teaching at a missional seminary

The is the second installment on teaching at a missional seminary. A year ago Biblical’s faculty reflected on how we teach our missional curriculum. The impetus for the project was to give careful attention to the delivery of theological education and how it is shaped by theological commitments.  Here are some more responses of the faculty to the question “How do your missional commitments shape your teaching?”

In Teaching Hebrew

For my Hebrew classes, I highlight the idea that learning a different language can be a missional endeavor.  Languages have a way of giving us a window into the culture of its native speakers, which can help us to begin seeing things through their perspective.  Hence, it helps us to be more incarnational.  Learning an ancient language is not the same as learning a living language, as we can’t interact with native speakers (e.g., to ask for clarification, etc.).  However, it does allow us get inside the culture a little bit, which is valuable for understanding scripture in its own context.  And hopefully the exercise itself, along with the insights that come from it, transfers to incarnational ministry today. - Rick Houseknecht, ThM

In Teaching Theology

First, God’s being “a Trinitarian community of unity amidst diversity” in Himself impacts how I understand and teach the importance of the community of faith (the church) and the family (husband, wife, and kids). These communal entities are identified biblically as modeling the Trinitarian God.  It is God expressing, conveying, and portraying His own harmonious character and being that accounts for biblical teaching regarding the image of God (imago Dei), interpersonal relationships in marriage, home, community of faith, neighbor/neighborhood, and restoring the interpersonal harmony that emblemizes God Himself that is the fundamental point of God’s mission of which we are a part.

In a similar vein, “generous orthodoxy” is included as a critical part of what we conceive God’s mission to be. We emphasize both “orthodoxy” (being concerned for truth) and “generosity” (being concerned with cooperating and living harmoniously with fellow believers) in accordance with what Jesus says in His final prayer to the Father is the mission (John 17). Included in this mission is “that they [we] may be one” even as Father and Son are “one.”  For us, “generous orthodoxy” is not just a pragmatic concern for greater cooperation and ministerial effectiveness; generous orthodoxy is rooted in biblical teaching, portraying who God is qua God.  - Todd Mangum, PhD

In Teaching the Old Testament

The mission is God’s and he invites us to get involved wherever we are.  I emphasize in a variety of ways.  One way I do this is by focusing on the many call narratives (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, etc.), as God invites his people to get involved in his mission.  Many students are looking to hear from God about their future during their time in seminary.  It’s good for them to realize that God is calling them to engage now in his mission, and not to simply wait until they graduate.

God’s mission emphasizes that Christians are blessed to be a blessing.  This is huge theme in Genesis, but I emphasize it in other books as well.  Christians are to be outward focused, looking for ways to bless the people around us.  At the end of the Genesis course, students pray prayers of blessing upon their fellow classmates. 

God’s mission involves a concern for the marginalized, the poor, the oppressed, the foreigner, the orphan, the widow, and the disabled.  Evangelical Christians haven’t always done well in this regard.  In my Isaiah course (where injustice is of course a major theme), students visit a justice ministry and get involved in practical service, and then they write up a summary of their experience. 

God’s mission involves working together with all Christians, even ones we might not agree with theologically.  Missional Christian movements will be characterized by diversity: ethnic, gender, theological, sociological.  We model this in classes by listening to all participants and valuing their perspective, even when we disagree. - David Lamb, PhD

About the Author

Susan Disston

Dr. Susan Disston

Susan Disston, DMin, was the Director of Institutional Assessment and Hybrid Learning at Biblical Seminary and taught in the Doctor of Ministry program.

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