I presented two papers at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR), which met together late November (as they always do). This year they met in Boston. SBL and AAR are the major societies for scholars of scripture and religion (respectively). This year I offered one paper in each of the two societies.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN LUKE
My paper presented at the SBL was part of the Gospel of Luke section. The theme of the session on the first day of SBL was the Holy Spirit in Luke. My paper was entitled, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit-and-Fire: Luke’s Implicitly Pneumatological Theory of Atonement.” My major thesis was that Luke’s implicit connection between the work of the Holy Spirit and the death and resurrection of Jesus offers us resources for addressing the lack of attention paid to the work of the Spirit in our understanding of atonement. For Luke, Christ’s journey from death to resurrection and Pentecost (where he pours forth the Spirit) is like a new Exodus, in which Christ journeys before us (and with us) through death and into the “promised land” of new life in the Spirit.
A KEY THEOLOGICAL VOICE
My paper presented at the AAR was on Harvey Cox’s understanding of the ecumenical significance of Jesus for the world outside the church. Cox spent his career at Harvard Divinity School distinguishing himself as one of the most interesting theological voices of the twentieth century. To discuss his work, the Society for Pentecostal Studies section of the AAR assembled a panel of scholars, myself included. I focused on how Cox related faith to voices outside of the church from his early groundbreaking book, The Secular City, to his last book written upon his retirement, The Future of Faith. Cox was convinced that an emphasis on faith as a living path that is open to God’s liberating future for humanity (rather than as a dogmatic set of principles enforced by a clerical elite) has greater potential for engaging the larger world outside of the church. I discussed both the advantages and shortcomings of his provocative conclusions.
Photo (left to right): Dr. Frank Macchia, Cassandra Perry, PhD student at Regent University and David Daniels, Professor of Church History at McCormick Theological Seminary