformed Theological Seminary, currently sitting in Systematic Theology 1 class taught by John Frame...

I thought it might be cool to share with you what I am taking this Fall and a little comment on each class...I know, I know...exciting stuff. But I have found little points of connection in several of these classes that are helping me flesh out a theology of the arts.

As I mentioned above I am taking:

  • Systematic Theology 1 (ST1): God and Scripture with John Frame. If Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando were the universe, John Frame would be the sun. His influence is extensive here at RTS and rightly so, his mind is massive. I am excited to be under his tutelage.
  • History of Philosophy and Christian Thought (HPCT) also with John Frame. Both ST1 and HPCT are requirements but they are causing me to remember the days of my philosophy courses 20 years ago and bringing me up to speed quickly.
  • Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies with Reggie Kidd. Another requirement, one that sets the tone "content wise" for pursuing a degree here. Dr Kidd is a unique individual who I am looking forward to getting to know and learning from. He has a sympathy for the creative. You'd know him from across the campus here as you see him in his bright white fedora.
  • The Parables Of Jesus with Simon Kistemaker. A wonderfully charming Dutchman who laughs at statements that he has probably been teaching for decades. Even at 79 he still is impassioned for the Bible. There have been sevreal moments already from the content of the class and readings where I have seen parallels with the arts...but more on that in another blog.
  • The Westminster Standards with John Muether. Mr Muether is the schools librarian and it so evident. He loves books. He begins each session with a reading from Calvin's Institutes (in honoring Calvin's life as he was born 500 years ago this year). I have enjoyed hearing about the history behind the ancient creeds (Apostle's, Nicean, Athanasian) as well as hearing about the way the Westminster Standards came to be.
  • The Message of Jonah with Mark Futato. I am taking as much Old Testement as I can while here because artists use the OT alot to make their case for the importnace of the arts in Christianity. Dr. Futato is the OT prof here and is incredibly capable and clear in his teaching. He has gotten me thnking about the possibility that Jonah may be fiction...or history...and either is ok. Don't worry he doesn't think all of Scripture is fiction just that Jonah could be in the same vein as Jesus' teach to understand the Kingdom and God's purposes in this world.
In all six classes there is alot of work of course, but I am loving it.

Kirk (and Sarah)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The long awaited new chapter...

I was never the best student, at least in my habits. I had always been in the top classes and shown a higher level of aptitude, but I was never excited about gracing the halls of school. This continued even in college where I almost failed out the fall semester of my sophomore year (my mother is at this very moment horrified I would say this you mom!). But I look on that time now and know my lack of energy for school was used by my Creator to reveal Himself to me. Because you see if I hadn't almost failed that sophomore year I maybe never would have returned to God from my prodigal ways. That failure was my pigsty:

But when he came to himself he said...'I will arise and go to my father...' St Luke
The feast and celebration prepared for me after that semester was my discovery of Philosophy and enjoyment in learning. I have always enjoyed learning since that time and over the years have desired to continue my studies through an advanced degree. I had even explored seminary when I first graduated college, but God lead me otherwise into ministry.

When I went to New York City and rediscovered my artistic roots again I found a worthy community to engage intellectually. I believe artists are some of the most thoughtful people around. They soak in many, many things, and think about them critically, because you see it fuels their creativity. If they didn't their art would become shallow and shrivel up.

After a few years engaged with the arts I began to see that there was a wonderful history of the church engaged with the arts...but that history was mostly outside the bounds of the protestant tradition, my tradition. Outside of Francis Schaeffer, name one protestant in the 20th century who engaged the arts thoughtfully and had as wide an appeal as Schaeffer did? Maybe Rookmaaker...but some of you are saying, "Who?" I've come to believe that the Arts, to most of the protestant tradiiton, is the "red-headed step child" of the family. We need to change that.
I want to change that. This is why I am going to school at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando for the next two years. I want to be a part of the generation that compiles a body of work about the arts for the protestant church that is Biblical, reasonable, and beautiful. I want to be able to say to that "red-head", 'Welcome back to the family!'Why do I want to do this? So that people, all people, can see how truly beautiful the Gospel is, and ultimately that carpenter from Nazaeth, who was himself an artist. Afterall, he's the one that told the story of the prodigal son.

Kirk (& Sarah)

PS. Many of the future blogs here will be about my experiences and thoughts from my Masters work. The 'Bird' of this blog, my wife, is not forgotten...she would be the first to say she's not the writer of this family...there will be updates about what she has been creating and crafting as well.