Exploring the Life and Calling

Exploring the Life and Calling

Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Exploring the Life and Calling
    Book Description:

    Fortress Press’s Foundations for Learning series prepares students for academic success through compelling resources that kick-start their educational journey into professional Christian ministry. In this introductory volume for the series, Black asserts that while the primary subjects of seminary and professional church work training may dominate the interests of students, students must engage in the principal pursuit of understanding, then applying, Christian theology. Black argues that the thread of theology must be distinctly woven through each of the other disciplines of biblical exegesis, ministerial leadership, spiritual formation, counseling, preaching, and worship. The following books in this series provide insight into these other key components of the minister’s duties. Black, however, leads off by honoring ministers as leaders who follow in the footsteps of Christ. Just as Jesus was an expert in the issues of his day, demonstrated authority to speak on the matters he engaged, mentored other leaders in like manner, was emulated by his followers who witnessed the life he lead, and, therefore, initiated a revolution that has changed the course of human history, Black is convinced that ministers of the gospel have no less a calling on their lives today.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8963-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Part 1
    • The Calling of a Professional Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
      (pp. 3-20)

      In my first lecture, in my first class, on my first day as a professor of theology in a Christian seminary, I took my stand behind the lectern, took a deep breath, and looked out at the eager, somewhat anxious, very devoted, and curious faces of my students, and made this simple statement: “I am of the firm opinion that as professional ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, those of you sitting in this room represent the most important profession in the world today. And therefore, that makes you, by association, some of the most important people in the...

  5. Part 2
    • Defining Our Praxis
      (pp. 23-30)

      Our discussion of the responsibility of an empowered minister of the gospel brings us to the necessity of understanding a word that recently has come back into good use and effect. That word ispraxis, and the concept of praxis will help us better understand what ministerial education is geared to achieve. The classical definition of praxis meant reflective action informed by what the ancient Greeks calledphronesus,or the practical knowledge and skill that enables a person to transform or contextualize (bring up-to-date) a traditional or historically understood meaning of something so it fits into a contemporary context. Praxis...

    • Praxis One: The Spiritual Life
      (pp. 31-38)

      We start our study of praxes by considering the spiritual life. This should be a fairly simple task, but over the past several centuries, the very concept of spirituality has been routinely dashed on the rocks of rationalism, naturalism, and scientism. Therefore, although spirituality is the bread-and-butter reality underlying the Christian life, fewer and fewer people, even within the Christian community, have been exposed to a clear understanding or education regarding the spiritual life.

      We see this same problem and its effect on poor Nicodemus, whose fateful evening meeting with Jesus on the rooftop was very difficult for him to...

    • Praxis Two: A Life of Meditation and Contemplation
      (pp. 39-46)

      In concert with the life in the Spirit, the life of meditation and contemplation represents the second essential tool that professional Christian ministers must learn to use and use well. We can call these skills part and parcel of a life devoted to the development of the mind. What we fill our minds with, what our thoughts dwell upon, is of primary importance in the development of who we become as human beings. Likewise, what we think about is an area of human life that requires significant attention for ministers of the gospel.

      As perhaps is already obvious, much of...

    • Praxis Three: An Embodied Faith
      (pp. 47-54)

      After we understand that our Christian life is one devoted to spiritual realities and we become aware of the crucial exercise of intentionally placing our minds on the things of God and God’s kingdom, Christian ministers then must be able to demonstrate in their own lives and teach others how the Spirit of God joins with our individual spirit to guide and direct our thoughts, beliefs, actions, and attitudes. All of this occurs inside and then through our bodies. To leave Christian faith at the level of ideas and the transcendent beliefs about things pertaining to only the spiritual, while...

    • Praxis Four: Life Together in the Flock of the Good Shepherd
      (pp. 55-62)

      After discussing how the life of the spirit, the mind, and the body are crucial to development of a minister of the gospel, we must now consider how these personal or individual aspects of discipleship conjoin with the overall direction and purposes of the church. I believe in the church, the body of Christ, who is its creator and prime sustainer. Therefore, I also believe in the power of God to work in and through our pastors and priests as they prepare to accomplish the calling of serving Christ as he builds his church. Likewise, the authors that follow in...

    • Praxis Five: Leaders as Apprentices to Jesus
      (pp. 63-66)

      To accomplish the previous tasks of living a life in the Spirit and engaging a life of studious contemplation, embodying our faith, and leading churches into making other disciples who enter our world as ambassadors of Christ in every walk of life, today’s ministers require a level of equipping, education, encouragement, and accountability as in no other period in recent history. Like other crucial professions, the ministry requires a long and dedicated course of study. But if living a spiritual life devoted to seeking the thoughts of God and God’s ways is not connected to a life devoted to embodying...

  6. Part 3
    • Forging Ahead
      (pp. 69-78)

      Let me try to offer something of a closing illustration to help us understand the need and opportunity that lie before ministers of the gospel in our contemporary era. On January 15, 2009, much of the world became aware of the inspiring six-minute voyage of US Airways flight 1549, scheduled to travel from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Seattle, Washington. Just a few minutes after takeoff, the Airbus A320 was struck by a flock of geese, causing it to lose power in both engines. Unable to make it back to the airport, the two pilots made the fateful decision to...

  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 79-79)