A friend of mine (actually, my old boss), is a member of New St. Peter’s (NsP) Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. Over this past “Reformation Weekend,” as I call it, NsP hosted a conference by Dr. Sean Michael Lucas of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. The topic of the conference, “Is Reformed Important?” was a Power Point presentation summarizing the material from Dr. Lucas’ book, On Being Presbyterian, which I have not read. I found the conference very interesting, for his approach does not start with a defense of all of the Reformed and Presbyterian controversial, distinctive doctrines. The approach Dr. Lucas took was to deal with what it means to be Presbyterian as a facet of one’s personal identity. In this I think he’s attempting to appeal to, or at least converse with a postmodern worldview, which seems, by and large, skeptical of evangelical theologizing.
The sum of the conference was that a person’s identity is the result of one’s beliefs, practices and stories (bps), which colors his perspective on life, the universe and everything (to borrow from the British theologian, Douglas Adams). Therefore, the basic outline of “Is Reformed Important?” is a look at the beliefs, practices and stories of confessional, Reformed Presbyterianism in particular, rather than merely Reformed in general.One benefit of the format of the two day conference, followed by a Reformation Sunday sermon at NsP (which I did not attend, but the link to which I’ll post if and when it becomes available) lies in the fact that the first night really helps a non-Reformed, non-Presbyterian (like my beloved wife) not have to immediately endure all the stuff he disagrees with, but gently points out that one’s beliefs andpractices are worth taking a critical look at. Dr. Lucas did this by sharing much of his own bps in a rather disarming manner. This is definitely user-friendly material, not fodder for theology geeks, but down-to-earth and practical stuff.
At one point during the second lecture, Dr. Lucas brought up the prospect of what he’d do were he to notice that someone had published a book with the same title as his, On Being Presbyterian, yet noticed that the table of contents seems an awful lot like the one in his own work, and not only that, but that the other author happens to mention that he comes from the same hometown as Dr. Lucas. He said the first thing he’d probably do is punch the guy in the nose. This compelled me to approach him after the lecture to request permission to post his outline on my blog, which permission, Christian man that he is, he graciously granted. Thus, in my next post, I’ll give you Lecture Number One of “Is Reformed Important?”
Hope you all had a pleasant Reformation Sunday!
Reformata Semper Reformanda (”Reformed, Always Reforming”)
I just took a look at http://www.newstpeters.org/ and noticed that they give their members something called “Rooster Tracks” which provides short, weekday theological and devotional items to think through and/or study. The one for this week, naturally, introduces us to the Reformers and asks its readers to think through a topic related to the contribution of each individual Reformer which is treated, namely, Luther, Melancthon, Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox.
I understand from Colin that you wanted to email with me. One way to get ahold of me is seanmichaellucas at yahoo dot com. I’ll try to get back to you in a timely fashion.
Hey, Dr. Lucas! I wanted your email address so I could send you the link to this, since you graciously granted me permission to put your outline on my blog. But, apparently you have the link now.
Thanks for the great conference.
I’ll probably keep your email address, though, in order to consult your “headknowledge” on tough Reformed questions.
Hey John, a while back in one of my 2 free issues of By Faith magazine (the PCA’s magazine), I came across an article by Dr. Lucas with the same title as his book. It was really helpful, unfortunately I can’t find that article at By Faith’s website. It may have been a short precis, if you will, of his book. Made me want to get the book. Some day I will, finances prevent me right now.
Anyway, I envy you getting to hear him speak. I wonder if you got a chance to ask him about his years in fundamentalism?
He spun a humorous yarn about how, when Sean was 14, his dad converting and their eventual membership in an independant Baptist church. When Sean graduated from High School, his parents gave him two college choices: Liberty University, or Bob Jones University. First choice, Liberty University. But after a while, Sean grew disappointed by so many classmates living in the dorms involved with drugs and sex, so he decided to go where they actually enforce the rules–which means Bob Jones University! About BJU, he observed that they have a unique approach to socialization, in that, while they spend most of the week keeping the males and females separate, during the chapel service, they seat them boy-girl, boy-girl. He said that if you were ever going to get a date from one of the girls on campus, that’s when it would happen. So, it should not be surprising that during chapel service at BJU is where Sean met his wife.
The only other significant comment Sean made during the presentation on Baptist fundamentalism was how they can sometimes miss the point of a passage. For example, in Acts 2 when it says the disciples had all things common, he observed IFB preachers from his past had a tendency to get off on a tangent about how “we’re not communists, we believe in the right of private ownership!”
I’ll post in a few days about the one IFB-related question he answered for me after the presentation.