Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who is Ken Schenck?

I've been suffering from whiplash on this blog these last six months because I have occasional visitors from so many different directions. My guess is that I have about three types of visitors who really like about a third of what goes on here. I would also guess that they just as vehemently hate the other two thirds!

So here is the "key" to reading posts here and following my comments. I could actually code my posts so you know what posts to skip and which to read. Who am I?

1. An orthodox Christian
I affirm the classic creeds of Christendom. That has implications because of #3 below. I went through a major faith crisis at the end of my seminary days because of #3. In the end, it was postmodern developments that enabled me to put my orthodox Humpty Dumpty head back together again.

That means that my orthodox cooking will look strange to just about everyone. It will look way too Catholic for most Protestants because I have concluded that to have integrity, orthodox faith requires a trajectory oriented sense of revelation rather than a backward looking one. Protestantism is backward looking in its very foundations--it says revelation is something we find by peeling back time rather than looking where God is headed.

But it is not Catholic either because I accept the reforming function of backward looking.

2. A Wesleyan evangelical
I teach at a Wesleyan evangelical confessional college and am ordained a minister in The Wesleyan Church. There is no such thing as unperspectivized truth, and it is completely appropriate for me to relate truth to the community to which I belong. Obviously I would not belong to this community if I did not fundamentally agree with its identity. At the same time, any thinking person will always have "lover's quarrels" with their communities.

So some posts will seem very peculiar or even downright annoying to those of you from other traditions. I don't mean to be persnickitty, but some posts are "in house."

3. New Testament scholar
One of the residuals of my faith crisis is that I get really irritated when people "cook the books" or skew the evidence, especially historical evidence, to jive with their theological conclusions. Because I have adopted a trajectory approach to revelation, I am able to let the evidence lie where it lies without worrying about whether it connects precisely to Christian faith.

People like Tom Wright and Ben Witherington have applied their great intellect to making the connections as close as possible. I think as a result they sometimes open themselves up to the charge of special pleading. No one is objective, but may I rarely be accused of this.

So this is my "apology" for a blog that must seem very strange from time to time. In short, I refuse to fit into any neat stereotype. No existing label fits.

13 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I am personally grateful for your last comment :)! I couldn't love you otherwise. Some believe that to be loved one has to conform to be and think like another...whether a historical figure in time, a mythological figure within culture, or a pre-determined personality type...this limits the ability of people to really see, know, and love another...so, I'm with you, I choose to be "me"...and I have appreciated the fact that you and others are committed to developing students into "themselves"...whoever God has designed for them to be...

Jared said...

Here's to Lovers' Quarrels!

Allan R. Bevere said...

Is it possible that Ken Schenk could be NT Wrong?

Ken Schenck said...

I'm afraid I'm just not that devious... or as saavy at marketing! How does some anonymous person/people go from nowhere to top 50 overnight!

I personally have him/her/them pegged as an OT type. The so called "Guild of Biblical Minimalists" was always my guess.

Ken Schenck said...

By the way, I had a thought Monday while reading Enns on the subject of trajectory. The trajectory model helps me cope even with the period before Scripture. When we are pre-moderns, we imagine that the line of people from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Moses understood God largely the way we do. When we consider that Terah was a polytheist and Abraham probably a henotheist at best... When we suspect that much of the OT must have circulated in oral form, perhaps for centuries before reaching anything like its current form... When we wonder whether the OT writers themselves may have removed certain "mythical" elements that were a part of that oral tradition as a next step in revelation... these things can be troubling from the "get back" approach.

What was happening for the millennia prior to Scripture, even prior to Abraham? What about the Egyptians in 3000BC? The trajectory model suggests that God was in no hurry but was walking with those who would, gradually, over time, everywhere, meeting them where they were in their understanding, taking them to the next step, but far more interested in their heart than with what was going on in their heads.

I'm not sure I'm expressing myself very well, but the thousands of years before Bible were very troubling for me before taking the trajectory approach, as was the recognition that only Israel--and probably only a small number in Israel before the exile--even had the revelation that was there.

The shift is from seeing the word in the Bible to seeing the Bible in the word. Salvation history is God walking with people "now," molding their understanding of all that is past. The other approach leaves us wondering why God waited so long to reveal Himself, why this seemingly arbitrary 1000 year period of time in the vast scheme of history, why this small and peculiar nation only in the ancient world?

These are only musings...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I really think we do ourselves, others and "truth" an injustice when we limit the "right" view to "our particular" local view, which Chrstianity and Christian history has "defined" as "right"....and as "truth". Even in Scripture, much of the "wisdom literature" gives one the impression that history is cyclical amd particularly specifically "natural" ("there is a season...we live, we die, from generation to generation,etc.). This is an important distinction for those who do not want to limit understanding "god's working' within a Newtonina frame of reference. You do right and you get (la da) right results...this was Job's thinking before his trials, and it was not "wise" in "wisdom's light". Thinking in linear ways, with a causal outcome based result is simplistic and very dangerous for those who face tragedy, evil and hardship. It trivializes suffering, as it theologizes it away every contingent action, choice, and circumstance. It is self-satisfied, instead of hungering and thirsting for understanding...of righteousness.

"Divine porvidence" does not exist in my thinking. Life happens, rulers rule, governors govern, hurricanes "happen", life goes on and somewhere in the mix "things happen" but for different reasons, and complex purposes...there is not singular, but plurality of understandings and meanings...and individuals attach meaning to those happenings...

John Mark said...

I have never heard of the trajectory
model...just another example of my limited education :)--which is one reason I read you.
I'm sure you are familiar with the story of Joy Davidmans' conversion (And God Came In), where, in a crisis moment, she just "let down her guard" and Someone came to her. She did not know who that someone was, but she knew he was there, that he had always been there, and that he loved her. It was much later before she truly knew who he was. As I said, I'm sure you are familiar with it.
I heard that story told first by Dennis Kinlaw on a CD set of O.T. Theology lectures. The implication was this may have been Abraham's experience.
How does this reconcile with the trajectory model, or does it?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Besides Christianity being a Jewish sect, and many questions concerning Jewish origins (Abraham was no a Jew)and Making him Jewish is what "covenant theolgy" is about, which implies a supernaturalistic "incoming" and a Particualistic, and exclusivistic religion, where one's experience is predonminant, not reason, based on observation, questions and study. No, it is faith not based on reason at all, as it radicalizes faith at the expense of reason and rationality. A God beyond reason which we come to Know! I used to believe this, but don't anymore...Any identification factors are local and specific in conventional morality, conventional understanding, and conventional faith....this is not living a life of understanding, but one of conversion, particualrization, and prejuidice as one's own religion is the right one...Islam believes their religion is the right one and any conversion away from it is a death call....as it is a supernaturalistically revealed religion...

I have heard or read somewhere that Christianity was also aligned with Buddhism in the East, and the scholar from Penn State said that Christian sects were related to Islam...

I don't believe that experience proves anything, unless one is talking about ideals, such as justice, mercy, love, truth, etc....Our nation, allows the freedom to find one's community of faith, while describing what justice is, which is diversity, not uniformity!! I find that some segments of Christian faith are uniform, and it is conformity, not understanding that is sought...

Don't theologize the future, as we don't know by reason, so don't give me theology. We have the present alone, and are not promised tomorrow. There is not eschalogical "hope", that was the ancient way of giving an answer for faith claims when the political realm was unsolvable because of the lack of freedom or rationale...I cannot give that kind of "pie in the sky" hope to someone who is suffering and there is not answer....Christians love to have answers, instead of living with questions and seeking our answers through much searching, seeking, and discipline...of mind and heart....

Brian Russell said...

I always enjoy your blog, Ken. Keep at it.

By the way, your IBS videos posted elsewhere are quite helpful. Is Adobe pretty easy to work with?

Ken Schenck said...

Adobe is very easy to use indeed, Brian.

ddsharper said...

I found your vids on google and have been searching desparately to find who was speaking/teaching behind the scenes. Tried out your vids with a pic and put it together. Where can I locate a complete greek course, beginning grammar, authored by you. You are an excellent teacher. Thanks. Diane

Ken Schenck said...

I never finished doing the whole Greek sequence on videos. You can check out http://lingamish.wordpress.com/

Dan Batovici said...

This is just to say we added your blog to our blogroll.

Best,
Dan

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