Christian theology wrestles with something called The Scandal of the Particular. The Scandal of the Particular highlights the issue that God chose to reveal God’s-self not through prescribed rituals, wisdom sayings, or a series of propositional truth claims, but most fully in the form of a real, living human being. Jesus was not just a generic human being; he was a particular human being, a Jewish male living in 1st Century Palestine complete with a lengthy biography spelled out in the gospels. Therein lies the scandal. If a 1st Century Jewish Palestinian male is the fullest representation of God, is that somehow a slight on women or Gentiles or peoples living in B.C. times? Wouldn’t it have been safer for God to be most fully revealed via some abstract, theoretical concept of humanness? Shouldn’t God’s visible manifestation have been limited to a pillar of cloud and fire as we see in the Torah? Part of my role as pastor is to be a communicator and teacher of God’s gospel truth. For me, this means convincing others of the beauty in God taking such a risk. It was a risk because the particularity of God revealed through Jesus could possibly give a green light for discrimination. It was beautiful because the more particular God’s self-revelation is the more tangible God is to us. The Scandal of the Particular presents pastors with the serious challenge of making God-most-fully-revealed-through-Jesus equally good news to Jew and Gentile, man and woman, slave and free, educated and uneducated, rich and poor alike!
It has been a wonderful experience to come back and get reacquainted to what I consider to be my church home. Now that I’ve settled in a bit I wanted to give a bit more information about my philosophy and emphases as a pastor. Since age 18 I have had a strong interest in the scriptures, particularly historical criticism of the New Testament. My Masters of Arts in theology focused primarily on the study of Jesus and the gospels. Later on, as I was pursuing my Masters of Divinity, I was looking for a way to incorporate the more academic stuff I learned in my Masters of Arts degree into a philosophy of pastoral ministry. What I discovered is that the Bible, in all its complexity, offers the reader the prospect of a new identity—the identity of how God sees us as opposed to how the world sees us. Through our faith, the Holy Spirit impresses that new identity on our hearts. I view the role of pastor as being one who teaches parishioners about and encourages parishioners to live into that identity. We learn about that identity through adult education opportunities like bible studies. Our identity is enhanced when we, as a church, engage in fellowship and worship activities with one another. And it is out of that identity that we seek to partner with the neighborhood to do ministry. Therefore, my role as pastor is one of integrating all the diverse things we do as Christians under the umbrella of identity. From a relational standpoint, this also means that I am available to be comforter, encourager, and counselor to the congregation and to simply be present to you when needed. I look forward to the years ahead of journey and growing together.