Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dallas Willard at Azusa Pacific

Today I took the day off to go up to Azusa on their Common Day of Learning to see Dallas Willard talk about knowledge or, more specifically, Christianity as a "body of knowledge" rather than merely "leaps of faith." What Willard is observing in culture is that Christianity is being seen more and more as a departure from intellect and a "leap" into unknowable faith. What he suggests is that faith, belief, profession, and commitment in Christian discipleship must all be grounded in knowledge, are themselves sorts of knowledge, and must be presented by Christians as types of knowledge. David, for example, knew from his experience that God was with him (because he saw that with God he could do things that he could not do including slaying lions) and, based on that knowledge, he believed that God would go with him against Goliath and in faith he committed himself and went out against Goliath professing that God was with him. According to Willard knowledge gives us responsibility and the credibility to teach that belief on it's own cannot.

Christianity, as a body of knowledge, offers knowledge to the questions that "secular"ism cannot. We can answer, according to knowledge, the big questions like; What is real? Who is well off? etc.

I really enjoyed Willard's talk and I am now really excited to read his latest book Knowing Christ Today where he discusses all these issues at length.

After listening Dallas talk I went to a Panel Discussion with Dr. Craig Keen, Father Aloysius Ezeonyeka, Dr. Andrea Ivanov-Craig, and Dr. Carole Lambert called "The Sacraments and Grace." It was a discussion from Protestant and Catholic perspectives on the sacraments. Since I am quite fond of Eucharistic theology and anything sacramental, including ecclesiology as such, and Craig Keen was a huge influence on me in my final semesters at APU, the discussion was interesting and almost therapeutic. It could have been a point of tention for any other four people but these four, three Catholics and a Protestant, harmonized the conversation into a beautiful tapestry.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the discussion:
Sacrament is a "means of grace... an action ordained by God by means of which we wait on God." (John Wesley). This is an "active waiting" (Father Ezeonyeka).

"I think it is a mistake that some protestants have limited the sacraments to two or three... I think it's a mistake that Catholics have limited them to seven. Saint Augustine listed 20 sacraments... and that too may have also been a mistake..." (Craig Keen)

Grace is "God, the Holy Spirit" (John Wesley)

"When God moves, we who are embodied (in bodies), will work" (Keen on works and grace)

"Grace is the supernatural life of God within us that allows us to live our lives the way God would want us to live." (Father Ezeonyeka)

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