Distinguished Presenter: Dr. Erik Heen, Professor of New Testament and Greek
From the Great Plains to the Cross: Professor Erik Heen's Quodlibetal message
Through Scripture, God reveals God's self to us through Christ crucified on the cross for our sins. That reality alone makes it a good thing to read the Bible.
And in keeping in mind the theology of the cross, it is a great challenge for disoriented believers to constantly keep their guard up against that "trickster" the devil, lest we allow the devil to substitute for God "something less than God."
These points and many others were delivered Tuesday, November 4, 2008, by Dr. Erik Heen, professor of New Testament and Greek at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He was the annual "Quodlibet" respondent, dealing with "any question whatever" that had been posed to him the week before by the seminary community. Prof. Heen was introduced by The Rev. Dr. Robert Robinson, Anna Burkhalter Professor, Old Testament and Hebrew at LTSP and acting co-dean.
- Heen traced the Great Plains roots of his upbringing with affection, noting that "real people stand behind" the pietistic perspectives found in the Midwest. Heen added that there is a limit to how much one can generalize from the specificity of one's influential social location experienced during formative years. He cautioned against unduly disparaging Pietism and the tendencies to generalize narrowly, noting that "real people stand behind" Pietistic perspectives.. A theological principle of Pietism, he said, is "that righteousness is granted us by the grace of God through the death of Jesus." He said this understanding should never come at anyone else's expense.
- Heen noted that the hard-working farmers he had grown up with seldom had much money, were hard-working and had little in the way of formal education, but they were diligent about their faith and the reading of Scripture. The rise of education today has had much to do with the way the Bible is read, and these changes are not always for the better.
- Sin comes with a capital "S" and a small "s." The small "s" has to do with behaviors such as chemical dependency. The capital "S" form of sin has to do with our unbelief in God, which denies the voice of a believer's conscience, and thus separates us from God - a form of death. This reality needs to be a focus of one's theological concern and is frequently a reality believers do not comprehend because "we are so disoriented."
- A knowledge of God "is possible only through a theology of revelation," Heen said. "For Paul the cross was the central revelation event. Christ crucified for Paul was the sole basis for theological knowledge, the way God speaks to the world. The cross reaches out in our disorientation to save the world."
- Heen also spent considerable time discussing the Bible as "inspired" and the subject of Biblical inerrancy. He concluded his perspective by saying "yes" to the notion the Bible is an inspired book and "no" to the notion of Biblical inerrancy.