Monday, July 30, 2012

Redeemer Ministry School - Experiential and Academic

RMS 2011-12 students

Redeemer Ministry School will begin its 5th year (!) on September 11, 2012. On that day I will begin the Fall trimester of classes with my Spiritual Formation class (scroll down to Part II, which I teach). This is a class I have taught at many seminaries, retreats, conferences, and churches all around the world. Most recently (last week) I taught this material at Payne Theological Seminary, the oldest Afro-centric seminary in the nation. (A.M.E. - African Methodist Episcopal)

The content of my course is both experiential and academic. These are the two necessary wings of the plane we at Redeemer are now flying in. God is after both your heart and your head.

There are two kinds of "knowing," both of which are needed. First, there is knowing about God, and about the things and ways of God. So, in RMS, we do some serious academic study. We look at church history, theology, Scripture (interpretation and understanding), leadership, philosophy, culture, and many other things. We read about these things and teach them to our students.

The academic thing is about loving God with your mind. Not to do this will take you down the road to biblical and theological heresy.

While academic knowing is necessary, such objective knowledge without actual experience of God is dry and sterile. The head is needed, but so is the heart. Secondly, experiential knowing is needed. This kind of knowing has to do with personal acquaintance of a subject. Such as, e.g., knowing how to ride a bike, or knowing how to swim.

The purpose of knowing about God's nature and ways and will is to actually know God, relationally. The point of the whole thing is to be in relationship with God, and to experience Him. Experiential knowing is needed, without which the whole ministry school thing becomes a mere intellectual activity.

In RMS we value the God-encounter. Sometimes it breaks out in the classroom. God, after all, is still God, and will have His way wherever it is embraced. Our academic foundation then helps us to evaluate that which we so highly value. In RMS we have a unique way of flying by utilizing both wings of the Kingdom-plane.

Experiential - personal knowing of the Living God, now.

Academic - a deep study of Scripture, theology, history, and culture that allows us to evaluate our experience and prevents us from sliding into the pit of heresy.

If this appeals to you and you'd like to study with us in the coming year we'd love to have you!