A couple of years ago, I found myself sitting in a room with a bunch of really bright individuals who were dreaming of putting together a daylong practical theology conference for women to be held on the campus of Trinity International University. I didn’t know most of them, but as we met to dream together a little more, then worked and prayed together, the unexpected bonus for me was getting to know the women on the planning committee. There is nothing like working on a project (like a big event, with a deadline!) to create a team out of a collection of individuals.

One of the women I got to know was Ingrid Faro. Ingrid was finishing work on her dissertation and was working at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School teaching Biblical Hebrew and overseeing the school’s field education program. Ingrid tutored me in Biblical Hebrew for a season, and as she listened to me stumble my way through Ruth 1, I had an opportunity to learn about her remarkable life story. This Wall Street Journal piece offers a nod toward a few components of her late-in-life return to seminary. She’s inspired me in my own tentative journey back to school, and has pointed me toward the Lord by word and example in other areas of my life.

Sometimes, she lets me have a peek at a bit of the academic writing she’s doing. She sent along the text of a speech she was working on, and I told her I would love to share a shorter version of it on my blog. For anyone who has ever wondered if the God of the Old Testament is different somehow than the God of the New Testament, the essay below offers a grounded and well-reasoned discussion on the subject. Before I turn this over to Dr. Ingrid Faro, though, I will show you one thing I learned during my time working at Trinity: the value of a formal academic introduction:

Ingrid Faro received her Master of Divinity, and PhD in Old Testament and Semitic Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, where she taught Biblical Hebrew, Preaching from the Old Testament, and Pentateuch. She is currently associate professor of Old Testament at the Scandinavian School of Theology in Uppsala, Sweden.
The Scandinavian School of Theology is a new, evangelical Bible College and Seminary, dedicated to training up leaders committed to biblical faith, academic scholarship, personal transformation, and revival. The World Values Survey established that Sweden is the most secularised and individualistic nation in the world.

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Is God a Mafia Boss or Is God Good: Old Testament View of God, Part I

by Dr. Ingrid Faro 

imgresThis summer, Sweden’s largest newspaper, Dagen’s Nyhetter, featured in their Culture Section: Classics to Avoid.  The Old Testament was reviewed with two thumbs down, sporting the title, “’God’ is portrayed as an arbitrary mafia boss.” Although portions of the book are described from charming to bizarre, the main character, God, is critiqued as inconsistent and unpredictable. This depiction of God is not unusual in recent years, and even mild in comparison with Richard Dawkins often quoted rant that `The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction… a capriciously malevolent bully.’’ [Read more]

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Recently, I received an email from someone in search of an article I wrote for the now-defunct Discipleship Journal magazine. They couldn’t find it online, and wondered if I might have a copy somewhere. It won an honorable mention in the 2007 Evangelical Press Association fiction category, and as I re-read it, it occurred to me that the words of this parable might be relevant to many of us as we jump into the busy routines that go along with this time of year. (I’m preaching to myself here.) Enjoy!

Tina Meets The King

Once upon a time in a not-so-far-away land, there lived a princess named Tina.  If you saw Princess Tina living her every day life, you’d never know she was of royal blood.  As a matter of fact, Princess Tina had been told that she was royalty long, long ago, but she hasn’t thought about it in years.

Princess Tina had a full life.  A home, a family, a job, a dog, a hamster…  She belongs to a great church and is very involved there.

As a matter of fact, the only time Princess Tina remembered she was a princess is when she worked in the church nursery.  There’s nothing like changing someone else’s dirty diaper to remind a princess of who she really is.  But most of the rest of the time, Princess Tina looked just like every other busy woman waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store. [Read more]

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I’ve written a lot about the relationship between those at or beyond midlife with the local church. (Click hereherehere and here.) We Boomers and older Gen X’ers have shaped modern evangelical church culture. And many of us have grown increasingly disenfranchised from the very subculture we helped to create. While some have found fresh meaning and energy to serve in their second adulthood, nearly half of those who responded to an informal survey I ran on this blog a little over a year ago told me they had downshifted their involvement in their local church – or had left it entirely. Click on the “here” links in the second sentence above to find out more about what I heard from those I’d surveyed, as well as some of my preliminary conclusions on the subject.

Of course, those of us at midlife aren’t the only ones. The Millennial exodus from the church has been well-documented.

The modernist mindset in which we at midlife have been immersed during our formative years has loosened its grip on Western culture. It’s a jolt for many of us midlife adults to see how this shift away from modernism has had on the way our Millennial children think about God, the world, the church and just about everything in thought and culture that’s not carved from granite. Modernism has not influenced our kids’ lives the way it has ours. [Read more]

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We home schooled our children from 1992–2004. During those years, home schooling was not yet mainstream. Like many other families worried about running afoul of truancy laws, we paid our yearly dues to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in order to ensure we’d have access to legal help if we needed it. Their conservative, home-schooling dad lawyers, including Doug Phillips, were regulars on the home school convention speaking circuit. When Phllips left to launch Vision Forum, I understood it to be a related enterprise, but focused solely on a particular theological and social grid toward which they were working to funnel the home school movement: dominionist theological understanding and an aggressively pro-patriarchy family and church structure. He wanted to be free to focus on strengthening the faith and practice home school families in his camp without all the bother of wasting his time on court cases with secular home school families as defendants, which was sometimes the case with the work he did with HSLDA.

Often sharing the platform at home school conventions with HSLDA speakers were various members of the Advanced Training Institute crew, disciples of Bill Gothard. (The ‘19 Kids And Counting‘ Duggars are an ATI family and exemplars of Gothard’s teaching.) This cozy arrangement where the Gothardites got away with presenting themselves as the pinnacle to which the rest of us rank-and-file home schoolers were supposed to aspire made perfect sense, as many of the leaders of the state home school organizations in the states in which we lived during our home school years were ATI families.

The formulas preached by these people were so air-tight. The tribes formed around messages of Phillips and Gothard and others like them were so…well, family-like. For those of us home schoolers trying to navigate doing something still viewed in those days as counter-cultural, there was a great temptation for many home school parents to ally themselves with one of these ready-made cliques peer groups within the larger home school community. ]Read more]

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At a social event last weekend, I ran into C., a woman I used to know when our kids were young. C. and her family were long-time, active members of a well-known megachurch in our area. Her nest had been empty for a couple of years now. C. and her husband were in the midst of relocating from this area to more temperate climes, delayed only by the sale of a home that has languished on the market for many months.

I asked C. if she was still attending the megachurch, and told me she and her husband had quietly drifted away a while ago, more or less around the same time their youngest headed to college. When I queried her about her connection with the church where her family spent the last couple of decades, she shrugged and said, “We’d pretty much heard everything they had to say. We just quietly stopped attending services.” [Read more]

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