Book review: Alex Fogleman on Hans Boersma

Over at the Catechesis Institute blog, Dr. Alex Fogleman, tutor and instructor for Brazos Fellows, reviews the latest book by Dr. Hans Boersma–who serves on the Brazos Fellows board. Alex writes:

It is difficult to find books that help ordinary Christians read Holy Scripture in a way that is both theologically rich and yet spiritually edifying. Most efforts fall somewhere in either the realm of undigestible historical-critical exegesis or light and fluffy “devotional” reading. The former weighs you down; the latter can’t get you off the ground. Neither has enough lift.

Pierced by Love, the latest offering from Hans Boersma is — like its subject matter — a feast of substance and spirit. Like an Augustinian weight (“my weight is my love”), this book offers rich fare that both satisfies and propels the reader towards life with God. It is a weighty feast that lifts you to new heights.

The metaphors of food and flight are at the heart of the Lectio Divina tradition. Drawing on the rich spiritual legacy of the patristic and medieval eras, and building on his own prior work on sacramental theology and biblical reading, Boersma articulates here a theological and spiritual exploration of reading Sacred Scripture.

Read the whole review here, and be sure to note the discount code available for those who order Pierced by Love during the month of May!

Alex Fogleman: Should we divide the liturgy and catechesis?

Over at the Church Life Journal, Dr. Alex Fogleman, director of the Catechesis Institute and tutor and instructor for Brazos Fellows, responds to those who downplay the importance of Christian catechesis in the formation of lasting faith.

While I am sympathetic to the view that faith formation happens outside as much as inside an ecclesiastical building on a Sunday morning, I think we should have reservations about the rhetorical contrast between apologetics or catechesis and social-liturgical formation. Such a contrast only makes sense within—and perpetuates—the very limited social and metaphysical imaginary of modern Western culture. What we might propose, instead, is to reconceive the connection between catechesis and a whole-life formation.

What might such a vision entail? As a matter of first steps, I propose revisiting some of the key aspects of patristic catechesis. When we allow our conception of catechesis and faith formation to be guided by the leading catechetical lights of the early Christian centuries, we will find ourselves encountering a mode of catechesis that is not simply an hour-long Sunday morning class but rather a deep habituation in the Christian life that shapes our entire vision of God, the world, and ourselves.

Alex goes on to lay out the beliefs and practices that comprised catechesis in the early church, and how these patterns remained much same after Constantine’s conversion. It’s a fantastic piece–read the whole thing here.

Why should Christians study theology?

“Why should I study theology?” So asked one of our Brazos Fellows several years ago. She and I were discussing what she might do after the fellowship. Seminary was a strong consideration, but she wondered what would be the point, given that she wouldn’t seek ordination. So why bother? Why give several more years to theological education?

It’s a fair question. It reminded me of similar statements I’ve heard over the years. Perhaps you’ve heard them, too: 

“I’m not an academic—those deep questions are beyond me.”

“You’d better be sure of a job in your denomination before spending time and money on seminary.”

“Some people should study theology, but it’s not for everyone.”

These sentiments are usually very well-meant, and in some sense they’re not wrong. Certainly, not everybody should go to seminary! But I think these statements reflect several assumptions about theology that we should question.

Assumption #1: Theological study is only for the super smart people. We often speak of theology as an academic discipline—something you need advanced training to understand. Theological study is for folks who would gladly spend an afternoon debating an obscure point in Thomas Aquinas.

Continue reading “Why should Christians study theology?”