My rereading of Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart sparked many questions for me. One of them has to do with the role of our individual will as it relates to the work of the Holy Spirit. In search of conversation partners, I first turned to Stanley Grenz’s tome, Theology for the Community of God. He reframes the conversation by speaking of God’s proleptic work of salvation and the Holy Spirit’s function of bringing about this process in creation.
Grenz, Stanley J. Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.
While in the pastorate (1979-1981), Grenz taught courses both at the University of Winnipeg and at Winnipeg Theological Seminary (now Providence Seminary). He served as Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at the North American Baptist Seminary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota from 1981-1990. For twelve years (1990-2002), Grenz held the position of Pioneer McDonald Professor of Baptist Heritage, Theology and Ethics at Carey Theological College and at Regent College in Vancouver. After a one-year sojourn as Distinguished Professor of Theology at Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas (2002-2003), he returned to Carey in August 2003 to resume his duties as Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology. In fall 2004, he assumed an additional appointment as Professor of Theological Studies at Mars Hill Graduate School, Seattle, Washington. From 1996 to 1999 he carried an additional appointment as Professor of Theology and Ethics (Affiliate) at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Illinois.
I have already stated several times that one key assumption behind the DITB project was that theology is not the process of constructing an abstract, systematic model of God. At least, it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, much theology is just that. Modern academic theology has tended toward the pursuit of constructing grand systems of theory that attempt to explain God and the universe. The end result of this endeavor is inevitably the construction of an idol made, not of gold, wood, and stone, but of human ideas. A reasonably adequate Christian theology, on the other hand, is the observation and reflection (theological praxis) of what God is doing in, with, under, against, and for the local congregation. The DITB project was an attempt to embody this statement and observe what would happen if a group of ELCA suburbanites—who have had no traditional, academic theological training—engage in what many consider to be one of the most difficult and abstract theological concepts: the Trinity. Further, I wanted to see what would happen if we tried to connect the Trinity—traditionally a conversation reserved for the conversation of the intellectual elite—with the practice of spiritual formation—something traditionally considered a matter of “practical” theology.