Category Archives: Along the Journey

From our Center of Lifelong Learning.

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For the Bookshelf: The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Given a choice between understanding Jesus as a first century Jew, or Jesus as a Christian, Paul F. M. Zahl, dean of the Cathedral of the Advent (Episcopal), would probably choose Jesus as the original, “first” Christian. He suggests as much in the title of this provocative short work. Zahl’s small but rich book deals with the fundamental questions surrounding the relationship of Christianity to its mother faith, Judaism, and more specifically, the relation of Jesus of Nazareth to first century Judaism.

In The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus Zahl attempts to provide a corrective to what he sees as the prevailing re-judaizing and re-culturation of the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus of Nazareth. This tendency, he believes, has been motivated by a shared Christian “Holocaust guilt” and results in a contextualized second-century historical figure that is inadequate to the realities of the unique claims of both the founder and the faith or Christianity. Continue reading

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The Child in Christian Thought

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

The Child in Christian Thought,  ed. by Marcia J. Bunge (Religion, Marriage, and Family series. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. 513 pp. $24.00. ISBN 0-8028-4693-9) is a collection of essays on the concept and theological thinking about the child throughout Christian history. The book is part of the larger “The Child in Christian Thought” project by editor Marcia Bunge that strived to inform current thinking on children, the church, and families by tracing the concept of the child and childhood through the history of Christian thought.

The book is a study in historical theology that attempts to answer specific questions regarding: (1) How selected theologians and movements speak about the nature of children,  (2) How do they speak about the roles and responsibilities of parents, the state, and the church in nurturing children, Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: The American Church Experience

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

After I graduated from seminary I followed up on my promise to myself to read all those books I never got around to reading because of the interruptions of course schedules and meeting class requirements (it’s a promise that seems never-ending, for, as the Preacher said, “of the publishing of books there is no end.”). At one point I took up the reading of the two-volume set on the history of Christianity by Kenneth Scott Latourette. They remain on my bookshelf today—marked up, underscored, dog-eared, and full of notations. I remain aghast at the tenacity of my younger self to see that exercise through. While reading over 1500 pages of an obsessively comprehensive history in small dense type may be, in itself, an accomplishment, after a while, comprehension and recall took a back seat to the sheer force of will to get through that volume of information.
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The Basic Functions of a Congregational Educator

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

I had an interesting discussion with a lay person who has just accepted the call to lead her congregation’s Christian education ministries. She was feeling a bit overwhelmed (close to panic, actually) as she started to get a grasp of the scope of the job she’s taken on. She called me to help her get a handle on what it is she was supposed to do as the leader of the Christian education enterprise of her church. At one point she asked, “What does a church’s Christian educator do, anyway?” Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: Reviewing Leadership

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

It seems the number of books put out by publishers, in any number of fields, will not be abating anytime soon. Whether or not that is a good thing may be a matter of debate. Some subjects are worth discussing at length, because trawling for deeper meanings or drawing out the nuances of the matter yield more insight and expand our understanding with each new layer of data—whether by contrasting it against the hard edge of another discipline or by the overlay of the veneer of a new metaphor. But some subjects, once having been examined, leave one with the impression that “everything that needs to be said has been said.”

Robert Banks and Bernice M. Ledbetter think that the subject of leadership is one of those topics worth revisiting, and they do so in their book, Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches, much to our benefit. In this short book, Banks and Ledbetter do two things. First, they briefly introduce the reader to “everything that needs to be said that has been said” about leadership by providing a brief overview of how leadership has been treated and understood in what they categorize as biblical, historical, and contemporary perspectives (chapter two). Second, in the chapters following, they attempt to bring an ethical lens to the subject of leadership through a Christian perspective, beginning with “spiritual and religious dimensions” (chapter three) to a more overt Christian understanding of the leadership function in the final chapter through the use of “exemplary case studies” of Christian leadership in action (refreshingly, and tellingly, none of the persons featured in the case studies would likely be the first, or second, guess of most contemporary leaders or informed laity as to “models of leadership”). Continue reading