Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Symposia Review

My daughter and I made it safety back from the seminary last night after a great time at the Symposia. This was her first Symposia, and she seemed to enjoy all the experiences immensely. The chapel services were rich with the music of the classics and the superb gifts of their very accomplished choirs. We received our fill of Bach, and then more, as we patiently listened to a 30 minute rendition of Cantata BMV 92 in German during the "Commemoration of the Faithful" service on Wednesday morning. The lectures were varied and stimulating, and eventually you will be able to find them on the seminary's site, although they have yet to be posted as of the writing of this article. Check back here to find them when they finally make it on the web.

Since I attended only the Confessions Symposia this year, I can't comment too much on the exegetical portion, although I am sure that there is much here worth reading. The speakers that I found particularly interesting included Dr. Scaer (a given!) with his paper entitled "Flights from the Atonement," Dr. James Massa with a paper entitled "Eucharist and Eschatology in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI." Dr. Rast with his paper entitled "The Meaning of Christ's Death in Evangelical Theology," and Dr. Arand's paper entitled "Atonement and the Two Kinds of Righteousness." The latter paper was, in some ways, more 'catechetical' than purely academic, complete with a Power Point-style presentation. This paper was helpful to me personally in explaining the "Two Kinds of Righteousness" that some of the professors in St. Louis have been at the forefront in reviving. Dr. Arand took us back to Luther's commentary on Galatians to show from the Reformer himself the nature of this fundamental theological paradigm.

The Symposia has always provided a wide spectrum of views and scholars from varied traditions, which assists the Lutheran listener in remaining current on theological thought beyond his own boundaries. It was for this reason that Dr. Massa's paper was stimulating to me, explaining the nuances of Catholic theology, especially those areas of more pronounced difference. Fr. Massa is a priest of the diocese of Brooklyn, Professor of Theology at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Hunington, and Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interrelgious affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington. His ability to comment on the current Pontiff's theology stems from his doctoral work, where his dissertation was on the theme of "The Communion Theme in the Writings of Joseph Ratzinger."

Beyond the presented papers there is much additional activity to take in during the week as well. The evenings are full of receptions at the homes of professors and staff, giving one the opportunity to visit on a more casual level with the rich variety of participants, some who come from as far away as Russian and India. The banquet on Thursday evening provided delicious food and engaging entertainment with the accomplished jazz singer Erin Bode and her fellow musicians. You may want to read more about her recent work in South African with the Themba Girls, a project encouraged by Rev. Matt Harrison of the Board for Human Care.

Overall I was pleased to make it back to my alma mater one more time. It is always a great reunion with classmates and others that I otherwise seldom see. This year was particularly special since I was able to expose my daughter to a side of the church she was not familiar with, thus opening possibilities for the future as she contemplates her future involvement with the church-at-large.

Of course my trip would not be complete without feeding my book habit with even more volumes to stack beside my easy chair in the living room. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Dr. David Scaer has completed the latest volume in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series, entitled "Law and Gospel and the Means of Grace," and that it is available for purchase. I also snatched up the book I mentioned in an earlier post, "Women Pastor's - The Ordination of Women in Biblical Perspective," published by CPH just this year. And before I forget, you don't want to miss the second volume of Dr. Scaer's work put out by the Concordia Catechetical Academy on many of his more popular theological articles over the last several decades. I have only peeked within, but the table of contents reveals a great collection of varied subjects allowing one to enjoy the book without the burden of reading it cover-to-cover.

If you have not attended one of CTS's symposia, I would heartily invite you to the one next year.

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