No, I’m not creating a Dead Theologians Society Reading List, another version of The Best Christian Book of All Time March Madness, or even another book review/discussion series per se. Instead I’m in the process of completing the final exam for my summer class on Christian Devotional Classics (Evangelical Seminary).
Really, a final exam? Yes, Laurie Mellinger, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation and Christian Theology, Dean of Academic Programs), has us wrap-up the roundtable presentation/discussion course with a “curriculum projectâ€ which seek
to relate the major texts of the course to a 21st-century audience by ‘bridging the hermeneutical gap’ between past and present. . . . [including] all of the major devotional classics in the course, with evidence of knowledge of the historical and theological context in which they were written. It should also include commentary on and application of the readings to a contemporary audience in a specified ministry context.
What better place to attempt such a task than via a blog series for the Emerging Scholars Network 🙂 As some of you know I started picking away at the project as soon as the class began by creating a daily reflection posts on the Emerging Scholars Network Facebook Wall. Today I’ll begin the blog series by introducing the devotional material I have already posted on Thomas Merton’s Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004) with a brief biography of Thomas Merton.* Merton helps us step into the fourth century where among a few there was a passion to grow in Christ-likeness by separation from not only the world, but also the growing institutionalization of the church. As you may remember, Constantine the Great ruled as the Roman Emperor fromÂ 306â€“337. The First Council of Nicaea was held in 325, giving the church the official position of deity of Christ. Christianity officially became the state church of the Roman Empire in 380.
In my next post I’ll take a step back and explore “What is a Christian Devotional Classic?” Along the way, please share your insights so that I can improve the material. Yes, please consider this a work in progress which can be enjoyed along the way. To God be the glory! [Read more…] about Receiving from the Christian Devotional Classics: Thomas Merton & the Desert Fathers