Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Seminarians all over the world learn a new language when they go away to study theology: the words used by the academic community to wrestle with the matters of faith, such as hermeneutics, soteriology, pericope, and ontology.* This new language must then be shed in order to communicate effectively with the people in the pews, only a few of which might be interested in mastering this esoteric vocabulary. (The concepts behind the technical words, of course, are often valuable for ministry.)
The students at the Protestant Institute of the Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS), the seminary which Presbyterian Rwandans attend, takes this challenge a step further.
Some of you have asked for a copy of the paper I presented at the Scientific Week of the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences in Butare, Rwanda, on Saturday. It is entitled, "Grace, Gratitude, and Forgiveness," and it uses the Reformed theological framework of grace and gratitude to understand why we forgive, and explores several scriptures for practical steps which can lead to forgiveness. (Word to the wise: it's about 25 pages long.)
On Thursday evening I met with a fourth year student at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) to talk about his senior thesis. Joseph is planning to write about the impact of music on worship attendance in the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. Along the way, he told me of tragedies in his life story that made his research come alive even more vividly.
I arrived here to the university city of Butare in Rwanda on Wednesday and it has been an incredible privilege to get to know the campus of the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS). The school has recently expanded to 1100 students studying development and education from its core of forty students studying theology in order to become ministers. After chapel yesterday I had the chance to spend time with these students, who give much hope for the future of church leadership.
One of my colleagues in ministry told me once that total depravity (the fact that all of us are deeply stained by sin) is her favorite doctrine, because it is the only one which is empirically verifiable. That is, the only doctrine you can prove by just looking around you!
I am traveling in Rwanda and will head to the university city of Butare this evening for an academic conference at which I am making a presentation this weekend. Today in the capital city of Kigali, however, I went to the Genocide Memorial Center where I had the chance to see total depravity, up close and personal.