Next Year’s Study

I have had a productive year of studying a theology of sex. Much of what I have read and researched has been disturbing and yet I have found much that is very helpful both for me personally and for my role as a counselor at church. But now it is time to think about what I will spend next year studying. This is always one of the hardest part of my studies every year. I have so many things that interest me and narrowing my field of study is hard. Earlier this year I thought I might try to study multiple topics, but I struggled to keep up with this and so abandoned it to focus on one topic quickly. So I am going to study one topic for the whole of next year, now I have to narrow my field of interest.

 So here is what I have narrowed my choices to:

1) Hero Myths: I am fascinated by what draws us to create and indulge in hero mythologies. What do these myths teach us about ourselves, our cultures, and our nature. This interest goes beyond a purely social interest, I am curious to see what theological themes are present within these various myths. My intent would be to investigate myths in general, and the various function of the hero myths. Then I want to turn and consider our culture’s own obsession with comic book heroes and see what theological themes we find among them. There’s plenty of good literature here and I find the topic itself incredibly intriguing.

2) Biblical Counseling: If there is one thing I need to constantly refresh myself on and study it’s the area of Biblical Counseling. As a counselor I constantly find myself dealing with difficult cases. A refresher on methodology, and  some study on specific cases would be incredibly useful in my present ministry. In particular I could use some helpful study on counseling addicts, and believers who lack of assurance of salvation (two areas of counseling I see a great deal of at Revolution).

3) The Gospel According to Matthew: In depth study of the text of Scripture is always profitable. While I’ve enjoyed my studies in the book of Jonah this year they haven’t been the most focused, nor has my reading on the subject been very wide. It may be that a real diligent and consistent study of a book of the Bible would lend itself to considering a wide-array of topics. Matthew, in fact, highlights all sorts of topics that I could think on. Furthermore there is some great new literature on specific elements of Matthew’s gospel that intrigue me.

4) Baptism: I have for some time been wrestling with my own views on baptism. I know eventually I am going to need to settle this matter and perhaps I have postponed it long enough. I want to believe what I see in Scripture and yet what I see in Scripture involves a fair amount of tension at times, perhaps a year-long-study on the subject will resolve that tension for me. I would cover everything from Covenant Theology to the subject and mode of baptism, along with a consideration of the Spirit’s role in baptism. This is a big subject I am sure, but perhaps it’s time I nail down where I land on it.

5) Philosophy of Language: I am, and have been for some time, particularly interested in the nature of language, issues in hermeneutics and in the philosophy of language. There are number of concepts that this study would touch on and a plethora of works to read. Everyone from Wittgenstein and Gadamer to Poythress and James K.A. Smith could be included in my bibliography. The Biblical discussion of Jesus as the “logos” would certainly bring some interesting theological dimensions to the study. I think this subject possibly provides me with the most broad range of reading topics, and yet it may be too large a topic to try to study in a single year. I fear I would quickly get overwhelmed with the literature.

Those are my thoughts as of right now, but I am more than open to suggestions. Is there something you think I should study, something I haven’t listed that would be worth my time? Any great books on the subject you might recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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