Sunday, April 10, 2011

ETS Far West Region Annual Meeting: Parallel Sessions

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After the plenary address, we broke up into parallel sessions. For the first parallel session, I chose to go for Dr. Steven Hallam's "Will There be Surfing in Heaven? Redemption of Creation Theology and the Destruction of the Sea in Revelation 21:1c". For the second session, I decided to go for Dr. Jason McMartin's talk on "The Imago Dei as the Capacity for Relationship: Unifying Relational and Ontological Theories". For the last parallel session, I decided to go for Dr. Adam Co's "Revitilizing the Doctrine of the Believer's Mystical Union with Christ: A Key to Repelling the Present Neo-Paganism Fascination". It must be noted in passing that Lee Irons was concurrently giving a talk for the third session entitled "Δικαισύνη θεοῦ: A Cipher for 'God's Covenant Faithfulness'?". That presentation was quite well attended (I guess because of the New Perspective controversy), but I didn't go for it.

I will go through these presentations briefly. They are all paper presentations and as such, I do have either the paper or an outline with me, which I am however sure are copyrighted by the respective authors. Being a paper presentation, it was rather amusing to me when at least one of them literally read through the entire paper (which we were given a copy each) while we were around, with eyes mostly looking down too. 

The first paper I surmised to be on creation and re-creation theology. The paper was indeed good, but it wasn't what I was expecting. It most definitely deals with creation and re-creation themes with regards to the sea. More specifically, the stated destruction of the sea in Rev. 21:1c seems to suggest that the sea as a physical entity will be no more in the new heavens and the new earth. The crux of the paper is that the language of this and the subsequent chapter has a certain literary structure, and therefore the destruction of the sea is metaphorical, in line with the apocalyptic genre of Revelations. The conclusion is that there will probably be seas in the new earth (and thus surfing), and the destruction of the sea in Rev. 21:1c is alluding to figures of speech in the Bible depicting the sea as the enemy and the depiction of chaos, citing Gen. 1:2 for the latter.

The second paper was on the topic of the Imago Dei or Image of God motif. McMartin's proposal is that the image is the capacity for relationship, thus unifying relational and ontological theories in his proposal. It was an interesting presentation to be sure, but I am not so sure his proposal is logically coherent and biblical.

The third paper attempts to use the Union with Christ motif to address and repel the fascination with Neo-Paganism. Co calls attention to the subjective, mystical component for the believer's existential needs, and the objective emphasis for the forensic basis of the truth of our union with Christ. I agree that the Union with Christ doctrine can play such a part. However, the language of "mystical" in my opinion needs to be removed. I guess the language may have came over as a legacy from Medieval mysticism, and should be jettisoned in this age as being misleading.

In conclusion, the ETS Far West Region Annual Meeting was indeed interesting, especially since faculty from other seminaries and universities took part.

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